Undergraduate Course Descriptions
ENG 202-001 | TR 2:00–3:15
ENG 202-002 | TR 3:30–4:45
Introduction to Journalism
Prerequisite: ENG 103 or ENG 201, or consent of instructor. Introduction to news values, style, and writing. Focus is on current event literacy, writing news stories under deadline pressure, interviewing, investigating, and feature writing. Partially satisfies University Studies IV: Building Competencies/Writing Intensive. Partially satisfies University Studies IV: Building Competencies/Information Literacy. Satisfies University Studies V: Explorations Beyond the Classroom.
ENG 202-003 | MWF 9:00–9:50
ENG 202-004 | MWF 10:00–10:50
Introduction to Journalism
Go beyond the mundane "who, what, where, when and why" of journalism and, over the semester, discover the fact that remains as true today as when the Founding Fathers raised Freedom of Speech as a fundamental right: One person telling the truth can indeed change the world. Extensive practice in the basics of writing news stories, instruction in how a newsroom works, training in how to look for stories and the importance of accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Roll up your sleeves, put on your good shoes and prepare to walk in the footsteps of giants. Texts include Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing and The Associated Press Stylebook 2016.
ENG 204-001 | T 9:30–10:45; R online
ENG 204-002 | T 3:30–4:45; R online
Introduction to Professional Writing (Hybrid)
Students in this course will engage core professional writing concepts including audience analysis, document design, usability, and ethical composing practices. Students will produce materials including public relations documents and technical instructions in multiple formats. Individual and group projects are a feature of this course, as is directed service learning with community partners. This is a hybrid course. During most weeks, students will meet once in a classroom and have one online instruction session. Students must be comfortable with sustained, independent online interaction to succeed in this course.
ENG 204-003 | MWF 11:00–11:50
Introduction to Professional Writing
Students in this course will learn the rhetorical, ethical, and design considerations that inform effective professional and technical communication. Working in both print and multi-media contexts, they will develop strategies for conducting workplace research, performing audience analysis, and evaluating document usability. Students will produce a range of documents, including memos, proposals, instructions, and public relations materials. Much of their work will be conducted in a service-learning context in which their efforts will engage a wider public beyond the classroom.
ENG 204-004 | MW 12:00–12:50; F online
ENG 204-005 | MW 1:00–1:50; F online
Introduction to Professional Writing (Hybrid)
This course prepares you to face workplace challenges that require professional communication skills in terms of writing and presentation. It will enable you to develop critical appreciation for core technical concepts including audience, context, persuasion, and purpose in writing situations with an emphasis on ethics in communication. You will be exposed to writing a variety of business collaterals, such as resumes, memos, proposals and reports in different contexts and for different purposes. Additionally, this course puts a huge emphasis on information design from a visual communication framework and challenges students to create technical documents from a defined visual perspective. Most importantly, you will find opportunities to collaborate with peers to share expertise, knowledge, and experience in a service-learning framework. By the end of this course, you will learn to design effective technical documents to solve problems with attention to text, visuals, format, usability, and citation. Since this class is a hybrid, we will meet face-to-face twice a week and online (asynchronous) once a week.
ENG 204-006 | MW 11:00–11:50; F online
Introduction to Professional Writing (Hybrid)
This course will enhance your ability to compose well-designed, persuasive, and purposeful texts in a variety of professional and academic contexts. In this class, you will reflect on how rhetoric and visual design can inform effective communication in collaborative and technologically diverse contexts. Using print and online tools, you will explore the composing process through invention, collaboration, audience analysis, and revision. Besides composing traditional professional genres, like memos, proposals, instructions, and public relations materials, you will also reflect on how these can be redesigned and delivered in digital and networked contexts. Consequently, you will be required to experiment with various emerging Web 2.0 technologies, culminating in a major technical project purposed for a specific professional audience. This class will be both hybrid and in a laptop classroom. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we will meet in a laptop classroom, so you will need your own personal laptop. Friday classes will be online. This course includes an applied learning project where you will collaboratively produce a professional text for a cross-cultural audience. Specifically, you will be interacting with Polish students in Web 2.0 environments and developing technical texts along with them.
Introduction to Professional Writing
The course will introduce students to strands of professional writing like document design, resume writing, and using multimedia. Students will also review and evaluate a number of online and traditional texts ranging from websites to professional reports. While students will work with traditional documents, they will also address multimedia's impact on professional writing. This course also requires a service/applied learning component. This means students will work with a client in the community to apply what they learn in the course. Students should have access to the Internet and Blackboard. Students should have basic technology skills (adept with email, attachments, Blackboard, etc.). Access to Blackboard and the Internet for the full semester is required. There are no required face-to-face meetings.
ENG 204-009 | MW 10:00-10:50; F online
Introduction to Professional Writing (Hybrid)
This course is an introductory survey of concepts in professional writing, including audience analysis, research methods, visual thinking, and the composing process. This course includes a service-learning component.
ENG 205-002 | TR 11:00–12:15
Introduction to Literary Studies
Why do you want to study approaches to literature? That question you will mull and eventually answer in detail. You will develop a rich relationship with literature, learning and applying vocabularies and methods of literary theory and criticism, performing close readings and analyses of primary texts and secondary source materials, developing a writerly voice and understanding conventions of literary criticism and research. Text: The Norton Anthology of King Lear; others will be posted online.
ENG 205-003 | TR 2:00–3:15
Introduction to Literary Studies
(Reserved for English majors and minors)
How does one find something interesting and informative to say about a work of literature? And how does one convey that interpretation effectively in writing? This course seeks to answer those two questions by introducing students to the methods of literary criticism and by providing an opportunity for detailed attention to the process of writing and revision. We will begin by examining a variety of interpretive strategies for reading literature; and then we will write a series of papers applying what we have learned to several literary works. Texts: The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed.; Sophie Treadwell, Machinal; Kate Chopin, The Awakening.
Ashley Bissette Sumerel
In this course, students will become familiar with Greek, Roman, and Norse Mythology. In addition to critical analysis of the myths, students will learn different approaches to the study of mythology. They will also explore how mythological narratives affect our own culture and can inform our reading of literature. This is a fully online course. Assignments may include various weekly online activities, quizzes, and exams.
ENG 211-001 | MWF 11:00–11:50
ENG 211-002 | MWF 1:00–1:50
British Literature to 1800
As a survey of English literature to 1800, our course will consider the enduring literary and cultural legacy of such major figures as Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Thomas More, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Milton, Richard Steele, Joseph Addison, and Samuel Johnson and less familiar, though nonetheless significant, figures as Eliza Haywood, Frances Burney, Mary Astell, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (all of whom, you might note, are women) in relation to such topical and thematic concerns as power, freedom, social order, conformity and rebellion, life choices, happiness, the problem of evil, happiness, life choices, gender roles, romantic love, marriage, sexual commerce, and sexual exploitation. Over the upcoming weeks, we will encounter major barnyard mayhem, diabolical contracts gone bad, demonic delinquents on a tear, and, for better or worse, the full simmering broth of human emotion. Throughout the course, we will further consider strategies of interpretation, literary devices and conventions, and matters of literary form and genre.
Beyond the general focus of the course as a survey of English literature to 1800, I can think of a number of further concerns that should characterize our collective, and your individual, enterprise over the coming weeks.
First of all, since literature doesn't originate in a vacuum, we will be concerned throughout the course with the informing intellectual, cultural, and historical context for the assigned readings and will be similarly concerned with recurring emphases, ideas, and topical issues, e.g., art and nature, reason and faith, ideals of conduct, the role of women in society.
We will also be concerned with establishing complementary relations between our assigned readings and other works of literature you have read, either independently or in other courses; the current arena of local, national, and international affairs; contemporary popular culture (television, film, popular music, etc.); and other academic courses you have taken—e.g., English history, psychology, philosophy and religion, sociology, anthropology, women's studies—the supposition being that, beyond the usual platitudinous lip service, a real liberal arts education should be consciously and purposefully interdisciplinary and thereby should encourage a sensitivity to the interconnectedness of both major and non-major courses.
Perhaps most importantly, we will be concerned with an ongoing attempt "to come to terms," both individually and collaboratively, with each of the assigned readings. Such a "coming to terms" will require a thoughtful interaction on your part with the assigned texts, i.e., determining the values and beliefs that condition and inform a particular text and then measuring those values and beliefs against your own. Such thoughtful interaction may lead, in some cases, to a clarification or confirmation of your own values and beliefs or, in other cases, may lead to a delayed judgment. At any rate, whatever judgment you come up with should be based upon deliberative and reflective negotiation on your part. Beyond recreational pleasure, emotional engagement, and intellectual stimulation, one of the most compelling arguments for reading literature is the simple fact that the "thoughtful interaction" I've been talking about can lead to a greater sense of self-insight and self-understanding (the very destination, interestingly enough, of many of the characters we encounter in literature). Required texts include: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; Marlowe, Doctor Faustus with the English Faust Book; Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love; Raleigh, The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd; More, Utopia; Swift, The Lady's Dressing Room; Montagu, The Reasons That Induced Dr. Swift to Write a Poem Called the Lady's Dressing Room; John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, The Imperfect Enjoyment; Behn, The Disappointment; Steele, Spectator No. 41; Addison, Spectator No. Two; Addison, Spectator No. 275; Addison, Spectator No. 281; Addison, Spectator No. 323; Defoe, The Cons of Marriage; Astell, "From Some Reflections on Marriage.”
ENG 212-001 | TR 9:30–10:45
British Literature Since 1800
This course is a survey of significant short works of English Literature from roughly the past 220 years. The three periods (Romantic, Victorian, and Twentieth Century and After) into which our book divides this work include poetry and prose of enormous diversity and richness. Types of literature covered include poems, short stories, and essays. In addition to analyzing the individual works read, we will give attention to the cultural and historical context of those works. Authors include William Wordsworth, John Keats, Matthew Arnold, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot., and Seamus Heany. Classwork includes reading quizzes, class participation, and three tests. Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2. Gen. ed. Stephen Greenblatt. Norton, 2012. 978-0-393-91248-7
ENG 223-001 |TR 11:00–12:15
American Literature to 1870
This course will offer you an overview of American literature from its very beginnings through the late Romantics in the nineteenth century. We will read this literature in its literary, historical, political, and social contexts. As such, we will look at literature of the European Explorers, at American Indian responses to encounters with Europeans, at the colonial era including Puritan poets and historians, at the writings of some of the founding fathers and mothers. The course will proceed into the Romantic era with writers such as Poe, Irving, Stowe, Hawthorne, Dickinson, and Whitman—writers of the American literary renaissance, as it has been called. You will be asked to keep an informal reading response journal, to write formal and informal short response essays, to be responsible for the readings and class discussions, to take occasional reading quizzes and mid-semester and final essay exams. As this will be a discussion based class, attendance and attention to the readings will of course be required. Within the major, this course satisfies the "Literature before 1900" requirement. Within University Studies, this course partially fulfills the Writing Intensive requirement as well as the Aesthetic and Literary Appreciation requirement.
ENG 224-001 | TR 3:30–4:45
American Literature Since 1870
This course surveys the diversity of American literature from about 1870 to the present and traces its historical development. Through inquiry into personal, economic, and cultural forces that helped shape the creative output of authors, ENG 224 will introduce you to literary scholarship and to the resources available through various on-line databases.
ENG 224-300 | TR 9:30–10:45
HON: American Literature Since 1870
(Reserved for Honors students)
In this course we will read representative short fiction (and a novel), plays, and poems in American literature from the late 1900s to the present. We will discover how and why each story “works”—how it captures the reader’s interest, the aesthetic methods the authors use to tell their story. We will also look at the political, social, and cultural context; and we will discuss such issues as emerging feminism, critical responses to racism, the literature of propaganda, alienation and literary experiment, and why some writers get represented in anthologies and others do not. This section will also emphasize critical discussion and writing. Text: William Cain, ed., American Literature, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. (Penguin Academics).
ENG 230-001 | TR 9:30–10:45
ENG 230-002 | TR 2:00–3:15
Women in Literature
In this course we will examine literary representations of women by authors who at some point identify as women, discussing the cultural, economic, and political factors that historically have affected western women’s writing. We will explore multiple genres, including poetry, fiction, young adult literature, graphic narrative, and essays. We will look at how women create narrative about women’s experiences, and consider factors including class, sexuality, race, gender identity, modes of production, activism, and motherhood. Our work together will not seek to reduce women’s writing to a common denominator of qualities, but rather, explode existing categories.
ENG 230-003 | TR 11:00–12:15
Women in Literature: American Dreams, American Dreamers
In this class in contemporary women’s fiction, we’ll explore the intersections of hopes and limitations, dreams and boundaries, aspirations and restrictions. We’ll discuss representations of women, femininity, and feminism, and look at the complications of women’s relationships with each other, their partners, their workplace, and their families. In particular, we’ll explore how the American dream functions for women—historically and now. Books we may read include Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, Jessmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees, Carol Birch’s Orphans of the Carnival, Chimamanda Nghozi Adichie’s Americanah, Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother?, and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings. This class counts towards the Women’s and Gender Studies minor.
ENG 230-004 | MWF 9:00–9:50
Women in Literature
Ashley Bissette Sumerel
In this course, students will analyze and discuss classic and contemporary women’s literature, including the works of Bradstreet, Dickinson, Plath, Sexton, Chopin, and Atwood. As we read these texts, we will also explore topics such as women’s rights, female sexuality, and traditional and non-traditional gender roles.
ENG 231-001 | MW 2:00–3:15
The Theory and Practice of Hip-Hop
In the 1970s, hip-hop emerged as a local cultural practice in the South Bronx, a neighborhood devastated by unemployment, drugs, and escalating gang violence, as well as the city’s disinvestment in education. Today, hip-hop’s a multi-million dollar industry with a truly global reach. Everything from haute couture fashion to professional sports and comic books are touched in some way by the music and culture. Our challenge is to think critically about the significant aesthetic, linguistic, economic, political, and technological contributions and transformations of hip-hop music and culture over the last thirty years. We will attend closely to hip-hop’s four elements— rapping, turntablism, graffiti, and break dancing— as well as key figures, periods, and genres. Other topics we will address include: gangsta rap and moral panic in the late 1980s; the contributions of women to the production of hip-hop; and the emergence of hip-hop cinema.
It’s an exciting time to study hip-hop music and culture. It is a (relatively) new field of study that continues to grow. Accordingly, we will reflexively deliberate on the condition of hip-hop as a field of study— in particular, we’ll focus on hip-hop’s use and value within the twenty-first century academy. On a more disenchanting note, however, we’ll also think about hip-hop’s struggle for epistemic respectability and how pedagogical instrumentalization via the university threatens to homogenize and depoliticize hip-hop. Finally, the design of the course is necessarily interdisciplinary because hip-hop is interdisciplinary. Therefore, students should be prepared to engage with materials from fields as diverse as sociology, history, music, literary studies, cultural studies, education studies, dance, and film.
ENG 233-001 |TR 8:00–9:15
The Bible as Literature
This course examines the Bible as a literary work, or, more accurately, as a collection of literary works. Through readings in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha, we will consider matters such as genre (for example, narrative poetry, history, letter, parable); style (for example, diction, metaphor, simile, symbol); historical and geographical context, authors, and organization; literary and cultural influences on the Bible; and the canon. Classwork includes written responses; reading quizzes; midterm and final exams; and oral participation. It is absolutely essential that everyone who enrolls in the course acquire both of the assigned texts. The only acceptable version of the Bible for class use is The New Jerusalem Bible (the hardback edition with full footnotes—not the paperback version and not any other Bible). Texts: Gabel et al, The Bible as Literature, 5th ed. 978-0-19-517907-1; Wansborough, ed., The New Jerusalem Bible. 0-385-14264-1.
ENG 290-002 | TR 9:30–10:45
Themes in Literature: The Devil Inside – Satan in Popular Culture
“The loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.”
In this class, we will be exploring popular representations of evil personified. Beginning with an historical overview of the character we most often call “The Devil”—the representation of radical evil as an individual—this course will then trace the evolution of that ancient idea into contemporary versions of Satan that we find in fiction, music, film, and television, as well as the larger cultural/social responses to these texts and characters. Obviously, given the nature of this subject matter, some of the materials we will be encountering in this course are graphic and quite disturbing. Please be forewarned. Also, it is important to note that this is a class rooted in cultural and literary studies—the focused, critical analysis of the “stories we tell ourselves about ourselves”—this is not a theology course and we will not be dealing with issues of faith and belief except as they function as motivating forces in the texts we encounter. This is the history of an idea, not of a being. Readings will range widely across primary and secondary sources, with a particular focus on the history of the idea of the devil, pop cultural representations of that idea, and critical responses to both. Students will be expected to watch films, read novels and essays, listen to music, and take notes on all of the above whilst doing so all on their own time. Self-motivation is a plus here, as this class will be slightly larger than usual for our department, but no less participatory for the fact.
ENG 303-001 | TR 9:30–10:45
ENG 303-002 | TR 2:00–3:15
Reading and Writing Arguments
A course in critical reading and writing that serves as a primer on the rhetorical and argumentative strategies used by writers in various contexts. We will study readings from popular periodicals and newspapers which focus mainly on contemporary social and political issues, and we will critique these readings for the argumentative strategies the authors employ. Students will learn the basics of developing well-argued essays on topics of their own choosing. Required will be a four polished essays (one of which will require significant research) and an oral report.
ENG 304-001 |TR 9:30–10:45
Writing for Teachers
This course will introduce theoretical foundations and instructional strategies for teaching writing in secondary schools. We will begin by examining skills such as vocabulary, grammar, brainstorming, prewriting, and basic paragraph structures. We will then address the most frequently encountered/tested writing in secondary schools: narrative, expository/informational, argumentative, and research papers. Techniques such as scaffolding instruction, peer editing/review, alternative forms of assessment, and culturally relevant instruction will play a critical role in this course. We will also examine requirements for on demand standardized writing assessment and discuss how the Common Core State Standards and the new trend in using End of Course tests may impact writing instruction in the future.
ENG 305-001 | TR 11:00–12:15
Professional Review Writing
In digital spaces many of us often act as reviewers. We “share” and “like” the photographs posted by friends and acquaintances. We might write book reviews on sites like Amazon.com or review restaurants for Yelp. Almost anyone online can offer reviews on anything from vacation destinations to sneakers. But what makes some reviews more valuable than others? What determines the success of a reviewer in an age when anyone can review? In this class you will review movies, books, and a live performance. You will compose a review for a local product, and write reviews of local restaurants and tourist attractions. During the second half of the course, you will create your own website to post a series of reviews on a subject of your choosing. By the end of the semester you will not only have a better understanding of how reviews function in our broader culture, but you will have gained a repertoire of composing strategies for writing successful reviews.
ENG 309-001 | TR 9:30–10:45
Students in this course develop strategies to improve documents and to clearly express plans for revisions orally and in writing. In the process, they will acquire an interest in and appreciation for the conventions of English grammar, punctuation, and usage. Students work on the fundamentals of effective writing, organization, and design in order to develop the proficiencies necessary to edit technical documents, which include forms, manuals, policy handbooks, and websites, and to argue successfully for the changes they make or recommend. Projects prompt students to edit documents comprehensively, addressing everything from the clarity of sentences to the overall structure and visual design.
ENG 311-001 | MWF 9:00–9:50
Professional Magazine Writing
Kimi Faxon Hemingway
This course will immerse students in the world of magazine writing—both long form and the kinds of shorter pieces increasingly sought out by magazine editors. We’ll look at everything from traditional outlets (The New Yorker, The NY Times Sunday Magazine, The Atlantic) to specialty magazines (Wired, National Geographic, Columbia Journalism Review) to magazines which are often surprising venues for high level writing (Esquire, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair—even Good Housekeeping!) We will also look at more recent experiments and forms, including McSweeney’s and Believer, and digital outlets like The Atavist and Pop-up Magazine. Students will learn how to find, report, and write great stories (and rewrite them) in a great variety of styles and formats, including investigative pieces, profiles, and personal essays.
ENG 312-001 | MW 3:30–4:45
Writing for Business
Why enroll in Writing for Business? What do you want, my sixty second or six-volume answer? You’re right—it depends on how much and what you want to know. Writing for Business is precisely about finding how much your audience in workplace wants and how they want it. It is less about what you know and want to tell and more about what someone else wants to hear. In this sense, the course marks a transition from academic to professional/workplace writing in four major ways:
- Action-oriented: writing that influences actions in your audience
- Collaborative: writing situations will invite you to work in groups to meet real-life workplace challenges
- Genre-orientated: writing that spans across communication channels— memos, resumes, reports, and proposals (traditional); Twitter, podcasts, Wikis, and blogs for business
- Strategic: writing that utilizes various organizational techniques in the writing process
These features will help you to realize and identify the basic goals and objectives of ‘another’ kind of writing that exists when you’re ready to explore the professional space. You will learn to separate between two very important skills in writing: creative and critical skills. According to Peter Elbow, an eminent theorist, we need creative skills to generate ideas, topics, sentences, and words while require critical skills to decide which ones to use. Most often writers are unable to separate the two skills and create miscommunications in reports, proposals, and even in regular emails. Some of the areas we will cover include creating social media resume, writing persuasive messages, and developing social media marketing skills.
ENG 313-001 | TR 12:30–1:45
Writing About Sciences
This course critically examines the current state of science communication for various audiences and explores multiple practical strategies by which technical communicators can accommodate science for specific audiences, including non-experts. The course also applies perspectives from rhetoric of science, technical communication, and science and technology studies (STS) in order to evaluate and propose best practices for such accommodations of specialized knowledge. Extra attention is paid to scientific processes of knowledge making rather than science as product. That is, in this course, interpretations of how we know is valued as highly as what we know.
ENG 314-001 | MW 2:00–3:15
In this writing course, you will explore ways in which writing practices are changing in light of emerging digital technologies and their online and networked environments. Recognizing that the act of writing can no longer be confined to the production of printed words alone, you will engage in the analysis and production of digital multimodal texts that blend alphabetic, visual, and aural components for online audiences. You will learn key rhetorical concepts (e.g., argument, arrangement, appeals, audience, context, delivery, invention) which can guide both the reading and writing of digital multimodal texts for specific online audiences. Due to the digital nature of this course, you will be required to experiment with various emerging Web 2.0 technologies and digital design software and will be held in a laptop classroom. You should have access to an up-to-date personal computer (preferably a laptop). This course also includes an applied learning project where you will collaboratively produce a multimodal text for the Bellamy Mansion as the capstone project for the course. We will explore the process of developing a large multimodal text by focusing each project around a particular rhetorical mode and the world of museum texts.
ENG 316-001 |TR 11:00–12:15
[Course description to be posted soon]
ENG 320-001 |TR 8:00–9:15
ENG 320-002 | TR 12:30–1:45
Introduction to Linguistics
What can language tell us about ourselves and our communities? In this introductory linguistics course we will address how language reveals important aspects of our social identities. As a member of this class you will conduct original research and produce a language podcast. You might choose to explore sociolinguistic topics such as language and gender; language and sexuality; code-switching; language shift; language variation; ethnic and regional dialects; and bilingual and multilingual education. Through reading about a range of approaches to studying language in the field, you will gain the necessary foundation for analyzing contemporary social issues that matter to you.
ENG 321-001 | W 3:30–6:15
Structure of the English Language
In this course you will become an expert in the metalanguage of the structures of English, beginning with those phonological and morphological, but most particularly the syntactic ones. You have been a master of most of those structures since early childhood; we need to concentrate on making this knowledge conscious, giving you the ability to describe what you know and making predictions based on that knowledge. In addition, some of the structures that we deal with may be new to you. This deeper understanding of your language should carry over into several related areas, and learning how to apply syntax to your own interests is one of your responsibilities. You need no special linguistic training to succeed. Text: Lobeck and Denham, Navigating English Grammar.
ENG 332-001 | TR 9:30–10:45
Shakespeare: Early Plays and Poems
"The answer to the question 'Why Shakespeare?' must be 'Who else is there?'"
"With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise as entirely as I despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against his. It would be a positive relief to dig him up and throw stones at him."
—George Bernard Shaw
"I know not whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his life."
"He was not of an age, but for all time!"
"Shakespeare was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. He was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; he looked inwards, and found her there."
"To know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare; to see the insignificance of human learning, we may study his commentators."
"The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good."
The above compilation is but a random sampling of testimonials to Shakespeare's genius, achievement, and enduring influence over the ages. One of the truly amazing aspects of Shakespeare's reputation and popularity is that he has both literally and figuratively "held the stage" during his own career as a professional dramatist and over succeeding centuries up to the present. In terms of the established literary canon, and no disparagement intended, Shakespeare is probably the ultimate "dead white guy," and like the "energizer bunny," he just keeps on going and going and going with no end in sight. Not bad for a small-town kid from the provinces who, without the benefit of a college education, left Stratford-upon-Avon (a village of approximately 1500) to try his luck as an aspiring playwright in London. So how do we account for Shakespeare's enduring status as one of the most prominent figures in world literature and his complementary status as the most famous and the most widely read playwright in the English language whose plays are still performed on a regular basis throughout the world?
That's where our course, the focus of which is Shakespeare's early dramatic and poetic career through 1600 (admittedly, a rather arbitrary date), comes into play. Through a careful reading and discussion of seven of Shakespeare's "early" plays, we will attempt to explore and identify the basis for Shakespeare's enduring legacy, influence, and pervasive iconographical status across cultures and continents. At the same time, and more importantly, our course will provide us (and I include myself in your good company) with the opportunity to negotiate and transact our own personal and critical response to each of the assigned plays and, quite aside from the authoritative assessments of Ben Jonson, John Dryden, William Hazlitt, Robert Graves, and others, to arrive at our own measured assessment of Shakespeare's "greatness." In terms of the written texts, this can be a daunting enterprise for the modern reader, who may feel challenged by Shakespeare's language, versification, and a likely unfamiliarity with the many topical, mythological, Biblical, historical, and political allusions in his plays. However daunting, such challenges shouldn't interfere with our enjoyment, appreciation, and larger, "holistic" understanding of the plays themselves. It is worth noting, in this regard, that whatever his eye toward posterity, Shakespeare was a professional dramatist whose livelihood and income depended upon his productivity and the popular reception of his plays on stage. Thus, Peggy O'Brien (the Head of Education at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.) has observed: "Shakespeare's plays were written to be performed-acted and seen on a stage. About half of Shakespeare's plays weren't even published until after his death. . . . Shakespeare wrote his sonnets to be applauded and remembered as a writer. He wrote his plays to make money. And he made lots of it." It is also important to recognize that the popular theater was one of the primary venues of entertainment on every social level and across class lines during Shakespeare's career as a dramatist. As O'Brien further observes,
Everyone—all levels of society—went to see Shakespeare's plays. There weren't many other forms of entertainment: no TV; no cable; no DVDs; no videos, hand-held electronic game players, or personal CD players; no CDs; no movies; and only the rudiments of a newspaper. People went to the bear-baiting or bull-baiting ring for a thrill, they went to a public execution or two—and they went to the theater. Experiencing a play in the Globe Theatre in 1603 was sort of a cross between going to an Oscar de la Hoya fight and an 'N Sync concert.
Thus, though his plays may present any number of challenges for the modern reader, Shakespeare didn't write his plays to be difficult; he wrote his plays to make money and, as Peggy O'Brien notes, he clearly succeeded. Thus, while our course will involve an assiduous, thoughtful, and creative attention to the written texts, we need to recall, once again, that for Shakespeare the written text was secondary to the dramatic presentation and live enactment of the text on stage-which, rather than the written text, served as the primary "rate of exchange" between Shakespeare and his audience, a considerable percentage of whom were uneducated and illiterate. It might be appropriate to conclude, in this regard, with a number of illuminating quotes, the spirit of which should inform our approach to and experience of the assigned plays:
"In Shakespeare's plays, you find drunks, ghosts, teenagers running away from home, boy who gets girl, boy who loses girl, king who loses everything, woman caressing her lover's body which is minus its head, woman caressing her lover's head which is minus its body, weddings and celebrations, murder by stabbing, suffocation, decapitation, and drowning in a vat of malmsey wine."
"There are some parts of the play you'll never understand. But excuse me, I thought that's what great art was supposed to be about. Don't freak out over it. Keep reading."
"I went to see a Shakespeare play when I was 15, and it changed my life."
"If the public likes you, you're good. Shakespeare was a common down-to-earth writer in his day."
Note: Mickey Spillane was a legendary pulp fiction writer, whose hard-boiled detective series (featuring Mike Hammer) enjoyed such immense popularity in the 1950s that Spillane was the most widely read and best-selling author in the U.S. Hence, the implied, and admittedly self-flattering connection with Shakespeare.
"Children trust Shakespeare because they can still see the plays as play, with all the joy and wonder of discovery that this truly entails."
—Janet Field-Pickering, The Folger Shakespeare Library
One final note regarding the choice of assigned plays: There is a common pedagogical practice in courses dealing with Shakespeare's "early career" to chart his development as a dramatist by beginning with his very first or very early comedies, tragedies, and history plays as an introductory point of reference. While there is something to be said for such an approach, the downside is that such an approach—given the restricted time frame for the course—necessarily eliminates any number of Shakespeare's more mature achievements within various dramatic genres. Thus, the reading syllabus for our course will focus on five of Shakespeare's major comedies from the 1590s and two of his major history plays. As a matter of variety, the assigned comedies and history plays will be arranged in alternating order. Though the greater number of Shakespeare's tragedies, including Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear, were written beyond the time frame of our course, Shakespeare did write two notable tragedies (Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet) before 1600; but since both tragedies are often taught in the secondary English classroom, they haven't been included in our reading syllabus. So welcome aboard and I look forward to an enjoyable, invigorating semester. Text: Bevington, ed., The Necessary Shakespeare.
ENG 350-001 | TR 2:00–3:15
This course will offer you an in-depth look at American literature of the Romantic era, roughly 1790s through the 1860s and beyond. We will read the literature by writers of the American literary renaissance, as it has been called, in its literary, historical, political, and social contexts. Possible texts include Dickinson’s Final Harvest collection of poetry, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Thoreau’s Walden, Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Other authors will include Poe, Irving, Stowe, and Emerson, to name a few.
You will be asked to keep an informal reading response journal, to write formal short response essays, to be responsible for the readings and class discussions, to take occasional reading quizzes and mid-semester and final essay exams. You will also be asked to lead at least one class discussion. As this will be a discussion-based class, attendance and attention to the readings will of course be required. Within the major, this course can satisfy the "Literature before 1900" requirement as well as three (3) hours at the 300 level.
ENG 357-001 | MWF 12:00–12:50
African-American Literary Tradition to 1945
In this course, we will engage with African American literature from its beginnings during slavery to the Reconstruction period before encountering the New Negro Renaissance and the Harlem Renaissance. We will cover genres such as poetry and the vernacular; nonfiction to include slave narratives, memoir, and speeches; short fiction and the novel; and we will engage the attendant cultural and literary criticism and theory. We will consider the ways that early African American literature reflects migration as much as bondage, and innovation as much as influence, and the fact of literary community among free and enslaved black peoples in the colonies and the United States. We will see African American literature as it coheres into a tradition that is highly allusive, rife with signification, pastiche, and call and response, and inflected with gendered, classed, and nationalist implications. We will understand African American people as belonging to heterogeneous communities whose concerns, political and artistic, reflect various responses to the cultural moments of particular historical time periods and geographical locations. Texts include The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (3rd Edition, Volume 1), The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Bedford, 2nd critical edition), and Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Classics 1998 edition, with critical material included), with additional materials provided by PDF.
ENG 362-001 | TR 11:00–12:15
Studies in the Novel: Faulkner and James
In this course students will have a rare opportunity to gain a deep understanding and full appreciation of these two giants of modern literature. We will study how in their own unique ways they revolutionized the novel through aesthetic and formal experimentation while never losing sight of the human condition. We'll place the works discussed in cultural and historical contexts, showing among other things, their integration of recent developments in psychoanalysis, philosophy, medicine, and physics, and their response to artistic developments in literature and painting, from Romanticism to impressionism, imagism, cubism, dadaism, and symbolist art.
ENG 365-001 | TR 12:30–1:45
Studies in Drama: Eugene O'Neill and His Contemporaries
This course will study the rise of American theater in the 1920s and 1930s. Although Eugene O’Neill’s innovative plays will form the nucleus of the course, we will also examine representative works of his contemporaries to understand how the American theater transformed itself from a derivative art into a vibrant and exciting modernism. Some of the issues we will explore include the role of the little theater in educating audiences to appreciate more innovative fare; the obsession toward experiment with expressionistic and symbolistic staging techniques; the search for mythic representations of American history and its accompanying search for modern tragedy, and the role of depression-era theater and the issue of art vs. propaganda. Texts: Eugene O’Neill, Complete Plays, 1920-1931; Elmer Rice, Three Plays; Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays; and others via PDF.
ENG 370-001 | MW 2:00–3:15
European Literature Before 1900
Lechery, lying, delusional madness, illicit love affairs, suicides (with pistols and arsenic)—you’ll find all of this and more taking place in European narratives from the early Renaissance to the mid-19th century. As we travel through Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, you’ll be introduced to exceedingly naughty and/or desperate literary characters in Boccaccio’s Decameron, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Lafayette’s Princesse de Clèves, Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. As you read these texts, you will be tracing the development of the novel—noticing its changing form and its highest stylistic expression. Each work is deservedly a classic of Western literature. Expect to write short, well-constructed essays and participate energetically in class discussions. For ENG majors, this course satisfies the Literary Studies requirement for “a course in literature before 1900.” It also counts as a “Living in a Global Society” course for University Studies.
ENG 374-001 | MW 3:30–4:45
American and British Poetry, 1900–1945
This course explores the poetic works of major and minor figures in the challenging field of modern poetry (1900–1945). In the first half of the semester, students will consider American, English, French, Russian, and German proto-modernists (e.g., Dickinson, Hopkins, Mallarme); and they will then examine poetry from various avant-garde movements, including (but not limited to) Imagism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and Negritude. Students will be expected to participate in the performance of sound poems by Hugo Ball, Kurt Schwitters, Edith Sitwell, and Jean Toomer, among others. In the second half of the semester, students will read poems exclusively focused on the modern city. What was it like to live in urban centers in the first part of the 20th century? To quote Langston Hughes, “The fascination of cities seizes me, burning like a fever in the blood.” Students will read poems about living in Paris, London, Buenos Aires, New York, Shanghai, and Berlin; but they’ll also read about advertising, architecture, early cinema, music halls, telephones, jazz, and street life. Textbooks: Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity (ed. Jed Rasula and Tim Conley) and Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern Poetry, Vol. 1: From Fin-de-Siècle to Negritude (ed. Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris).
ENG 380-001 | MW 3:30–4:45
Literature for Children
In this course, we will become acquainted/reacquainted with a wide variety of children’s literature of different genres, from picture books to graphic narratives to chapter books. We will scrutinize not only our notions of a literature for children but also our (often romanticized) notions of what it means to be a child. We will also ask what the role of adults is in producing, consuming, and interpreting children’s literature and culture.
ENG 383-001 | TR 11:00–12:15
This course will examine works of poetry, prose, and drama that are commonly taught in high school English classes. During our interrogation of texts, we will utilize various critical lenses to reveal traditional and alternative interpretations. We will question what constitutes a literary "classic," who labels classics as such, and how issues of race, gender, class, religion, and language influence what texts are included in and excluded from the "canon."
ENG 386-001 | TR 2:00–3:15
Critical Theory and Practice
In this class, we will be exploring the influence that critical and cultural theory has had on the ways we understand literature and culture in the 21st century. Beginning in the late 19th and moving through to the present, we will read a broad array of challenging texts that will help us better understand most of the “-isms” we hear so much about—Marxism, structuralism, feminism—as well as many other theoretical approaches to understanding how we humans make things mean things. This is a difficult class, though if you keep up with the reading, note taking, and class discussion, I think you might find it to be a rewarding one. There will be regular reading notes, a midterm, a bibliography, and a final essay.
ENG 388-001 | MW 3:30–4:45
Rhetorical Theory to 1900
Rhetoric is alive, useful, and one of the most intriguing social phenomena that humans possess: the ability to persuade with words and language. This course covers the history of rhetorical theory from 430 BCE to 1900AD with discussion of culture, dialectic, argument, persuasion, as well as biographical profiles of rhetorical theorists. The instructor will relate classical rhetorical theory to culture, music, family dynamics, and relationships. The course will also touch on persuasive techniques in advertising, writing, and design.
ENG 393-001 | TR 2:00–3:15
Writing in Science: Writing in the Scientific Disciplines
This course critically examines the current state of science writing in professional academic contexts and explores the multiple practical strategies scientists use to communicate in professional settings. The course asks students to evaluate and propose best practices for texts in academic contexts such as peer-reviewed journals and professional conferences. Extra attention is paid to how writing and texts act rhetorically as tools of knowledge making rather than simple “products” of science. Students exit the course with a base of knowledge that will allow them to develop and strengthen their own professional science writing practices.
ENG 495-001 | TR 12:30–1:45
Senior Seminar: Gothic Perversions – Sexuality, Monstrosity, and Aesthetics
In this formal research seminar, we will demarcate a trans-Atlantic trajectory and evolution of the Gothic as a literary genre, showing how an initial loose grouping of texts dealing with what society otherwise represses develops into what is arguably the most influential aesthetic genre in existence today. We will outline concerns, conventions, and facets as the genre shifts and morphs, from 18th century supernatural to twenty-first century science fiction. Texts may include Lewis's The Monk, Brown's Carwin the Biloquist, Shelley's Frankenstein, Austen's Northanger Abbey, Stoker's Dracula, Martin's Mary Reilly, and Gibson's Neuromancer.
ENG 495-002 | MW 2:00–3:15
Senior Seminar: The World According to Tennessee Williams
This course explores the profoundly moving drama of one of America’s leading playwrights of the twentieth-century. From his iconic A Streetcar Named Desire to his seductively brilliant Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and to the daring Suddenly, Last Summer, Williams’ vexed cartography of sex, madness, and desperation mapped an uncomfortably recognizable terrain for post-atomic Americans. As intrepid explorers of Tennessee Williams’ world, we will plumb the depths of his vast oeuvre and the substantial body of secondary criticism his work and life inspired.
ENG 496-001 | TR 2:00–3:15
Senior Seminar: Game Hacking
This course asks students to engage games, both tangible and digital, as rule-governed technical systems. Students will explore scholarly material and practical challenges as they examine, modify, design, and create games. They will practice core professional writing concepts including audience analysis, document design, and usability as they develop technical instructions, packaging and promotion materials, and researched academic works. Students need not be active gamers to participate in this course—only intellectually curious and willing to share their unique perspectives on this suject.