Course Descriptions

Link: Current Undergraduate Courses                                                       Link: Current Undergraduate Catalog

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Extended Descriptions for Undergraduate Course  

Winter 2018

ENGL 230: Introduction to Literature Through Young Adult Literature (Coombs)

This course will explore a variety of contemporary fiction and narrative non-fiction texts written and published for young adults between the ages of 12-24. In addition to genres, students will also become familiar with young adult literature authors, popular banned books and social movements. It will be reading intensive. Specifically, the following questions will guide our inquiry:

What qualities make YA literature engaging and deserving of respect by adults as well as young people?

How do we negotiate and explore the dialectical relationship between personal taste and literary quality as we read, respond to, and discuss “good” YA literature?

What challenging questions are posed by these boundary-pushing books and what factors should we consider as we respond to these texts?


English 374: British Romantic Literature (Paul Westover)

This section of English 374, British Romantic Literature, will place special emphasis on the interplay of poetry and prose fiction from the 1790s to the 1830s. Texts will include Ann Radcliffe’s gothic thriller The Italian; Jane Austen’s wartime masterpiece, Persuasion; lots of poems and contextual selections from The Longman Anthology of British Literature, vol. 2A (“The Romantics and their Contemporaries”), and scholarly articles related to key texts and themes. Writing assignments will develop archival skills as well as critical acuity. Independent and collaborative research will be major components of the course.


ENGL 376: British Literature 1900-1950: The Modern Period (Jarica Watts)

This course will examine some of the finest short stories of the early twentieth century. If the nineteenth century saw the flowering of the genre, the short story becomes the site of some of the most ambitious and adventurous experiments within early twentieth-century literary modernism. During the first half of the semester, we will investigate a range of more ‘experimental’ stories by writers such as Mansfield, Joyce, Lawrence, and Woolf; we will use the second half of the semester to examine the shocks of the short story form as it plays in the fiction surrounding World War I. Throughout both units, we will investigate the formal characteristics of the short story—plot (or its frequent absence), narrative technique, arrangement of scenes, tone—in relation to literary modernism, and how structure determines the treatment of a range of contemporary ideas: time and consciousness, subjectivity, alienation, sexology, body and gender, fantasy, imperialism, and immigration.

English 380: British Lit 1950-present (Aaron Eastley)

In order to better understand British literatures in their particular cultural milieus, it is helpful to focus a bit more narrowly on England, Scotland, Wales, or Ireland. This section of English 380 will focus on Contemporary Welsh Literature. We will begin by studying how contemporary Welsh writers often see their work in relation to past mythologies and local historical/political narratives, as articulated by Emyr Humphreys in The Taliesen Tradition and Gwyn Thomas in All Things Betray Thee. We will connect these explorations to contemporary translations of the Welsh epic story sequence in the Mabinogion, and Lloyd Alexander’s young adult fiction version of these stories in The Book of Three. Other fiction studied in the course will include short stories by Kate Roberts and Leslie Norris, and Raymond Williams’s novel Border Country. We will also make a careful study of the brilliant poetry of contemporary Wales, beginning with the work of Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins, and proceeding on to that of Leslie Norris, Tony Conran, and R. S. Thomas.

English 495: The Rhetoric of Literacy: Myth, Crisis, Consequences (David Stock)

In everyday use, the term literacy is straightforward and non-controversial, denoting an ability (or not) to read and write. This seminar complicates that notion and replaces it with a more expansive, critical, and robust concept of literacy, one that is relevant to students’ academic, professional, and personal development.

In this class, we’ll engage with an interdisciplinary body of scholarship (New Literacy Studies) that recasts literacy as a richly complex, socially situated, highly contested, and an inherently ideological social practice. We’ll read and write personal narratives to understand the role of literacy in our own and others’ lives. We’ll read and write critical analyses of literacy’s use in public arguments on such topics as religion, morality, education, citizenship, socioeconomic status, and social justice. We’ll use our reading and writing to develop and conduct independent research projects that not only contribute to scholarly conversations about literacy but also address our individual interests, needs, or goals related to literacy.

English 495: Translation Studies & Literature in English (Emron Esplin)

What can a course on translation studies offer an English major? For starters, it will reveal that our literary canons are grounded on translated texts and that our very language changes as translated texts enter our literary traditions. “English” as a field of study relies heavily on the translation of ideas, theories, concepts, and literary texts from other languages. This course offers an introduction to various theories of literary translation and to the growing field of translation studies. We will examine several versions of key translated texts that form the center of literary study in English—e.g. the Bible, The Iliad, 1001 Nights—we will question the notions of translatability and fidelity, we will highlight the importance of paratextual materials, and we will challenge the hierarchical relationship between “originals” and translations. The final course assignment will allow both for projects that examine texts in two languages (e.g. a Spanish- language original alongside an English-language translation) and for projects that analyze multiple versions of one or more texts in English.

English 495: Shakespeare and Film (Brandie Siegfried)

This section of English 495 will focus on a variety of theatrical, socio-historical, political, and literary issues in relation to several film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. The course includes a historical overview of the evolution of Shakespeare’s plays from stage to page, to illustration, to painting, and to moving pictures.  The class also requires you to learn special terms in film criticism, introduces you to the stages of movie making, invites you to explore the similarities and differences between stage and screen productions, and encourages you to develop some ability in the craft of film criticism by way of close readings of Shakespeare.    Remember that Shakespeare wrote the plays to be enjoyed, and enjoyment will be our first order of business as serious critics.


English 495: Literature & Culture in the Age of Climate Change (Jamin Rowan)

As we settle in to life in the Anthropocene, a wide variety of writers and culture makers have responded to the emerging conditions of this new climactic period. Through course readings and independent research, we will have the opportunity to identify and analyze the narrative and formal patterns through which writers and other artists are making sense of the Anthropocene. We will also address the challenges that climate change poses to our conventional understandings of literary history and our traditional analytical approaches to literary study.

English 495: The Rhetoric of Narrative (Greg Clark)

This course will focus on narrative as a form of aesthetic expression that has rhetorical effects. That is, some of the most powerful influences that we encounter are artistic, aesthetic.  Most aesthetic expression has a narrative form – one way or another, it tells a story.  We will study what art is (aesthetic theory), what its effects are (narrative theory), and how those effects can change people’s beliefs, attitudes, and ways understanding themselves and the world around them (rhetorical theory).

The first part of the course will focus on readings in these areas of theory that will help us understand and explain how art and stories work in our lives. The latter part of the course will involve examining various forms of art (literature, film, visual arts, music, dance, architecture) as narrative in structure and rhetorical in effect. The final project will involve each student in developing a rhetorical explanation of influences operating in a particular aesthetic narrative that student chooses.


Spring 2018

English 236: Studies in English Literature (Bruce Young)

This section of English 236 focuses on the writings, thought, and life of C. S. Lewis. We will read some of his fiction—several of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Perelandra, and Till We Have Faces—as well as several works on Christianity, including Mere Christianity and excerpts from Miracles and The Four Loves. We’ll read essays he wrote that shed light on his writing process, on myth, on changes in worldview, and on the relation of Christianity and literature. The course will also explore the intersection of literature and life as we examine Lewis’s life and the literary representations of it he and others have created: Surprised by Joy and A Grief Observed (two autobiographical works), and the play/movie Shadowlands, which portrays his marriage and his wife’s death.

English 363: Race, Region, Modernity: U.S. Literature, 1914-1960 (Emron Esplin)

This course approaches race, racial mixture, and modernity from two regions within the United States—the so-called U.S. North and U.S. South. We will begin the term in New York, and we will finish the term in Texas and Georgia after making a significant stop in Mississippi. Our readings will include works by the following writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, and Flannery O’Connor. Our topics of discussion will include the so-called Jazz Age, the Harlem Renaissance, literary modernism(s), racial identity and racial mixture, regional identity, national identity, and expat experiences in Europe, the Caribbean, and Mexico.


English 495: Planetary Modernisms (Aaron Eastley)

In 1827 Goethe wrote eloquently of “Weltliteratur,” opining that “Nowadays, national literature doesn’t mean much: the age of world literature is beginning, and everybody should contribute to its advent.” Rather more recently, say, in the last twenty years or so, theorists such as Susan Friedman, Jahan Ramazani, Emily Apter, and Franco Moretti have asserted that the day (fore)seen by Goethe has actually arrived, and that current experiences of globalization/transnationalism call for the redefinition of presumptively fixed terms such as “modernism,” and, more importantly, for entirely new methods of literary analysis. “World literature,” Moretti asserts, “cannot be literature, bigger; what we are already doing, just more of it. It has to be different.” So, what happens to “American Literature,” or “British Literature,” or any national literature in the wake of these current re-conceptions? This capstone seminar will examine the disciplinary topic of all literature being seen as Literature of the World. We will read a wide range of theoretical texts tied to current notions of global literature, world literature, world-literature, transnationalism and planetarity—especially in the context of debates about modernism/modernity. Several sample literary case studies will be examined in connection to these theoretical ideas, and students will ultimately use the theory studied to examine works of their choice that demonstrate what has been called “unlikely likeness” (Warwick Research Collective), or the strategy of “collage” (Friedman).

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