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Spring 2022
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Fall 2022
  • In recent years and in the wake of postmodernist inquiry, critical attention has turned anew not only to the study of how we represent the past but of memory itself–how it is formed, how it is transformed, and how it is deformed by nostalgia and trauma. Even as scholars reorient and refresh this discussion, they still frequently find themselves revisiting the past and memory in its individual, familial, collective, national, environmental, and biological iterations. Our course will familiarize you with some of the seminal theoretical texts on this return to studies of memory in its various forms, will introduce you into some of the current scholarly debates surrounding them, and will finally ask you to identify how the contemporary American literature we will study together incorporates representational strategies which speak to these concerns.

  • This course will offer in-depth study into the evocative, imperative literary genre of poetry. Examining theoretical approaches to what poetry is/does and mastering the rudiments of versification and literary devices, we will apply these skills and ideas to poetic creation from various French and Francophone traditions – from Sappho and lyric origins to the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, to Baroque and Enlightenment verse, into the 19th and 20th centuries in France, Québec and the regions of Francophone Négritude, and, finally, to modern times – to reconsider how we read French poetry, and poetry in general.

  • Despite romantic ideas of writers as brooding, solitary figures, nobody writes alone. Even Mary Shelley had a writing group. If you want to write for a corporation or business, write podcasts, novels, screenplays or teleplays, or pursue any other number of writing-related careers, your writing process will include working with others. This section of English 494 will focus on the history, theory, and practice of writing collaboratively. We’ll explore the skills collaborative writers need and the many ways collaborative writing happens: through remixing, rewriting, workshopping, co-authoring, corporate authoring, etc. This course will focus primarily on collaborative writing in professional settings, preparing you to write with others whatever career path you choose (whether that’s content creation, copywriting, social media writing, fiction writing, or something else). In surveys, employers consistently say they want employees with skills in oral and written communication, teamwork, and collaboration. In this course, you’ll gain practical experience in creating texts with others and compose a final project you can include in a professional writing portfolio.

  • We will read a handful of stories by O’Connor; in addition to analyzing these stories amongst ourselves, we will engage published criticism of them. Students will learn fundamental principles of research and argumentative writing: how to develop a focused, appropriately sophisticated and unique argument; how (and where) to do meaningful research; how to effectively enter a relevant scholarly conversation; how to develop and support a cohesive claim; how to ensure that a scholarly argument ends in a significant “so what?” justification; and how to employ MLA style in documenting and citing sources.

  • Geoffrey Chaucer was a socially mobile royal bureaucrat in cosmopolitan London who witnessed the major crises of the late fourteenth century, including pandemic, war, and insurrection. In The Canterbury Tales, he imagined an eclectic group of pilgrims traveling from London to Canterbury entertaining themselves by telling stories. We will examine the intersections of political power, gender difference, and religious conversion and conquest in the lawyer’s tale about Roman Constance set adrift in rudderless boats after failed marriages in Syria and northern England. We will also compare and contrast Chaucer’s global fantasy with his sources and analogues. As we read literary criticism about the poem, we will learn basic conventions that professional critics employ, tools that we will then imitate and implement in our own literary criticism. As we write about “The Man of Law’s Tale,” we will become more attuned to the kinds of questions that literary critics ask, and we will begin to read with greater discernment and formulate more sophisticated conceptual claims about literary texts.

  • Art Spiegelman's Maus is a graphic novel that presents the story of Spiegelman interviewing his father about the Holocaust. While the story is true, Spiegelman's postmodern interpretation of his family's history presents all the characters as animals (the Jews as mice, the Nazis as cats, etc.). The resulting text is difficult to categorize, but rich in thematic impact and literary merit. In this section of 303, students will become conversant in the strengths of the comic book/graphic novel medium, explore the unique aspects of Spiegelman's iconic work, and develop proficiency in applying secondary critical sources while engaging in literary analysis.

  • English 323—an introductory course in the Professional Writing and Communication (PWC)* track—helps English majors develop competencies in written, oral, and visual communication that are highly valued in workplace settings. You’ll learn foundational knowledge and skills by 1) analyzing professional writing situations; 2) creating and revising content in multiple professional writing genres, like proposals, business communication, and web writing; and 3) collaborating with peers to initiate and complete a workplace writing project for an actual client—an assignment worthy of inclusion in a portfolio when applying for jobs. The writing skills you’ll develop in this class are widely applicable in academic, workplace, and personal contexts.

    *The PWC track is designed for students who want an English major experience that prepares them to quickly adapt their writing and communication skills to workplace settings.

  • English 325—an elective course in the Professional Writing and Communication (PWC)* track—helps English majors expand their critical reading and interpretation skills by applying methods of rhetorical criticism to a wide variety of visual media and genres: movie posters, album covers, political cartoons, photojournalism, government propaganda, corporate logos, nonprofit websites, advertisements, magazine covers, Instagram Reels, TikToks, and more. For the culminating assignment, you’ll apply critical skills and engage in design thinking to complete a digital multimodal project that constitutes good visual rhetoric and that satisfies a personal or professional goal—one worthy of inclusion in a portfolio when applying for jobs.

    *The PWC track is designed for students who want an English major experience that prepares them to quickly adapt their writing and communication skills to workplace settings.

  • This course traces the development of the sonnet from its origins in Renaissance Italy through our contemporary moment. We will examine how trends in politics, religion, culture, and in Anglophone society at large are reflected in the innovations and renovations of a single literary art form over centuries, with the larger aim of exploring the relations between history and aesthetics.

  • When, in 1572, Michel de Montaigne retired to his family estate after a career in law and government, he intended only to rest and study, to allow his mind free rein to read and think. But he found that he was too distracted, too eager to follow the whims of his anxious consciousness. So he set to writing, in order to give his thinking a form and "to make [his] mind ashamed of itself." The results of his mental excursions he called "essays," or "attempts, trials, experiments." His book's unexpected popularity gave rise to a new literary genre, one that operated from and perpetuated the idea that a subjective consciousness can never understand or encapsulate all truth, that our best work in life is to humbly explore various perspectives, that our hubris is the essential stumbling block to real understanding, of the world and of each other. His ideas and his genre have endured centuries of scrutiny and joyous resonance with readers, and they still speak to us today. This class will focus on the Essays in their entirety, taking inspiration from them and making practical application to ourselves.

  • The idea of what it means to be a man has changed radically in the last 100 years. Favoring more recent works, this course explores a handful of American novels as literature and as guideposts of American masculinity.

  • Shakespeare's plays and poetry will be studied through the lens of "brave new worlds." While focusing on works and themes in Shakespeare that romanticize or demonize the foreign or the Other, students will at the same time be experiencing these texts across various newer media and formats, including films, audiobooks, and graphic novels.

  • This "Major Authors" course will focus on the life, works, and legacies of Jane Austen, perhaps the most enduringly popular and influential novelist of the 18th or 19th century. Austen is a perfect match for such a course, as in a single semester one can cover all six of her finished novels while also delving into her biography and important critical and cinematic interpretations of her works.

  • Gene Luen Yang is a Chinese American graphic novelist who explores issues of identity, prejudice, religion, and sense of belonging in his award-winning graphic novels. In this class, we will read American Born Chinese, The Shadow Hero, Boxers & Saints, Superman Smashes the Klan, and Dragon Hoops as we examine Yang’s use of the graphic novel medium to create thematic meaning as he tells stories. Analysis that consider the formalist aspects of his narratives as well as the themes shared across his graphic novels will illuminate how Yang is engaging with 21st century American issues in the stories he tells.

  • In this course we will examine stories written in medieval England by and about people of the Book—Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The concept of a “People of the Book” originates in the Qur’an and refers to communities oriented around reveled scripture--Torah, Gospels, and Qur'an. These communities and their sacred narratives intersected in complex ways during the Middle Ages. We will trace different visions of religious diversity in translations of Old and Middle English, Arabic, and Hebrew poems, fables, travelogues, chronicles, romances, and saints’ lives. We will also have opportunities to learn with local Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim communities.

  • War, pestilence, fire, drought, death. These are only a few of the phenomena that traumatized the peoples inhabiting pre-1800s North America. On the one hand, this semester we will examine how indigenous American Indians, black enslaved persons, and white European colonists drew upon faith to recover from such tragedies and turned to the Divine for healing, hope, and understanding. On the other hand, we will explore how religion was also an instrument of trauma: how faith was used to justify brutality, breed hatred, and rationalize slavery. We will discuss this complex relationship between religion and trauma in the works of writers such as Anne Bradstreet, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, Cotton Mather, Samson Occum, Mary Apess, and Phillis Wheatley.

  • This section of ENGL 387 will focus on “The Regency” (1811–1820), a subperiod within Britain’s Romantic Age that is arguably the single greatest decade in any nation’s literary history. Against a backdrop of war, global climate disasters, industrial unrest, and palace intrigue, British writers of the 1810s published an uninterrupted stream of masterpieces, including landmark novels (Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Scott’s Waverley tales, etc.), poems (Byron’s romances and satires, Keats’s odes, Coleridge’s “mystery” poems), and essays (pioneering works by Hazlitt, Hunt, and Lamb). One fundamental goal of this course, then, will be deepening students’ knowledge and appreciation of the writers, works, and controversies of this “golden age” in British literature. Along the way, we will also interrogate the myth and reality of “golden ages,” comparing the Regency to other storied moments in world history and exploring the political, economic, intellectual, and cultural conditions required for periods of extraordinary creativity in the arts.

  • This semester we will examine the complex aesthetic, generic, and political developments in American literature and culture between 1915-1960. The lens through which we will examine these works is “adolescence.” In his mid-century study of American literature and culture, Leslie Fiedler claims that images of “adolescence haunt our greatest works as an unintended symbolic confession of the inadequacy we sense but cannot remedy.” Fiedler’s essay suggests that the adolescents in America’s literature are symptomatic of the adolescence of American literature and culture. The anxiety that America may never be as “mature” as Europe haunts the cultural, economic, and political narratives of twentieth-century America. At the same time, however, many modern American thinkers invoke the adolescent as a symbol of hope and progress – a type for the “American Dream.” These authors associate the young and independent adolescent with nascent opportunity and potential success. Inadequacy or potentiality? Immaturity or innocence? The seemingly conflicting uses of and for the American adolescent signal the complex processes involved in constructing a national identity and literature. It will be our project this semester to explore how particular texts and literary movements engage with the varying and oftentimes competing discourses of this turbulent period. Over the semester we will read a wide range of texts as we explore the implications of coupling “adolescence” and American nationalism. Our work will often be interdisciplinary, drawing on visual sources, sociology, philosophy, and historical materials.

  • This section of 389R will explore how the American frontier became part of the popular imagination in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As the most enduring symbol of American exceptionalism, the frontier has been a rich source of mythic images and ideas in literature, film, advertising, and political discourse. The concept of the frontier as the space of Americanization really took hold with the rise of mass culture in the decades after the Civil War. We will trace this development and its legacy through figures such as Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, and Elinore Stewart, among others. And we will consider its influence in the development of a national identity that continues to shape the way we think about ourselves, as well as the way the rest of the world sees us.

  • Students will publish the print version of Inscape: a Journal of Literature and Art. Staff members learn the business and craft of editing and publishing through soliciting, evaluating, content editing, and formatting pieces of writing. The staff uses publishing software such as Wordpress, Photoshop, InDesign, and others, and such platforms as Scholars Archive and Submittable. Students will also create a resume or vita, articulate their skills/competencies in the form of a letter of application or personal statement, and practice being interviewed for a position. This internship class is designed for creative writers and those who want to work in the publishing industry; it can be especially helpful to editing or creative writing minors.

  • In this section of English 394R, students will work with local government and other civic-minded organizations to improve urban design, public transportation, and community development. Students might, for instance, assist city planners in developing and writing one of the city’s neighborhood plans or help develop a culture of active transportation on campus. The course is designed to help students recognize that they can draw upon the competencies they have developed in their English, General Education, and other courses in their efforts to contribute in important ways to the communities to which they belong.

  • The period of the English Civil Wars and Interregnum (roughly 1640-1660) was an intellectual, spiritual, and artistic crucible that produced ideas foundational for the eventual founding of the United States, among other things. This course will study the varied ways that women participated in this potent cultural moment as poets, prophets, and political theorists.

  • Using the perspective of communication and rhetorical theory, students will survey major authors, works, themes, and traits of science fiction -- from utopian and dystopian literature to world building, space opera, artificial intelligence, etc. The course excludes fantasy but will include some Mormon science fiction and some science fiction film and television.

  • This English 495 course will be an introduction to and an in-depth study of the literary world of one of the most important authors of the 20th century, and, unfortunately, one that many English-speaking readers have not read—Argentine writer and thinker Jorge Luis Borges. Borges’s work reveals the influence of European philosophical and literary traditions, but it also demonstrates his fascinations with Islam, Asia, Judaism, and Argentina itself. Borges’s work was instrumental for the eventual “Latin American Boom,” and his literature foretells several of the poststructuralist concerns with language and reality that took center stage in the latter half of the 20th century. Some of our course topics will include the infinite, memory, the fantastic, metafiction and literature about literature, translation, detective fiction, theories of literary influence, and genetic criticism.

  • Few readers of Victorian literature realize that nearly all of their favorite novels first appeared serially, in periodicals. Victorian periodicals—more than 1,000 of which began in nineteenth-century Britain—were an enormously popular source of textual consumption, and they offer modern readers a glimpse into a wide variety of textual topics, genres, and practices. We’ll consider some of these in this course, which will take as its focus the readings and reading practices associated with Victorian periodicals. We will draw upon the methods and theoretical practices of cultural studies and literary studies, as well as media studies, literary history, material culture, and archival research. Students will spend time in the HBLL archives, doing original research with our Victorian periodical collection, and they will be asked to read several texts in serial form (as well as poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction).

  • This capstone course will look at scholarship on religious and regional folklore, focusing on Latter-day Saints as the primary example. “Mormon folklore” has been well-represented in the field. There is a long history of Latter-day Saint folklorists, and topics like The Three Nephites and J. Golden Kimball stories are known outside our community. Students will select and investigate their own topic in this area using scholarly, archival, and ethnographic methods. The primary assignment will be to produce a publication-ready academic article. Students will workshop their papers and present their research in class.