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Fall 2015 Course Descriptions

We have listed the numbers and titles of many of the English courses for the Fall 2015 semester below.

In addition, information about the undergraduate catalogue for English courses can be found in MyCourseGuide (NetID log-in required). Non-UW students can contact the Undergraduate Advisor for information about courses.

English/Theatre and Drama 120: Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature (Trotter)
English/Theatre and Drama 120 is an introductory course offered in two formats: a 3-credit option and a 4-credit Comm-B (writing-intensive) option.  In both formats we read plays, attend performances, and think, talk, and write about plays and performances.  This semester we will read about 11 plays covering a wide range of historical periods, cultural traditions and dramatic genres.  You will also attend and write about at least one live performance.   In addition to traditional writing assignments, students have the option to create a digital humanities assignment as part of their research for this course.

Course objectives include:
  • To think about plays and performance in terms of the questions they pose about our identities and our world
  • To analyze selected dramatic texts as shaped by and shaping specific cultural, dramatic, and theatrical conditions
  • To investigate elements of performance in both theory and practice
  • To articulate informed responses to text and performance in both oral and written forms
If you have questions about this class, please contact Mary Trotter at

English 155: Classical Myth and Modern Literature (Harris)

At its core, history is a collection of ancient stories.  Everyone knows that history repeats itself.
It’s no wonder, then, that ancient myths find their way into modern lives every day.

“Classical Myth and Modern American Culture” is a FIG that explores ways that modern American culture interprets, adopts, and adapts classical myth in order to address contemporary social, aesthetic, and political concerns.  Each course in the FIG deals primarily with the classical worlds of Greece and Rome, but by tracing these adaptations and the transmission of stories from one culture time and place to another, you will also study other ancient civilizations from the Middle East, Africa, and Native America. The historical, archaeological, and literary approaches to the legacy of the classical world will take you out of the classroom, to the museum, the library, the laboratory, and the green spaces across campus –each with its own story to tell. And the language of Latin will also tell its story as well.

The “dead” language, Latin, will never become more alive as it will when you are able to see all of its influence in the texts we study but also in other classes you pursue throughout your college career. Learning Latin is an opportunity and skill of a lifetime. This may be the only time you will be able to learn mythology while studying it. So, Carpe Diem! Travel through time and discover why our world is shaped the way it is today as you listen to what stories from other times and places have to tell us about who we are today—and do some story-telling of your own!

Class is open only to students who enroll in a Freshman Interest Group.

English 167:  Life Forms (Kelley)
This FIG lecture, which will be linked with introductory courses in biology and in chemistry, as well as other FIG sections, will present scientific and literary works that contribute to modern thinking about life forms and planetary life in humans, animals and plants.  Its focus will be on works written between 1700 and the present.  We will move from thinking about specific life forms to thinking about planetary and ecological systems.  Works will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Erasmus Darwin’s “Loves of the Plants,” and, near the end of the semester, Italo Calvino's "Cosmicomics," short stories in which he spins fictions off twentieth-century understanding of the history of the cosmos and the history of life.  The course will conclude by thinking about how life forms continue to evolve in the ecology of the planet.

English 173: Introduction to Ethnic and Multicultural Literature

English 175: Literature and Medicine (Gillis)

This course is designed for students pursuing degrees careers in the health sciences who wish to improve their communication, writing, and critical thinking skills as well as students majoring in the humanities with an interest in medicine. It introduces the basic skills of literary analysis by examining literature as both a source of knowledge about medicine and catalyst for reflection about its organizing concepts and practices. We will also consider whether and how literature can serve as social and psychological resource for patients and healthcare practitioners. Our reading schedule is organized into three units, each of which pairs literary texts with a topic in medicine and a category of analysis in literary criticism: illness and metaphor, healing and irony, and death and narrative. This is a community based learning course, which means that our conversations in the classroom will be enriched by hands-on experience through service with local community organizations. Existing volunteer commitments may satisfy the service requirement. Please email the instructor with questions or for more information.

English 175 (FIG): “Small, Gigantic, and Hot” (Allewaert)
What are the effects of attending to the small-sized and the outsized? How have investigations into particles far smaller than the human scale and systems that exceed easy comprehension impacted science, aesthetic practice, theology, and politics? How do these investigations remain relevant to us today? In what ways does thinking about the miniscule or the majestically large change the way you engage the world you inhabit? To address these questions, we will study a number of works from the seventeenth and eighteenth century scientific revolution and Enlightenment, a period when technologies like the microscope and the telescope made it more possible than ever before for human beings to investigate organic and inorganic forms that exceeded their powers of perception. Over the course of the term we will also think about how these early investigations of the small, the large, and the composition of systems remains relevant to us in the twenty-first century.  

We will pursue our investigation across three related units, each of which will move from seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century works to twentieth- and twenty-first century novels, films, and other art works. Our first unit focuses on the small. We are particularly interested in the ways that investigations of the very small impact the way art is produced, conceived, and experienced. Our second unit turns to the related problem of the very large, focusing particularly on how the capacity to perceive and conceptualize the large inflects aesthetics. The final unit of the class opens onto a different vector. Instead of concentrating on scale (on smallness or largeness), we will consider how investigations of scale have given rise to new ways of conceiving systems. To this end, the final unit of this class considers accounts of energy, conduction, and change (what I’m calling hotness and which we will explore through analysis of electricity and thermodynamics) that emerged along with, and followed on, investigations of the small and the gigantic.  

Course materials will include works by Robert Hooke, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Immanuel Kant, Alexander Humboldt, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Sun Ra, Thomas Pynchon, and Greg Bear.

Assignments include five short papers, two long papers, and a final project. There will be no midterm or final. 

English 177:  Tolkien, Beowulf and the Rise of Modern Fantasy (Foys)
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series were the books that launched the modern fantasy genre. But Tolkien was also a brilliant Oxford scholar of medieval literature, and used medieval literature as the foundation for all of his fantasy creations.
This class will first explore Beowulf, the Old English epic poem of heroes, feuds and monsters, using Tolkien's own modern translation and others. We will also study the legacy of Beowulf today, through comic book, film and video game adaptations, as well as some other examples of medieval literature that inspired Tolkien (like chivalric romance).

We will then study the rise of modern fantasy through Tolkien's own theories of fantasy, looking at Victorian fantasy (Alice in Wonderland), the fantasy of Tolkien and his time, (The Hobbit, Narnia Chronicles), before ending with thinking about the state of popular fantasy today in books, film and television (Peter Jackson's films, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, and G.R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series).

English 204: Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacy (Vieira)
Topic: Writing and Money
Lecture course for majors
Writing has long been implicated in commercial exchange. But how? This course answers this question. We will examine the relationship of writing and money as it has been experienced across diverse time periods and places, including ancient Mesopotamia, colonial Latin America, revolutionary China, 20th century Wisconsin, 21st century Slovakia, and a future dystopic New York City. In doing so, we will see how the writing of accountants, priests, farmers, students, poker players, artists, and teachers has been implicated in global economic trends.  Over the course of the semester, students will track their own writing’s relationship to money, incorporating their findings into an “auto-ethnographic” term paper.
Possible Texts include:
Denise Schmandt-Besserat, How Writing Came About; Walter Mignolo, The Darker Side of the Rennaisance; Xiaoye You, Writing in the Devil’s Tongue; Deborah Brandt, Literacy in American Lives; Timothy Laquintano, “Sustained Authorship”; Catherine Prendergast, Buying Into English; Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story.

English 241: Literature and Culture I: to the 18th Century (Zweck)

This course provides an introduction to literature in English from the Middle Ages to the early eighteenth century.  Together with English 242, it provides an introduction to British literary history, and its primary goals include familiarizing students with the canon of English literature and preparing students for more specialized study in advanced courses in the major.  The course spans roughly 1000 years, from the origins of English literature to the rise of the novel.  Along the way, we will examine how literature engaged with topics as disparate as love, religion, and science, and we will read everything from elegant descriptions of angelic beings to six-hundred-year-old fart jokes.  To focus our discussions, we will concentrate on questions of form and genre, including the epic, fabliau, romance, sonnet, lyric, and novel.  Emphasis will be on close reading and literary analysis, but we will also pay close attention to the social, cultural, and political contexts from which each text emerged.  This course also develops skills for writing clearly and critically that are essential to majors and non-majors alike. 

Texts may include Beowulf; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Paradise Lost; Oroonoko; and poetry by Shakespeare, Spenser, and Donne.

English 242: Shackled by Freedom: British and Anglophone Literature since 1790 (Tanoukhi)
This course will focus on the spread of English as a literary language is part of a cultural phenomenon known today as GLOBAL ENGLISH. Works of literature are practical applications of the ability to make things with words. We will approach each work, by extension, also as a test of the very idea and practice of freedom: its promise and limits, ambiguities and contradictions, seductions and dangers. From Romantic poetry, to the novel of manners, to Gothic fiction—from the literature of colonialism, to high modernism, to the postcolonial diaspora—we’ll examine a diverse body of literature in English not as finished products, but the outcome of processes of artistic deliberation.  We will imagine the authors asking themselves: “What structure am I to adopt, what frame to impose, what rules to flaunt, how much freedom to forfeit—to find the form to speak through the words?” or “To make the case for unconditional love in my novel, should I suspend my plot line or tighten the grip of suspense?” or “If the heroine of my story is to have her cake and eat it too, should she be more of a doer than a talker, or should she be mostly a thinker?” “Will my poem best express rage, or shame, or insight through order or disorder?” “As a postcolonial or immigrant writer, should my English be unmarked or accented, dissonant or all the way ‘rotten’?” And we’ll reflect, above all, on the texts’ effects on us as readers.
In addition to the book-length work by Austen, Brontë, Soyinka, Coetzee, and Barnes, we will read shorter works by John Stuart Mill, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Blake, Samuel Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Gordon, Lord Byron, John Keats, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory, Henry James, Ezra Pound, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), F. T. Marinetti, Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, W. Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Larkin, Wole Soyinka, David Malouf, Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis, A. S. Byatt, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, and Zadie Smith.
Course requirements:
3 papers - 45% (3-4 pages, 15% each)
10 weekly discussion posts - 10%
Oral provocation presentation - 5%
Midterm – 15%
Take-home final exam – 5-7 pages - 20%
Section attendance and participation required - 5%

English 245 (multiple sections):
Contemporary African American Literature (Hussen)
This course provides a selective overview of African American literature from 1980 to the present. We will examine a range of formal and thematic developments in contemporary black fiction and poetry, in the context of the major cultural, political, and legal developments of the last thirty-five years. Our guiding questions will include the following: How does today’s African American literature revise, reject, or re-imagine the black literary tradition? What makes a text a black text? How and why has the topic of racial slavery come to occupy a central place in contemporary black literature? Must African American literature serve a moral or political cause?

Assigned reading may include fiction by Charles Johnson, Mat Johnson, Andrea Lee, Toni Morrison, Samuel Delaney, and Colson Whitehead, as well as poetry by Rita Dove, Terrance Hayes, Claudia Rankine, and Evie Shockley.

Methods in the Study of Literature, or How to Be a successful English Major (Bearden)
English 245 is a sophomore seminar intended to prepare you for the English major. We will read a selection of plays, poetry, and prose spanning literary history as well as a selection of theoretical texts. Authors include playwrights from Sophocles to Shakespeare, poets from Marvell to Elizabeth Barret Browning, and theorists from Plato to Foucault. My version of this course is centered on a set of questions:

    •    What is literature and its study’s function in society?
    •    How do we define and classify literature?
    •    What makes literature good or valuable?
    •    How can we articulate and deepen the experience of reading, research, and writing?

Course goals:
You will acquire a basic practical and theoretical understanding of the form, analysis, and theory of literature and a knowledge of how to conduct responsible and effective research. You will read actively, think critically, and write eloquently. We will achieve these goals by the following methods: a formal analysis of literary texts, acquisition of advanced research and writing skills, and an introduction to complex theoretical formulations of literary criticism. This course gives you the tool kit you’ll need to tackle advanced courses in the major with a better idea of the history of the discipline, new ways of articulating your impressions of what you read, tools for researching the significance of what you find, and tips and tricks for writing the best textual analysis possible. Guest appearances from other Professors and members of the Madison community will further broaden your perspective (and provide your parents with an explanation) of what you will do with your English major.

The course requires active class participation (20%), two textual analyses (10% each), one explication (10%), a take-home midterm (15%), an oral report (5%), a library research project (10%), a final cumulative in-class exam (20%). In sum, this is an intense course that will rigorously prepare you for the demands of an English major while reminding you of the pleasures that deep intellectual engagement can afford.

English 314: Structure of English (Cho)
This course provides a general introduction to English linguistics with a primary focus on syntax (how sentences are constructed) and phrasal/sentential semantics (how meaning is calculated by combining the lexical meanings of all the words in a sentence and considering their order and other rules). You will learn to analyze English sentences and draw tree diagrams. For example, why is the sentence “*Students linguistics love” ungrammatical? Why is the sentence “The policeman shot the criminal with a gun” ambiguous? We will also discuss prescriptive and descriptive grammar rules, linguistic knowledge (competence) and performance, and the Universal Grammar theory.

English 316: English Language Variation in the United States (Purnell)

The course offers an overview of historical and contemporary American English language variation from a sociolinguistic perspective. Social, regional, ethnic, gender, and stylistic variation are examined, along with models for describing, explaining, and applying sociolinguistic knowledge of dialect speakers. Students are exposed to a wide range of data on language variation focused on vernacular varieties of American English in general. Specifically, the course makes use of UW-Madison resources such as the Dictionary of American Regional English.

English 318: Second Language Acquisition (Cho)
This course provides an introductory overview of the current theories and studies on second language (L2) acquisition and development from both cognitive and social perspectives.  Topics to be discussed in this course include the role of Universal Grammar, age effects, cross-linguistic influence, feedback, interaction, and pragmatics. We will survey both qualitative and quantitative research on L2 acquisition and discuss pedagogical implications of the current L2 research.

English 328: The Sixteenth Century, or How The Renaissance Came to England (Bearden)
Course description and Goals:
Have you ever wanted to become a Renaissance man or woman? This is an advanced course focusing on literature written in the times of the Tudor monarchy in England (c. 1485-1603) in the context of formal and cultural exchange. The class will include poetry, drama, and prose narratives, and it will also reach out to other media such as music and the visual arts. The approach will be comparative; the reading list will not be limited to English authors only, and students will be asked to consider the global literary exchanges that coalesced in the creation of Renaissance English literature. Primary texts will be paired with scholarly articles representing current critical approaches to sixteenth-century literature, such as material and visual culture studies, genre studies, and new historicism. The course will be grounded in readings from the early Renaissance that highlight aspects of humanist, courtly, poetic, and political culture. These readings will, in turn, inform the way we consider how English writers were influenced by global and cross-cultural exchange across a number of cultural contact zones. If you like The Tudors or Wolfe Hall, if you’re willing to work hard and open your mind to some beautiful and moving poetry and prose, this is the course for you.

Course requirements and grading:
The course will require each class member to create a personal impresa, a motto and image that represents the student’s goals and desires(5%), to give one report and provide discussion questions for a text covered in the class (10%), to complete a take-home midterm (20%), to submit an abstract and annotated bibliography for their final project (5%), and to turn in a 8-10 pg research paper at the end of term (40%). Active class participation is required (20%) and pop quizzes, paragraph responses on Learn@UW, as well as attendance will affect the participation grade.

English 340:  “Here be Monsters”: Monstrous Bodies and Minds (Kelley)
At the eighteenth century, as revolutions and claims about human rights were repeated in colonial America and Britain, the Caribbean and elsewhere, claims about who or what is a monster reverberate against the discourse of human rights, which asked these questions: what does it mean to be human, who is inhuman or nonhuman, what forces are arrayed against humanity, what is the nature of monstrosity? do otherworldly, ghostly presences haunt human life?  what does it mean to be human, superhuman, mad, inhuman or ghost-like, or machine-like?  what obligations do we have, do characters have, to other creatures?  The literary texts selected for this course, all written from the last years to the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, work out their own, distinctive presentation of these questions:  Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Emily Bronte’s  Wuthering Heights, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and selected stories, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, R. L Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and William Blake’s Urizen. The course will include relevant scientific writing of this era.

English 353: Modern British & Irish Literature (Begam)

This course surveys a number of the principal works of twentieth-century British, Irish and Commonwealth literature.  We will spend some time considering the function and scope of the term “modernism” (e.g. does it designate a period, a movement, or a critical perspective?), as well as examining its practical utility.  Discussions will focus on the analysis of individual texts and the situation of those texts within a number of related contexts (aesthetic, philosophical, historical, cultural).  Issues to be considered include the “inward turn” of modernism (its interest in subjectivity and epistemology); the fascination with myth and archetype inspired by the emerging discipline of anthropology; England’s changing economic conditions and the accompanying crisis in liberalism; the encounter between Western and non-Western cultures resulting from British colonialism; and, finally, the erosion of philosophical foundations and the attending transformation of cultural norms.   

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Heinemann)
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (Grove Press)
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Penguin, Hampson, edition)
T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems (Penguin)
E. M. Forster, Howards End (Vintage)
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin, Deane edition)
G. B. Shaw, Major Barbara (Penguin)
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Stories (Penguin)
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (HBJ)
W. B. Yeats, Selected Poems (Scribner)

Paper: 1500-2000 words (25%)
Examination #1 (25%)
Examination #2 (25%)
Class Participation (25%)

English 374: African & African Diaspora Lit (Olaniyan)
A lively introduction to the literature and culture of Africa, African America, and the Caribbean. Some of the writers we will study include Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, and musicians such as Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, and Public Enemy. 

English 418: Linguistics and Literary Study (Purnell)

This course introduces students to linguistic and pragmatic features of English and the application of these features to language properties of literary texts, with special reference to literature in English. Understanding the linguistic structures of the English language as used by writers over time and in different geographic settings will enhance students’ analysis of English literature generally. By integrating general facts about human culture and humans themselves into an examination of the use of dialect features, students increase appreciation for observed variation in the linguistic and pragmatic features of local English as observed in literary dialect. Although dialects have been present in all forms of literature at all times, our class focus is primarily on 19th and early 20th century writers in America. In part this is because the time period in American English enjoyed literature with a dialect focus. Moreover, this course covers more than just geography because other social variables interact with geolinguistics, such as gender, ethnicity, nativity, and so on.

English 420: Pragmatics (Young)
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:30 – 3:45pm Room 2637 Humanities
This is a course for students in English and for all students interested in communication, sociology, linguistics, and philosophy.
Pragmatics is the study of the relationship between the meaning of an utterance and the context in which the utterance is produced. We normally think of people using language to produce utterances, though the act of production involves words and grammar but also vocal prosody, gesture, gaze, and bodily stance. The context of production is also much grander than the time and place of utterance and it includes the physical, spatial, temporal, social, interactional, institutional, political, and historical circumstances in which a person produces an utterance. By ‘utterance’ and ‘context’ we name systems of interconnection among very many features, and the study of the relationship between utterance and context is not to be undertaken lightly.
Nonetheless it is a study that for centuries has been of great interest to philosophers, linguists, semioticians, and psychologists. And even if you don’t want to focus on pragmatics as a field of academic study, it’s worth considering a few questions that we will ask and try to answer in this course:
  • I know the kind of actions I can perform with my body and with tools I use, but what kind of actions can I perform with my words?
  • Sometimes, I am in conversation with somebody and, although we both know exactly the meaning of every word, I still don’t get what the other person is driving at. What am I missing?
  • I know some people who are forever saying please and thank you, just like my mother taught me when I was a child. And then there are some other people I know who rarely say please or thank you, and I know my mother would say they are not being polite, but nobody else seems to bother. Why is that?
  • Why did the defense attorney object when the prosecutor asked the defendant when he had stopped abusing his daughter?
  • Say “It’s cold in here” and mean “It’s warm in here”. Can you do it? — And what are you doing as you do it? And is there only one way of doing it?
That last question was asked by a philosopher. Asking and answering questions like these is not just what we should do as students and scholars; it is also a matter of practical communication— especially communication among people from different social and cultural backgrounds. If you decide to take this course, I hope it will not only be one more step on the road to an academic qualification, but it should also be a means to make us all better communicators.

Required materials
Archer, D., Aijmer, K., & Wichmann, A. (2012). Pragmatics: An advanced resource book for students. Routledge.

Thirty-four supplementary readings are available for download.

English 427: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – The Shock of the Old (Foys)

Why should you take a class in the medieval literature of Geoffrey Chaucer? Chaucer's writings are some of the funniest, raunchiest, most socially scathing and radically experimental literature ever written in English. You would be surprised. You will be surprised. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is also one of the best literary bridges we have to understand how and why our modern world remains vitally connected to its own medieval past.

Through a slow and careful reading and discussion that allows us to take our time with each work we study, the literary, cultural and political issues important to Chaucer will be revealed, as will his medieval wit, humor, and literary avant-gardism-- along with a few seriously NSFW passages.  We'll also explore how Chaucer became a literary superstar (complete with his own fan fiction) after he died, and screen the modern film A Knight's Tale (2001), to figure out why Chaucer, surprisingly and alarmingly, shows up as a wandering and naked gambling addict.

English 443/GWS 310: Virginia Woolf (Friedman)

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? So goes the title of a famous movie, and by the end of the course (if not sooner), you will be able to answer resoundingly, Not Me! We will emphasize both the challenges and the pleasures of reading Woolf’s novels, essays, and short stories. Questions we will explore include: How did Woolf transition from the life of a Victorian girlhood and Edwardian young womanhood into a leading breaker of tradition,  an experimentalist in fiction and life, an anti-colonialist feminist, a pacifist, and a worldwide icon alive today in popular and high culture? Why did she anticipate and even celebrate the break-up of the British Empire while it was at its height? What did she think of war and how did she use her own experience of mental illness to understand the war-terrors (PTSD) of veterans? What are the meanings of love and art in a young woman’s separation from charismatic parental figures? How does the transgendered he/she of a fantasy novel rethink English history and art? Why tell the story of a famous poet through the eyes of her dog? How is life but a stage and we the players on it?

We will explore Woolf’s imaginative universe of probing questions with careful analysis of the innovative aesthetic forms she devised to find a pathway through the memories, desires, exaltations, and fears of human consciousness—the mystery of human life and character as she rendered it. Students will be encouraged to use digital resources, film, and popular culture as they illuminate novels and essays, her world, and her ongoing “life.” Written assignments will combine requirements for close reading skills, the development of an original argument, and the option to design an original project using digital and other creative formats.

Preliminary Required Books (subject to change):
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
Required and recommended readings will also be posted on Learn@UW.

Work Requirements: to be determined.

English 453: Backgrounds to Modernism (Begam)
This course will chart the intersection between the broad cultural phenomenon we call modernity and the narrower literary and aesthetic phenomenon we call modernism.  Drawing on work in philosophy, psychology, ethics, and aesthetics, we will examine how a number of the central texts of modernist literature grappled with a number of the defining issues of twentieth-century thought.  Among the ideas we shall consider are the “transvaluation of all values” (the reassessment of altruism and morality), the critique of modern forms of social association (anomie and alienation), and the redefinition of truth and knowledge (perspectivism and constructivism).  

Beckett, Molloy (Grove Press)
Conrad, The Secret Agent (Penguin)
Descartes, Discourse on Method  (Penguin)
Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground/The Double (Penguin)
Lawrence, Women in Love (Penguin, Farmer-Vasey-Worthen edition)
Mann, Death in Venice (Norton)
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy (Vintage)
Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals (Vintage)
xeroxed material (available Room 1650, Humanities)

1500-2000 word paper (25%)
Examination #1 (25%)
Examination #2 (25%)
Class participation (25%)

English 455: “Figure in American Literature: Melville” (Allewaert)
This seminar will concentrate on Herman Melville’s oeuvre, starting with his popular seafaring novel Typee before turning to more experimental novels and magazine fictions, including Moby Dick, Pierre, Bartleby, Benito Cereno, The Confidence Man, and Billy Budd. We will spend time with Melville’s poetry as well, including selections of the little studied Clarel. In addition to reading these works with care and attention, we will study important recent scholarship on Melville, including queer studies approaches, oceanic and hemispheric studies approaches, historicist approaches, and postcolonial and critical race theory interventions.

Assignments include 5 short papers, 2 long papers, and a final project. No midterm or final.

English 458: Major American Writers: Modernist Fiction (Anderson)

Welcome to early 20th Century American fiction! In this course, we will cover texts from Cather's Midwest to Faulkner's South, from Hemingway's Europe to Ann Petry's Harlem and Steinbeck's California. The course will teach you important social and historical contexts for understanding the dynamic literary changes in fiction writing during the first half of the century. We will discuss gender roles, racial conflicts, class, and more as we challenge traditional interpretations of these classic texts, seeking out new ways of reading and understanding. This is a reading, writing and participation intensive course. You can expect to read roughly 80 pages per class meeting, keep a reading journal, write short response papers and one longer paper. Class meetings will combine lecture and active discussion formats. Your
participation is required, as is your attendance. Texts we will cover:
Cather's O Pioneers!, Jean Toomer's Cane, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also
Rises, Willian Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, Ann Petry's The Street, John
Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle and more.

English 459: Hemingway, Faulkner and Cather (Anderson)
This class will cover several of Willa Cather's, Ernest Hemingway's and William Faulkner's important works. In it, you will develop an understanding of historical and cultural contexts (how did "missing out" on WWI affect both Hemingway and Faulkner? How did America's changing landscape affect Cather's prose structure?), biographical information (was Hemingway really a macho hunter? Did Cather reject femininity a century ago? Were Faulkner and Hemingway really rivals?), and key features of the novels (what led Cather and Hemingway to pare down their style while Faulkner's prose ballooned?). Whether you are interested in the expatriots, Southern literature, gender, sexuality, or class-or even if you just want to check off the Hemingway box in your "have read" file-then this course offers a unique opportunity to explore in-depth three of the best authors of the 20th century. You will have opportunities to read critical responses, informing both your study of the texts and your writing as well. This course is a discussion-based seminar course some lecturing that requires your active participation. It is a reading and writing intensive course. You will read roughly 80 pages per class meeting, keep a reading journal, write several two-page papers and develop one longer paper (which you may submit for the Hemingway Conference in June 2016 in Oak Park, IL!). Texts may include: A Farewell to Arms (EH), Men Without Women (EH) The Sound and the Fury (WF), The Wild Palms (WF), A Lost Lady (WC), and more.)

English 515: Techniques and Materials for TESOL (Ibele, Nosek)
English 515 provides practical training in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages.  The teaching experience involves applying, in a practical context, the theoretical and descriptive material studied in this and other TESOL coursework. The first four weeks of the semester will include reading and discussion; a peer-teaching micro-lesson on one or more areas of language instruction: speaking, listening, reading, writing or grammar; and learning about lesson planning. Beginning week 5 and continuing through week 14, you will be doing classroom teaching. During those 10 weeks, English 515 will meet once a week only (T).  Class time will involve discussion and reflection on your teaching, along with reading and discussion on managing learning.  This course involves both acquisition of knowledge and practicing of skills.  

Required textbook
Harmer, Jeremy (2007). The Practice of English Language Teaching, Fourth Edition. Pearson Longman.
1. Practice teaching: During weeks 5 through 14, each of you will teach a total of 20 class hours (two hours per week).  At least two of your teaching hours will be observed and/or videotaped, followed by an individual conference with the course instructor.
2. Lesson plans and classroom teaching (45 points)
3. Observation reports and teaching journals (25 points)
4. Semester materials project/presentation (10 points)
5. Participation (20 points)

Graduate students in English 515 will be required to do an additional assignment.  See the instructor for details.

English/Medieval 520: Old English (Zweck)
This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the language, literature, and culture of England before the Norman Conquest of 1066.  Because the English language has changed so much since c. 1100, Old English must be studied as a foreign language.  In the first half of the class, we will cover basic pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary, while doing short translation exercises. In the second half of the semester, we will put the skills you’ve learned to work, tackling major works of Old English poetry and prose.  Because this is a language class, no papers will be required.  Instead, there will be regular translation exercises, quizzes, and exams.  This course is intended for students interested in medieval literature, linguistics, the history of English, and anyone who wants to know where orcs and ents come from.  No previous experience with Old English is required. 

English/Theatre and Drama 534: American Drama and Theatre to 1900 (Trotter)
To study American theatre in the long nineteenth century is to study the ways diverse Americans imagined themselves, their histories and the possibilities for the nation’s future.  It was a space for technical experimentation, where innovations in industrial technology quickly found their way into subtle and spectacular scenic inventions for the stage. It was a platform on which racial or ethnic stereotypes were created and contested. It was a vehicle for the creation of new ideas of acting and movement training.  And the archival remnants of melodramas, burlesques, vaudevilles, musicals and realist plays it left behind offer important insights into the legacy of theatricality and representation that continues to inform how “America” performs/is performed  on TV and film, on stage, and in everyday life. This is a great class for undergraduate and graduate students interested in nineteenth-century American literature and history, popular culture, radio/television/film studies, and theatre/performance studies. Students taking this course will read about 1-2 plays each week along with supplemental historical and critical works.  Some of the plays we will probably study include:
John Augustus Stone, Metamora, or The Last of the Wampanoags (1829)
Anna Cora Mowatt, Fashion (1844) 
William Wells Brown, The Escape; or A Leap to Freedom (1858)
Tom Taylor, Our American Cousin (1858)
George L. Aiken, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1858)
Dion Boucicault, The Octoroon (1859)
Augustin Daly, Under the Gaslight (1867)
Harrigan and Hart, The Mulligan Guard Ball (1879)
James A. Herne, Margaret Fleming (1893)
Dunbar and Cook, In Dahomey (1903)
David Belasco, The Girl of the Golden West (1905)
Rachel Crothers, The Three of Us (1906)

Noted directors, performers and managers we will discuss include:  Maud Adams, Ira Aldridge, David Belasco, Sara Bernhardt, Edwin Booth, John Brougham, Edwin Forrest, William Gillette, Laura Keene, Steele McKaye, Tony Pastor, T.D. Rice, Aida Overton Walker. Noted issues we will discuss include: representations of race, class and gender; dramatic genres; use of film technology/other technologies in theatre; theatre riots; theatrical touring; unionization of theatre workers; vaudeville, circuses and other paratheatrical entertainments.
Undergraduate students will write two five to seven-page papers and take a final exam.  Graduate students will give an in-class presentation and write a 20-25 page paper.
For more information, contact Mary Trotter at

English 546: Topics in Travel Literature before 1800: Medieval Travel Narrative (Cooper)
In this course we will examine a broad range of the literature of travel (maps, memoirs, journals, chronicles, and more) that was produced by medieval wanderers of many stripes—including pilgrims, missionaries, crusaders, counselors, merchants, dreamers, and liars. We will focus especially upon what these texts tell us about various conceptions of “place” from the eleventh through the fifteenth centuries, and the effects of these conceptions upon narrative choices and strategies. How do the differing situations and motives of writers relating the familiar and the strange, the near and far, the mundane and the marvelous, govern the use of particular narrative devices and structures in the service of (supposedly) mimetic as well as historical “truth”?  The relationship of geography to questions of identity both personal and collective will be another important topic for our investigation. What kinds of narrative devices are used in these works to create an “us” and a “them,” a “self” and an “other”?  Who claims space, who characterizes it, and on what grounds? Finally, this course will ask some important questions about literary genre and critical method. How can we best read these medieval works, which sit somewhere between what we generally recognize as “literature” and what we tend to think of as “history”? What analytical tools do we already have at our disposal, and what others do we need to seek out?

English 559: Cultural Theories of the Subject (Hussen)
This is a course about the deeply familiar yet irresolvably complex concept of the self. Making use of a diverse archive that reaches from the mid-twentieth century to the present (more or less), we will explore how creative writers, literary critics, philosophers, and psychoanalysts have theorized the development of human identity in and through culture. Is selfhood a universal structure that individuals or groups fill with varying “content,” or is selfhood always, irreducibly particular? Should we believe in the idea of a coherent inner self? If so, what is that self made of? Does the notion of identity depend on the art of narrative? On an innate humanness? On the effects of social power? We will give concerted, though non-exclusive attention to theories of identity that grapple with social systems of differentiation and power—e.g., race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class.

Assigned reading may include short fiction by Jamaica Kincaid, James Alan McPherson, Philip Roth, and Jeanette Winterson, as well as theoretical texts by Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, Anne Anlin Cheng, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benn Michaels, Adam Phillips, and Patricia J. Williams.