For undergraduate courses, the distribution requirements that a course fulfills will appear in parenthesis at the end of the description. For courses offered prior to 2018-19, distribution requirements are flagged using the following system: (A) gateway, (B) fiction, (C) poetry, (D) drama, (E) pre-1650, (F) 1650–1830, (G) 1830–1940, and (H) literary or critical theory.

Provisional syllabi for some English courses can be found here. Please note that all syllabi are subject to change.

Students should consult the following list of courses that have been approved to fulfill the new literature in translation option for the undergraduate Foreign Language Requirement. Courses taken prior to 2019-20 or otherwise not on this list must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Benjamin Morgan).

Theories of Gender and Sexuality

Autumn 2016-2017


Lauren Berlant

This is a new one-quarter, seminar-style introductory course for undergraduates. Its aim is triple: to engage scenes and concepts central to the interdisciplinary study of gender and sexuality; to provide familiarity with key theoretical anchors for that study; and to provide skills for deriving the theoretical bases of any kind of method. Students will produce descriptive, argumentative, and experimental engagements with theory and its scenes as the quarter progresses. Prior course experience in gender/sexuality studies (by way of the general education civilization studies courses or other course work) is strongly advised. (H)

Gender and Work: Theories and Representations

Autumn 2016-2017


Alison James

This course brings together literary and theoretical explorations of the gendered division of labor from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Taking as our historical frame of reference the transformations of the world of work since the industrial revolution, we will focus on close readings and discussion of texts that depict or theorize the social organization of forms of work, the subjective experience of work, the relationship between work and community, and the divided spaces of the household and workplace. We will also examine the ways in which fiction reflects, problematizes and transforms social problems. Topics to be considered include the relationship between production and reproduction, care work and the labor market, debates over waged and unwaged work, and the intersections of gender, class, and race in the construction and division of labor. Authors will include Flora Tristan, Friedrich Engels, Elizabeth Gaskell, Émile Zola, Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Selma James, and Annie Ernaux. (B, G, H)

Introduction to Fiction: Narrative, Violence and Justice

Autumn 2016-2017


Julie Orlemanski

This Gateway course introduces central aspects of the study of narrative by examining how stories depict violence and justice. We will consider both how language represents experience at the limits of articulation (as in intense pain, cruelty, and death), and we’ll analyze how narrative both constructs and undermines models of just violence and lawful punishment. The course will concentrate especially on literary manipulations of point of view: violence, justice, and narrative are all radically perspectival phenomena. Readings will likely include the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and works by Franz Kafka, Jack London, Shirley Jackson, and J.M. Coetzee. (A, B, G)

History of the Novel

Autumn 2016-2017


Maud Ellmann

This course approaches the history of the novel through detailed study of at least one masterpiece from each of the last four centuries from the 18th through the 21st. We will also study shorter works of fiction and key works of narrative theory, along with films based on some of the set texts. We’re likely to begin with Choderlos de Laclos’s Dangerous Liaisons (1782), which has inspired dozens of film and television spin-offs; we’ll then move on to the 19th century with works by Austen and Flaubert; to the 20th century with James and Nabokov; and to the 21st century with Tom McCarthy and other writers. Course requirements include two papers and regular Chalk posts, in addition to written exercises in class and participation in discussion sections. (B, F, G)

Revising the Romance

Autumn 2016-2017


Hannah Christensen

In this course, we’ll be reading some of the most compelling popular literature of the 14th and 15th centuries: chivalric romances. We’ll discuss the strangeness and unexpected insights of a selection of these texts as they take up issues familiar to us today: problems of gender, ethical concern, and religious belief, among others. (C, E)

Seventeenth Century Verse

Autumn 2016-2017


Joshua Scodel

A study of the major authors and types of seventeenth-century golden short poetry, with special focus on Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Herrick, Philips, and Marvell. (C, E, F)

Writing Subjects: Authorship, Authority and the 18thC Novel

Autumn 2016-2017


Allison Turner

This course introduces students to the eighteenth-century novel by considering the relative power and vulnerability attributed to readers and writers. Who got to write novels, and what kind of authority was attached to that writing? We’ll look at a number of eighteenth-century texts (novels by Defoe, Richardson, Sterne, and Burney), as well as J.M. Coetzee’s 1986 Foe, a postcolonial rewriting of works by Defoe. (B, F)

Experiments in Epic Poetry

Autumn 2016-2017


Alexis Chema

A course devoted to reading in full a small number of Romanticism’s important long narrative poems: Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Byron’s Don Juan, and Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh. We’ll think about the conventions and aims of epic poetry and we’ll ask how (and why) these works reinvent a very old genre. (C, F)

London Program: From Industrial City to Financial Center

Autumn 2016-2017


Elaine Hadley

Over the last two centuries, London has undergone two “revolutions,” the industrial revolution and the financialization revolution, both of which have had significant impacts on the built landscape and residential patterns of its neighborhoods. In the nineteenth century, London was not necessarily the locus of the industrial revolution that transformed the United Kingdom in uneven ways, but was nonetheless profoundly affected by it. Most notably, the size of London was one million in 1801 but increased to 6.7million by 1901, with associated impacts on the urban environment. And over the past three decades, in part through intentional interventions by national and city government, London has become a major world financial center, arguably becoming one of the “global cities” that the sociologist Saskia Sassen has described. This, too, has ushered in significant changes in the lived textures of London, altering the horizons of the City of London and the East End in particular. With these two events as frame, we will explore a variety of literary texts that concentrate on specific regions, neighborhoods, and even streets that have registered these forces in detectable ways. We will explore, in particular, the concept of gentrification, consider its efficacy as an explanatory device, even as we remain primarily dedicated to thinking about how literary works seek to depict these large-scale transformations. Some of the texts we might read are Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, George Gissing’s The Netherworld, Mike Leigh’s High Hopes, John Lanchester’s Capital, among other supporting texts (Sassen, the poverty maps of Michael Booth). Our study will be supported by guided walks through some of the more notable neighborhoods touched by the effects of industrialization and financialization. (B, G, H)

London Program: Theatre, Heritage and Urban Life in London

Autumn 2016-2017


Loren Kruger

In 1956, British elites reluctantly confronted the end of Empire, while ordinary Britons were more concerned about contradictions between promises of affluence and the actual experience of austerity. Also in 1956, a new theatre opened in the as-yet unfashionable frontier of London’s theatre district; the Royal Court saw itself as a vanguard breaking class and gender taboos. These two currents converged in The Entertainer (1957), John Osborne’s play about the post-imperial moment in Britain We will use this play, its film version, and the theatre and its personnel (including Laurence Olivier who later ran the National Theatre) as a point of departure for studying the dramatic representation of history and urban life in key London sites, including the National’s opening state of the nation play, Weapons of Happiness (1976). The first two weeks of the course also include analyzing current productions at both theatres, along with critical texts on the impact of theatre (on tourism and gentrification, for instance). The third week, depending on shows on offer in 2016, may include one of several other theatres connected to the state of the nation and its transnational inheritance. (D)