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).

London Program: Producing London

Autumn 2016-2017


Sarah Kunjummen

This course, part of the London program, will provide you with a framework for developing a quarter-long research project, enriched by either archival work or fieldwork, that examines some object or aspect of London's cultural past. We will explore the city via a selection of literary and theoretical texts, and through a series of field trips that reflect London's historical economies of circulation. Course readings and discussion are designed to help you contextualize your objects, which need not be textual, within broader accounts of cultural production; topics may include patronage structures, print culture, and media theory. (H)

London Program: The Archaeological Imagination in Engl. Culture

Autumn 2016-2017


Lawrence Rothfield

As Britain emerged as an imperial power, the concomitant rise of archaeology injected into British culture a series of alternative antiquities: Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indian, Celtic. In this course, we will look at some of the ways these various usable pasts were taken up in nineteenth-century English poetry, fiction, art and institutions, and used to imaginarily channel and refract political, social, and sexual anxieties and desires. Topics may include the Elgin Marbles controversy; Egyptomania; the excavations of Pompeii, Nineveh, and Stonehenge; decadence; the looting of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing; and the archaeologist as spy Readings may include Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn; Shelley’s Ozymandias; Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King; T.E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell; and Agatha Christie’s Murder in Mesopotamia. We will probably take field trips to Stonehenge and to the British Museum. (C, F)

Social Fact/Human Feeling: Documentary Form and American Lit

Autumn 2016-2017


Ingrid Becker

This course explores the emergence of the documentary as a literary form in Depression-era America. We will address a wide spectrum of texts that self-consciously navigate tensions between reality and its representations; authors include Jon Dos Passos, Muriel Rukeyser, James Agee, Charles Reznikoff, and Richard Wright. (G)

Victorian Death and the Thinking Body

Autumn 2016-2017


David Womble

As biological explanations of consciousness began to supplant belief in an immaterial soul, people living in the Victorian era were left with nothing but their bodies as the source of their thoughts and feelings. Can we use a historicized notion of the body to account for “character” in the Victorian novel? How does the extraordinary prevalence of death in this fiction sharpen our sense of the thinking body, and why does this rationalized body come with so much Gothic potential? (B, G)

Mixed Media Modernisms

Autumn 2016-2017


Rachel Kyne

This course examines the collisions and collaborations of verbal and visual media in the avant-garde circles of the early 20th century in Britain and France. We will develop a formal vocabulary for discussing visual artworks and hone critical skills in the analysis of temporal and spatial media. An openness to serious play and mental flexibility are a must. We will read poetry, fiction, criticism, and a play, and look—really look—at book arts, collage, painting, sculpture, film, and photography. Artists and authors will include Guillaume Apollinaire, Gertrude Stein, Henri Bergson, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Marcel Duchamp, John Heartfield, Walter Benjamin, Robert Capa, Luis Buñuel, Claude Cahun, and Josephine Baker. (G)

A Couple Openended Novels

Autumn 2016-2017


Stephen C. Meredith

This course will consider two (or in the spirit of openendedness) three novels by modern whatistheterm or postmodern or postpostmodern, openended novels—by writers, all of whom, to some extent, are artistic descendants of James Joyce. One of the novels will be Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. This will be paired (?tripled?, so maybe a trigon not a couple) with the following: White Noise by Don DeLillo and Zazie Dans le Metro by Raymond Queneau. (There were other possibilities: Life: A User’s Manual by George Perec; Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon…). So like but then, the themes of the course will be: the postmodern (?postpostmodern?) dysfunctional family; ecodisaster; depression; prozac and its buddies; addiction and OCD; language: to proscribe (or prescribe) or not; the fear of death; and (natch) the problem of evil in a morally leveled ethical landscape. (B)

Irish Fiction

Autumn 2016-2017


Maud Ellmann

This course provides a survey of Irish fiction in its historical context from Maria Edgeworth to Emma Donoghue. We’ll study novels and short stories by some of the following writers: Sheridan Le Fanu, George Moore, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Liam O’Flaherty, Kate O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Sean O’Faolain, Frank O’Connor, Samuel Beckett, Mary Lavin, Edna O’Brien, John McGahern, and Patrick McCabe. We’ll also study two films directed by Neil Jordan, The Crying Game (loosely based on Frank O’Connor’s story Guests of the Nation) and The Butcher Boy, based on Patrick McCabe’s novel of the same name. Assignments are likely to include two essays, regular Chalk posts, and joint class presentations. (B, G)

Literature of the Refugee

Autumn 2016-2017


Hadji Bakara

This course surveys the last one hundred years –– from the outbreak of World War I to the Syrian Civil War ––through the lens of texts written by and about refugees, economic migrants, stateless subjects, and camp denizens. By reading the refugee experience across the 20th and 21st centuries, this course offers undergraduate students with diverse interests an opportunity to rethink some of the most important concepts in contemporary life: security, humanity, the human, the state, race, class, and the global. In addition, it will also provide a strong grounding in past and contemporary global literatures. Readings will include novels, poems, essays, and testimonies from Bessie Head, Chris Cleave, Edwidge Danticat, Mahmoud Darwish, Muriel Rukeyser, Franz Kafka, Chimamanda Adichie, Leon Uris, Russell Banks, Jacques Derrida, Hannah Arendt, W.H. Auden, Anna Seghers, Bertolt Brecht, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Flannery O’Connor, Dave Eggers, and John Berger. (B, G, H)

The American West

Autumn 2016-2017


Janice Knight

This course considers the power of the West as an imagined construct, an ideologically charged and prophetic “direction” in American cultural production. Beginning with Elizabethan dreams of wealth and haven, as well as Revolutionary and Jeffersonian articulations of America’s redemptive role in world politics, we will focus primarily on 19th century novels and paintings of westwarding as an American “Manifest Destiny.” Finally, we will turn to the marketing of the west in dime novels, the Wild West Show, Hollywood films, and contemporary television. Throughout the quarter we will follow out the contemporary challenges posed to boosters of the mythic west. (B, G)

Nineteenth Century American Gothic

Autumn 2016-2017


William Veeder

This course will trace the “Gothic” tradition in America from its initial manifestations in Brown and Irving through its first great flowering in the “American Renaissance” era of Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville. We will emphasize questions of methodology as well as practicing close analysis and defining a literary tradition. (G)