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).

Contemporary Latina/o Poetry

Autumn 2016-2017


Rachel Galvin

From Julia de Burgos’ feminist poems of the 1930s to poetry of the Chicano Movement, Nuyorican performance poetry, and contemporary “Avant-Latino” experiments, this course explores the eclectic forms, aesthetics, and political engagements of Latin@ poetry in the 20th and 21st centuries. (C)

The Beats: Literature and Counterculture

Autumn 2016-2017


Andrew Peart

Beat writers formed one of the earliest, and most publicly engaged, movements in American literary culture of the postwar period. They also captivated American popular culture by redefining the genres, platforms, and technologies of modern literary production, and by making literature the vehicle for an ethics of living that purported to subvert norms of race, gender, and class. This course examines the literary achievement and cultural impact of the Beats in the period spanning the end of WWII and the end of the Vietnam War (1945-1975), focusing on the wide breadth of their experimentation with various forms and media (the open-form novel and poem, the modern poetry reading, the spoken word recording), their diverse identities as authors (working-class, female, non-white), and their role in a plurality of social movements (Free Speech, Second-Wave Feminism, Black Power). The course syllabus includes the three authors typically considered the preeminent Beat writers (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs) but devotes great attention to women and minority writers central to the Beat movement (Diane di Prima, Helen Adam, Amiri Baraka, Bob Kaufman). (C)

Imagining the Present in the Late 20th Century

Autumn 2016-2017


Jean-Thomas Tremblay

What makes the present historical? Where does the present stand in relation to history? Anxieties about when the present began, and about whether or not it had a future, make the end of the second millennium a fruitful locus for looking at ideas of history as they were refracted by theory, criticism, journalism, and art. In this course, students will familiarize themselves with the forces at play in shaping representations of history and the present at the end of the 20th century, including mythology, spirituality, theology, as well as nationality and transnationality. They will also pay attention to the rhetorical and stylistic conventions of writing and making art about historical change and stasis. In their writing assignments, students will explore both scholarly and non-scholarly (e.g. journalistic) styles. Focusing primarily on the U.S., the course will zoom in on three important nexuses for historical imagining: the afterlives of the social movements loosely associated with the 1960s (e.g. Civil Rights, feminism, the New Left, anti-war activism); the end of the Cold War and the intensification of globalization discourses; and the AIDS crisis. Case studies will derive from the novels, plays, films, or journalistic essays of figures like Renata Adler, Toni Cade Bambara, Michael Cunningham, Joan Didion, Jamaica Kincaid, Tony Kushner, John Cameron Mitchell, Peter Watkins, and David Wojnarowicz. The course will also survey key arguments by critics and theorists, such as George B.N. Ayittey, Wendy Brown, Jacques Derrida, Francis Fukuyama, Fredric Jameson, and Alondra Nelson. (B, H)

Introduction to Fiction

Winter 2016-2017


Heather Keenleyside

This course will introduce students to narrative fiction from a variety of time periods, genres, and media, as well as to select works of criticism and theory. We will focus on key elements of narrative form (including voice, characterization, setting, description, plot, etc.), as well as on the uses and pleasures of narrative art. The course aims to help students broaden and deepen their historical knowledge and practical experience of fiction, and to develop analytical tools for reading and writing about it. (A, B)

Approaches to Theater 1: Ancient to Renaissance

Winter 2016-2017


John Muse

A survey of key concepts and trends in Western and non-Western theater from the ancient Greeks through the Renaissance, the course offers its students tools to understand and interpret dramatic literature and theatrical performance. We will read plays and performances closely, taking into account form, character, plot and genre, but also staging, acting, spectatorship, and historical conventions. In the process we will ask how various agents—playwrights, directors, performers, and audiences—generate plays and give them meaning, and students will become agents themselves by devising and performing scenes as a parallel mode of interpretation. No experience making theater required. Either term of the course satisfies the English Department's gateway requirement. (A, D, E)

Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

Winter 2016-2017


Mark Miller

This course is an examination of Chaucer's art as revealed in selections from The Canterbury Tales. Our primary emphasis is on a close reading of individual tales, with particular attention to the intersection of literary form with problems in ethics, politics, gender and sexuality. (C, E)

Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances

Winter 2016-2017


Tim Harrison

This course explores some of the major plays in the genres of tragedy and romance in the latter half of Shakespeare’s career. After having examined how Shakespeare develops and deepens the conventions of tragedy in Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra, we will turn our attention to how he complicates and even subverts these conventions in three romances: Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. Throughout, we will treat the plays as literary texts, performance prompts, and historical documents. (D, E)

Culture and the Police

Winter 2016-2017


Chris Taylor

How do cultural products facilitate, abet, and enable the form of social ordering that we call policing? This course will explore the policing function of what modernity calls “culture” by exploring the parallel histories of policing, the emergence of modern police theory, and the rise of the novel. We will focus in particular on how both literature and the police emerge to navigate a series of linked epistemological and political problematics: the relation between particularity and abstraction, the relation between deviance and normalcy, and indeed that of authority as such. While we will focus on texts from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic world, students with a broader interest in policing are encouraged to enroll. Readings will include Daniel Defoe, Patrick Colquhoun, Henry Fielding, G.W.F. Hegel, Jane Austen, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, D.A. Miller, Michael McKeon, Mary Poovey, and Mark Neocleous. (B, F, H)

Radical Romanticism: Poetry, Piracy, Pornography

Winter 2016-2017


Eric Powell

The Romantic period is a moment of convergence between politics and literature, in which piracy and pornography both played a key role. This course will consider what new insights into Romanticism can be gained through consideration of print culture, reading publics, and the political struggle for a free press. (C, F)

Nonsense Literature

Winter 2016-2017


Peter McDonald

This course explores the genre of nonsense literature from its Victorian incarnations to the present in authors such as Lewis Carroll, Gertrude Stein, and Angela Carter. We will look at the linguistic, aesthetic, and philosophical aspects of nonsense, but also the situations that provoke nonsense as a response to something overwhelming and incomprehensible. (B, G, H)