Courses

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).

Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies

Winter 2019-2020

16500

Richard Strier

An exploration of some of Shakespeare's major plays from the first half of his professional career when the genres in which he primarily worked were comedies and (English) histories. Plays to be studied include The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Richard III, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. A shorter and a longer paper will be required. (Pre-1650, Drama)

August and After: Contemporary Black Drama and Performance

Winter 2019-2020

17440

Tina Post

The American stage has seen an explosion of black playwrights since the 1990s. From the verbatim theater of Anna Deavere Smith to the cagey narrators of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, these playwrights have reimagined and reworked American drama’s conventions of form and mood. Performers like Ralph Lemon and Jennifer Kidwell are devising work at theater's intersection with dance, media, and visual art, and playwright Adrienne Kennedy has returned after a decade-long hiatus. This course surveys the landscape of contemporary back theater-makers and performance artists (and includes, where relevant, the historical predecessors they explicitly invoke or work against). What forces animate works of contemporary black theater and performance? What tropes or conventions do they jettison, and which do they keep? Is there enough uniting these works that an underlying coherence prevails, or does studying them alongside one another instead reveal the dissolution of a racial center? (Drama)

Inhabiting the Borderlands: Latinx Embodiment in Literature, Art, and Popular Culture

Winter 2019-2020

19880

Carmen Merport

How does a Latinx cultural identity become legible? What are the conditions of its recognition? What kinds of embodied practices and performances serve to point to the particular intersections of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender that can be termed “Latinx”? To approach these questions, this course will explore critical texts by Diana Taylor, Gloria Anzaldúa, Julia Alvarez, Coco Fusco, José Esteban Muñoz, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, among others, as well as performances, artwork, and literature by La Lupe, Walter Mercado, Yalitza Aparicio, Cherríe Moraga, Judith Baca, Carmen Maria Machado, and more. (Theory)

People, Places, Things: Victorian Novel Survey

Winter 2019-2020

21926

Elaine Hadley

Quarter Systems and the Victorian novel do not mix well, which is only to say that this course cannot aspire to a comprehensive accounting of the Victorian novel, or the myriad forms of the novel that emerged during Victoria’s reign (1837-1901). What it does seek to do, however, is give you some little sense of the Victorian novel’s formal and thematic range in a few of the uncharacteristically shorter novels of the period, and—in the bargain—give you a few critical tools and concepts to better figure out what these novels are and what they might be doing. Critical approaches to the Victorian novel are as varied as the novels themselves, perhaps, but I’ve tried to give you access to some of the more recent interventions that centrally query character and characterization (people), things and the circulation of things, and location and spatialization (places). Jane Eyre, Hard Times, Lady Audley’s Secret, The Warden, Jude the Obscure, The Hound of the Baskervilles. (Fiction, 1830-1940)

Diets and Other Body Horror: Modifying, Mortifying, and Masticating the Fictional Flesh

Winter 2019-2020

23506

Nell Pach

Physical bodies remain a cultural preoccupation – their maintenance is debated and obsessed over in every news cycle, food and diet bloggers meticulously photograph everything they put in their mouths, and body-modifying surgeries and “lifestyle” protocols constitute a multibillion-dollar industry. This course examines twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary responses to the persistent, problematic fantasy of remaking human bodies to bring them into alignment with standards of beauty, health – or something else entirely. Readings will take us from speculative fiction to dirty realism, Netflix shows to biopolitical and fat acceptance theory. Authors may include H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, Mary Gordon, and Roxane Gay. What do these narratives make of the gore and violence beneath the peaceful façade of bodily care and feeding, from the banal to the alien?

Race and Space

Winter 2019-2020

26206

Adrienne Brown

This course will look at the way that race is as much a product of space as it is of blood, skin, vision, or law. How does space determine the way we perceive race and how does race color the ways we experience and relate to space? Starting with post-antebellum rewritings of slavery’s spaces, moving through the hysteria surrounding passing and urbanization in the 1920’s, the role of the mid-century suburbs in reorganizing racial categories, the post-Civil Rights post-industrial city and the shoring up of the ghetto, to the current intersections between ideas of the post-racial and the post-spatial, this course will explore the novel as a key site for mediating the changing linked experience of race and space. (Fiction, 1830-1940)

Literature and the Financial Crisis of 2008

Winter 2019-2020

26249

Kenneth Warren

In this course we will look at 2008 stock market crash as an event within literary fiction among writers in the US, the UK, and South Asia. (Fiction, Theory)

Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance: Issues and Methods

Winter 2019-2020

27500

Kenneth Warren

In this course we will examine that period known as the Harlem Renaissance, partly as an exercise in literary criticism and theory, partly as an exercise in literary and intellectual history. Our objectives will be to critique the primary texts from this period and at the same time to assess the efforts of literary scholars to make sense of this moment in the history of American cultural production. (Fiction, Poetry, 1830-1940, Theory)

Nothing New Under the Sun? “Adapting” in Twentieth-Century Jewish Literature

Winter 2019-2020

27713

Chloe Blackshear

How do works as disparate as Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster’s first Superman comics, Joseph Roth’s moving Job (1930), or Cynthia Ozick’s golem novel The Puttermesser Papers (1997) treat the histories, genres, and texts they (arguably) refashion? In this course, we will take on and close-read a variety of fictions, treating these both as stand-alone works of art in their own right as well as participants in a kind of literary lineage (and sometimes a very non-linear one!). With the help of Linda Hutcheon’s Theory of Adaptation and other theorists, we will engage with different kinds of transfer (Bible to Novel, Fiction to Film/Television; Archive to Drama; Original to Translation, etc.). We will explore different ways of understanding “adaptation” as a concept across linguistic, temporal, and geographic axes, and we will also consider texts and stories which push against and challenge definitions of adaptation. Ultimately, we will ask: What counts as adaptation, and why adapt? Does the art of adaptation and remix take on particular resonances for Jewish diasporic and immigrant writers in the twentieth century? How do these authors and creators pull “original” works, stories and history into new contexts? How do they draw readers and audiences in to alternate, unfamiliar forms? How do popular genres deal with the weight of tradition? How do these fictions negotiate between the familiar and the strange, and to what ends?

Climate Change in Media and Design

Winter 2019-2020

27904

Patrick Jagoda; Benjamin Morgan

If meteorological data and models show us that climate change is real, art and literature explore what it means for our collective human life. This is the premise of many recent films, novels, and artworks that ask how a changing climate will affect human society. In this course, we will examine the aesthetics of climate change across media, in order to understand how narrative, image, and even sound help us witness a planetary disaster that is often imperceptible. Rather than merely analyzing or theorizing various futures, this course will prepare students in hands-on methods of “speculative design” and “critical making.” Each Tuesday, we will study how art and literature draw on the specific capacities of written and visual media to represent climate impacts, and how new humanities research is addressing climate change. Each Thursday, we will participate in short artistic exercises that explore futures of each area. These exercises include future object design, bodymapping and story circles, tabletop gameplay, and serious game design. Throughout the quarter, guest speakers from across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences will visit the class to speak about how their disciplines are working to understand and mitigate climate impacts. The most substantial work of the quarter will be an ambitious multimedia or transmedia project about one of the core course topics to be completed in a team.

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