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).

Romantic Endangerment

Winter 2016-2017


Alexis Chema

This course investigates the trope of endangerment in Romantic poetry, where it is used to interpret and respond to the sense of rupture that prevailed during a period that's been called “the age of revolutions.” We’ll examine how our primary texts draw analogies between historical, environmental, and civilizational decline (rural depopulation, the “westering” of civilization, millennialism, the extinction of the human species) and narratives of psychological and affective endangerment that give rise to literary preoccupations with aging, the waning of creativity and wonder, and the problem of passionate existence (it wears you out). If world and mind are both endangered, what modes of survival can literature imagine? (C, F)

Introduction to Postcolonial Literature and Theory

Winter 2016-2017


Rebecca Oh

This course will introduce students to questions and problems central to postcolonial literary studies. Through novels and theoretical pieces it will explore postcolonialism’s commitment to questioning dominant narratives of knowledge, versions of history, forms of identity and attachment, and versions of modernity centered on the nation. It will also explore experiences of diaspora and migration. (B, H)

Advanced Study Theater: Games and Performance

Winter 2016-2017


Patrick Jagoda; Heidi Coleman

This course is a working group to develop and implement a large scale alternate reality game (ARG) to be launched in 2017. Students in this course, thus, will not only be learning how to design a game but also contributing directly to the research and construction of this large-scale project that will develop capacities linked to collaboration, leadership, and twenty-first century literacies. In particular, we are interested in discovering how interactive and participatory learning methods might help University students discuss and better understand complicated issues of inclusivity, diversity, and safety.

Literature and Architecture: Between Utopia and Dystopia, Design and Occupation

Winter 2016-2017


Jennifer Scappettone

This course will explore the material repercussions of built, neglected, and mythologized environments on those who imagine and inhabit them, and the way the literary arts contribute to their shape. We will place the literature of the metropolis into dialogue with the writings and plans of architects and urbanists on the one hand, and activist/occupants on the other. We will study the creation (and sporadic dismantling) of the city from the perspective of its builders and inhabitants—moving swiftly from the nineteenth-century flaneur through Situationism, from the utopian schemes and conceptual architectures of the ‘60s and 70s and Occupy movements. A range of cities, visible and invisible, will be under consideration, with Chicago as our immediate case study: students will be required to attend or respond to a major symposium on Gwendolyn Brooks cosponsored by the University in April. In tandem with the reading of literary texts by authors ranging from Djuna Barnes and Virginia Woolf through Italo Calvino and Anne Boyer, we will engage with architectural history and theory, encountering works by figures such as Augustus Pugin, John Ruskin, Daniel Burnham, Le Corbusier, Manfredo Tafuri, Massimo Cacciari, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhass, Superstudio, and Pier Vittorio Aureli. (B, G, H)

Virginia Woolf

Winter 2016-2017


Lisa Ruddick

Along with a number of Woolf’s major works, students read theoretical and critical texts that give a sense of the range of contemporary approaches to Woolf. (B, G)

J.M. Coetzee

Winter 2016-2017


Brady Smith

J.M Coetzee is perhaps South Africa’s best-known novelist, not to mention an immensely popular figure in the contemporary world literary canon. But is Coetzee the South African author the same as Coetzee the giant of world literature? In what way does his place in South African literary history inform his reception as an essential part of global literary culture? This course puts Coetzee’s major novels in conversation with some of his key essays and criticism in order to provide students an intensive introduction of his broad and complex body of work. But it also brings Coetzee’s many different writings into dialogue with both some of the scholarship on his oeuvre and recent work on globalization and the production of world literature in order to examine the difference between Coetzee the South African novelist and Coetzee the world literary master. The wager of the course is that a close engagement with Coetzee and his career can develop key insights into the production and circulation of world literature in English as it exists today. (B, H)

Animals, Ethics, and Religion

Winter 2016-2017


Katharine Mershon

Why are some animals considered food and others objects of religious devotion? Why do we treat dogs like family and kill flies without a second thought? Why do animals appear so frequently as metaphors in our everyday speech? In this course, students will explore these questions by reading texts featuring animals in literature, scripture, and theory, ranging from the Bible, Zora Neale Hurston, and Franz Kafka to Flannery O’Connor and J.M. Coetzee. We will bring these diverse texts together in order to investigate how animals illuminate religious questions about the relationship among humans, animals, and the divine. (B)

Nineteenth Century Environmental Thought

Winter 2016-2017


Benjamin Morgan

This course examines nineteenth-century Anglophone writing about nature and the environment in the context of our present situation of anthropogenic climate change and biodiversity collapse. If we now live in a world where there is no longer such thing as “nature” untouched by humans, this is in part as a result of processes of industrialization that were set into motion in the nineteenth century. This course explores some of the ways in which nineteenth-century writers already understood the idea of a “natural environment” to be culturally made, and the forceful literary critiques of industrialization that the period produced. Particular attention will be given to English-language writers beyond Britain and the United States. Authors will include Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Olive Schreiner, Toru Dutt, and Sarojini Naidu. (B, G)

Ecopoetics: Nature, Lyric, and Ecology

Winter 2016-2017


Jose-Luis Moctezuma

This course will track the literary development of the concept and practice of "ecopoetics," with particular focus on the complex ethical responses that ecologically-minded poets and thinkers have made to the quandary of global warming and the emergence of the anthropocene. How might "lyrical thought" spawn modes of ecological practice and global-mindedness that are otherwise unthinkable in other disciplines and fields? In attempting to develop answers to this question, the course will place special pressure on the concept of "nature" and how such a concept creates the conditions for cultural forms that either contribute to, or work against, the specter of climate change. Is there one Nature or are there many natures? If poetry can produce, describe, and translate world(s), can poetry also "save the world"? We will read texts that look closely at how these two discourses--lyric and nature--in fact construct synthetic forms of ecological thinking. How might an “ecology of the mind” reflect or narrate the depressive environmental conditions of today? Can ecopoetry still be meaningful and productive in an age of rampant environmental desecration? (C, H)


Winter 2016-2017


Sonali Thakkar

This course reads works of postcolonial literature and theory in order to consider the entanglements of the figures of “women” and “natives” in colonial as well as postcolonial discourse. We will discuss topics such as the persistent feminization of the profane, degraded, and contagious bodies of colonized natives; representations of women as both the keepers and the victims of “authentic” native culture; the status (symbolic and otherwise) of women in anti-colonial resistance and insurgency; and the psychic pathologies (particularly nervous conditions of anxiety, hysteria, and madness) that appear repeatedly in these works as states to which women and/as natives are especially susceptible. And we will ask whether a theoretical concept such as écriture feminine, which identifies forms of literary production that register the specific traces of female difference, is meaningful in the context of embodied experience that is raced as well as gendered. (B, H)