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).

Culture and the Police

Spring 2019-2020

18108

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, Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Michael McKeon, Mary Poovey, and Mark Neocleous. (Fiction, 1650-1830, 1830-1940, Theory) This is a research and criticism seminar intended for third-year English majors.

Poetry in the Land of Childhood

Spring 2019-2020

19205

Alexis Chema

Cupboards and attics, nests and shells, the inside of a bush, the bottom of a rowboat: for the 20th century philosopher Gaston Bachelard, intimate “fibred” spaces like these have a special relation to childhood—both as it is experienced and as it is remembered. Taking the lead from Bachelard this course investigates the construction, beginning in the eighteenth century, of childhood as a particular kind of place, one that might be imaginatively accessed through poetic images, rhythm, and rhyme. Our readings will come from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—that is, from the birth of children’s literature to its “golden age”—and will take us from the nursery rhymes and cradle songs of early children’s poetry collections, through William Blake’s “forests of the night,” and to the wonderland of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. (Poetry, 1650-1830)

Portrait of the Artist as ___: Twentieth-Century Authorship in Theory and Practice

Spring 2019-2020

19890

Carmen Merport

Close your eyes and imagine an artist. What or who do you see? This course will explore the theories and representations of authorship and artistry that have shaped the way most of us imagine such figures. We will also discuss works of criticism, literature, and art that seek to counter or transform this tradition from a variety of angles and positionalities. Figures we will attend to include James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Frida Kahlo, Zora Neale Hurston, Vincent Van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. (Theory)

Introduction to Caribbean Studies

Spring 2019-2020

20046

Kaneesha Parsard

Why have critics, writers, and artists described the Caribbean as “ground zero” of Western modernity? Beginning with the period before European settlement, we will study slavery and emancipation, Asian indentureship, labor and social movements, decolonization, debt and tourism, and today’s digital Caribbean. We will survey literary and visual cultures, primary source documents, and thought across the English, French, Spanish, and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. All readings will be available in translation. (Fiction, Theory)

Approaches to Hamlet

Spring 2019-2020

20668

Nicholas Bellinson

In this course, we will consider Hamlet alongside different interpretations of and approaches to the play. We will read Hamlet slowly, carefully, patiently – allowing its “wild and whirling words” to settle in our minds and giving ourselves time to confront some of the play’s many aspects. Students will be expected to re-read Hamlet each week in addition to and in light of that week’s new reading(s).

Film and Fiction

Spring 2019-2020

20720

James Chandler

This will be a wide-ranging course that addresses three distinct but related critical problems in the contemporary understanding of film and fiction. The most general is the question of how we might go about linking the practice of criticism in the literary arts with that of the screen arts. Where are the common issues of structure, form, narration, point of view management, and the like? Where, on the other hand, are the crucial differences that lie in the particularities of each domain—the problem that some have labeled “medium specificity” in the arts? The second problem has to do more specifically with questions of adaptation. Adaptation is a fact of our cultural experience that we encounter in many circumstances, but perhaps in non more insistently as when we witness the reproduction of a literary narrative in cinematic or televisual form? Adaptation theory has taught us to look beyond the narrow criterion of “fidelity” a far too limiting in scope? But when we look beyond, what do we look for, and what other concepts guide our exploration? The third and final problem has to do with the now rampant genre of the “film based on fact,” especially when the facts derive from a particular source text, as in the recent case of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman? What has this genre become so popular? What are its particular genre markings (e.g., excessive stylization, the use of documentary footage of the actual persons and events involved)? What might its emergence have to do with the perceived crisis in the authority of reported facts in our time? There will screenings of adaptations and readings in the prose fiction on which they are based, both older (e.g., Austen, Shelley, and Dickens) and more recent (e.g., Ishuguro and Baldwin) as well as readings in both literary and film criticism. Possibilities for the films-based-on-fact that we might screen would include: American Hustle, Fruitvale Station, I Tanya, and BlacKkKlansman. Students enrolled in the course will be expected to complete a short written exercise at midterm (3-4 pp.) and a longer course paper (12pp.). (Fiction, Theory)

Third World Women’s Writing

Spring 2019-2020

21562

Sophia Azeb

Though a term initially coined by French anthropologist Alfred Sauvy to categorized “developing” nations unaligned with major world powers during the Cold War, this course asks how African, Asian, Caribbean, and other Third Worldist women writers reclaimed the “Third World” as a project of people-centered unity, and engineered what political and cultural possibilities Third Worldist literature might realize for women in the anti- and post-colonial eras and today. Students will read critical transnational feminist theory and scholarship alongside novels and short stories by such authors as Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, and Salwa Al Neimi. (20th/21st)

“In the Beginning”: Origin, Style, and Transformation in the King James Version Matrix

Spring 2019-2020

25113

Chloe Blackshear

The 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (KJV) set off a series of events and texts dedicated to the great influence of this literary classic—a vernacular English Bible from 1611. What is it about the KJV that has so obsessed readers and writers? How has it become part of and affected world literature? Are there competing ways of conceiving the biblical text in English literature? In this course, we will trace some of the KJV’s thematic and stylistic influences in global Anglophone literature; sometimes we will deal with direct allusion and rewriting, and other times we will study the possibilities of more tenuous links. In parallel to this work, we will problematize the KJV’s astounding centrality by: examining some pre-KJV literature and alternative early-modern and 20th century translations (particularly as these intersect with Jewish tradition); attending to subversive and postcolonial literary uses of the translation; and close-reading the political and ideological motivations behind certain forms of critical adulation. Texts examined may include works by authors such as George Peele, William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Cynthia Ozick, Zora Neale Hurston, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.

Literary Radicalism and the Global South: Perspectives from South Asia

Spring 2019-2020

25318

Abhishek Bhattacharyya

What does it mean to speak of literary radicalism? What are the hallmarks of a radical literature? And how does any such body of radical literature relate to the crucial question of empire, while also seeking to not be limited by that address? This course will explore the theme of literary radicalism through perspectives arising from South Asia. Over the twentieth century the subcontinent has been shaped through a wide variety of social and political movements: from anticolonial struggles to communist organising, feminist struggles, dalit mobilisation, indigenous protest and more, with their histories intertwining in different ways. We will start with a consideration of some texts on literary radicalism from other parts of the global South by authors such as Julia de Burgos and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and then move to a detailed discussion of South Asian texts in subsequent weeks. This course will work with specific texts every week to examine particular aspects of literary style and history. We will study texts from a variety of subcontinental languages (in translation, unless originally in English), and across different forms – poetry, short fiction, children’s literature, novels, a memoir, a graphic novel and a documentary film on a poet. By grappling at length with specific geopolitical and literary contexts in South Asia, and serving as an introduction to them, this course seeks to move beyond reading them reductively simply in relation to empire/colonialism or the metropolitan reader, while simultaneously looking back at the global divisions of power from their perspectives. No prior training in South Asia or literature courses is a requirement. Students aren’t required to know any languages of the global South, but are very welcome to bring any such knowledge into their contributions to and submissions for the class.

The American Classics

Spring 2019-2020

25405

Eric Slauter

This course offers an introduction to six of the greatest works of American literature: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter (1850), Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854), Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). Lectures invite you to immerse yourselves in the environments in which they were written and to explore the crucial literary, intellectual, social, religious, economic, and political contexts that shaped the production and reception of these distinctly American contributions to world literature. (Fiction, Poetry, 1830-1940)

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