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).


Autumn 2016-2017


John Wilkinson

In this course, we will study poetry “in the abstract.” We will study various efforts on the part of philosophers, literary critics, and poets themselves to formulate theories of poetic discourse. We will examine a range of historical attempts to conceptualize poetry as a particular kind of language practice, from Aristotle to Adorno and beyond. But we will also question the very project of thinking about “poetics” as opposed to “poetry” or “poems.” Is it possible to theorize the art form without doing violence to the particularity—and peculiarity—of individual poems themselves? (20th/21st)

T.S. Eliot

Spring 2016-2017

26614 / 34850

Rosanna Warren

With the major new edition of Eliot’s poems by Jim McCue and Christopher Ricks, the new volumes of Eliot’s letters, and two separate new editions of Eliot’s complete prose, we are in a position to rethink the meanings and force of Eliot’s life work. The class will be devoted to careful reading of his poems, essays, plays, and correspondence, with attention to his literary , cultural, and political contexts. (C, G)

Old English

Winter 2016-2017

14900 / 34900

Christina von Nolcken

This course aims to provide the linguistic skills and the historical and cultural perspectives necessary for advanced work on Old English. There will be regular exercises and midterm and final examinations. A second quarter of Old English focusing on Beowulf will be offered to interested students in Spring Quarter 2017 as a reading course. Undergraduate: (C, E) Graduate: (Med/Ren)


Spring 2016-2017

15200 / 35200

Christina von Nolcken

This course will aim to help students read Beowulf while also acquainting them with some of the scholarly discussion that has accumulated around the poem. We will read the poem as edited in Klaeber’s Beowulf (4th ed., Univ. of Toronto Press, 2008). Once students have defined their particular interests, we will choose which recent approaches to the poem to discuss in detail; we will, however, certainly view the poem both in itself and in relation to Anglo-Saxon history and culture in general. (C, E)

Transcendentalism in American Life

Winter 2016-2017


Eric Slauter

This course explores idealism and materialism in nineteenth-century American intellectual and cultural history, charting the growth of Transcendentalism as a revolt against contemporary American society as well as the effect of Transcendentalism on that society. We’ll examine the Americanization of British and Continental idealism, focusing on the reception of Coleridge, Carlyle, Goethe and others; the institutionalization of Transcendentalism around Emerson, including the creation of literary magazines, lecture series, and reform societies; the politics and ethics of Transcendentalism, focusing on Fuller and Thoreau; and the westward expansion of Transcendentalism, including the St. Louis Hegelians and the early writings of Dewey. (18th/19th)

Gower and Langland: Ethics, Politics, Aesthetics

Winter 2016-2017


Mark Miller

Both Gower and Langland are centrally concerned with developing literary forms that give expression to moral and political demands. For this reason, both are determinedly anti-moralistic, troubling the terms in which such demands might be formulated. This course focuses on the questions of how moral and political claims and problems are represented, and what is thereby lost or repressed. “Representation” here points us towards aesthetics, in the sense that close attention to literary form is essential to making out how these questions emerge in the texts of Gower and Langland. But we will also attend to the broader senses in which figuration and formalization are at issue in psychic and social representation, and therefore in the ways that the dimensions of the moral and the political emerge and are foreclosed, whether literarily or otherwise. Our main texts will be John Gower’s Confessio Amantis and William Langland’s The Vision of Piers Plowman. Writing for the course will include regular Chalk postings, a short (3-page) paper and a longer (15-page) final paper. (Med/Ren)

Reading the Suburbs

Spring 2016-2017


Adrienne Brown

From midcentury writers like John Cheever, John Updike, and Richard Yates to the more contemporary work of Richard Ford, Tom Perrotta and shows like The Real Housewives the suburbs have largely been thought of as a place of homogenous unhappiness. In this class, we will both look at how this narrative has been constructed over the last sixty years while also interrogating the centrality of this claim by looking at works troubling its claims by authors such as Anne Petry, Chang Rae Lee, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alice Childress. Alongside fiction, we will be looking at history, advertising, and film that contextualize the rise of the suburbs, helping us understand the key role the suburbs played and continue to play in the accumulation of wealth, racial mobility, second wave feminism, and policing. (20th/21st)

Migrations, Refugees, Races

Spring 2016-2017

25011 / 36183

Edgar Garcia

This MA/BA-level course introduces students to globalization theory, with particular attention to readings that showcase the displacements and migrations that characterize the era of advanced global capitalism. Fleeing economic, social, and climatological collapse, migrants hardly find a second home; they become refugees without refuge. The limits on their flourishing extend far beyond the national borders that they cross in search of livable life. Wherever they go, they are discriminated and psychologically segregated by discourses of race nationalism, discourses in which migrations give rise to races. This course will focus on this process of migrant racialization—all the more pressing in light of current world events—with a curriculum that includes works by Weber, Simmel, Smohalla, Benedict Anderson, Anzaldúa, Appadurai, Brathwaite, Walter Benjamin, Celan, Derrida, Eggers, Ghosh, Le Guin, Glissant, Vine Deloria Jr., Woody Guthrie, Mbembe, Haraway, Tsing, Giddens, Negri and Hardt, Jason Moore, Bhabha, August Wilson, Sterling Brown, Big Bill Broonzy, Jacob Lawrence, Miguel Méndez, Mary Louise Pratt, Momaday, Silko, Canclini, Karen Tei Yamashita, Heise, Gikandi, Schmidt-Camacho, Fields and Fields, Bonilla-Silva, and Massey, in addition to film screenings and field exercises. Undergraduate: (H), Graduate: (20th/21st)

Richer and Poorer: Income Inequality

Spring 2016-2017

26250 / 36250

Elaine Hadley

Current political and recent academic debate has centered on income or wealth inequality. Data suggests a rapidly growing divergence between those earners at the bottom and those at the top. This course seeks to place that current concern in conversation with a range of moments in nineteenth and twentieth century history when literature and economics converged on questions of economic inequality. In keeping with recent political economic scholarship by Thomas Piketty, we will be adopting a long historic view and a somewhat wide geographic scale as we explore how economic inequality is represented, measured, assessed and addressed. Readings will include some of the following literature, Hard Times, Le Pere Goriot, The Jungle, The Time Machine, Native Son, Landscape for a Good Woman, White Tiger, and some of the following economic and political texts Principles of Political Economy, The Acquisitive Society, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Capital (Marx and Piketty), The Price of Inequality and Inequality Re-examined. Undergraduate: (B, G, H), Graduate: (18th/19th)

Shakespeare’s History Plays

Autumn 2016-2017

16550 / 36550

David Bevington

This course on Shakespeare's English history plays will adopt an unusual stratagem of reading the plays in order of the historical events they depict: that is, starting with King John, who ruled England from 1199 until his death in 1216, then (after a sizable interval of time devoted to the reigns of Henry III, 1216-1272, Edward I, 1272-1307, Edward II, 1307-1327, and Edward III, 1327-1377, not dramatized by Shakespeare), Richard II (reigned 1377-1390), Henry IV Parts I and II (1399-1413), Henry V (1413-1422), Henry VI Parts I-III (1422-1461 and 1470-1471, alternating with Edward IV, 1461-1470, 1471-1483), Richard III (1483-1485), and finally Henry VIII (1509-1547, having succeeded his father, Henry VII, who reigned from 1485-1509 and whose reign is not celebrated by a Shakespeare play). The emphasis will be on the great plays, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and II, Henry V, and Richard III. My hope is that this approach will enable us to explore Shakespeare's concept of English history over a large sweep of time, leading up to the Tudor dynasty that began with Henry VII's victory over Richard III in 1485 and concluded with the long and successful reign of Elizabeth I, Henry VIII's daughter, whose rule ended with her death in 1603, soon after Shakespeare had completed his writing of all these plays except Henry VIII. We will be reading the plays in the order in which they were printed in the first complete edition of Shakespeare works in the 1623 First Folio. Undergraduate: (D, E) Graduate: (Med/Ren)