The list below includes descriptions of a selection of undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Department of English.
Visit the undergraduate and graduate pages for course requirements for specific programs. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).
ENG 0001 English 1: Expository Writing. English 1 fulfills the first half of the college writing requirement for liberal arts students. For School of Engineering students, English 1 fulfills the English requirement. English 1 explores the principles of effective written communication and provides intensive practice in writing various types of expository prose, especially analysis and persuasion. Essays by contemporary and earlier authors will be examined as instances of the range and versatility of standard written English. English 1 is offered both semesters, with substantially fewer sections in the spring.
ENG 0002 English 2: First-Year Writing Seminars. English 2 fulfills the second half of the college writing requirement for liberal arts students. School of Engineering students are not required to take English 2. Like English 1, English 2 is a composition course designed to provide a foundation for writing in other courses. Unlike English 1, English 2 offers students the opportunity to choose among several seminar topics, all of which are approached in an interdisciplinary way. While drawing on various materials including fiction, essays, films and other visual and aural texts, English 2 puts the primary emphasis on students' own writing. English 2 is offered both semesters, with substantially fewer sections in the fall. English 1 (or 3) is a prerequisite for this course.
ENG 0003 English 3: Reading, Writing, Research. English 3 fulfills the first half of the college writing requirement for liberal arts students. For School of Engineering students, English 3 fulfills the English requirement. English 3 is designed for international students and for students who speak English as an additional language. This course explores the principles of effective written communication and provides intensive practice in writing various types of expository prose, especially analysis and persuasion. Essays by contemporary and earlier writers will be examined as instances of the range and versatility of standard written English. English 3 is offered in the fall semester as pass/fail.
ENG 0004 English 4: Writing Seminar. English 4 fulfills the second half of the College Writing Requirement for Liberal Arts students. Engineering students are not required to take English 4. English 4 is designed for international students and for students who speak English as an additional language. As in English 2, the seminar topics of English 4 are approached in an interdisciplinary way. While drawing on various materials including fiction, essays, films and other visual and aural texts, English 4 puts the primary emphasis on students' own writing. English 4 is offered in the spring semester; prerequisite is English 1 (or 3).
ENG 0005 Creative Writing: Fiction. In this generative workshop, we will read fiction from a writers' perspective while crafting our own short stories. Participants' work will be read and analyzed by their peers in a supportive workshop setting. In addition, we will address specific challenges and possibilities of fiction writing such as structure, tone, style, and point of view through brief creative exercises. At the end of the semester, students will compile portfolios that represent their growth as writers. Class time may be devoted to craft-based discussion of literary texts, as well as the workshopping of student drafts and other writing.
ENG 0006 Creative Writing: Poetry. In this generative workshop, we will read poetry from a writers' perspective while crafting our own poems. Participants' work will be read and analyzed by their peers in a supportive workshop setting. In addition, we will address specific challenges and possibilities in poetic composition such as form, tone, line, and argument through brief creative exercises. At the end of the semester, students will compile portfolios that represent their growth as writers. Class time may be devoted to craft-based discussion of literary texts, as well as the workshopping of student drafts and other writing.
ENG 0007 Creative Writing: Journalism. In this course, we will learn about various forms of journalism, from investigative and feature writing, to multimedia forms of reporting like broadcast and photojournalism. We will discuss journalism in the era of fake news, disinformation, misinformation and malinformation, exploring the ethics, importance and perils of journalism. We will also learn how to research topics we are passionate about, gather and synthesize information (through observation, interview, immersion and other techniques), and write succinct, energetic stories that are potentially publishable across print, digital and other media platforms, with an eye towards being a more engaged local and global citizen.
ENG 0010 Creative Nonfiction Writing. This course is an introduction to nonfiction writing in its various guises including the personal essay, literary journalism, travel writing, nature and science writing, humor, memoir and lyric/hybrid essay. We will explore the historical and cultural context of creative nonfiction, including publishing markets and trends in the field, and study the structure, techniques and range of narrative possibilities each of these subgenres provides us. We will read such writers as Joan Didion, Dave Eggers, Lucy Grealy, James Baldwin, Pico Iyer, Mary Karr, Philip Lopate, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Tobias Wolff, among others, and work on reverse engineering successful pieces of writing to determine for ourselves how an author uses rhetoric and figurative language to craft something memorable. We will learn the basics of interviewing, immersion, and research techniques, provide feedback to the other writers in class in a workshop setting and create works of our own original nonfiction using the course as a safe space for practice, inquiry, and experimentation.
ENG 0011 Intermediate Journalism. In this class, students will learn how to report and write complex stories about some of today’s most pressing issues. The first unit of the course will introduce students to three genres of longform journalism—the feature, the profile, and the investigative piece—and focus on how to pre-report and pitch such articles. In the next unit, students will work independently on an article of their own design; students will workshop this article at different stages in class. Throughout, we’ll discuss how to report these pieces, how to approach difficult sources, how to use multimedia to our advantage, and how to narrate complex and layered stories; we’ll also discuss the logistical and ethical issues that inevitably arise while doing this work. Guest speakers will offer their real-world experience and advice. Students enrolling in the course should be familiar with the basics of writing and reporting learned in intro journalism.
ENG 0013 Writing Fiction: Advanced. In this course, students will reimagine and revise short stories in a supportive writing community. We will read short stories from a writer's and editor's perspective, exploring a wide range of topics intended for students who have taken ENG 0005 (Creative Writing: Fiction). In addition to discussing published pieces and essays on craft, students will write and rewrite their own stand-alone short stories, as well as offer constructive feedback to one another through small group and full class workshops. This class is more focused on revision than on first drafts, though students should expect to write one new story for this class. Students should also be prepared for intensive take-home reading reflections, in-class writing exercises, revision exercises, and other tailored assignments.
ENG 0014 Topics in Fiction Writing: Writing Speculative Fiction. This course is open to students who have already taken at least one semester of ENG 5 or have equivalent experience in a fiction workshop setting. This is a craft-based advanced-level writing workshop on the composition of speculative fiction, with special attention to the philosophy of speculation, world-building, imagination, and preserving complexity of character in a speculative modality. Students will write and revise their own works of fiction, as well as offer feedback to one another according to a traditional workshop model. Students should also be prepared to read and comment on some sample texts, perform some writing and developmental exercises, and to work toward a rewritten final project that embodies ideas developed during the semester. Students without the relevant prerequisites are free to contact the instructor to discuss admission.
ENG 0016 Writing Poetry: Advanced. This course is open to students who have already taken at least one semester of ENG 6 (two are recommended) or have equivalent experience in a poetry workshop setting. In addition to craft-based discussions of literary texts, students will write and revise their own works of poetry, as well as offer feedback to one another in a supportive workshop setting. Students should also be prepared to work on reading reflections, writing exercises, and developing a sustained poetry practice, project, or collection of poems.
ENG 0017 Topics in Poetry Writing: The Historical Imaginary. How can we use poetic intervention to mediate between the language of history and the language of the imagination? Is it possible to push our poems and creative projects so that they not only recall, but also reclaim, rename, or otherwise reimagine the events, documents, materials, and records of the past? In this advanced creative writing workshop, we will seek answers to these questions and more by reading, writing, and discussing your own historical imaginary poems. We will look at mentor texts – from classic documentary examples like Muriel Ruykeyser’s Book of the Dead (1938) and Theresa Hak Cha’s Dictee (1982) – to more recent reimaginings of historical language, such as Cathy Park Hong’s use of pidgin in Dance Dance Revolution (2007), M. Nourbese Philip’s book-length cut-up of a legal document in Zong! (2008), or Solmaz Sharif’s reuse of US military language in Look (2016). As we go along, we will think of craft techniques that make use of found text, narrative, fragment, erasure, and disjuncture, with the aim of generating alternative – and sometimes fantastical – stories. This course is for those who are ready to complete a chapbook or book-length object. It is also designed to help you push the boundaries of genre and form in your work. As you move towards your final project, you will be invited to think about the line, the stanza, the page, the sequence as sites to formally, linguistically, or metaphorically re-imagine.
ENG 0022 Crisis and Critique: British Lit. from 1780 to 1950. This survey course offers an introduction to major works of British and Irish literature from the revolutionary movements of the late eighteenth century to the shock of modernism in the early twentieth century. Viewing these brilliantly original, enormously influential, and often disturbing works in relation to the political and social crises that dominated the period, we will consider the ways in which Romantics, Victorians, and Modernists responded to industrialization, urbanization, imperialism, immigration, mass literacy, changing roles for women, the rise of fascism, and two world wars. We will pay close attention to the innovative and experimental aspects of the literary works and to transformations in the understanding of art and authorship. But we will also study the implication of those works of art in the structure of their society, inflamed as it was by imperial aggressions, racist ideologies, sexual anxieties, and progressive aspirations. Readings will include poems, plays, essays, and two short novels.
ENG 0023 Dissent and Democracy: American Literature to 1900. From the beginning American literature has been multicultural, artistically diverse, and filled with debates about human rights, religion, gender equality, economics, race, personal freedom, and how to live in relationship with the earth. Bringing together Native American, white European American, African American, Latinx, and Asian American voices, this survey mixes canonical and less well-known texts. We’ll read work by familiar writers such as Phyllis Wheatley and Nathaniel Hawthorne as well as work by equally important but often less-familiar writers such as Handsome Lake, David Walker, William Apess, and Chinese merchants in California. We will think about the construction of literary history and the politics of representation. Who gets to speak? Write? Read? Who does not? Why does this matter in 2024?
ENG 0051 Shakespeare – S. In this course, we will undertake a careful study of eight or nine of Shakespeare's plays: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, King Lear, and The Winter's Tale. We will place a strong emphasis on gender and sexuality and consider questions about race where possible. We will proceed largely through close analysis, but we will engage historical contexts as well. Please note: Shakespeare S (this course) and Shakespeare F (English 50) are not a sequence; they are courses that present two different selections of plays, chosen from the entirety of Shakespeare's career. You are free to take both courses; you may not repeat either one of them. This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0064 American Fiction 1950-Present. This study of diverse novels written after 1950 will focus on the emergence of the postmodern in U.S. arts and culture, with emphasis on formal developments, aesthetic consequences, and social implications. We will read a wide range of texts from a variety of American perspectives to explore the decline of canonical exclusivity and the rise of multicultural pluralism in American fiction. Our study will note the hybridization of forms and the appropriation of non-literary discourses to fashion fictive texts. It will consider as well the decentering of the traditional subject and the configuration of numerous and diverse subjectivities newly empowered in literary discourse and through social change in this period– the period which has directly engendered our present moment. Reading the texts juxtaposed with and across each other, and in their moment of composition and publication, we will piece together an understanding of what it means to be “American” in the postmodern era. The course will ask you to think about whether, as it is already being said, we are in the post-postmodern moment, and, if so, what that could mean in terms of trends and preferences in forms and styles of contemporary American literature; and in values of and ways of life in the American twenty-first century. Our readings will include authors such as Jack Kerouac, John Okada, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Renata Adler, Norman Mailer, Cynthia Ozick, Ishmael Reed, Gayl Jones, David Foster Wallace, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Pynchon. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0069 Contemporary Multi-Ethnic Literature. This course explores the various ways that recent writers and visual media artists from disparate communities of color in the United States articulate resistance and envision community in or through their work. We will explore examples in literature, film, and television to consider how and for whom these contemporary US texts represent race, gender, sexuality, power, and citizenship. Readings will also include essays and journalistic writing in conjunction with literary and visual materials. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0082 Political Cinema. In this seminar, we will be looking at a series of films that explicitly depict politics in its more or less familiar forms—campaigns, elections, revolutions, counter-revolutions, organized movements in favor of civil rights. Instead of simply asking how these films represent politics, we will be approaching them with a view toward understanding the interplay between politics and cinema. We will be thinking, that is, about politics and cinema as overlapping, competing, and interdependent representational systems. One of our main concerns, therefore, will be the complex reciprocal relations between Hollywood and Washington. But our focus will not be limited to mainstream cinema in the United States; we will also consider political cinema in other countries. While most of the works we will discuss will be full-length fictional films (often based, however, on “true stories”), we will turn our attention to some documentaries as well. Films likely to be chosen include: Selma, Malcolm X, Sorry to Bother You, Snowpiercer, One Night in Miami, Mangrove, Salt of the Earth, Nashville, City Hall, The Last Hurrah, A Face in the Crowd, The Manchurian Candidate, Dr. Strangelove, The Battle of Algiers, and All Light, Everywhere. Students will be required to write a few short (two-to-three-page) papers and one longer (ten-page) paper. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0089 Feminism in Twentieth-Century US Literature and Culture. Feminism in Twentieth-Century US Literature and Culture: This course examines how the postwar U.S. women’s movement for equality, born of the mid-twentieth century antiwar and civil rights movements, made civic, legal and ethical changes that are expressed in representations of women in literature and film, in mass and high cultures, and in women’s experiences across lines of race, class, ethnic, and sexuality. We will study novels, poetry, and essays, as well as films, to explore the impact of second wave feminism on discourses of gender and women’s equality. The course will cover critiques made by feminist writers with a view to understanding a central insight of feminism, that forms of knowing are not universal but culturally constructed, contextual, mutable; gendered; and that gender identity is intersectional, a simultaneity of class, race, sexuality and ethnicity. Our study questions feminism as postmodern and speculates how postmodernism is in part a feminist production; how the emergence of the postmodern fits with recognitions about gender and sexual liberations in the postwar U.S. women’s movement. We will read Riot Grrrl manifestos and zines to discern a next stage – possibly a third wave – of feminism’s challenge to assumptions about women’s places in patriarchy. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0056 Literature of Migration: Past and Present. This introductory course will examine a selection of migration literature from early modernity (c. 1492-1660) to the present, to explore how the history of human movement intersects with the history of literature. Two-thirds of the semester will be devoted to the literature of the Renaissance (e.g., Petrarch, de Léry, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Aphra Behn): a pivotal moment in world history that witnessed mass migrations on a global scale. Next, we will turn to the relative present, to contemporary writers and critics whose works have been informed by their experience as migrants (e.g., Tayeb Salih, Eva Hoffman, Mohsin Hamid, Vladimir Nabokov). This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0092-01 Topics in Lit. & Culture: The Elizabethan Bestsellers. This course will examine some of the most commercially successful forms of Elizabethan literature to ask a simple but salient question: What does it mean for literature to be popular? The invention of the printing press brought about unprecedented opportunities for poets and playwrights eager to make a name for themselves. But to succeed in the new literary economy, writers had to become adept at responding to the public’s desires (even unconscious ones) without offending them, or worse, boring them. So what makes a literary work a hit? We’ll find sex and violence sell, but so do love, adventure, magic, humor, crime, xenophobia, imperialist fantasies, and more. This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0107 Old English. An introduction to the Old English language and literature, and to Anglo-Saxon culture. Like any course in a foreign language, this one requires a certain amount of memorization--of vocabulary and grammatical paradigms. But Old English is not that difficult to learn, and our emphasis will be literary. We will read a selection of prose works and lots of poetry, including The Dream of the Rood, The Battle of Maldon, and Beowulf. This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0113 Renaissance Drama: Gender, Sexuality, and Power. The Renaissance is unquestionably the greatest age of the drama in England; Shakespeare's plays are only the best-known examples of the outpouring of theatrical activity that occurred during the period. In this course, we will read the always fascinating (and sometimes gruesome) plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries and successors, many of whom adopted more radical stances toward the major issues of their time. As we examine their presentations of various forms of power, their constructions of gender and sexuality, and their attitudes towards language and the theater, we will discover why many of these plays have been termed "oppositional drama" and "radical tragedy." We will begin by examining Christopher Marlowe's frontal assaults on contemporary orthodoxies, and we will consider the construction of sodomy in his plays. We will go on to explore the development of the drama of blood and revenge, which was introduced in The Spanish Tragedy, and which exploded in what has been called the "parody and black camp" of The Revenger's Tragedy. We will then explore the tensions which tear apart Ben Jonson's more conservative comedies. Finally, we will look at a selection of 17th -century plays about women: The White Devil, The Duchess of Malfi, The Roaring Girl, The Changeling, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and The Convent of Pleasure. We will discuss their varying attitudes toward female autonomy and desire, and consider why women became such central figures in the drama at this time. Throughout the course, we will think about these texts’ investment in their own (sometimes quite extreme) theatricality, and we will attempt to do justice to their pervasive sense of play. This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0123 Frankenstein’s Sisters: Austen and Shelley. During the early decades of the 19th C, Jane Austen wrote domestic fiction focused on the experience of an ordinary (more or less privileged) young woman in the circumscribed world of the English gentry. Beginning with Frankenstein in 1818, Mary Shelley invented stories about monsters, forbidden passions, and the end of the human race. What concerns do these two apparently so different authors share? What does reading Austen’s marriage plots alongside Shelley’s gothic dystopias tell us about British women’s writing in the first half of the 19th C? To address these questions, we will consider the conventions of the genre they take up but also resist, their experiments with style and narrative voice, and the formulations of gender, class, race, and nation (more or less explicitly) at issue in their novels. Open to all students who have fulfilled the English 1 requirement. This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0114 Milton. Although we will read much of Milton's English poetry, together with selections from his controversial prose, we will focus on Milton's epic, Paradise Lost. We will read Milton's work both as an aesthetic production and in the religious, social, political, and cultural context of the Puritan revolution. We will also study the manner in which Milton shaped the concept of the poet's "career," and the influence of that concept on subsequent definitions of the poet's role in society. This course satisfies the pre-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0131 British Modernism. This course is an undergraduate seminar devoted to a survey of British literature published in the first half of the twentieth century. We will be thinking about how the writers of this era used experiments with literary form and style to question both received aesthetic standards and the stability of cultural norms more generally. As we play close attention to the linguistic texture of these works, we will be connecting the specifically literary to larger historical events and cultural currents, including feminism, colonialism and rebellion, WWI and the fascism leading to WWII. Complementing Eurocentric novels by writers like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce with more internationally-focused and racially-conscious texts by E.M. Forster and C.L.R. James will help think about the political ramifications of modernist aesthetics and will even lead us to interrogate where the category of the literary ends and "the world" begins. In addition to the authors mentioned, other figures we will study include W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bowen, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and Samuel Beckett. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0139 Emotion and American Literature. When we talk about reading, we often talk about emotion: Does a novel exhaust or excite you? Does it make you happy or sad? Emotion is also central to debates about literature’s political impact: Can, or how can, works of fiction encourage readers to feel sympathy for marginalized groups or outrage over a particular injustice? Do such emotions encourage political action, or do they merely make readers feel virtuous? This course draws on classic and contemporary science and philosophy of emotion to think in depth about the power and pitfalls of literary feeling. Beginning with Uncle Tom's Cabin as the quintessential “sentimental” novel, we’ll move on to consider the politics and aesthetics of emotions including disgust, cynicism, shame, grief, and rage. Authors may include Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, David Walker, Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman. This course fulfills the pre-1860 requirement for English majors and counts toward the Civic Action and Social Movements requirement for Civics Studies majors.
ENG 0146 20th Century Black Women’s Writing. In 1900, black enfranchisement altered the social fabric of American life. Distinct from black journalists such as Ida B. Wells who employed data to document the rise of white terrorism, novelist Pauline Hopkins asks, “of what use is fiction to the colored race at the present crisis in history?”
Although this course reads a range of literary genres, we will follow Hopkins’ creative impulse to examine fiction’s documentary function. For Hopkins, fiction permitted a detailed exploration into black womanhood as well as the patriarchal limitations of black manhood in ways that could not represented statistically, but rather required the rigor of imagination. Beginning with the social, political, and economic forces that shaped black women’s lives following Emancipation, this seminar traces black women’s writing in North America across the 20th century. We will examine how, in striving for a published voice, writers such as Pauline Hopkins, Zora Neale Hurston, Ann Petry, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks, June Jordan, and Octavia Butler did not simply hold a mirror to society, but actively sought to change it. Some critical questions under consideration include: What can readers of American literature learn from the practices and political longings of black women writers? Additionally, how has American national life profited from black women’s cultural work? Other themes under consideration include the development of racial and sexual identity, critiques of democratic idealism and cis-hetero patriarchy, and the practice of world building. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 0160 Environmental Justice and World Literature. Who is most hurt by environmental degradation and abuse and who benefits? In this course we’ll examine what contemporary world literature has to say about environmental racism, ecofeminism, and toxic colonialism. We will be attentive to such issues as the social construction of nature, globalization, and urban ecological issues. We will ask: What is the role of art in the struggle for social change?
Readings include authors from diverse racial and national locations—Zambia, South Africa, multicultural U.S., India, Jamaica, Nigeria, Canada, Guatemala and China. Our study will focus on the intersection of environmental issues and various systems of social injustice, especially racism, sexism, and economic inequity. Primary texts include films, essays, poems, and the following novels: Helena María Viramontes, Under the Feet of Jesus and Helon Habila, Oil on Water. This course meets a number of articulated English Department, Civic Studies, and Environmental Studies objectives (and fulfills the post-1860 English major requirement), especially in its emphasis on critical thinking, historical and socio-political contexts, and diverse aesthetics. Above all, the goal of this course is empowerment for social change. How can each of us participate as a change agent in the struggle for environmental justice, locally and globally? How can our reading of literature contribute?
ENG 0186 How Films Think. This class starts from the premise that cinema is, among other things, a machinery of thought. But what does it mean to say that films think? How do the resources of the medium produce a cinematic language that shapes not only their narratives but also our understanding of the medium itself? This course will examine various elements of cinematic construction—montage, the long take, point of view, shot/reverse shot, the mobile camera, deep focus, non-diegetic sound, among other aspects of filmic discourse—as used by specific film-makers to think in cinematic terms. Our attention will be centered on the elaboration of a rhetoric of film by which particular film-makers generate a sort of visual philosophy: a way of thinking simultaneously with and about the filmic medium. We will focus on a small group of American directors (likely to include Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Kathryn Bigelow, Stanley Kubrick, Dee Rees, and Quentin Tarantino) to see how they extend the possibilities of cinema by defining distinctive ways of thinking in film. Depending on their availability for screening, works to be studied will probably include Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Kill Bill (Volumes 1 and 2), Pariah, The Hurt Locker, and Apocalypse Now. Registration in this class is limited to English majors, FMS majors, and students who have received permission of the instructor. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG0192-01 Seminar in English: Contemporary Black Memoirs. Contemporary Black Memoirs examines the narrative, documentary, and autotheoretical experiments critical to writing the experiences of the blackened, queer, and disabled. Together we will study how the memoir introduces a medium for archiving individual and collective history. Topics range from autoethnography, biomythography, travelogue, fourth person narration, and queer and trans poetics. Authors include Zora Neale Hurston, Paule Murray, Saidiya Hartman, Audre Lorde, Nikky Finney, Kiese Laymon, Shayla Lawson, Akweke Emezi, and Cole Arthur Riley. This course satisfies the post-1860 requirement for English majors.
ENG 288 Graduate Seminar: Colloquium. A series of 2-hour colloquia run by distinguished professors at other schools; each year, the invitees will be selected to cover a wide variety of specialties. In advance of each colloquium, a selection from the visiting professor’s work-in-progress is distributed; students discuss the work in detail at the colloquium, raising pertinent questions and offering feedback. Required of all graduate students currently in classes; those who have finished coursework are welcome to attend.
ENG 0292-01 Graduate Seminar: Epic Falls, Novel Rises. Where did the novel come from? Here’s one answer: “The novel,” writes Georg Lukács, “is the epic of a world that has been abandoned by God.” In this class, we’ll survey the rise of the novel by thinking about the fall of the epic. At some point, in the late seventeenth century, just after the publication of perhaps the greatest epic poem (Milton’s Paradise Lost), it appeared no longer possible to write epics: sweeping, total visions of human existence guaranteed by the divine. Instead, poets could only manage various “mock epics” (diminished, parodic, demystified versions of the greater epic). At about the same, the novel sprung into existence. Although the novel still tried, impossibly, to capture the totality of existence, it was not the epic but something new: a form more suited to the alienated, instrumentalized, damaged life of capitalist modernity. The class will begin by considering the epic at its paradoxical apogee and eclipse with Milton’s Paradise Lost. We’ll then turn to some “mock epics” (most prominently: Pope’s Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad). From there we settle into the rise of the novel with the writing of Defoe, Haywood, Behn, Swift, Fielding, Burney, Sterne. Along the way we’ll also consider some novel- and epic-adjacent works like Cowper’s The Task and Equiano’s Interesting Narrative. Theorists will include: Hegel, Marx, Lukács, Bakhtin, Watt, Horkheimer/Adorno, Habermas, Jameson, Postone, Gilroy, Toscano/Kinkle, Santner, Brown, Blanton, Ngai, Kornbluh, Lowe.
ENG 0292-02 Graduate Seminar: Recovering Early American Multi-ethnic Lit: Problems and Propositions. In this course, we will consider editorial theory in the context of the “archival turn” in literary studies. We will think very carefully about early American, multi-ethnic literature, paying special attention to how authors and their texts are “recovered” by scholars and re-presented to a modern reading public. We will seek to make visible the hidden desires that undergird the editorial decisions that have informed how multi-ethnic American literature has appeared in print and continues to do so.
ENG 0292-03 Graduate Seminar: Ovid & Spencer or Canterbury Tales. This seminar will focus on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and on the most Ovidian parts of Spenser’s Faerie Queene: Books 3 and 4, selections from Book 6, and the Mutabilitie Cantos. Ovid is the most powerfully influential Roman poet in European literature from the 12th century on. His Metamorphoses, an epic or anti-epic, serves as the major source of classical mythology for later poets and painters, who also show their great debt to his style, his focus on the pathos and comedy of love, and his continuing interest in the tensions between permanence and change, reason and the irrational, the human and the natural world, the divine and the human. Spenser is one of Ovid’s most important poetic descendants in English literature. He in part reads Ovid through the perspective of earlier Ovidian writers (such as Dante, Chaucer, and Froissart) and commentators; but he is also thoroughly at home with the text of the Metamorphoses. Reading the two poets together illuminates them both, and many other literary works as well.