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 workshop, you will work as a writer and reader of new fiction. All participants write two original short stories, which will be read and analyzed by their colleagues, and revised throughout the semester. In addition, you will address specific challenges of structure, tone, style, point of view, etc., by writing brief creative exercises, which illustrate how writers invent dramatically different solutions to a single problem. At the semester’s end, writers compile portfolios to represent their progress and accomplishments. Class time will be devoted to craft-based discussion of model literary texts, as well as workshopping of student drafts and assignments.
ENG 0006 Creative Writing: Poetry. This course is a beginning poetry workshop whose primary text is your poems. Each week we will read and discuss your work. We'll be thinking about what makes a powerful free verse poem as you develop a more sophisticated vocabulary regarding the art of making poems. Requirements for the class include your willingness to write a great deal, to attend class regularly, and to meet for conferences over the course of the semester.
ENG 0007 Creative Writing: Journalism. Living in an era of fake news, disinformation, misinformation and malinformation, it is more imperative than ever to examine the ethics, importance and perils of journalism. In this course, we will learn about how this form of writing differs in American than in other countries, examining how the First Amendment has helped to shape the many forms journalism takes today, from investigative and feature writing to multimedia forms of reporting like broadcast and photojournalism. We will discuss how journalists are under attack in Hong Kong, Russia, Uzbekistan and elsewhere, and how social media has been mobilized to distort the truth intentionally. Hunter S. Thompson, father of gonzo journalism, believed that objective journalism is a pompous contradiction in terms and used hyperbole and humor in his longform writing, whereas Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who was murdered in the stairwell of her flat in 2006 wrote that she had been under daily assault, "merely for reporting what I have witnessed, nothing but the truth." We will discuss what our idea of truth might be and whether it can be rendered without bias, particularly when the digital revolution has transformed the way we deliver and consume the news. Bring your curiosity to class, because we will 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, always with an eye towards being a more engaged local and global citizen.
ENG 0010 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 0016 Forms of Poetry. How can we, as writers, find new ways of making our fears, our pains, and our ideas felt? In particular, how can we discover new possibilities and strengths by writing with or against already-existing language, materials, structures, and sounds? This course will focus on inherited and invented forms of poetry and their potential to capture our contemporary feelings. You will read poets who refashion traditional verse forms, those who develop their own forms through erasure and disruption, as well as those who seemingly reject the concept of form altogether while still establishing a sense of coherence on the page. As writers, you will develop a complex understanding of the tools, approaches, and techniques that poets use to negotiate questions of power, language, and craft (fearful symmetries), and think about how women and minorities in particular have worked with or against formal constraints in an effort to capture felt experience.
In the first portion of our class meetings, we will discuss the assigned readings and materials. The second portion of the class will be a workshop, in which we review and discuss one another’s written work, making collaborative suggestions for writing and revision. You will be expected to offer writing notes that accompany your poems, and written comments to other students on their poems in the form of workshop letters. Prerequisite: English 6.
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 and the beginnings of decolonialization 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, and war on a global scale. 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, essays, letters, diaries, and novels.
The goals for this course are thus the following: (a) to acquire a sense of the development of British Literature over the past 150+ years; (b) to gain familiarity with the broad contours of the periods literary scholars call Romanticism, Victorianism, and Modernism; (c) to cultivate and improve our skills in close analysis of literary language.
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 2022? The class will include active class discussion and two field trips, one to the only known slave quarters still standing in New England, the other to the woods.
ENG 0044 Travel Literature. Have you forgotten what it means to feel an endless road unwind before you, to sleep under open skies, to find yourself alone in an unknown land? If you spend too much time dreaming about that year abroad, this course may be for you. We’ll read literary travel narratives and reignite our passion for adventure. Come climb icy mountain passes, enter war-torn zones and walk along the edge of our continent with guides like Orwell, Strayed, Matthiessen, Doerr and Byrd. How do these writers understand the longing to leave and once home, how do they translate their experience into prose vibrant enough to transport those temporarily landlocked here at Tufts? This course fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
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 fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0055 Microscopes & Monsters. Literature about aliens, space travel, and technology run amok might seem like a wholly contemporary invention, but these topics date back to the “scientific revolution” of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. This course considers the advent of “science fiction” by tracing this genre back to its beginnings in earlier periods’ obsession with technology, experiment, and the natural world.
We’ll read about mysterious planets and technologies alongside narratives of discovery, wonder, and scientific catastrophe. We’ll think about how early satires on science and reason point ahead to our own concerns about the use and abuse of scientific knowledge. We’ll consider the ethics of animal experimentation, the creation of artificial intelligence, and the relationship between scientific knowledge and imperial ventures. Above all, this course will focus on the relationship between science and literature—two fields supposedly at odds with one another. We’ll see that quarrel first take shape when various satirists attacked their scientific contemporaries for engaging in useless experiments or ethically dubious activities. At the same time, though, we’ll also attend to scientists who use literary form for their own ends. In addition to reading scientific works by Bacon, Cavendish, Newton, and others, we will also consider literary texts like Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Wells’s War of the Worlds. This course fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0064 American Fiction 1950-Present. American Fiction from 1950 to the 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 fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0066 Modern American Poetry. This course offers an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in some of the most representative – and the most technically advanced – works by American modernist poets. The course begins with a brief exploration of pre-modernist poets. Because much of modernist poetry was reacting to what came before it, it is vitally important to understand the tradition that preceded the age of modernist experimentation. The balance of the course is devoted to close examination of major American modernists: Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, and Hart Crane. Several questions are likely to arise over the course of 13 weeks as points of convergence among this diverse set of poets. These questions would include the role of imagination in poetry, the problem of deciding what counts as reality, the importance of feelings, the connection between music and poetry, and the artist’s relation to tradition. The course welcomes students of all backgrounds – English majors and non-majors, poets and non-poets alike. But the course material will be best appreciated by those who are in love with the imaginative resources of language. This course fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
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 fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0083 Un-American Activities. This course takes its title from the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee, which, during the 1950s, attempted to destroy the left in the U.S. entertainment industry. For the Un-American Activities Committee, the concept of the “un-American” included anything that posed a threat to the power of normative white, male, heterosexual, capitalist interests. We will seek to understand the left, therefore, in post-1945 U.S. politics as not just anti-capitalist but also as anti-racist, anti-colonialist, and anti-xenophobic—which is to say, as a wide range of political, social, and cultural positions that sometimes entered into coalition and sometimes into conflict with one another. We will examine the right-wing campaign of destruction and the left’s resistance to it during the Cold War, but we will also look at how both the destruction and the resistance have shaped the politics of more recent popular culture in the Obama, Trump, and Biden years. Works to be studied will include Hollywood films (for example, Body and Soul, Native Son, High Noon, Sorry to Bother You), Broadway plays (for example, The Crucible, Angels in America, Hamilton) and bestselling novels (for example, Invisible Man, Ragtime, Americanah), as well as experiments outside the commercial mainstream (web series, blogs, independent films). We will be interested in calling into question the meanings of “popular” in “popular culture.” Oppositional versions of standup comedy (Dick Gregory, Stephen Colbert, Sam Jay) and popular music (Woody Guthrie, Nina Simone, Phil Ochs, Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar) will also figure in our discussions. This course fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
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 fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0092 Topics in Lit. & Culture: Migration in the Early Modern World. Migrants seldom leave records of their lives. Their experiences, like their movements, are transitory; and it is only in rare instances that their histories are preserved and made available for the benefit of interested readers and audience. Yet this is, in some ways, what happened in early modern England, when literatures about migrants were made popular through new and emergent forms of publication. On the best-sellers list were Greek romances, such as Robert Greene's Pandosto (1588), or picaresque novels, such as Thomas Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), which catered to the desire of the public to read about, and imagine themselves in, the precarious situation of migrants in far-flung places. Strangers, conversos, and refugees populated the London stage, in Mediterranean plays, such as Shakespeare's Othello (1603), or city dramas, such as or John Marston's The Dutch Courtesan (1604). Frequently featured in pamphlets were peddlers, rogues, and vagabond, representing an emerging class of mobile, working poor. Then there were works published by migrants themselves, such as travel writings, spiritual autobiographies, captivity narratives, and poems of exile, all of which responded, in one way or another, to the emerging reality of migration in England, Europe, and the world.
This course will examine some of the representative works of English Renaissance literature from the perspective of human movement. While our focus will be imaginative works of literature and drama produced in England, we will also read a selection of non-literary and/or non-English works that participated in the broader corpus of migration literature in this era. We may also sample some recent works in the field of migration theory and history to help articulate the stakes and relevance of thinking about early migration in relation to our present moment. (For more on early modern mobility, go to www.tideproject.uk.) This course fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
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 fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0118 Enlightenment Art & Illusion. At least as long as people have contemplated art, they’ve been suspicious of it. Poets are banned from republics, theaters are shut down, the young (and old) are warned not to read too many novels lest they mistake unreal stories for real life. This course examines the relationship between art and reality. In doing so, it pays attention to art’s power: to recreate the world, to trick us, to allow us to enjoy otherwise unenjoyable experiences (like tragedy or terror), to make us feel and think things we wouldn’t otherwise entertain. While we’ll begin the course by considering some ancient and early modern reactions to art (just why did Plato hate poets so much?), our focus will be the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a golden age for thinking about the nature of pleasing aesthetic illusion and reality itself.
That will mean reading novels where a woman loses herself in a series of disguises (Haywood’s Fantomina) or where another character can no longer tell the difference between fantasy and the actual world (Lennox’s Female Quixote). It will also mean considering literature that rewires our natural sensibilities by making us enjoy terror (early horror or Gothic stories). We’ll be interested in art that, strangely, draws attention to its own artifice by reminding readers they are reading a novel or seeing a play (Laurence Sterne’s remarkable anticipation of postmodern meta-fiction with Tristram Shandy). We’ll also consider early thinkers who worried about the growing importance of theatricality, illusion, and deception in our everyday lives. What happens when everyone lives as if they are acting out a role upon a social stage? Some other topics we’ll consider include: The relationship between literature and other kinds of art (painting, music, theater/film). Aesthetic categories like beauty, sublimity, the strange, and the uncanny. Politics as a kind of theater or artful performance. The question of taste and whether or not everyone can agree on good or bad art. This course fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0127 The Nineteenth-Century British Novel. What does it mean to have a self in the modern world, and how do novels teach us what selves are? How do selves emerge from the machinery of plots and what does the network of plot tell us about the social network that constitutes the world? These and other questions about fiction’s relation to social identities (racial, sexual, classed, and gendered) will be at the center of this course. With their strong plots and vivid characters, nineteenth-century British novels provide the foundation for how we imagine these issues today. We will read Jane Austen’s witty Bildungsroman, Emma; Charlotte Brontë’s passionate, brooding Jane Eyre; the cruel romantic drama that is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; the delirious fairy-tale of Charles Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop; George Eliot’s intense portrait of female desire, The Mill on the Floss; and Elizabeth Gaskell’s searing account of class hatred, Mary Barton. In addition, we will discuss some pertinent literary criticism as we consider what these novels have to tell us about ourselves as characters enmeshed in plots, and as plotters in our own right. This course fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0129 The Booker Prize and the Contemporary Novel in English. This course is an exploration of British fiction in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through the lens of the Man Booker Prize, an annual award given to a writer from the British Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, Zimbabwe, and, recently, the US, for the best full-length novel published that year. We will study a selection of winners since the award was established in 1968, beginning with Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea, which won in 1978, and concluding with the 2019 winner, Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. We will be using the cultural phenomenon of a prize that 2011 Booker winner Julian Barnes has described as "posh bingo" to examine the role played by literary innovation, authorial reputation, and commercially-motivated canon building in the fiction of the contemporary period. Along the way, we will also be sensitive to the colonial history embedded in the international framework set out by the prize's rules as we think about the racial diversification of “English” as a literary language and interrogate the place of the novel in a contemporary cultural sphere that seems to provide less and less room for "high literature." This course fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0168 African Cinema of Liberation: Foundations. This course is an introductory study of “African Cinema of Liberation,” most specifically at its foundations. We will screen and discuss classic films from the Continent. We will familiarize ourselves with key cinéastes, or filmmakers, through their interviews and assorted essays as well their cinematic works. We will survey and assess relevant film criticism further still. We will also review key historical texts, events and movements which have inspired African cinema, a unique film tradition that one scholar would dub “The Last Cinema,” when it launched in the 1960s with a typically revolutionary orientation and a radical commitment to Pan-African liberation of the masses on the Continent and in the Diaspora. The major focus of our study will be Ousmane Sembène, Med Hondo, Haile Gerima and Sarah Maldoror as well as Djibril Diop Mambéty before we consider the significance of younger and current generations of filmmaking. Finally, we will consider challenges of production, exhibition and distribution beyond narrative-language and meaning-making along with a number of symbolic themes: Western colonization and neo-colonial imperialism; the people vs. the State; tradition, innovation and memory; sex, body politics and sexuality; religion vs. spirituality; Pan-African and “Third World” resistance or revolution, etc. This course fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0182 American Gothic. Examines the gothic genre in 19th-century American literature. Associated in England with spooky castles, gothic fiction in America dramatized the dark side of U.S. history against backdrops ranging from the frontier wilderness to colonial settlements to urban slums. Challenging an idealized vision of democracy, these texts probe the racial violence, class antagonism, and gender exclusions that haunted the nation from its founding. And countering an Enlightenment faith in reason, they depict characters in the grip of uncontrollable desires and pervasive anxiety. The reading list includes authors both well known (Poe, Hawthorne, Melville) and less so (Lippard, Southworth, Hopkins). This course fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0192-02 Seminar in English: The Invention of Utopia. This course will trace the history of utopian literature back to Thomas More's Utopia (1516), paying close attention to the contexts in which More's seminal work had its meaning. We will start by reading Utopia carefully alongside the works of More's humanist friends in order to understand the cultural milieu of which More was a part. We will think about the social and political realities to which these (northern) humanists were responding, their visions of a reformed humanity, as well as the inevitable––yet enabling––limitations of these visions. We will then proceed to read other examples of Renaissance utopias, such as Tommaso Campanella's The City of the Sun (1602), Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis (1626), Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing Sun (1666), Henry Neville's The Isle of Pines (1668), to get a sense of the scope and variety of utopian thinking afforded during this period. Finally, we will think about the afterlife of Utopia by considering some later instances of utopian fiction, such as William Morris's News from Nowhere (1890) or Ursula K. Leguin's The Dispossessed (1974). This course fulfills the pre-1860 English requirement.
ENG 0192-03 Seminar in English: Poetry and Faith. This course explores poems that profess a faith in God, gods, myths, the soul, life after death, miracles, and other supernatural beings and events. Because these things lie outside our knowledge, the poems that presume their reality present many fascinating puzzles. For example, do the poets actually believe in the supernatural things that their poems are about? If they do, how about their readers? In order to understand these poems properly, must they share the same beliefs that the poets hold? Or what about poets who cannot entertain any faith in anything outside their knowledge? Does their faithlessness affect their composition? If so, how? And how might readers with faiths approach poems by the faithless? These are the puzzles of our semester, questions students will think through with the help both of poets and thinkers.
Assigned readings will fall under two rubrics. The first kind consists of 17th-century religious poets such as George Herbert, John Donne, and Richard Crashaw, two major religious poets from the Romantic period, William Blake and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poets writing in an increasingly secularized culture of the mid-to-late 19th century, including Emily Dickinson, Matthew Arnold, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and two modernists who saw an intimate relationship between poetry and religious faith, Wallace Stevens and T. S. Eliot. The second kind of assigned readings consists of theoretical writings by poets themselves, historians, philosophers, anthropologists, and theologians: Ignatius of Loyola, Coleridge, Arnold, Stevens, Eliot, I. A. Richards, John Newman, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, William James, Paul Veyne, and Hans Blumenberg.
Students will use the poetical works and the theoretical writings in a mutually illuminating manner. Over 13 weeks, this practice will lead them to gain conceptual and analytic clarity on the art of poetry and its relation to spiritual questions. This course fulfills the post-1860 English requirement.
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: London's Others/Other Londons. When the SS Empire Windrush landed at Tilbury docks in 1948, it brought the first wave of post-war immigrants from the West Indies into labour scarce Britain. In the decades that followed, students, professionals, political refugees and above all thousands of workers from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana, Bangladesh, South Africa, and the Caribbean Islands settled in London in a movement the Jamaican poet Louise Bennett called, “colonizin’ in reverse.” London today is one of the most diverse cities in the world. The presence of immigrant communities from the so-called “New Commonwealth” has changed the sights, sounds and flavours of this famous city making it a place of immense cultural complexity.
The course will focus on this “other” London—the London of bhangra, calypso, and curry, and of differently accented Englishs--to chart the disparate ways in which the “others” in London have expressed their presence and thereby fundamentally challenged and redefined “Englishness” and “Britishness.” We will begin by looking back to the nineteenth century—to Engels, Mayhew and others—to chart the transformation of London into an imperial city and the anxiety around “outcasts.” We will then focus on such texts as Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners, Andrea Levy’s Small Island, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight, among others. Films may include Dirty, Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette, Bend It Like Beckham, along with working-class London films such as Riff Raff. We will also read/listen to the dub poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson. The goal of the course is to make us think otherwise--think more broadly-- about the histories of migration, diaspora and settlement. In other words, this course encourages the rethinking of literary and cultural histories by mapping London differently by including “other” Londons and by focusing on London’s “others.”
ENG 0292-02 Graduate Seminar: Scenes of Revision: The Material Lives of Earlier African American Literature. What are the material effects of revision? How do we explain the prevalence of revision by African American authors in the context of enslavement, surveillance, material scarcity, and the well-orchestrated racial violence of slavery and Reconstruction? In this course, we will read texts that were returned to and revised—sometimes more than once—by their authors. Centering revision, we will read, among others, Phillis Wheatley, John Marrant, William Wells Brown, Hannah Bond, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. By reading across texts, we will encounter complex book historical questions about African American authorship, agency, print culture, and archival recovery.
ENG 0292-03 Graduate Seminar: Psycho-Sexual Racism and Pan-African Revolt: Fanon & Chester Himes. Frantz Fanon and Chester Himes are both enormous intellectual figures in the Black radical tradition. A psychiatrist-cum-practicing revolutionary, Fanon wrote his way from Martinique to France and then Algeria (and Tunisia) while articulating a praxis of Pan-African liberation – that is, one of total decolonization and bona fide independence. A novelist and revolutionist, not to mention a self-proclaimed “sensualist,” Himes wrote his way from U.S. incarceration to European ‘exile’ or ‘expatriation’ while articulating his insurgent ideas in the form of fiction, a few essays, autobiography and a world-famous Harlem detective series featuring “Coffin Ed Johnson” and “Grave Digger Jones.” Today, Fanon is typically read in academia as the author of Black Skin, White Masks (1952), not his other world-shaking works: A Dying Colonialism (1959), The Wretched of the Earth (1961) and Toward the African Revolution (1964). The prolific Himes is rarely discussed at all by literary scholars in North America. This is true of his first published novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945); his last novel, Plan B (1983); and every remarkable thing he would publish in between.
Yet and still, there is a striking, uncanny similarity to be noted in the stunning oeuvres of Fanon and Himes, especially when it comes to the violence of oppression and the counter-violence of resistance. They highlight the structure of a “psycho-sexual” racism which is endemic to the “political economic” structure of white racist domination by the West. They thus expand the parameters of Pan-African revolt – to quote a paraphrased C.L.R. James. Indeed, they expand and recast in advance what might count as studies of “gender and sexuality” (or “the body”) as well. This course will examine the writings of Fanon and Himes against the grain of critical neglect and distortion; it will focus on the sexual politics of race and empire which they meticulously expose, both at the level of material institutions and identity or subjectivity; and it will consider how these literary-political writings should lead us to rethink many of the basic intellectual concepts afloat today both within and outside their Black radical tradition.