Descriptions of some of the English Department’s Fall 2022 Courses
ENGL 2510: Intro to Early British Literature
Rome falls. We are taught that this brings disaster and chaos. But what happens next? Does art die? Does civilization disappear? Is it the end of all things? Obviously not. This course takes as its starting point the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in Britain. We will examine texts from early England as new conquerors settle an old landscape, as new kingdoms form, and as new waves of invasion disrupt those struggles for stability. We will read a letter begging the Romans to send more soldiers to defend against the invaders, beautiful works of poetry and tales of heroism by those same invaders after they had settled the landscape. Students will investigate texts that describe the horrors of the next invasion, the Vikings, juxtaposed with the art, poetry, and stories that these new invaders created about their new land. We will discuss art showing a third invasion, the Norman Invasion. As we read the multilingual texts of Marie de France to Chaucer to Shakespeare, we will discuss the shifts of language and culture as England coalesces into something recognizable to us today.
ENGL 2610: Literature: The Global Perspective II
One of the legacies of the British Empire is the globalization of the English language. Global Anglophone Literature refers to the body of literary works from countries that were formerly colonized by the British and have made English their own. In the course of one or even multiple semesters, it is impossible to cover writing from the entire Anglophone world—at one point the British Empire held dominion over twenty percent of the globe. Consequently in fall 2021, we will focus exclusively on Anglophone literature from India and the Indian diaspora. You will read texts such as Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand, The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh, Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto, and Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar. Topics covered will include caste discrimination, the partition of the Indian subcontinent, sub-nationalism, global migration, and mental health. Questions driving the course will be: What does it mean for writers in the post-colonial period to write in the language of the colonizer? How do these authors represent various marginalized communities in post-colonial India? How can studying a relatively unfamiliar body of work with links to the Global South help us better understand certain socio-cultural aspects of America? I look forward to teaching this course and working with you in the fall.
ENGL 3000: Critical Theory: "Critical Keywords"
Words change and develop, rise and fall, in time. Every discipline of knowledge, every social community, elevates certain terms and concepts to prominence at different historical moments. Technology, climate, democracy, identity, network, money, power, media, and so on—what other keywords, in your view, organize contemporary culture? This course offers an opportunity to study a set of cultural keywords through a range of corresponding texts (specific keywords and texts vary each semester), and also to reflect on the concept of the keyword itself as a productive tool for, and object of, cultural and historical analysis. By exploring contemporary keywords, the class introduces students to the basics of theoretical thinking and writing, providing them with powerful new ways of interpreting texts, culture, and society. In particular, it will help students think historically about culture and analytically about the concepts they use on a daily basis—very much including concepts central to the discipline of cultural study itself. This class fulfills the critical theory (ENGL 3000) requirement for the English major and the writing intensive requirement for the GE curriculum.
ENGL 3020: Topics in Advanced Rhetoric and Writing: Epistolary Correspondence
Passing notes in class. Writing home from camp. Birthday cards. Pen pals. Thank you notes. Letters to express sympathy. Apology. Confession. Love letters. (Break-up letters.) What is a letter, and what is the experience of writing one? How do writers employ and subvert expectations of letter writing practices? How do rhetorical conventions shift when we move from private to public genres of epistolary correspondence? This course explores all that fascinates rhetoricians about the intriguing and at times quite personal world of letters, ranging from intimate correspondence between writers both famous and less so to public letter genres of the open letter, letters to the editor, and PostSecret.
ENGL 3060: Special Topics in Creative Writing: Collaborative Poetry Writing
This class will explore the possibilities of collaboration in creative writing, specifically in the genre of poetry. We will bring into question such cherished ideas as ownership, authorial identity, and individual voice in creative work. We will read and discuss some notable examples of collaboratively-written poetry, and we will create our own collaborative texts, examining the different ways of collaborating on pieces of writing—including close collaborations in small groups and pairs, pieces written in collaboration with the full class, and individual work with language pulled from external sources. We will use a variety of methods and frameworks to produce our texts—some will be rule-based “games” of composition, while others will be more fluid and spontaneous. Though this will not be primarily a writing workshop, we will also have some workshop-style discussions of these collaborations, examining the strengths and weaknesses of the texts as well as of the collaboration processes used to create them.
ENGL 3220: Gender, Writing, and the Environment: Speculative Fiction
An upper-division course for students interested in exploring some key pieces of speculative fiction—Sci Fi, dystopic fiction, and fantasy—of the past fifty years by women and in thus interrogating the role of imaginative fiction in this time of climate crisis. Taught completely online, this course covers four entire works of fiction by writers such as Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin and asks students to reflect in written work, in collaborative assignments, and in online discussions about the ways these authors engage—and look to transform—their immediate circumstances through the imagining of strange worlds.
ENGL 3320: US Writing in the World: "The Long Twenty-First Century"
Contemporary life can be confusing, if not downright disorienting, marked by complex global supply chains and transnational financial transactions, the ongoing aftermath of a planet-spanning war on terror, fluid and unstable identity formations, technological developments that scramble the brain and boggle the mind, a media landscape that beggars the imagination, and something that resembles an ecological apocalypse roaring down the pike. Some of this might be captured under the label of an accelerating process of globalization, but what does that idea even mean? This course focuses on selections from US writing and culture during the past few decades as a means for the class to explore together some of these developments and phenomena; by examining these works in relation to wider frameworks such as the globe, world, planet, or earth the class aims to start unraveling what the emergent contemporary globalized order coming into shape—unevenly, in fits and starts, during our lifetimes—might have to say. Course texts may include fiction (e.g., social media novels, alternate histories), memoir, essays, poetry, critical articles, images, maps, feeds, memes, and so on. Enrollment preference given to non-majors; majors with instructor permission. This course fulfills the LAS area Humanities and Arts requirement and the Compass Explore—Humanities and Arts requirement.
ENGL 3410: Poetry for the People
Poetry for the People takes poetry off the page and puts it into action. If you find deciphering poetry difficult, this is the course to build your confidence and skills. If you write poetry just for yourself, this is the course to help you bring your words into the world. In addition to reading and writing poetry in this course, you will think about how poetry connects and moves people, how it responds to historical and current events, and how it can be a way of sharing your story. And you will engage with your community through poetry through your own lens and definition of how poetry can be meaningful. This course is adapted from a project of the same name created by June Jordan at UC Berkeley.
ENGL 3610: Hip Hop Poetics
The verdict is in: rap lyrics are definitely poetry. But what does that mean and why does that matter? Whether you’re a certified hip-hop head or someone who just wonders what all the noise is about, this class will help you answer those questions by building your knowledge of hip hop history and your expertise in Hip Hop Poetics: the theory of rap poetry’s forms. You will analyze the cultural impact of rap poems like Melle Mel’s verse in “The Message” or Ice Cube’s verse in “Straight Outta Compton.” You will develop your voice as a hip hop critic to respond to the forms, messages, and aesthetics of rap poetry. For example, you might debate whether was Tupac or Biggie was the better rapper or whether Eminem really is a “Rap God” (and why Machine Gun Kelly is not). Join the class to respond (Machine Gun Kelly fans and haters and those who don’t know who he is)!
ENGL 4100: Advanced Fiction Writing
Advanced seminar focusing on the study and practice of literary fiction. Students participate in a mature workshop community and engage in a variety of reading, writing, and discussion projects focused on craft theory and its bearing on practice. Students bring a high level of dedication and a demonstrated proficiency to their craft and take initiative in shaping their further development as writers. Prer., ENGL 3050.
ENGL 4400: Genre Studies: Beyond Bollywood
The popular perception of Indian films with some justification is that they are all three-hour long, song-and-dance melodramas with little to no character development. Though that is true of several mainstream Hindi-language films (the Bollywood genre), there is more to Indian cinema than over-the-top acting and predictable plotlines. In this course, you will watch films that for the most part don’t fit the Bollywood mold. Rather the filmmakers we will be learning about use a range of cinematic techniques to represent India’s myriad realities in interesting and innovative ways.
I have structured the course using elements of film language as the organizing principle. These elements--which include editing, cinematography, mise-en-scene, sound, direction, and acting--will serve as tools to analyze the films. You will also read several scholarly articles from disciplines such as history, sociology, and religious studies that will enable you to contextualize these films. While the feature films will be mostly in Hindi (and other languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, and Marathi) all of them will have English subtitles. The readings, of course, will be in English. Thank you for your interest in this course. I look forward to working with you.
ENGL 4500: Seminar in Medieval Literature: Vikings, Celts, and Early English Literature
Possessed seals. Werewolves. Toilet Demons. Berserkers. A world where getting turned into an animal for punishment or a war starting over a cow seemed reasonable. A world where the fiercest, most feared warriors explored the entire known world – and beyond. A world where Jesus takes the wheel (or sail in this case) was a bit more literal than one might have imagined. In this course, we will read texts from the Viking world, the Celtic and the Early English. Students will explore Old Norse Sagas and learn of Viking feuds, exploration, and exile over a mean bit of poetry. You will read Celtic stories of fierce heroes named after dogs-and the head chopping game We will explore the world of Early England in which conquest existed alongside haunting poetry. Students will learn about the north Atlantic early medieval world, the intersection of these literary traditions and where Tolkien stole his ideas from
ENGL 4830: Contemporary Approaches to Teaching Writing
This course explores the theoretical and practical study of writing processes across diverse contexts. Students will learn how to teach diverse populations in the K-12 English Language Arts classroom, how to design writing assignments and scaffold students’ learning through an assignment sequence, and how to give feedback on and grade students’ writing. Course projects include investigating solutions to a teaching problem, writing lesson plans, and giving a teaching demonstration. Students who don’t plan to be teachers are welcome; we’ll define “teaching writing” broadly to include workplace and community writing contexts.
ENGL 4890: Antidiscrimination Rhetorics
This course uses U.S. antidiscrimination law to investigate what it means to say that law is rhetorical. Particularly, it explores how antidiscrimination law shapes notions of equality and the consequences of those notions. Approved for Compass Curriculum requirement: Inclusiveness (Global/Diversity); Summit; Writing Intensive. Prer., ENGL 3000 and ENGL 3010.