English Department

Requirements for Concentration: A minimum of twelve units, comprising either eleven graded units and an ungraded senior tutorial, or twelve graded units including a 300-level seminar taken in the senior year. Four units must be elected at the 300-level. At least six units, including either the senior tutorial or the 300-level senior seminar must be taken at Vassar. No AP credit or course taken NRO may be counted toward the requirements for the major.

Distribution Requirements: Majors are required to take two units of work in literature written before 1800 and one unit of work in literature written before 1900.

They must also take one course that focuses on issues of race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity.

These courses must be taken at either the 200- or 300-level.

Recommendations: English 101 and 170 are strongly recommended as foundational courses, and students are also strongly encouraged to work from the 200 to the 300-level in at least one field of study. Acquaintance with a classical language (Latin or Greek) or with one or more of the languages especially useful for an understanding of the history of English (Old English, German, or French) is useful, as are appropriate courses in philosophy, history, and other literatures.

Further information: Applicants for English 209-210 (Narrative Writing), English 211-212 (Verse Writing), and English 305-306 (Senior Composition), must submit samples of their writing before spring break. Applicants for English 203 (These American Lives: New Journalisms) and English 307 (Senior Writing Seminar) must submit samples of their writing before fall pre-registration. Details about these deadlines, departmental procedures, and current information on course offerings may be found in the Alphabet Book available in the department office or online at the department website.

Correlate Sequences in English: The department offers seven correlates in English. Race and Ethnicity; Theory, Criticism and Transnational Studies; Poetry and Poetics; Literary Forms; British Literary History; American Literary History and Creative Writing. A minimum of six units is required for the correlate sequence. Further information is in the Alphabet Book as well.

I. Introductory

101a or b. The Art of Reading and Writing (1)

Development of critical reading in various forms of literary expression, and regular practice in different kinds of writing. The content of each section varies; see the Freshman Handbook for descriptions. The department.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Although the content of each section varies, this course may not be repeated for credit; see the Freshman Handbook for descriptions.

170a or b. Approaches to Literary Studies (1)

Each section explores a central issue, such as "the idea of a literary period," "canons and the study of literature," "nationalism and literary form," or "gender and genre" (contact the department office for 2013/14 descriptions). Assignments focus on the development of skills for research and writing in English, including the use of secondary sources and the critical vocabulary of literary study. The department.

Open to freshmen and sophomores, and to others by permission; does not satisfy college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

English 174-179 - Special Topics

Courses listed under these numbers are designed to offer a wide audience a variety of literary subjects that are seldom taught in regularly offered courses. The courses are six weeks in length, held during the second half of the semester, and the subjects they cover vary from year to year. Enrollment is unlimited and open to all students.  Instructors lecture when the classes are too large for the regular seminar format favored in the English department. Does not satisfy the Freshman Writing Seminar requirement. These courses are ungraded and do not count toward the major. They may be repeated when the topic changes.

174. Poetry and Philosophy: The Ancient Quarrel(1/2)

Not offered in 2013/14.

177b. William Carlos Williams (1/2)

Topic for 2013/14b: William Carlos Williams: Doctor/Poet/Writer. Ms. Wallace.

II. Intermediate

Prerequisite:  open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with one unit of 100-level work or by permission of the associate chair.  Students applying for permission to elect 200-level work must present samples of their writing to the associate chair.  Freshmen with AP credit may elect 200-level work after consultation with the department and with the permission of the instructor.  First-year students who have completed English 101 may elect 200-level work with permission of the instructor.  Intermediate writing courses are not open to Freshmen.

203b. These American Lives: New Journalisms (1)

(Same as American Studies 203) This course examines the various forms of journalism that report on the diverse complexity of contemporary American lives. In a plain sense, this course is an investigation into American society. But the main emphasis of the course is on acquiring a sense of the different models of writing, especially in longform writing, that have defined and changed the norms of reportage in our culture. Students are encouraged to practice the basics of journalistic craft and to interrogate the role of journalists as intellectuals (or vice versa).

Not open to first-year students.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Applicants to the course must submit samples of original nonfiction writing (two to five pages long) and a statement about why they want to take the course. Deadline for submission of writing samples one week after October break.

205a or b. Composition (1)

Study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry. Reading and writing assignments may include prose fiction, journals, poetry, drama, and essays. The a-term course is open by special permission to sophomores regardless of major, in order of draw numbers, and to juniors and seniors, in order of draw numbers, with priority given to English majors. The b-term course is open by special permission to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, in order of draw numbers, with priority given to English majors. To gain special permission, students must fill out a form in the English department office during pre-registration.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

206a and b. Composition (1)

Open to any student who has taken English 205 or 207.

Special permission is not required.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

207b. Literary Nonfiction (1)

Study and practice of literary nonfiction in various formats. Reading and writing assignments may include personal, informal, and lyric essays, travel and nature writing; and memoirs. Frequent short writing assignments. Ms. Mark.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

208. Literary Nonfiction (1)

Development of the student's abilities as a reader and writer of literary nonfiction, with emphasis on longer forms.

Prerequisite: open to students who have taken any of the other 200-level writing courses in English or by permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

209a. Narrative Writing (1)

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of narrative, with particular emphasis on the short story. Mr. Crawford.

Yearlong course 209-210.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

210b. Narrative Writing (1)

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of narrative, with particular emphasis on the short story. Mr. Crawford.

Yearlong course 209-210.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

211. Verse Writing (1)

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of poetry.

Yearlong course 211-212.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

212. Verse Writing (1)

Development of the student's abilities as a writer and reader of poetry.

Yearlong course 211-212.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

One 2-hour period and individual conferences with the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

213b. The English Language (1)

Study of the history of English from the fifth century to the present, with special attention to the role of literature in effecting as well as reflecting linguistic change. Treatment of peculiarly literary matters, such as poetic diction, and attention to broader linguistic matters, such as phonology, comparative philology, semantics, and the relationship between language and experience. Mr. DeMaria.

214b. Process, Prose, Pedagogy (1)

(Same as College Course 214) This course introduces the theoretical and practical underpinnings of writing and teaching writing. Students interrogate writing's place in the academy, discuss writing process from inception to revision, and share their own writing and writing practices. The course offers an occasion to reflect on and strengthen the students' own analytical and imaginative writing and heighten the ability to talk with others about theirs. Students are asked to offer sustained critical attention to issues of where knowledge resides and how it is shared, to interrogate the sources of students' and teachers' authority, to explore their own education as writers, to consider the possibilities of peer-to-peer and collaborative learning, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Texts may include Roland Barthes' The Death of the Author, Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Stephen King's On Writing, as well as handbooks on peer consulting. 
Students who successfully complete this class are eligible to interview for employment as consultants in the Writing Center. Mr. Schultz. (English; Director, Writing Center)

By special permission.

Prerequisite: Freshman Writing Seminar.

215a. Pre-modern Drama: Text and Performance before 1800 (1)

Study of selected dramatic texts and their embodiment both on the page and the stage. Authors, critical and theoretical approaches, dramatic genres, historical coverage, and themes may vary from year to year.

Topic for 2013/14a: Gender Transgression on the Early Modern Stage. (Same as Women's Studies 215) This course explores the dramatic representation of challenges to, and disruptions of, the gendered social order of 16th and 17th-century England. We will examine a range of figures, including shrews, witches, cross-dressers, unfaithful wives, murderous spouses, incestuous siblings, and characters whose desires cross the lines of both gender and class. While our focus will be on drama, we will also read a range of materials (legal statutes, ballads, account of trials and executions, marriage tracts), as well as contemporary theory and criticism. Ms. Dunn.

Two 75-minute periods.

216b. Modern Drama: Text and Performance after 1800 (1)

Study of modern dramatic texts and their embodiment both on the page and the stage. Authors, critical and theoretical approaches, dramatic genres, historical coverage, and themes may vary from year to year. Mr. Márkus.

217b. Literary Theory and Interpretation (1)

A study of various critical theories and practices ranging from antiquity to the present day. Mr. Sharp.

Two 75-minute periods.

218a and b. Literature, Gender, and Sexuality (1)

This course considers matters of gender and sexuality in literary texts, criticism, and theory. The focus varies from year to year, and may include study of a historical period, literary movement, or genre; constructions of masculinity and femininity; sexual identities; or representations of gender in relation to race and class.

Topic for 2013/14a: Gay Male Narratives in America after 1945. An exploration of various narrative modes and genres through which modern gay male identity has both expressed and created itself. The first half of the course will focus on the evolution of the gay male literary novel, and may include works by Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, Christopher Isherwood, Andrew Holleran and Mark Merlis. For the second half of the course we will organize the class into affinity groups of four or five students who will investigate and present an aspect of gay narrative of their own choosing. Possibilities include: gay pulp fiction, gay porn narratives, the literature of AIDS, gay blogs, genre writing (science fiction, detective, slash, etc.), children's and young adult literature, film adaptation and gay comics. Mr. Russell.

Topic for 2013/14b: Gender and Disability. (Same as Women's Studies 218) This course examines the intersecting categories of gender, sexuality, and disability. Through a wide variety of texts, we will explore the difference that gender makes, both in socio-cultural constructions of disability and in the individual experiences of women and men with disabilities. Topics will include representations of disability in literature, art, film, and mass media; cultural ideas of beauty and the acceptable body; the impact of disability on sexuality and gender identity; intersections of disability with race, class, and nationality; and the integration of disability studies with feminist and queer theory. A particular focus will be the self-representations of disabled subjects--how they use art to “out” their disability or disease, to overcome stigma and shame, to negotiate their relationship with their worlds, and to re-imagine their lives. Disability in this course is defined broadly, to include all the ways in which a person’s body or mind may be perceived or experienced as different from the norm. Ms. Dunn.

Two 75-minute periods.

222. Founding of English Literature (1)

These courses, English 222 and 223, offer an introduction to British literary history through an exploration of texts from the eighth through the seventeenth centuries in their literary and cultural contexts. English 222 begins with Old English literature and continues through the death of Queen Elizabeth I (1603). English 223 begins with the establishment of Great Britain and continues through the British Civil War and Puritan Interregnum to the Restoration. Critical issues may include discourses of difference (race, religion, gender, social class); tribal, ethnic, and national identities; exploration and colonization; textual transmission and the rise of print culture; authorship and authority. Both courses address the formation and evolution of the British literary canon, and its significance for contemporary English studies.

Not offered in 2013/14.

223b. The Founding of English Literature (1)

These courses, English 222 and 223, offer an introduction to British literary history through an exploration of texts from the eighth through the seventeenth centuries in their literary and cultural contexts. English 222 begins with Old English literature and continues through the death of Queen Elizabeth I (1603). English 223 begins with the establishment of Great Britain and continues through the British Civil War and Puritan Interregnum to the Restoration. Critical issues may include discourses of difference (race, religion, gender, social class); tribal, ethnic, and national identities; exploration and colonization; textual transmission and the rise of print culture; authorship and authority. Both courses address the formation and evolution of the British literary canon, and its significance for contemporary English studies. Topic for 2013/14b: From the Faerie Queene to The Country Wife: Introduction to Early Modern Literature and Culture. This is a thematically organized “issues and methods” course grafted onto a chronologically structured survey course of early modern literature and culture. Its double goal is to develop skills for understanding early modern texts (both the language and the culture) as well as to familiarize students with a representative selection of works from the mid-1500s through the late 1600s. With this two-pronged approach, we will acquire an informed appreciation of the early modern period that may well serve as the basis for pursuing more specialized courses in this field. We explore a great variety of genres and media, including canonical authors such as Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton, but we also attend to less well-known authors, many of them women, through whose writings we can achieve a more nuanced and complex understanding of the times. By paying special attention to correlations between literature and other discourses, as well as to issues of cultural identity and difference based on citizenship, class, ethnicity, gender, geography, nationality, race, and religion, we engage early modern literature and culture in ways that are productive to the understanding of our own culture as well. Mr. Márkus.

Please note that English 222 is not a prerequisite for this course; it is open to all students, including freshmen.

Two 75-minute periods.

225a. American Literature, Origins to 1865 (1)

Study of the main developments in American literature from its origins through the Civil War: including Native American traditions, exploration accounts, Puritan writings, captivity and slave narratives, as well as major authors from the eighteenth century (such as Edwards, Franklin, Jefferson, Rowson, and Brown) up to the mid-nineteenth century (Irving, Cooper, Poe, Emerson, Hawthorne, Fuller, Stowe, Thoreau, Douglass, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson). Mr. Antelyes.

226b. American Literature, 1865-1925 (1)

Study of the major developments in American literature and culture from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Literary movements such as realism, naturalism, regionalism, and modernism are examined, as well as literatures of ethnicity, race, and gender. Works studied are drawn from such authors as Twain, Howells, James, Jewett, Chestnutt, Chopin, Crane, London, Harte, DuBois, Gilman, Adams, Wharton, Dreiser, Pound, Eliot, Stein, Yezierska, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, O'Neill, Frost, H. D., and Toomer. Ms. Graham.

227. The Harlem Renaissance and its Precursors(1)

(Same as Africana Studies 227) This course places the Harlem Renaissance in literary historical perspective as it seeks to answer the following questions: In what ways was "The New Negro" new? How did African American writers of the Harlem Renaissance rework earlier literary forms from the sorrow songs to the sermon and the slave narrative? How do the debates that raged during this period over the contours of a black aesthetic trace their origins to the concerns that attended the entry of African Americans into the literary public sphere in the eighteenth century?

Not offered in 2013/14.

228. African American Literature, "Vicious Modernism" and Beyond (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 228) In the famous phrase of Amiri Baraka, "Harlem is vicious/ Modernism." Beginning with the modernist innovations of African American writers after the Harlem Renaissance, this course ranges from the social protest fiction of the 1940s through the Black Arts Movement to the postmodernist experiments of contemporary African American writers.

Not offered in 2013/14.

229b. Asian-American Literature, 1946-present(1)

This course considers such topics as memory, identity, liminality, community, and cultural and familial inheritance within Asian-American literary traditions. May consider Asian-American literature in relation to other ethnic literatures. Mr. Hsu.

230a. Latina and Latino Literature (1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 230) This literature engages a history of conflict, resistance, and mestizaje. For some understanding of this embattled context, we examine transnational migration, exile, assimilation, bilingualism, and political and economic oppression as these variously affect the means and modes of the texts under consideration. At the same time, we emphasize the invented and hybrid nature of Latina and Latino literary and cultural traditions, and investigate the place of those inventions in the larger framework of American intellectual and literary traditions, on the one hand, and pan-Latinidad, on the other. Authors studied may include Americo Paredes, Piri Thomas, Cherrie Moraga, Richard Rodriguez, Michelle Serros, Cristina Garcia, Ana Castillo, and Junot Diaz. Mr. Perez.

231. Native American Literature (1)

Drawing from a wide range of traditions, this course explores the rich heritage of Native American literature. Material for study may comprise oral traditions (myths, legends, place naming and story telling) as well as contemporary fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Authors may include Zitkala Sa, Black Elk, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko, Louise Erdrich, Simon Ortiz, Sherman Alexie, and Joy Harjo.

Not offered in 2013/14.

235a. Old English (1)

Introduction to Old English language and literature. Mr. Amodio.

236b. Beowulf (1)

Intensive study of the early English epic in the original language.

Prerequisite: English 235 or demonstrated knowledge of Old English, or permission of the instructor. Mr. Amodio.

237. Chaucer (1)

The major poetry, including The Canterbury Tales.

Not offered in 2013/14.

238. Middle English Literature (1)

Studies in late medieval literature (1250-1500), drawing on the works of the Gawain-poet, Langland, Chaucer, and others. Genres studied may include lyric, romance, drama, allegory, and vision. Ms. Kim.

Not offered in 2013/14.

240a or b. Shakespeare (1)

Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies. Ms. Robertson - a, Mr. Foster - b.

Not open to students who have taken English 241-242.

241. Shakespeare (1)

(Same as Drama 241-242) Study of a substantial number of the plays, roughly in chronological order, to permit a detailed consideration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's dramatic art.

Yearlong course 241-242.

Not open to students who have taken English 240.

Not offered in 2013/14.

242. Shakespeare (1)

(Same as Drama 241-242) Study of a substantial number of the plays, roughly in chronological order, to permit a detailed consideration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's dramatic art.

Yearlong course 241-242.

Not open to students who have taken English 240.

Not offered in 2013/14.

245. Pride and Prejudice: British Literature from 1640-1745 (1)

Study of various authors who were influential in defining the literary culture and the meaning of authorship in the period. Authors may include Aphra Behn, John Dryden, Anne Finch, John Gay, Eliza Haywood, Mary Leapor, Katherine Philips, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.

Not offered in 2013/14.

246b. Sense and Sensibility: British Literature from 1745-1798 (1)

Study of the writers who represented the culmination of neoclassical literature in Great Britain and those who built on, critiqued, or even defined themselves against it. Authors may include Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Edmund Burke, William Beckford, William Cowper, Olaudah Equiano, Hester Thrale Piozzi, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ann Radcliffe, Anne Yearsley, and Hannah More. Mr. DeMaria.

247. Eighteenth-Century British Novels (1)

Readings vary but include works by such novelists as Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, and Austen.

Not offered in 2013/14.

248b. The Age of Romanticism, 1789-1832 (1)

Study of British literature in a time of revolution. Authors may include such poets as Blake, Wordsworth, and Keats; essayists such as Burke, Wollstonecraft, Hazlitt, Lamb, and DeQuincey; and novelists such as Edgeworth, Austen, Mary Shelley, and Scott. Mr. Sharp.

249. Victorian Literature: Culture and Anarchy (1)

Study of Victorian culture through the prose writers of the period. This course explores the strategies of nineteenth-century writers who struggled to find meaning and order in a changing world. It focuses on such issues as industrialization, the woman question, imperialism, aestheticism, and decadence, paying particular attention to the relationship between literary and social discourses. Authors may include nonfiction prose writers such as Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, Pater, and Wilde as well as fiction writers such as Disraeli, Gaskell, Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Not offered in 2013/14.

250. Victorian Poets (1)

A study of major English poets in the period 1830 to 1900, with special emphasis on the virtuosity and innovations of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. Other poets include Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Matthew Arnold, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Morris, Algernon Swinburne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), and Thomas Hardy. Consideration will be given to Pre-Raphaelite art and to contemporaneous works of literary criticism.

Not offered in 2013/14.

251. Topics in Black Literatures (1)

This course considers Black literatures in all their richness and diversity. The focus changes from year to year, and may include study of a historical period, literary movement, or genre. The course may take a comparative, diasporic approach or may examine a single national or regional literature.

Not offered in 2013/14.

252a. Writing the Diaspora: Verses/Versus (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 252) Black American cultural expression is anchored in rhetorical battles and verbal jousts that place one character against another. From sorrow songs to blues, black music has always been a primary means of cultural expression for African Americans, particularly during difficult social periods and transition. Black Americans have used music and particularly rhythmic verse to resist, express, and signify. Nowhere is this more evident than in hip hop culture generally and hip hop music specifically. This semester's Writing the Diaspora class concerns itself with close textual analysis of hip-hop texts. Is Imani Perry right in claiming that Hip Hop is Black American music, or diasporic music? In addition to close textual reading of lyrics, students are asked to create their own hip-hop texts that speak to particular artists/texts and/or issues and styles raised. Mr. Laymon.

Prerequisite: one course in literature or Africana Studies.

253b. Topics in American Literature (1)

The specific focus of the course varies each year, and may center on a literary movement (e.g., Transcendentalism, the Beats, the Black Mountain School), a single work and its milieu (e.g., Moby-Dick and the American novel, Call It Sleep and the rise of ethnic modernism); a historical period (e.g., the Great Awakening, the Civil War), a region (e.g., Southern literature, the literature of the West), or a genre (e.g., the sentimental-domestic novel, American satire, the literature of travel/migration, American autobiography, traditions of reportage, American environmentalist writing).

Topic for 2013/14b: Narratives of Passing. Mr. Perez.

Two 75-minute periods.

255. Nineteenth-Century British Novels (1)

Readings vary but include works by such novelists as Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontës, Trollope, George Eliot, and Hardy.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

256a. Modern British and Irish Novels (1)

Significant twentieth-century novels from Great Britain and Ireland. Mr. Chang.

Prerequisite: AP credit or one unit of Freshman English.

Two 75-minute periods.

257. The Novel in English after 1945 (1)

The novel in English as it has developed in Africa, America, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Great Britain, India, Ireland, and elsewhere. Mr. Crawford.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

260a. Modern British Literature, 1901-1945 (1)

Study of representative modern works of literature in relation to literary modernism. Consideration of cultural crisis and political engagement, with attention to the Great War as a subject of memoir, fiction, and poetry, and to the new voices of the thirties and early forties. Authors may include Hardy, Yeats, Eliot, Lawrence, Woolf, Conrad, Graves, Vera Brittain, Rebecca West, Orwell, and Auden. Mr. Russell.

261a. Literatures of Ireland (1)

Authors, genres, themes and historical coverage may vary from year to year. Readings may range from the Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley)and other sagas; to Anglo-Irish authors of various periods, including Swift, Goldsmith, Thomas Moore, Maria Edgeworth, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde; to the writers of the Irish literary revival, including Roger Casement, Lady Gregory, Padraic O'Conaire, Pádraig Mac Piarais, Synge, and Yeats; to modernists Joyce, Beckett, Flann O'Brien, and Elizabeth Bowen; to contemporary Irish poets, novelists, dramatists, and musicians.

Topic for 2013/14a: The Twentieth Century. The course will examine Irish poetry, drama, and fiction in the twentieth century, in light of the unstable location of Irish writing in English. After an introduction to Irish orature, we’ll examine the romantic return to Irish myth as a national literary resource in the late nineteenth century. The pastoral "Celtic Revival" engendered stimulated creativity and critique from its inception, fueling Ireland's "sensational re-entrance" into metropolitan literature, as one critic called it. The first part of the course centers on this late colonial era; the second explores the literature of post-colonial (and Northern still colonial) Ireland. Issues of language, gender, religion, class, culture, race, and national origin figure into our examinations of literary issues and the peculiar position of Ireland as a European colony and of "Irish" literature in the twentieth century as both marginal and central to the British canon. Among the authors we’ll read are Synge, Yeats, Joyce, McGuckian, Heaney, Friel, and O’Brien. This course does not fulfill the Race, Gender, and Ethnicity requirement. Ms. Kane.

262. Postcolonial Literatures (1)

Study of contemporary literature written in English from Africa, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. Readings in various genres by such writers as Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, Janet Frame, Nadine Gordimer, V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Derek Walcott, Patrick White. Some consideration of post-colonial literary theory.

Not offered in 2013/14.

265a or b. Selected Author (1)

Study of the work of a single author. The work may be read in relation to literary predecessors and descendants as well as in relation to the history of the writer's critical and popular reception. This course alternates from year to year with English 365. 
Topic for 2013/14a: The Works of Jane Austen. This seminar studies Jane Austen’s novels in depth. One of the most important of all English novelists, Austen pioneered techniques for the presentation of consciousness that changed conceptions of fictional character and brought the modern novel into being. In doing so she drew on and moved beyond the popular fiction of her time. We will consider Austen’s importance as a writer who is fully engaged with the social and cultural issues of her own time and who responded in subtle and complex ways to the new forces of social mobility, politics, the rising professional class, and the questions of women’s rights. We will read her work in chronological order, tracing the development of her style and thought from the cheeky comedy of her juvenilia to her last novel’s rich response to Romanticism, as well as her final unfinished work. In addition, we will examine the enduring popularity of Austen’s works today in film adaptations. Ms. Yoon.

Topic for 2013/14b: Vladimir Nabokov Mr. Russell.

275. Critical Ethnic Studies (1)

A topics course examining the multiple forms of cultural expression and resistance that arise in response to systemic racial oppression. This course focuses on transnational and/or historical variants of racial and colonial domination. Key concepts and methodologies may include border studies, comparative racializations, decolonization, diaspora, hip hop, indigeneity, nation, and sovereignty. Contents and approaches vary from year to year.

Open to sophomores, junior, and seniors with one unit of 100-level work or by permission of the associate chair.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

277. Crossings: Literature without Borders (1)

This course explores themes, concepts, and genres that span literary periods and/or national boundaries. The focus will vary from year to year.

Open to sophomores, junior, and seniors with one unit of 100-level work or by permission of the associate chair.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

281b. Writing Immigrant Narrative (1)

(Same as Drama and Women's Studies 281).

282b. American Jewish Literature (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 282) This course is an exploration of the American Jewish literary imagination from historical, topical, and theoretical perspectives. Among the genres we will cover are novels (Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers), plays (Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance), poems and stories (by Celia Dropkin, Isaac Baschevis Singer, Grace Paley, Irena Klepfisz, and Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz, among others), graphic novels (Art Spiegelman’s Maus), comics (Superman and Batman), films (Woody Allen’s Zelig), artists’ books (Tatana Kellner’s Fifty Years of Silence), and theory (essays by Walter Benjamin, for example). Topics include the development of Jewish modernism and postmodernism, the influence of Jewish interpretive traditions on contemporary literary theory, the (anti)conventions of queer Jewish literatures and the intersections of Jewishness and queerness, the possibilities and limitations of a diaspora poetics, and contemporary representations of the Holocaust. Mr. Antelyes.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

Prerequisite: 2 units of 200-level work in English, and permission of the associate chair. 1 unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.

298a or b. Independent Study (1/2 or 1)

Prerequisite: 2 units of 200-level work in English, and permission of the associate chair. 1 unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.

III. Advanced

Prerequisite: Open to Juniors and Seniors with 2 units of 200-level work in English, or by permission of the instructor.

300a or b. Senior Tutorial (1)

Preparation of a long essay (40 pages) or other independently designed critical project. Each essay is directed by an individual member of the department.

Special permission.

302b. Adaptations (1)

(Same as College Course and Media Studies 302) If works of art continue each other, as Virginia Woolf suggested, then cultural history accumulates when generations of artists think and talk together across time. What happens when one of those artists switches to another language, another genre, another mode or medium? In the twenty-first century we may reframe Woolf’s conversation in terms of intertextuality—art invokes and revises other art—but the questions remain more or less unchanged: What motivates and shapes adaptations? What role does technology play? Audience? What constitutes a faithful adaptation? “Faithful” to what or whom? In this course we consider the biological model, looking briefly at Darwin’s ideas about the ways organisms change in order to survive, and then explore analogies across a range of media. We’ll begin with Virgil’s Georgics; move on to Metamorphoses, Ovid’s free adaptations of classical myths; and follow Orpheus and Eurydice through two thousand years of theater (Euripides, Anouilh, Ruhl, Zimmerman); painting and sculpture (Dürer, Rubens, Poussin, Klee, Rodin); film and television (Pasolini, Cocteau, Camus, Luhrmann); dance (Graham, Balanchine, Bausch); music (Monteverdi, Gluck, Stravinsky, Birtwistle, Glass); narratives and graphic narratives (Pynchon, Delany, Gaiman, Hoban); verse (Rilke, H.D., Auden, Ashbery, Milosz, Heaney, Atwood, Mullen, Strand); and computer games (Battle of OlympusShin Megami Tensei). During the second half of the semester, we investigate other adaptations and their theoretical implications, looking back from time to time at what we’ve learned from the protean story of Eurydice and Orpheus and their countless progeny. M. Mark.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

305a. Composition (1)

Advanced study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry. Open in the senior year to students concentrating in English. Deadline for submission of writing samples immediately before spring break. Mr. Kumar.

Yearlong course 305-306.

306b. Composition (1)

Advanced study and practice of various forms of prose and poetry. Open in the senior year to students concentrating in English. Deadline for submission of writing samples immediately before spring break. Mr. Kumar.

Yearlong course 305-306.

307b. Senior Writing Seminar (1)

An advanced writing course in parallel with the long-established senior composition sequence, accommodating the multiple approaches, genres, forms and interests that represent the diversity of a contemporary writing life. Mr. Joyce.

315b. Studies in Performance (1)

This course offers advanced study in the relationship between performance and text. Performance in this case is broadly conceived. It can include dramatic performances of plays, as well as storytelling, comic or musical performance, performance art, and poetry. The course may also explore such categories as gender or identity as forms of performance.

Topic for 2013/14b: Writing for Performance. This seminar examines a range of culturally significant entertainments from Homer to Homer Simpson; Euripides to YouTube; Beowulf to Snoop Dogg; and Shakespeare to Shakira—but it is designed chiefly as a workshop for theatrical writers who already know, and value, the Western dramatic tradition. Coursework includes theater visits and the rehearsal of one another's original writing (monologues, forms of dialogue, scenes, a one-act play). Our emphasis is insistently dramaturgical, though not without a dose of criticism, and performance theory. Focus: writing for the stage, not for TV or film. Mr. Foster.

Limited enrollment.

Prerequisites: an original writing sample; evidence of successfully completed coursework in dramatic literature; and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

317. Studies in Literary Theory (1)

Advanced study of problems and schools of literary criticism and theory, principally in the twentieth century. May include discussion of new criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, reader-response theory, new historicism, and Marxist, psychoanalytic, phenomenological, and feminist analysis. Ms. Park.

Not offered in 2013/14.

318. Literary Studies in Gender and Sexuality (1)

Advanced study of gender and sexuality in literary texts, theory and criticism. The focus will vary from year to year but will include a substantial theoretical or critical component that may draw from a range of approaches, such as feminist theory, queer theory, transgender studies, feminist psychoanalysis, disability studies and critical race theory.

Open to Juniors and Seniors with two units of 200-level work in English or by permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

319. Race and Its Metaphors (1)

Re-examinations of canonical literature in order to discover how race is either explicitly addressed by or implicitly enabling to the texts. Does racial difference, whether or not overtly expressed, prove a useful literary tool? The focus of the course varies from year to year.

Not offered in 2013/14.

320. Studies in Literary Traditions (1)

This course examines various literary traditions. The materials may cross historical, national and linguistic boundaries, and may investigate how a specific myth, literary form, idea, or figure (e.g., Pygmalion, romance, the epic, the fall of man, Caliban) has been constructed, disputed, reinvented and transformed. Topics vary from year to year.

Not offered in 2013/14.

325. Studies in Genre (1)

An intensive study of specific forms or types of literature, such as satire, humor, gothic fiction, realism, slave narratives, science fiction, crime, romance, adventure, short story, epic, autobiography, hypertext, and screenplay. Each year, one or more of these genres is investigated in depth. The course may cross national borders and historical periods or adhere to boundaries of time and place.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

326a. Challenging Ethnicity (1)

(Same as Africana Studies and Urban Studies 326) An exploration of literary and artistic engagements with ethnicity. Contents and approaches vary from year to year.

Topic for 2013/14a: Gay Harlem. This course explores Harlem’s role in the production of sexual modernity and in particular as a space of queer encounter. We will consider what conditions may have increased opportunities for interclass and interethnic contact in Harlem and examine how such encounters helped to generate the sexual subcultures more commonly associated with other parts of Manhattan, such as Greenwich Village, Chelsea or Times Square. Although cultural production from the Harlem Renaissance will feature centrally in our discussions, we will also consider the longer history of Harlem, from slavery to the Great Migration and through to the present day, taking into special account the relationship of space to erotics. While much of our investigation will be devoted to the intersection of race and sexuality in African American life, we also consider Harlem’s history as an Italian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican neighborhood as well as its discrete micro-cosmopolitanism within the larger global city. Mr. Perez.

One 2-hour period.

328b. Literature of the American Renaissance (1)

Intensive study of major works by American writers of the mid-nineteenth century. Authors may include: Cooper, Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Fuller, Stowe, Delany, Wilson, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson. In addition to placing the works in historical and cultural context, focusing on the role of such institutions as slavery and such social movements as transcendentalism, the course also examines the notion of the American Renaissance itself. Mr. Kane.

329b. American Literary Realism (1)

Exploration of the literary concepts of realism and naturalism focusing on the theory and practice of fiction between 1870 and 1910, the first period in American literary history to be called modern. The course may examine past critical debates as well as the current controversy over realism in fiction. Attention is given to such questions as what constitutes reality in fiction, as well as the relationship of realism to other literary traditions. Authors may include Henry James, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Charles Chestnutt, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, and Willa Cather. Ms. Graham.

330a. American Modernism (1)

Intensive study of modern American literature and culture in the first half of the twentieth century, with special attention to the concept of "modernism" and its relation to other cultural movements during this period. Authors may include Dreiser, Wharton, Cather, Frost, Anderson, Millay, Pound, Stein, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, O'Neill, H. D., Faulkner, Wright, Eliot, Williams, Moore, Stevens, Crane, Yezierska, Toomer, Hughes, Cullen, Brown, Hurston, McKay, and Dos Passos. Mr. Antelyes.

331b. Postmodern American Literature (1)

Advanced study of American literature from the second half of the twentieth century to the present date. Authors may include Welty, Ellison, Warren, O'Connor, Olson, Momaday, Mailer, Lowell, Bellow, Percy, Nabokov, Bishop, Rich, Roth, Pynchon, Ashbery, Merrill, Reed, Silko, Walker, Morrison, Gass, and Kingston. Mr. Hsu.

339. Shakespeare in Production (1)

(Same as Drama and Medieval and Renaissance Studies 339) Students in the course study the physical circumstances of Elizabethan public and private theaters at the beginning of the semester. The remainder of the semester is spent in critical examination of the plays of Shakespeare and several of his contemporaries using original staging practices of the early modern theater. The course emphasizes the conditions under which the plays were written and performed and uses practice as an experiential tool to critically analyze the texts as performance scripts.

Enrollment limited to Juniors and Seniors.

One 3-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

340. Studies in Medieval Literature (1)

Intensive study of selected medieval texts and the questions they raise about their context and interpretation. Issues addressed may include the social and political dynamics, literary traditions, symbolic discourses, and individual authorial voices shaping literary works in this era. Discussion of these issues may draw on both historical and aesthetic approaches, and both medieval and modern theories of rhetoric, reference, and text-formation.

Not offered in 2013/14.

341b. Studies in the Renaissance (1)

Intensive study of selected Renaissance texts and the questions they raise about their context and interpretation.

Topic for 2013/14b: Sex And The City In 1600: Gender, Marriage, Family, and Sexuality In Early Modern London. This course explores everyday life in the rapidly expanding early modern metropolis of London at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. We pay special attention to religious, social, legal as well as informal control mechanisms that influenced issues of gender, marriage, and sexuality in various layers of London society. We anchor our investigations in a handful of plays by Beaumont, Dekker, Jonson, Marston, Middleton, and Shakespeare, but also explore ballads, homilies, conduct books, legal and travel narratives, pamphlets, treatises, works by female authors, and other literary and non-literary texts. Mr. Márkus.

One 2-hour period.

342a. Studies in Shakespeare (1)

Advanced study of Shakespeare's work and its cultural significance in various contexts from his time to today.

Topic for 2013/14a: After Shakespeare: The Poetics and Politics of Adaptation. While Shakespeare once served as an icon of England and Englishness, he is now the most popular playwright of the non-Anglophone world, and his cultural currency circulates across nations, cultures, languages, and media. This course explores the theory and practice of adapting Shakespeare for worldwide contemporary audiences. Topics include the Shakespeare myth and the Shakespeare "brand;" postcolonial and feminist re-visions; the poetics and politics of "tradaptation;" Shakespeare in popular culture; and "local Shakespeares" in theatre, film, and video. Each seminar member will complete an original research or creative project. Ms. Dunn.

One 2-hour period.

345. Milton (1)

Study of John Milton's career as a poet and polemicist, with particular attention to Paradise Lost.

Not offered in 2013/14.

350a. Studies in Eighteenth-century British Literature (1)

Focuses on a broad literary topic, with special attention to works of the Restoration and eighteenth century.

Topic for 2013/14a: John Milton and the Metaphysical Tradition from John Donne to Alexander PopeParadise Lost is the principal work to be studied, but there will also be attention to poetry by Andrew Marvell, John Dryden, Alexander Pope and some other writers who wrote in the metaphysical mode, even if they did so to mock it. Mr. DeMaria.

One 2-hour period.

351. Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature (1)

Study of a major author (e.g., Coleridge, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde) or a group of authors (the Brontes, the Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters) or a topical issue (representations of poverty; literary decadence; domestic angels and fallen women; transformations of myth in Romantic and Victorian literature) or a major genre (elegy, epic, autobiography).

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

352a. Romantic Poets: Rebels with a Cause (1)

Intensive study of the major poetry and critical prose of Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (English 352), and Byron, Shelley, and Keats (English 353) in the context of Enlightenment thought, the French Revolution, and the post-Napoleonic era. Readings may include biographies, letters, and a few philosophical texts central to the period. Some preliminary study of Milton is strongly recommended. Mr. Sharp.

353b. Romantic Poets: Rebels with a Cause (1)

Intensive study of the major poetry and critical prose of Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (English 352), and Byron, Shelley, and Keats (English 353) in the context of Enlightenment thought, the French Revolution, and the post-Napoleonic era. Readings may include biographies, letters, and a few philosophical texts central to the period. Some preliminary study of Milton is strongly recommended. Mr. Sharp.

355. Modern Poets (1)

Intensive study of selected modern poets, focusing on the period 1900-1945, with attention to longer poems and poetic sequences. Consideration of the development of the poetic career and of poetic movements. May include such poets as Auden, Bishop, Eliot, Frost, Hopkins, Moore, Pound, Stein, Stevens, Williams, and Yeats.

Not offered in 2013/14.

356. Contemporary Poets (1)

Intensive study of selected contemporary poets, with attention to questions of influence, interrelations, and diverse poetic practices. May include such poets as Ashbery, Bernstein, Brooks, Graham, Harjo, Heaney, Hill, Merrill, Rich, and Walcott.

Topic for 2013/14b: Native American Poetry. In our course, we will study contemporary North American Indigenous poets through various lenses such as American Indian Literary Nationalism, Indigenous Transnationlisms, and Tribally-specific frames.

One 2-hour period.

357b. Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature (1)

Intensive study of literatures of the twentieth century, with primary focus on British and postcolonial (Irish, Indian, Pakistani, South African, Caribbean, Australian, Canadian, etc.) texts. Selections may focus on an author or group of authors, a genre (e.g., modern verse epic, drama, satiric novel, travelogue), or a topic (e.g., the economics of modernism, black Atlantic, Englishes and Englishness, themes of exile and migration).

Topic for 2013/14b: James Joyce's Ulysses. Mr. Russell.

362a. Text and Image (1)

Explores intersections and interrelationships between literary and visual forms such as the graphic novel, illustrated manuscripts, tapestry, the world-wide web, immersive environments, the history and medium of book design, literature and film, literature and visual art. Topics vary from year to year.

Topic for 2013/14a: Because Dave Chappelle Said So. (Same as Africana Studies 362) The course will explore the history and movement of black, mostly male, satirical comic narratives and characters. From Hip Hop to Paul Beatty’s White Boy Shuffle to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled to Dave Chappelle to Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks to Sacha Baron Cohen’s Ali Gcharacter, black masculinity seems to be a contemporary site of massive satire. Using postmodernism as our critical lens, we will explore what black satirical characters and narratives are saying through “tragicomedy” to the mediums of literature, film, television and politics. We will also think about the ways that black archetypes (coon, mammy, sapphire, uncle tom, pickaninny, sambo, tragic mulatto, noble savage, castrating bitch) have evolved into cutting edge comedy on the internet like Awkward Black Girl. We start to see the beginnings of this strategic evolution taking place in the Civil Rights movement when black leaders use television and visual expectations of blackness to their national and global advantage. How did black situation comedies and black comedians of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s speak to and/or disregard that history. Are contemporary comic narratives, narrators and characters, while asserting critical citizenship, actually writing black women’s subjectivities, narratives and experiences out of popular American History? Does satire have essentially masculinist underpinnings? How are these texts and characters communicating with each other and is there a shared language? Is there a difference between a black comic text and a black satirical text? Have comic ideals of morality, democracy, sexuality, femininity and masculinity changed much since the turn of the century? Did blaxploitation cinema revolutionize television for black performers and viewers? How has the internet literally revolutionized raced and gendered comedy? These are some of the questions we will explore in Because Dave Chappelle Said So. Mr. Laymon.

Topic for 2013/14a: Cartoons, Comics, and Graphic Novels. This course examines major forms of comic art from 1900 to the present, including comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, and independent minicomics. It is organized both historically and thematically, with classes exploring such topics as: the roles played by gender, sexuality, race, and class in the creation and marketing of comic art; the debates over the morality of comics, and the effects of the “Comics Code”; the relation of the comics to various subcultures, such as the “underground” movement of the 1960s; the representation of politics and the politics of representation; the positioning of “graphic novels” in the academy and the literary world more generally. Among the artists/works we might consider: McCay (Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland), Herriman (Krazy Kat), Siegel and Shuster (Superman), Schulz (Peanuts), Spiegelman (Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers), Trudeau (Doonesbury), Barry (The Greatest of Marlys), McGruder (Boondocks), Ware (Jimmy Corrigan), and Bechdel (Fun Home), as well as magazines from Mad to Raw. We will also be looking at criticism and theory in the areas of media and cultural studies. Mr. Antelyes.

One 2-hour period.

365. Selected Author (1)

Study of the work of a single author. The work may be read in relation to literary predecessors and descendants as well as in relation to the history of the writer's critical and popular reception. This course alternates from year to year with English 265.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

370a. Transnational Literature (1)

This course focuses on literary works and cultural networks that cross the borders of the nation-state. Such border-crossings raise questions concerning vexed phenomena such as globalization, exile, diaspora, and migration-forced and voluntary. Collectively, these phenomena deeply influence the development of transnational cultural identities and practices. Specific topics studied in the course vary from year to year and may include global cities and cosmopolitanisms; the black Atlantic; border theory; the discourses of travel and tourism; global economy and trade; or international terrorism and war.

Topic for 2013/14a: India Elsewhere. "I am writing to you from your far-off country/Far even from us who live here," Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali writes. The seminar will examine such complexities of location and identity by focusing on literature in English with subcontinental affinities or allegiances. We will examine the literary and visual contexts that have shaped the works, such as religious epics, and popular or "Bollywood" film, as we trace the genealogy of the current boom in the metropolitan Indian-English writing. Critically, the seminar will examine the cruxes of interpretation and interpellation, including controversies over postcolonial exoticism and cosmopolitanism. Works will include Bharati Mukherjee’s Miss New India, Hari Kunzru’s Gods without Men, Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay, Amit Chaudhuri’s Afternoon Raag, and the Nina Paley’s animated film Sita Sings the Blues. Ms. Kane.

One 2-hour period.

378. Black Paris (1)

(Same as Africana Studies and French 378) This multidisciplinary course examines black cultural productions in Paris from the first Conference of Negro-African writers and artists in 1956 to the present. While considered a haven by African American artists, Paris, the metropolitan center of the French empire, was a more complex location for African and Afro-Caribbean intellectuals and artists. Yet, the city provided a key space for the development and negotiation of a black diasporic consciousness. This course examines the tensions born from expatriation and exile, and the ways they complicate understandings of racial, national and transnational identities. Using literature, film, music, and new media, we explore topics ranging from modernism, jazz, Négritude, Pan-Africanism, and the Présence Africaine group, to assess the meanings of blackness and race in contemporary Paris. Works by James Baldwin, Aime Césaire, Chester Himes, Claude McKay, the Nardal sisters, Richard Wright. Ousmane Sembène, Mongo Beti, among others, are studied. Ms. Célérier and Ms. Dunbar.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

380b. English Seminar (1)

Topic for 2013/14b: Representing Elizabeth I. (Same as Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Women's Studies 380) This course considers the verbal and visual strategies that Elizabeth I used to legitimize her rule and that her subjects used to persuade the queen. Major topics include women’s education in the 16th century, problems of female rule in the 16th century, Elizabeth as defender of the English Bible, Elizabeth as the focus of court culture, and the myth of Elizabeth in the 20th century. Ms. Robertson.

One 2-hour period.

381. English Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

382. English Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

383. English Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

384. English Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

385. English Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

386. English Seminar (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

Open by permission of the chair.

One unit of credit given only in exceptional cases.