English Department

Professors: Mark C. Amodio, Beth Darlington, Robert DeMaria, Jr., Donald Foster, Michael Joyce (Co-Chair), Paul Kane, Amitava Kumar, H. Daniel Peck, Paul Russella, Ronald Sharp (and Dean of the Faculty), Patricia Wallace; Associate Professors: Peter Antelyes (Co-Chair), Susan Brismanab, Heesok Chang, Leslie Dunn, Wendy Graham, Jean Kane, E. K. Weedin, Jr., Susan ZlotnickabAssistant Professors: Eve Dunbar, Kiese Laymon, Zoltan Markus, Tyrone Simpsonab, Laura Yow; Instructor: Hua Hsu; Visiting Associate Professor: Mark Whalen; Visiting Assistant Professors: Chloe Wigsten Smith, Kristen Carter; Adjunct Professor: Colton Johnson; Adjunct Associate Professors: Dean Crawford, Marsha Mark, Judith Nichols, Karen Robertsonab, Ralph Sassone; Adjunct Assistant Professors: Joshua Harmon, Joanne Long (and Dean of Freshman); David Means, Julia Rose; Writing Specialist: Natalie Friedman.

Requirements for Concentration: A minimum of twelve units, comprising either eleven graded units and an ungraded senior tutorial, or twelve graded units including a senior seminar in the English 380 range of course offerings. At least six units must be taken at Vassar, including either the senior tutorial or the English 380 seminar in the Senior year. 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, or ethnicity.

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. Details about these deadlines, departmental procedures, and current information on course offerings may be found in the Alphabet Book available in the department office.

Correlate Sequences in English: The department offers five correlates in English. Race and Ethnicity; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies; Poetry and Poetics; British Literary History, and American Literary History. Further information is available in the Alphabet Book.

I. Introductory Courses

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 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 2007/08 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.

172-178. Special Topics ( 1/2)

Courses listed under these numbers are designed to offer to a wide audience a variety of literary subjects that are seldom taught in regularly offered courses. The courses are six weeks in length and held during the second half of the semester; 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 Freshman Writing Seminar requirement. These courses are ungraded and do not count toward the major. May be repeated.

177a or b. Major Author: William Faulkner ( 1/2)

William Faulkner has been called “the greatest writer in the world” by Albert Camus, but “a medieval corncob poet of everyday banalities” by Edward Dahlberg. This course introduces students to as representative a sample of Faulkner’s work as is possible in half a semester, as well as a range of critical and popular receptions to this work. We read some of Faulkner’s short stories and three or four of his novels, which may include The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom!, and The Hamlet. Mr. Harmon

178a or b. Major Author: Aphra Behn ( 1/2)

Aphra Behn was the first professional female author in English literature. Her existence, her life, and her work have frequently been described as scandalous. This course is devoted to Behn’s scandals: in our analytical explorations of the scandalicious, we read a representative selection of Behn’s poems, prose fiction, translations, and, especially, plays. Mr. Markus.

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 without the prerequisite 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.

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 or b. Composition (1)

Open to any student who has taken English 205 or an equivalent course.

Special permission is not required.

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

207a or b. 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. Mr. Kumar, Mr. Harmon, Ms. Mark.

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

208b. Literary Nonfiction (1)

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

Prerequisite: open to students who have taken English 207 or by permission of the instructor.

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

209-210. Narrative Writing (1)

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

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

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

211-212. Verse Writing (1)

Development of the student’s abilities as a writer and reader of poetry. Ms. Wallace.

Deadline for submission of writing samples is before spring break.

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

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.

215a. Forms of Drama (1)

Study of selected dramatic texts that mark important moments in the history and development of dramatic literature in English, from the mystery cycles of the middle ages to the present day. Particular attention will be paid to the evolution of specific dramatic forms as influenced by development and change in literary and cultural aesthetics, in drama’s social and historical purposes, and in theories surrounding the nature and function of theatrical and literary representation. Readings may be drawn from such playwrights as the Wakefield Master, Marlowe, Jonson, Behn, Dryden, Gay, Shaw, Beckett, O’Neill, Churchill. Mr. Markus.

217a. Literary Theory and Interpretation (1)

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

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

(Same as Women’s Studies 218) 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 2007/08: Black Feminism. This course examines the development and history of black feminism in the United States. Through reading works of fiction, memoir, and theory, we explore the central concerns of the black feminist movement, and consider black feminism’s response to Civil Rights, Black Nationalism, and white feminism. Authors may include Anna Julia Cooper, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and others. Ms. Dunbar.

222/223. Founding of English Literature (1)

These courses 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. The fall term begins with Old English literature and continues through the death of Queen Elizabeth I (1603). The spring term 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. Ms. Devon (a), Mr. Foster (b).

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). Ms. Friedman.

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 move-ments 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. Mr. Peck.

227a. African American Literature, Origins to 1946 (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 227) This course examines the origins of black literature in America. Our exploration begins with West African and African-American oral texts: chants, sorrow songs, hymns, sermons, folk tales. Particular attention is paid to the lyrics of Phyllis Wheatley and the political discourse of such figures as Ida B. Wells, Maria Stewart, and David Walker. We also examine the textured autobiographies of writers like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Wilson, and Harriet Jacobs before studying the early African-American novel. Reading the works of writers like Charles Chestnutt, James Weldon Johnson, and Jessie Fauset we hope to understand how these written texts created their own aesthetic principles while interacting with dominant literary traditions of the day. Mr. Whalan.

228b. African American Literature, 1946-present (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 228) Beginning with the literature of social realism we cover almost sixty years of African-American Literature, including some of the major critical discourses (modernism, protest fiction, the black arts movement, postmodernism) that have guided its development over the past century. This course seeks to identify literary characteristics that have evolved out of the culture and contemporary experience of black people in America. One of our goals is to better understand how black literature created its own aesthetic principles in its interaction with the dominant literary traditions of the day. Mr. Whalan.

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

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.

230b. Latina and Latino Literature in the U.S. (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. Ms. Carter.

231a. Native American Literature (1)

Drawing from a wide range of Native American traditions, this course explores the rich heritage of our earliest 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. Ms. Nichols.

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. Mr. Amodio.

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

237a. Chaucer (1)

The major poetry, including The Canterbury Tales.

238b. 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.

[239a. Renaissance Drama] (1)

A study of major Renaissance works for the stage exclusive of Shakespeare’s plays.

Not offered in 2007/08.

240a or b. Shakespeare (1)

Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies. Mr. Weedin, Ms. Dunn.

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

241-242. Shakespeare (1)

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. Mr. Foster.

Not open to students who have taken English 240.

245a. 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. Ms. Wigston Smith.

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. Ms. Wigston Smith.

247b. Eighteenth-Century British Novels (1)

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

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. Ms. Darlington.

249b. 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. Ms. Graham.

[250a. Victorian Poets: Eminent, Decadent, and Obscure] (1)

A study of Romantic impulses and Victorian compromises as expressed in the major poems of Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Swinburne. The second half of the course turns from economies of the aesthetic to material conditions of the literary marketplace and to challenges met and posed by women writers such as Felicia Hemans, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Michael Field (Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper), and Alice Meynell. Some preliminary study of romantic poetry is strongly recommended.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[251a. The Black Woman as Novelist] (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 251)

Not offered in 2007/08.

252b. Writing the Diaspora (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 252)

255b. Nineteenth-Century British Novels (1)

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

256b. Modern British and Irish Novels (1)

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

257b. 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.

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. Kumar.

261a. The Literary Revival in Ireland, 1885-1922 (1)

Study of the background and growth of national expression in Ireland between 1885 and 1922, with emphasis on Yeats, A. E., Synge, Lady Gregory, and Sean O’Casey. Mr. Johnson.

262a. 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 postcolonial literary theory. Ms. Kane.

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. Mr. Whalen, Mr. Weedin.

Topic for 2007/08a: Langston Hughes.

Topic for 2007/08b: Wallace Stevens.

270b. Harlem Renaissance (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 270)

[275b. Caribbean Discourse] (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 275)

Not offered in 2007/08.

290 Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

Prerequisite: 2 units of 200-level work in English, and by 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 by 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, for juniors and seniors without this prerequisite, 2 units of work in allied subjects and permission from the associate chair.

300 a 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.

305-306. 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. Kane.

315a. Studies in Poetry (1)

Advanced study of selected topics in the history and theory of poetry, exploring a range of interpretive contexts for understanding individual poems. Discussions may consider such issues as the poetic canon, attacks on the defenses of poetry, and the boundaries of what constitutes poetry itself. The course includes both poetry and criticism, and may focus upon a particular period, genre, poet, or poetic tradition. Ms. Dunn.

Topic for 2007/08: Poetry and Music.

317a. 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. Graham.

[319a. Race and Its Metaphors] (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 319) Re-examination 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 2007/08.

320a. Traditions in the Literature of England and America (1)

The course studies varied attempts by writers to imagine human conduct and speech that is heroic and yet not ridiculous in the time and landscape of the writer and the reader. The writers read may include Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Radcliffe, Austen, Twain, Faulkner, Cheever, and Angelou. Mr. Weedin.

325b. 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. Mr. Joyce.

326a. Studies in Ethnic American Literature (1)

Exploration of literature by members of American ethnic groups, such as Asian-American, Latina/o, Jewish-American, and other literatures. The content may vary from year to year, from works by writers of one particular group to a comparison of works from two or more groups. Readings cover a number of different genres, as well as historical, critical and theoretical writings which place the works in the contexts of the ethnic experience and discussions about the nature of American ethnicity. Mr. Hsu.

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. Antelyes.

329a. 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.

330b. 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, Steinbeck, and Dos Passos. Mr. Peck.

331b. Post-modern American Literature (1)

Advanced study of American literature in the second half of the twentieth century. 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. Ms. Dunbar, Ms. Kane.

340a. 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. Mr. Amodio.

Topic for 2007/8: The Gawain-Poet and His Contemporaries.

341a. Studies in the Renaissance (1)

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

Topic for 2007/08: Sex and the City in 1600: Love, Gender, and Sexuality in Early Modern London.

345b. Milton (1)

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

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: a consideration of the genre of satire as a way of understanding the world; or sensibility and the Gothic, a study of the origins of these literary trends and of their relationship to each other, with some attention to their later development. Mr. DeMaria.

Topic for 2007/08: Satire.

[351b. 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 Brontës, 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). Mr. Kane

Not offered in 2007/08.

352a, 353b. Romantic Poets (1)

Intensive study of the major poetry and critical prose of Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (first semester), and Byron, Shelley, and Keats (second semester) 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. Ms. Darlington.

355a. 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. Mr. Kane.

[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.

Not offered in 2007/08.

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). Mr. Chang.

362a or b. 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.

362a. “Because Dave Chappelle Said So” (1)

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 G character, black masculinity seems to be a contemporary site of massive satire. This course explores the history, style, content and movement of black, mostly male, satirical comic narratives and characters. Using postmodernism as our critical lens, we explore what black satirical characters and narratives are saying through “tragicomedy” to the mediums of literature, film, television and comics, and to the ideals of morality, democracy, sexuality, femininity and masculinity. Are these narratives and characters, while asserting some sort of critical citizenship, actually writing black women’s subjectivity, narratives and experience out of popular American textual history? Does satire have 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? These are some of the questions we explore in “Because Dave Chappelle Said So.” Mr. Laymon.

365a. 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 writers’s critical and popular reception. This course alternates from year to year with English 265. Ms. Yow.

Topic for 2007/08: William Faulkner.

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 2007/08: Literature of 9/11. A new genre of books is now in place in the American canon, the literature of September 11, although not each book in this category need invoke the undying image of the burning towers. We read novels as well as non-fiction writing, and also a play, dealing broadly with the terrorist attacks and their aftermath. The texts used in the course may include: Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11; Ian McEwan, Saturday; John Updike, The Terrorist; Philip Roth, The Plot Against America; Jonathan Safran Foer, Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close; Terry, McDermott, Perfect Soldiers; Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children; Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss; and Joseph Margulies, Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power. A few of the questions that this course takes up are: How do writers respond to historical events? What are the ways in which the imagination is used to deal with trauma? Can we productively theorize the relationship between fact and fiction? Can literature really be free from paranoia or delusion or the marks of fantasy? Is the monumental to be displaced by the ordinary as a way of securing more democratic freedom? Mr. Kumar.

380-389a or b. Advanced Literary Study (1)

The content and the requirements for the completion of the work in each section vary from year to year. Permission of the instructor required. Forms for requesting permission are available in the department office.

Enrollment is limited to 12.

380a. Hamlet and Jesus (1)

This seminar explores competing narratives of the two greatest heroes of Anglo-American culture, each the son of a famously dead father: Hamlet, prince of Denmark, and Jesus, king of the Jews. Objects of study include the New Testament and religious classics, multiple print versions of the Hamlet story, Jesus and Hamlet in Western art and cinema, parody and satire, political discourse, and cyberspace.

381 After Shakespeare: The Cultural Politics of Adaptation (1)

Adaptation—the imitation, revision, and appropriation of texts—is one of the primary processes through which literary meanings migrate and change. This seminar considers Shakespearean adaptation as both a textual and political practice, raising issues of authenticity and authority, representations of difference, postcolonial displacement, and cross-cultural translation. Seminar members also reflect critically on their own positions as contemporary readers, viewers, interpreters, and consumers of Shakespeare. The syllabus encompasses a range of genres and media, including fiction, poetry, theatre, film, and music. Prior study of Shakespeare’s plays is strongly recommended. Ms. Dunn.

382a. Transforming Landscapes in American Literature and Visual Art (1)

This course examines the ways in which particular American writers, artists, photographers, and filmmakers have understood landscape as a stage on which to play out their deepest concerns of self and society. Writers under consideration may include Henry David Thoreau, Henry James, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Louise Erdrich. Figures from the visual arts may include painters Thomas Cole, George Inness, and Georgia O’Keeffe; photographers Emmet Gowin and Eric Lindbloom; filmmaker Terrence Malick. Mr. Peck.

383b. Visions and Revisions of the Fall (1)

In this class we consider the ways in which the Fall is treated as a literary, religious, and philosophical construct by John Milton in Paradise Lost and by Philip Pullman in the His Dark Materials trilogy. While the course focuses on Milton’s poem and Pullman’s novels, we consider other versions of the Fall (including the biblical one) and we also examine the lot/state/situation of the fallen (angels and others) by reading a variety of medieval and modern texts, which may include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Frankenstein, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, among others. In addition, we screen a number of films, which may include The Devil’s Advocate, The Rapture, Dogma, and the original version of Bedazzled. Mr. Amodio.

384b. Writing for Performance (1)

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, song lyrics, scenes, a one-act play). Our emphasis is insistently dramaturgical, though not without a dose of theory and criticism. Prerequisites: an original writing sample; evidence of successfully completed coursework in dramatic literature; and permission of the instructor.

385b. Critical Race Theory in American Culture: Unthinking Race in the Age of its Recrudescence (1)

Our first task in this course is to convince ourselves, truly, that racial identity is a social fiction that deceives us into believing that we can predict the propensities and acumen of a person by the mere evidence of her body’s epidermal hue. Toward this end, we review Enlightenment philosophers and physicians such as Immanuel Kant, Johan Blumenbach, and Thomas Jefferson who canonized this mythology in Western thought. Our early interrogations meditate on how these thinkers were able to do so. What ideological precepts made their arguments about race so rational and convincing? Once we explore how race as an idea has emerged and was then discredited, we analyze various aspects of American cultural production that demonstrate the unfortunate recalcitrance, if not recrudescence, of racial ideology. American fiction provides the primary sites of analysis. After considering critical race theorists such as Richard Dyer, Kimberle Crenshaw, Robyn Wiegman, we turn our critical lenses upon the work of novelists such as Jean Toomer, Julia Alvarez, Philip Roth, Danzy Senna, and Chang-Rae Lee, W. E. B. Dubois. But our investigations do not end there. My hope is that this course provides students with a critical arsenal that enables them to discern how the ideology continues to saturate the social field, if not for the purposes of extending the mythos of racial identity, then certainly for the purposes of undermining it. Film, music, television programs and commercials, and visual art all supply sources where students may ferret out the distinguished legacy of racialist thought. Mr. Simpson.

386b. Shakespeare Today (1)

This course seeks answers to the question of what Shakespeare means in our contemporary culture. What is “’Shakespeare” and, for that matter, what is “culture” today? How dead is the author if he is called Shakespeare? How has Shakespeare been made, rediscovered, and reinvented? The exceeding (and frequently uncritical) appreciation of Genius Shakespeare has been variously described as “Bardolatry,” “Shakespeare cult,” “’Shakespeare fetish,” and “Shakespeare myth.” Our aim is to examine the history and the current effects of Shakespeare’s distinguished cultural status. We begin by clarifying a few theoretical issues and exploring how this cultural icon has been constructed from Shakespeare’s time to the present, after which we focus on specific Shakespeare plays contrasting their cultural significance and possible meanings in Shakespeare’s time with their significance and meanings today. Five Shakespeare plays are at the center of our investigations: Hamlet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Tempest. In this second part of the course, we pay special attention to film adaptations and other cultural appropriations of these plays. Mr. Markus.

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.