English Department

Professors: Mark C. Amodio, Beth Darlington, Robert DeMaria, Jr., Donald Foster, Michael Joyce (Co-Chair), Paul Kane, Amitava Kumara, H. Daniel Peckb, Paul Russell, Ronald Sharp, Patricia WallacebAssociate Professors: Peter Antelyes (Co-Chair), Heesok Chang, Leslie Dunn, Wendy Graham, Jean Kane, E. K. Weedin, Jr.b, Susan ZlotnickabAssistant Professors: Eve Dunbar, Hua Hsu, Dorothy Kim, Kiese Laymon, Zoltán Márkus, Molly McGlennen, Tyrone Simpson, IIa, Laura Yow; Visiting Associate Professors: Dean Crawford, M Mark, David Means, Karen Robertson; Visiting Assistant Professors: Kristin Sanchez Carter, Natalie Friedman, Joshua Harmon, Lee Rumbarger; Adjunct Professor: Colton Johnson; Adjunct Associate Professors: Judith Nichols, Ralph Sassone; Adjunct Assistant Professors: Joanne Long (and Dean of Freshman); Julia Rose; Lecturer: Nancy Willard.

a Absent on leave, first semester
b Absent on leave, second semester

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 300 range of course offerings. Four units must be elected at the 300-level. At least six units, including either the senior tutorial or the 300-level 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.

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.

110b. Process, Prose, and Pedagogy (1)

(Same as College Course 110)

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 2008/09 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.

178a or b. Special Topic: Charles Dickens (1/2)

Charles Dickens was a major literary force of mid-nineteenth-century England. As novelist and storyteller, journalist and editor, entertainer and social critic, he exerted far-reaching influence. We read two or three novels (including perhaps Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, and Our Mutual Friend) and read selections from other fiction; we look at the Dickens’ journals, All the Year Round and Household Words; and we look at other nineteenth-century texts, such as Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor, for further illustration of the world Dickens was interpreting. Ms. Long.

179a. Special Topic: Henry David Thoreau (1/2)

(Same as Environmental Studies 179a) Thoreau’s writings have deeply influenced American culture, including artistic, political, and environmental thought of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. Works studied include Thoreau’s account, in Walden, of his famous “experiment in living”; his influential treatise “Civil Disobedience” and his writings opposing slavery; travel works such as The Maine Woods and Cape Cod; and his lifelong journal. Areas of consideration include the origins of Thoreau’s thought in Emersonian Transcendentalism; his relation to the new sciences of his day; his role in formulating modern environmental thought; his influence on twentieth-century public figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.; and his profound and diverse influence on different forms of modern and contemporary American literature. Mr. Peck.

184b. New Voices, Old Stories, New Immigrant Jewish Writers (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 184) American History is, in some ways, the story of immigrants, and one of the first immigrant groups to publish their stories were Jews, particularly those from Eastern Europe. American Jewish writers established the immigrant literary scene that today has become multifaceted and multicultural. In this class, we read the newest, most popular young writers to emerge from the recent Eastern European Jewish diaspora, and compare them to their classic forerunners. We examine the themes of assimilation, religious awakening, and responses to the Holocaust by members of the Second and Third Generation. New texts include Gary Shteyngart’s The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, and Lara Vapnyar’s There Are Jews in My House; older voices include those of Abraham Cahan, Henry Roth, and Anzia Yezierska. Ms. Friedman.

Open to freshmen only. Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

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.

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. Ms. Mark.

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

208 a or b. Literary Nonfiction (1)

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

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.Mr. Kane.

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. Ms. Kim.

215b 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. Mr. Márkus.

[216: 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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

217a. Literary Theory and Interpretation (1)

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

218a or 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 2008/09 a: (Same as Africana Studies 218 and Women’s Studies 218) 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.

Topic for 2008/09 b: Lesbian Literature. This course begins with literature that might be considered part of a lesbian “canon,” including Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. With Alison Bechdel’s Fun House, we begin to break down conventional categories. The second half of the course may include work from queer writers such as: Dorothy Allison, Beth Brant, Emma Donohue, Kateri Akiwenzi Damm, Janice Gould, Marilyn Hacker, Joy Harjo, Carole Maso, Adrienne Rich, Jacqueline Woodson and Jeanette Winterson. Ms. Nichols.

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. Mr. Amodio(a), Mr. Foster (a), Ms. Dunn (b), Mr. Márkus (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 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.

227a. 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? Ms. Dunbar.

228b. 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. Ms. Dunbar.

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 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. Instructor to be announced.

[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 2008/09.

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. Ms. Kim

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. Ms. Kim

240a or b. Shakespeare (1)

Study of some representative comedies, histories, and tragedies. Mr.Márkus (a), Mr. Foster (b).

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. Ms. Robertson.

Not open to students who have taken English 240.

[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 2008/09.

246a. 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. Instructor to be announced.

247b. Eighteenth-Century British Novels (1)

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

[248. 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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

249a. 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. Zlotnick.

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. Mr. Seidl.

[251a. Topics in Black Literatures] (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 251) 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 2008/09.

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

(Same as Africana Studies 252b) 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, ot 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.

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.Zlotnick.

[256. Modern British and Irish Novels] (1)

Significant twentieth-century novels from Great Britain and Ireland.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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.

260b. 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. Chang.

[261b. 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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

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 postcolonial literary theory.

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. Russell (a), Ms. Zlotnick (b).

Topic for 2008/09a: James Joyce. An investigation of the prose fiction of James Joyce, with special emphasis on Ulysses.

Topic for 2008/09b: Jane Austen.

275b. Caribbean Discourse (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 275) Study of the work of artists and intellectuals from the Caribbean. Analysis of fiction, non-fiction, and popular cultural forms such as calypso and reggae within their historical contexts. Attention to cultural strategies of resistance to colonial domination and to questions of community formation in the post-colonial era. May include some discussion of post-colonial literary theory and cultural studies. Ms. Yow.

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. Russell.

[315. 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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

317a or b. 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 (a), Mr. Simpson (b).

Topic for 2008/09a: Literary Theory Since 1965.

Topic for 2008/09b: Critical Race Theory.

319b. 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. Ms. Dunbar

320a and b. 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, Mr. Amodio.

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.

Topic for 2008/09: Metanarrative. A seminar about the stories that stories tell. A reading of diverse theorists like Franco Moretti, Peter Brooks, Roland Barthes, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, and D.A. Miller in conjunction with works of fiction by Balzac, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Jane Austen, Raymond Chandler, and others. By examining plot and narrative we hope to understand the metanarrative functions of changing writing forms—literature, criticism, history, theory. Mr. Kumar.

326b. 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. Instructor to be announced.

328a. 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. Peck.

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.

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, and Dos Passos. Mr. Antelyes.

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. Mr. Hsu.

340b. 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. Ms. Kim.

Topic for 2008/09: Saints’ Lives in Medieval Britain.

341a. Studies in the Renaissance (1)

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

Topic for 2008/09: Shakespeare’s Sisters.

342a. Studies in Shakespeare (1)

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

Topic for 2008/09: Shakespeare on the Page and the Stage.

345b. Milton (1)

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

350b. 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.


Topic for 2008/09: TBA

351a. 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).

Topic for 2008/09: The Brontë Sisters. Ms. Zlotnick.

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. Ms.Kane.

356a. 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. Ms. McGlennen.

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.

Topic for 2008/09: Woven Stories: Medieval and Renaissance Tapestry and Text. Intensive study of selected medieval texts and tapestries and the relationships between them. Tapestries include important series such as the Apocalypse, Courtiers in a Rose Garden, Los Honores, and the Hunt of the Unicorn. The texts, drawn from a variety of genres, include Everyman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Romance of the Rose and selections from bestiaries, herbals, and Middle English lyrics. Portions of the Iliad and the Bible are also be read. Questions pertaining to theories of narratology and iconography are explored. Students are taught how to design and weave a small medieval-style tapestry. Field trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters are scheduled. Ms. Willard, Ms. T. Kane.

Topic for 2008/09a: Because Dave Chappelle Said So. 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.

Topic for 2008/09b: The Thousand and One Nights. (Same as College Course 362 and Media Studies 362) “This story has everything a tale should have,” A. S. Byatt has written. “Sex, death, treachery, vengeance, magic, humor, warmth, wit, surprise, and a happy ending. Though it appears to be a story against women, it actually marks the creation of one of the strongest and cleverest heroines in world literature.” That heroine is Scheherazade, who for a thousand and one nights told death- defying tales that led to tales that are still being told. First recorded in Persia and India twelve hundred years ago, The Nights shifted shape through the centuries, transmitted orally and then in writing by countless storytellers in dozens of cultures. We’ll follow the narrative of these narratives, from the great age of medieval Islamic learning to the early eighteenth century, when Antoine Galland translated them into French bijoux, and then on to nineteenth-century England, where a decorous translation by Edward Lane and a salacious one by John Payne led Sir Richard Burton to try his flamboyant hand. Burton’s Arabian Nights Entertainments captured the imagination of Romantic poets in their youth, and writers of every generation since then have been similarly enticed. This course investigates literary, political, cultural, and historical explanations for the tales’ undiminished imaginative power. In addition to Husain Haddawy’s 1990 English translation, which attempts to rid The Nights of Orientalist bias and frippery, we read elaboration, analysis, and homage by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Beckford, Borges, Coleridge, De Quincey, Dulac, Wordsworth, Poe, Proust, Said, Mahfouz, Rushdie, El-Amir, Barth, Borges, Calvino, Malti-Douglas, Gaiman, Byatt, and Millhauser. We also watch films by Lang, Melies, Reiniger, and Pasolini as well as Hollywood and Bollywood extravaganzas that feature stars ranging from Douglas Fairbanks and Amitabh Bachchan to Brad Pitt and Mr. Magoo. Ms. Mark.

One 3-hour period.

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

Topic for 2008/09: William Faulkner. Ms. Yow.

Topic for 2008/09b: Wallace Stevens. Mr. Weedin.

370b. 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 2008/09: 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 examines such complexities of location and identity by focusing on literature in English with subcontinental affinities or allegiances. We 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 examines the cruxes of interpretation and interpellation, including controversies and charges of postcolonial exoticism. Possible readings include G. V. Desani’s About H. Hatterr, R. K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas, Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, and Jhumpha Lahiri’s The Namesake. Ms. Kane.

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.

Enrollment is limited to 12.

380a. Transgressive Aestheticism, 1860-1895 (1)

Transgressive Aestheticism features works of literature, painting, and art criticism that outraged the Victorians, making threatened or de facto prosecution for obsenity a virtual requirement for inclusion on the syllabus. This seminar highlights fin de siecle redefinitions of femininity, masculinity, and sexual deviance, inspired, in large part, by the eroticization of taboo and the aestheticization of violence in works of high culture. Pardoxically, the public outcry generated by controversial art works facilitated the communication and assimilation of avant-garde aesthetic notions by the haute monde and bourgeoisie, even the priggish Royal Academy. Aestheticism shaped public perceptions of domestic and social life, creating the decadent (homosexual) and the New Woman as emergent social types as well as figures of parody (Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience). While emphasizing the British cultural scene (Pre-Raphaelitism), the seminar includes the relevant European literature and also takes account of forebears, such as Balzac and Baudelaire. Oscar Wilde had models; this course is about them. Likely authors: Browning, Rossetti, Swinburne, Ruskin, Pater, Wilde, Rachilde, Huysmans, Nietzsche, Foucault. Ms. Graham.

381a. New Dawn Fades: American Literature and Art in the 1980s (1)

This seminar considers the literature and art of the 1980s in light of the decade’s most striking ideas: postmodernism and the blurring of tastes high and low; political correctness and multiculturalism; evolving notions of the public and the private; the digital revolution and its ontology; AIDS and gay liberation; the end of the cold war and the dawn of a newly global, post-1989 sensibility. Authors and artists may include: Morrison, McCarthy, DeLillo, Barthelme, Kingston, Doctorow, Alan Moore (The Watchmen), Didion, Mailer, Marshall Berman, Christopher Lasch, Greil Marcus, Greg Tate, Spike Lee, Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, Warhol, Haring and Basquiat. Mr. Hsu.

382a. Big Man in Dogtown: Maximus (1)

A consideration of the Maximus Poems and their surround, an epic three-volumes by the least known “greatest” poet of the twentiety century, Charles Olson, rector-mentor of the Black Mountain poets (Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Ed Dorn, Joel Oppenheimer, Denise Levertov, Jonathan Williams et alia) and inventor/proponent of “Projective Verse,” a poetry of field composition, i.e., “a high energy construct, a field of action, in which one perception immediately and directly leads to a further perception.” Seminar participants are invited to consider the constellation of energies surrounding the poems including Black Mountain figures such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor, and Cy Twombly; the geographer Carl O Sauer; pre-Socratic philosopher, Eric Havelock; and so on. Mr. Joyce.

383a. Emerson, Poetry, and America (1)

“Yet America is a poem in our eyes,” says Emerson in the essay “The Poet,” and thus is conceived the notion that poetry in America will be quintessentially American poetry. This seminar begins by examining in depth Emerson’s own poems and theories of poetry and then moves on to trace his influence on subsequent American poets, lyricists and composers, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Charles Ives, A. R. Ammons, Bob Dylan, and Robert Hunter (of The Grateful Dead). Along the way we consider to what degree all this work is peculiarly American. Complicating our inquiry are various competing and counter traditions that move contrary to Emersonianism in interesting and informative ways. Mr. Kane.

385b. Poetry as Public Speech: Yeats’s Later Poems, Essays and Broadcasts (1)

Writing on “Public Speech and Private Speech in Poetry” in 1938, the American poet Archibald MacLeish praised W.B. Yeats as the supremely “modern” poet in English, declaring Yeats’s poetry ‘the first poetry in English in more than a century in which the poem is again an act upon the world…the first poetry in generations which can cast a shadow in the sun of actual things.’ Yeats had been concerned with the public role of poetry at least since his essays of the 1890’s on “popular poetry,” and he had been presenting programs of his poetry and his thoughts about “modern poetry” since 1935 in radio broadcasts for the BBC. Through close study of the poetry, beginning generally with the volume of 1916 called Responsibilities, later essays, and manuscripts, typescripts, and reading scripts of his broadcasts, this seminar explores the evolution of Yeats’s public voice and the roles of public speech and personal experience in English poetry in the first half of the twentieth century. Mr. Johnson.

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.