Selected Course Descriptions of some of the English Department’s Fall 2019 Courses

Read and study the literature that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien.

Sir Winston Churchill is rightly admired for how he stood up to Hitler during World War-II; however, what is less known is Churchill's deep contempt for peoples who were colonized by the British Empire. If you'd like to read literary texts that grapple with such uncomfortable truths, sign up for ENGL 2610 this fall. This course examines how award-winning writers from countries like South Africa, India, and Kenya use a range of narrative techniques and blend various genres to represent colonialism and its legacy in post-colonial societies. This course now meets English Department requirements for a Diversity Course.

Fairy Tales have been told, loved, shared, and passed down for hundreds of years across cultures and continents; their legacy attests to the human need for narratives and to our delight in the transformative, the magical, and the strange. This course examines the Euro/American Fairy Tale heritage through traditional and modern versions of Fairy Tales using a variety of theories and perspectives.  The course materials include film, art, theory, and a wide variety of literary sources.

This course offers an introduction to key thinkers, texts, and concepts in critical theory from the twentieth century.  If the study of culture can be compared to an ongoing conversation, this class provides a survey of the central threads and critical perspectives in this conversation (for instance: marxism, formalism, psychoanalysis, feminism, structuralism, postcolonial criticism, new historicism, deconstruction).  By giving opportunities to examine and use the critical tools developed in these approaches, the class also introduces students to the basics of theoretical writing, providing them with powerful new ways of interpreting texts, culture, and society.  In particular, it will help students think historically about culture and analytically about the stories and narratives they consume on a daily basis—very much including the stories told in the discipline of cultural study itself.

Historian Perry Miller called America “Nature’s Nation.” This reading intensive course explores some of the greatest nineteenth-century American writers by examining changing, evolving, and often diametrically opposed conceptions of nature in literary works spanning a wide variety of genres. Assignments include various formats; you will have opportunities to write about American literature before 1900 and our course theme, Nature’s Nation. 

Expand your understanding of literature’s social impact and role in American history by analyzing developments in African American literature and cultural theory. You will learn about cultural movements like the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement that were led by writers. And you will respond to questions about American history, society, and culture that the literature raises.

This course will introduce you to the genres and conventions of legal writing. We’ll begin by learning about the sources of U.S. law and the construction of legal argument; you’ll then gain experience interpreting case law and statutes by writing about law for a variety of audiences and purposes. Whether you’re considering a career in law or just want to strengthen and expand your rhetorical skills, you’ll appreciate this course. This course now meets English Department requirements for a Rhetoric Course.

The course topic for ENGL3900 this fall is Hip Hop Poetics. You will analyze rap poems and their significance in hip hop history and will practice writing hip hop criticism. The course offers a dynamic listening, reading, and writing experience for hip hop heads and hip hop novices alike. 

This fall, I am delighted to teach a course in films from South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) that will go beyond the dominant genre of the 'Bollywood' musical. Let us discover how filmmakers use cinematic tools to represent various facets of a rich and complex region. This course does not require you to have ANY prior knowledge of South Asia or of cinema studies, just enthusiasm and curiosity about the world. 

This course explores the theoretical and practical study of writing processes across diverse contexts. Students will learn how to teach culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the K-12 English Language Arts classroom, how to teach writing to English Language Learners, how to design writing assignments and scaffold students’ learning through an assignment sequence, and how to give feedback on and grade students’ writing. Students will engage in readings and written responses; participate in discussion of course concepts and their own and peers’ lines of inquiry and written work; present a demonstration of their teaching ideas and abilities; and compose several writing projects to investigate teaching theory and practice.

Okay, you speak English, but do you know the language?

Since the 1960s, Americans have come to define, experience, and practice “family” more inclusively, moving from a (putatively) ideal nuclear model to one that includes same-sex parents, single parents, blended families, non-biological families, and child-free families, among others. After reading scholarship that explains the economic, political, and socio-cultural shifts that caused this “quiet revolution” (Pew), we will read contemporary writers who use their personal experiences to contribute to our expanding notions of family.  Using the rhetorical lens of ethos, we will analyze how the authors of these texts seek to generate understanding, and in some cases goodwill, toward their families.

In this seminar-style course, we’ll consider the relationship between love and rhetoric. Drawing on diverse texts (both within and without the field of rhetoric), we will query whether love for others and for the world has any part to play in creating effective rhetoric and, if it does, how that might look in practice. Throughout, we’ll investigate the extent to which rhetoric requires both delivery skills (speaking/writing) and reception skills (listening/reading) and what that means for each of us. 

“Our power is always running ahead of our mind.” 
Henry Adams, April 1906 letter
Historian and novelist, world traveler and master ironist, descendant of two US presidents and incisive interpreter of his epoch, Henry Adams (1838–1918) was steeped in American history and culture yet remains eccentric in relation to its primary currents of thought.  This course is a sustained study of two books by Adams, written late in his life and conceived by him as a pair, The Education of Henry Adams (1907) and Mont Saint Michel and Chartres (1904), as well as of supplemental kindred texts by Adams, his influences, his critics, and those who have followed in his footsteps.  Readings will not only showcase Adams’s singular style and wide-ranging reflections on art and science, politics and technology, US and world history, but will also use his life and work as a means of measuring the complexities and challenges of his age, and our own.