Chair: Scott Elliott
Sharon Alker
Theresa M. DiPasquale (on Sabbatical, Spring 2016)
Adam Gordon
Christopher Leise
Gaurav Majumdar (on Sabbatical, Fall 2015)
Mary Raschko
Katrina Roberts
Kisha L. Schlegel 

Adjunct Faculty:
Johanna Stoberock
Jenna Terry 

Affiliated Faculty:
Kristen Kosmas, Theatre 
Lydia McDermott, General Studies and Writing Center

English Department Website »

The courses in English provide opportunity for the extensive and intensive study of literature for its aesthetic interest and value and for its historical and general cultural significance. For courses in expository writing, see the Composition section of the catalog and the descriptions for General Studies 170, 210, and 320.

Distribution: Courses completed in English apply to the humanities and cultural pluralism (selected courses) distribution areas, with the following exceptions:
     Fine arts: 150, 250, 251, 252, 320, 321, 322, and 389

Learning Goals - English Major:

  • Major-Specific Areas of Knowledge
    • Upon graduating, English majors will be able to perform sophisticated close readings of literary texts, applying genre-specific literary terminology in demonstrating their understanding of the relationship between form and content. They will be able to demonstrate their familiarity with various approaches to literary studies, to identify the effects of literary allusions, and to investigate the relationship between a text and the culture in which it was written.
  • Accessing Academic Community/Resources
    • They will be able to make good use of library resources and to read and explore literary texts independently.
  • Critical Thinking
    • They will have developed sensitivity to literary aesthetics and style and will be able to analyze texts and discourses in a variety of media--written, performed, visual, and oral; they will be able to synthesize a broad range of information bearing upon the interpretation of these discourses.
  • Communication
    • They will be able to think, speak, and write intelligently about what texts do in their various functions. They will speak and write clearly, confidently, persuasively, and with nuance.
  • Quantitative Skills
    • They will understand the principles of poetic meter and be capable of scanning metrical verse. 
  • Research Experience
    • Be capable of writing an extended literary analysis paper supported by primary and secondary research. Honors thesis students: Identify literary questions, pose a particular hypothesis about how the question might be answered, and then research the question through the analysis of primary sources and synthesis of secondary sources.

The English major: A minimum of 36 credits selected to include the following:

  1. English 290.
  2. Four period courses in English and American literature from English 336, 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 348, 349. At least two courses must be in English literature with one of them chosen from 336, 337, 338; at least one course must be in American literature selected from 348 or 349.
  3. One course in a major English-language writer or writers from English 350, 351, 352, 357. English 367-369 may also count toward the major author requirement when it is so noted in the course description.
  4. English 491.
  5. Two additional courses in English above 300, except 401, 402, and 498. (One of the electives may, with the written approval of the English department, be a literature course in world literature numbered 300 or higher or a course in literature offered by the department of foreign languages and literatures numbered above 306.

No more than 12 credits earned in off-campus programs, transfer credits, credits from courses offered by other Whitman departments, or cross-listed courses may be used to satisfy major requirements. Courses used to satisfy requirements in other majors or minors cannot also be used to satisfy requirements in the English major or minor.

Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy course and credit requirements for the major.

The English department strongly recommends at least two years of a foreign language, especially for students planning to attend graduate school.

Honors in the major: English Majors do not apply for admission to candidacy for honors. If they wish to pursue honors, senior majors must apply to write a thesis, register for English 497, and proceed to write a thesis that fulfills the requirements for honors as described in the English Majors’ Handbook. If a senior’s thesis proposal is accepted and he or she proceeds to write an honors-level thesis, he or she will be granted Honors in Major Study if he or she:

  • earns distinction on his or her Senior Comprehensive Examinations;
  • has completed a total of at least 36 credits in English (excluding English 497);
  • attains Cumulative and Major GPAs specified in the faculty code (3.300 and 3.500, respectively); and
  • earns a grade of A or A- on the thesis.

The Chair of the English Department will notify the Registrar of those students attaining Honors in Major Study no later than the beginning of the third week of April, at which time the Registrar will change the thesis course in which they are registered from English 497 to English 498. Two copies of each honors thesis must be submitted to Penrose Library no later than Reading Day.

The English minor: A minimum of 20 credits selected so as to include the following:

  1. Two  period courses in English literature from English 336, 337, 338, 339, 340, 341.
  2. One period course in American literature from English 348, 349.
  3. One course in a major English-language writer or writers from English 350, 351, 352, 357. English 367-369 may also count toward the major author requirement when it is so noted in the course description.
  4. One additional course in English numbered above 300, except 401 and 402.

Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy course and credit requirements for the minor.

For courses in expository writing:

See Composition 170, 210, and 320.

150 Introductory Creative Writing
4, 4 Fall: Roberts, Schlegel; Spring: Elliott, Roberts

The writing of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Experience not necessary, but students should expect to complete weekly exercises, share work aloud, and write responses for peers. In addition, extensive reading and analysis of pieces by established writers in a variety of literary forms.

176 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
x, 4 Schlegel

A study of the forms, techniques, and traditions of a shape-shifting genre that can be understood as arising from the long tradition of the “essay.” Creative Nonfiction includes forms as diverse as the lyric essay, memoir, profile, critique, rant, and review; inspired and researched, it is a form that transforms lived experience into literary art. The course will explore the writings of literary essayists from antiquity to the present.

177 Introduction to Poetry
x, 4 A. Gordon

The forms, strategies, voices, and visions of British and American poetry from the Middle Ages to the present day.

178 Introduction to Fiction
4, 4 Fall: Alker, Terry; Spring: Elliott

The principal aims and techniques of fiction through the study of traditional and experimental novels, short stories, and novellas. Work by such authors as Dickens, the Brontës, Conrad, Chekhov, Faulkner, Hemingway, Kafka, Crane, Malamud, Bellow, Gallagher, Paley, and Barth may be included.

179 Introduction to Drama
x, 4 Stoberock

The study of the forms and techniques of drama; the study of plays as literary texts and as scripts for production, including plays from antiquity to the present.

181, 182 Introduction to Literature and the Humanities

The study of selected texts in the humanities, with particular attention to literature written in English, offered at the introductory level and designed to fulfill the Humanities distribution requirement. These courses are writing intensive (involving at least 18 pages of formal, graded writing assignments and including instruction in academic writing) and involve a substantial amount of reading. Subjects for the section change from semester to semester and year to year in order to provide students with a variety of choices for literary study at the 100-level. Any current offerings follow.

181 VT: Literary Feasts: Lyrical Writing as Food for Thought
4, x Roberts

In this course, we’ll consider works in poetry and lyrical prose in which writers celebrate, or even gesture briefly toward, food and drink. What sustains our bodies has nourished the minds of writers through time; together we’ll examine culinary moments from classical and contemporary literature in which preparations (labors to harvest and cook), ceremonial and daily meal rituals; and the complex, and sometimes fraught ways in which nutriment is entwined with aspects of identity (political, cultural, familial, regional) can contribute in thematically symbolic and revelatory manners. Students will become familiar with poetic and other literary elements, while enjoying opportunities to read from a range of texts in which physical sustenance significantly comes to bear; we’ll bring to our table poems from sources including The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink (edited by Kevin Young)as well as moments from prose works possibly by Lahiri, Carver, Fisher, Lewis, Beasley, Melville, Márquez, Esquival, Austen, and even Hoban, whose Bread & Jam for Francis is an important children’s classic.  Predilections, memories, associations, desires, and aversions – written moments that explore our rich relationships with food in all its glory as well as in its absence, will be the focus of our literary analyses, and will prompt frequent writing assignments both critical and creative. Distribution area:  humanities.

182 VT: Before Harry Potter: The History of British Children’s Literature
x, 4 Alker

During the eighteenth century, the concept of a literature designed only for children gradually emerged in Britain. While such works were initially very didactic, there was a gradual change in the Romantic and Victorian period to privilege the imagination in both stories and poetry.  By the twentieth-century, there was a rich and flourishing tradition which influenced the work of J.K. Rowling. This course will look at selected writings for children from the Romantic period until the late twentieth century, paying particular attention to intertextuality as we move through the texts. We will end with a study of the first novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. We will be reading the equivalent of a novel a week. Authors may include Edgeworth, Kingsley, Carroll, Stevenson, Macdonald, Nesbit, Grahame, Lewis, Barrie, and Burnett. Distribution area: humanities.

250 Intermediate Creative Writing – Fiction
4, x Elliott

An intermediate workshop in fiction writing offering students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of fundamental techniques and important works in the genre. Students will write original short stories and experiment with strategies and structures through exercises meant to increase their awareness of, and proficiency in, the elements of fiction. Extensive analysis of peer work and important established models in the genre. Weekly assignments in reading and writing to develop critical and creative faculties. Final portfolio of creative and critical work. Prerequisite: English 150 or consent of instructor.

251 Intermediate Creative Writing – Poetry
4, x Roberts

An intermediate workshop in poetry writing, intended to expand knowledge of fundamental techniques, and to familiarize students with many important writers in the genre. Students will have the opportunity to write and revise poems based on prompts as well as on their own. There will be weekly reading and journal exercises, and extensive analysis of peer work and established models to develop critical and creative faculties. Final portfolio of creative and critical work. Prerequisite: English 150 or consent of instructor.

252 Intermediate Creative Writing – Nonfiction
4, x K. Schlegel

An intermediate workshop in creative nonfiction writing, intended to expand knowledge of fundamental techniques, and to familiarize students with many important writers in the genre. Students will write original essays and experiment with strategies and structures through exercises meant to increase their awareness of, and proficiency in, the elements of nonfiction. Extensive analysis of peer work and important established models in the genre. Weekly assignments in reading and writing to develop critical and creative faculties. Final portfolio of creative and critical work. Prerequisite: English 150 or consent of instructor.

290 Approaches to the Study of Literature
4, 4 Fall: Leise; Spring: Leise, Majumdar

A course in practical criticism designed to introduce students to some of the approaches that can be used in literary analysis. Not open to first-semester first-year students.

320 Advanced Creative Writing – Fiction
x, 4 Elliott

An intensive advanced workshop in fiction. Students will continue to develop their proficiency in fiction writing by reading deeply and analyzing established models, completing exercises, producing drafts of original stories and revisions, participating in discussions of peer work, and giving presentations based on close readings. Final portfolio of creative and critical work which may include some consideration of where the student’s work fits into a fiction-writing tradition. Prerequisite: English 250 or equivalent and consent of instructor.

321 Advanced Creative Writing – Poetry
x, 4 Roberts

An intensive advanced workshop in poetry. Students will have the opportunity to develop proficiency in poetry writing by completing exercises, producing drafts and revisions of poems for peer discussions, reading deeply and analyzing established models, and actively participating in rigorous and constructively critical discussions. Weekly poem assignments, as well as reading and journal exercises. Final portfolio of creative and critical work. Prerequisite: English 251 or equivalent and consent of instructor.

322 Advanced Creative Writing – Nonfiction
x, 4 K. Schlegel

An intensive advanced workshop in “the fourth genre,” creative nonfiction. Students will have the opportunity to experiment with form, to address a range of subjects in weekly creative nonfiction pieces, and to read deeply and analyze established models as well as peer work to develop important critical faculties. Students will be expected to participate actively in rigorous, constructively critical discussions. Weekly exercises, as well as reading and journal assignments. Final portfolio of creative and critical work. Prerequisites: English 252, or equivalent, and consent of instructor.

323 Playwriting/Writing for Performance
x, 4 Kosmas

In order to generate a shared vocabulary, we will begin with critical readings of contemporary plays, paying special attention to structure. Reading will be balanced by a great deal of student writing. Students will write during every class period and draft several short plays over the course of the semester. Collectively, we will examine and question our ideas about what a play is and ought to be. Student playwrights will ask essential questions such as: What is my process as a writer? What are my materials as a playwright? What is my aesthetic point of view? Students will gain techniques for writing practice and broaden and refine vocabularies for the discussion of creative writing. They will sharpen critical and evaluative skills of thought, speech, and writing applicable to a variety of disciplines including but not limited to theatre. May be elected as Theatre 330. Prerequisite: participation in Instant Play Festival writing workshops or consent of instructor.

336-341 Studies in British Literature

Courses designed to introduce students to the literature and culture of England in each of six literary periods: the Middle Ages (English 336), the Renaissance (English 337), the Restoration and 18th Century (English 338), the Romantic Period (English 339), the Victorian Period (English 340), and 1900-Present (English 341). The specific focus of each course will vary from year to year. Topics in a particular literary period may be taken a total of two times, but only one may count toward the fulfillment of the period course requirement. A second topic taken in a particular literary period may count toward the elective requirement. Any current offerings follow.

336 VT: Medieval Literature: Old Stories, New Problems
x, 4 Raschko

Rather than prize the innovative and new, medieval writers and readers placed highest value on the telling of well-known stories. Nearly every poet claimed that his text came from some other source, whether the bible, Roman histories, a French romance, or a now-lost book (that perhaps never existed). In this course, we will explore the interplay of medieval English storytelling and culture by examining how authors retold old stories for a new age. What historical and religious narratives did authors claim as relevant to their contemporary moment? What oral storytelling traditions eventually became inscribed in written, literary culture? How did authors across centuries, or in the same decade, compete to tell the best version of a mythical or moral tale? Works will include Beowulf, select legends of King Arthur, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Gower’s story collection Confessio Amantis, Henryson’s versions of Aesop’s Fables, and more. Distribution area: humanities.

337 VT: Renaissance Literature: The Literary Ends of the English Renaissance
4, x DiPasquale

Why do writers write? What are the ends or purposes of literature, its reasons for being?  What does a play, a poem, or any other literary text do to or for its writer or its readers (or audiences)?  What is the effect on readers when a literary work contains passages that comment reflexively on what the work is meant to do?  How do English Renaissance theories about the function of art reflect or contradict the social functions of writing in 16th- and early 17th-century England?  We will explore not only the works themselves, but the print, manuscript, and theatrical or liturgical contexts in which they were presented. We’ll consider how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary works comment upon a wide range of writerly motivations, from love of art to spiritual aspiration, erotic seduction, and desire for fame; we’ll consider how these works facilitate pursuit of power or enact various forms of submission and how their writers articulate authorial goals in a variety of literary modes: pastoral, tragic, comic, erotic, satiric, and heroic. Distribution area: humanities.

338 VT: Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature: Social Mutability
4, x Alker

The British civil wars and their aftermath had a disruptive effect on British society. The monarchy had been weakened and there was substantial residual religious and political conflict. Urbanization, technological advancements, emergent ideas of empire, and a proto-capitalism that was opening new avenues of social mobility added to a sense that the nation was in a profound state of flux. As a result of these changes and the increasing vitality of print culture, discourse was often disorderly and combative. Over the course of the semester, we will study a wide array of feisty, funny, and sentimental literary responses to social change, paying particular attention to anxieties surrounding the gradual shift from inherited ideas of social rank to early concepts of economic class. Readings may include the work of: Behn, Dryden, Pope, Centlivre, Defoe, Swift, Montagu, Equiano and Burns. Distribution area: humanities.

339 VT: Romantic Literature
4; not offered 2015-16

340 VT: Victorian Literature: The Meanings of Progress
x, 4 Alker

The cultural response to the profound economic, social, and global changes that took place in the Victorian period was multifaceted. While some writers saw new opportunities for success at home and abroad and praised the benefits of technological advancement, others highlighted the cost of such changes to rural areas, to the impoverished, and to valued inherited traditions. Yet others crafted literary works that pushed social and formal boundaries even further. This course will examine the intersection between literature and "progress," paying particular attention to the issue of social class and reform. Readings may include the work of: Thomas Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ebenezer Elliott, Samuel Bamford, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Matthew Arnold, George Gissing, and Oscar Wilde. Distribution area: humanities.

341 VT: British Literature, 1900 to the Present: Contemporary British Literature
x, 4 Majumdar

Examining literature produced in Britain from the end of the Second World War to the present, this course will discuss the following main questions: How does a society read its transition from global dominance and manifestly-controlled homogeneity to one of reduced international power, but vibrant cultural and racial difference? How do changes in attitudes to gender, “minority-issues,” and popular culture shape this reading? How does contemporary literature confirm or contradict Britain’s claims to modernity? Writers may include Burgess, Spark, Stevie Smith, Larkin, the Amises, Stoppard, McEwan, Rushdie, A. L. Kennedy, and David Mitchell. Distribution area: humanities.

347-349 Studies in American Literature

This includes two period courses designed to introduce students to American literature and culture in two broad periods: early and middle American literature as well as modern and contemporary literature. One special topics course, 347, with a topic that will vary every year, will examine one area of American literature in depth. English 348 and 349 will count toward period requirements, and 347 will fulfill an elective requirement. English 347 can be taken twice if a different topic is offered and both times can be counted toward the elective requirement. Any current offerings follow.

348 The American Literary Emergence, 1620 - 1920
4, x A. Gordon

Beginning with the pre-Revolutionary texts by those newly arrived to the Atlantic Coast colonies, and including the writings of those already present on the continent, we will study how an “American” literature came into being. As the population boomed and expansion moved westward, the newly formed United States became a national entity and global presence. We will study the development of American individualism, the rise of genres such as the captivity narrative and the slave narrative, and major literary movements such as the shift to realism and naturalism. Authors may include Bradstreet, Emerson, Douglass, Hawthorne, Whitman, Twain, Wharton, James, Dunbar, and many more.

349 American Literature, 1920 to the Present
x, 4 Leise

A study of the major authors in the American literary tradition from “the roaring twenties” to the present. Topics may include modernism; postmodernism; tensions of race, class, and gender; reconsiderations of American “individualism”; and the role of capital, technology, and the corporation in contemporary American culture. Authors may include T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, E. E. Cummings, Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Louise Erdrich, Paul Auster, Suzan-Lori Parks, Colson Whitehead, and other contemporary writers.

350 Chaucer
4, x Raschko

Reading, discussion, and lectures on The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, and some of the minor poems. They will be read in the original Middle English. Offered in alternate years.

351 Shakespeare
4, x DiPasquale

A study of the major plays written before about 1601. Plays to be read and discussed may include The Comedy of Errors; Romeo and Juliet; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Richard II; Henry IV, 1 and 2; The Merchant of Venice; Julius Caesar; Much Ado About Nothing; and Twelfth Night.

352 Shakespeare
x, 4 Raschko

A study of the sonnets and the major plays written after about 1601. Plays to be read and discussed may include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, A Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.

357 Milton
4; not offered 2015-16

A study of the major poetry and selected prose of John Milton. Paradise Lost will receive primary emphasis. Offered in alternate years.

367-369 Special Authors

An intensive study of one significant author such as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats, Ben Jonson, Henry James, Emily Dickinson. Any current offerings follow.

371 Dramatic Literature: Medieval through Eighteenth Century
4, x Kosmas

A course in the history and development of Western drama from the Middle Ages through the 18th century. Dramatists to be studied may include the Wakefield Master, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, Lope de Vega, Molière, Racine, Congreve, Beaumarchais, and Sheridan. May be elected as Theatre 371. Offered in alternate years.

372 Dramatic Literature: Nineteenth Century to Now
x, 4 Kosmas

A study of the directions modern dramatic literature has taken from the 19th century to the present. Dramatists to be studied may include Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw, Brecht, O’Neill, Williams, Miller, Beckett, Pinter, Fornés, Mamet, Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, Caryl Churchill. May be elected as Theatre 372. Offered in alternate years.

375 Literary Theory
4; not offered 2015-16

This course introduces students to arguments about the shaping, the effects, and the interpretation of literature. Themes for the course will vary, but among the questions we will consistently examine are the following: Through what kinds of assumptions do we read literature? How do characters in literary texts themselves read? How do these texts interpret what they represent? We will devote approximately equal time to the study of theoretical texts and to reading literary works through theoretical lenses. Writers may include Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Pater, Foucault, Derrida, Said, and Deleuze. Offered in alternate years.

376 Studies in Colonial and Anti-Colonial Literature
x, 4 Majumdar

This course will examine texts from former colonies in South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Australia. We will study how these works negotiate the past and present, and how they explore multiple forms and conditions of colonialism and postcolonialism. Discussions of primary works will be supplemented with readings from theoretical and critical texts. Writers may include Kipling, Tagore, Conrad, Manto, Emecheta, Carey, Gordimer, and Rushdie. Offered in alternate years.

377 Rhetorical Bodies
4, x McDermott

This course examines the rhetorical construction of bodies as well as the ways in which bodies are often used rhetorically. In order to carry out this examination, we will apply a variety of critical rhetorical lenses to written and visual texts. We will be particularly concerned with the intersections of social factors such as gender, race, class, sexuality, and disability and the ways in which these intersections are written on our bodies. We will read texts by classical and contemporary theorists and authors, such as Hippocrates, Quintilian, Judith Butler, Kenneth Burke, Patricia Hill Collins, Debra Hawhee, and Robert McCruer. This course will be writing intensive. May be elected as Rhetoric Studies 380.

387 Special Studies

Studies of English or American literature and language generally not considered in other courses offered by the department. The specific material will vary from semester to semester. Any current offerings follow.

387A ST: Modern Iroquois Literature
4, x Leise

The Haudenosaunee—six confederated nations of American Indians commonly called “Iroquois”—are among the most influential Native peoples of North America. This course will examine how Haudenosaunee artists and intellectuals represent themselves in writing after predominantly oral, Iroquoian discourse was overtaken by primarily written, English-language communication. We will consider how Haudenosaunee literature expresses and extends dynamic ideas of self and nation from 1820 through the present. Assignments will include moderate to heavy reading, active participation, and a lengthy essay that will attend to literary research methods, compelling argumentation, and appropriate style. May be counted towards the Race and Ethnic Studies major.

387A ST: Making Melville
x, 4 A. Gordon

In June of 1851, a frustrated Herman Melville griped to his friend Hawthorne, “Try to get a living by the Truth—and go to the Soup Societies…Though I wrote the gospels in this century, I should die in the gutter.” This course takes Melville’s career as a case study for broader questions about literary taste, critical standards, and canon formation. How does a work become a “classic”? How did Moby-Dick, received with ambivalence, if not outright hostility, during Melville’s lifetime, come to be seen as the “great American novel”? And how have Melville’s texts shifted under the analytic gaze of different critical schools, from nineteenth-century reviewers and the twentieth-century Melville revival to recent new historicist, queer studies, and postcolonial perspectives? Readings will include Melville’s early bestseller Typee; short fiction such as “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” Benito Cereno, and Billy Budd; the collection of Civil War poetry called Battle-Pieces; as well as the great whaling epic Moby-Dick and the eccentric domestic novel Pierre. We’ll also examine Melville’s place in popular culture from Starbucks corporate logos, marathon readings, and film adaptations, to illustrated editions by Rockwell Kent, Maurice Sendak, and Matt Kish. Concluding with a range of appreciations by twenty-first century authors, we’ll ask what Melville’s legacy tells us about the state of literary culture today. Ultimately, like the doubloon nailed to the mainmast of the Pequod, or like the white whale itself, the course treats the literary work as the product not of a single author but of the shifting critical perspectives and ever changing cultural values that receive it. Distribution area: humanities.

387B ST: Monstrosity Across Cultures
x, 4 McDermott

This course examines the monstrous in literature across cultures and time periods. We will read myth, folklore, graphics, and novels from different cultures exploring this theme. We will consider how cultures conceive of identity and difference in terms of the monstrous "other," tackling themes of xenophobia, racism, sexism, and homophobia. We will also interrogate the concepts of the "monstrous" and the "other" in relation to each other and to cultural identity. Texts and visual media we will study may include pieces by Euripides, Hiromu Arakawa, Charles Perrault, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Dimas Djayadiningrat, Hélène Cixous, Gloria Anzaldúa, Salman Rushdie, Guillermo del Toro, Zkes Mda, Franz Kafka, and Mikhail Bulkagov.  May be taken for credit toward the Gender Studies or Race and Ethnic Studies majors. May be elected as World Literature 201. Distribution area: humanities or cultural pluralism.

389 Special Studies in Craft

Studies of literary craft not considered in other courses offered by the department, intended for upper-level creative writing students. Active participation in rigorous discussions and intensive workshops expected. Final portfolios of creative and critical works. Specific material will vary from semester to semester. The distribution area is fine arts. Prerequisites: English 250, 251, or equivalent, and consent of instructor. Any current offerings follow.

389 ST: “Hit Me With Music” – The Prose of Music and the Music of Prose
4, x K. Schlegel

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” And what’s wrong with that? Prose writers who use music as more than setting can forge evocative spaces in which music becomes words that sing out what was previously unintelligible. In this course, we will consider the role of music as inspiration and subject of fiction and nonfiction. Students will explore different forms of musicality that exist in prose via syntax, dialogue, and more, and will interrogate the ways that this musicality impacts the narrative, persona, and character. Students will read personal essays from the anthology: How to Write About Music, the forthcoming “multidimensional memoir” by the surviving Beastie Boys, Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark, Rafi Zabor’s The Bear Comes Home, and more, while writing original, creative prose that is informed by music. (We will not write song lyrics.) Students are required to attend 2 live music performances during the semester, which they will use as prompt, subject, and/or guide for their creative writing. Finally, student work will be incorporated into a class “album” that will be created by the class and shared at a class-defined “performance” at the close of the semester. Prerequisite: English 250, 251, 252, or consent of instructor. Distribution area: fine arts.

401, 402 Independent Study
1-4, 1-4 Staff

Directed reading and the preparation of a critical paper or papers on topics suggested by the student. The project must be approved by the staff of the department. Thus, the student is expected to submit a written proposal to the intended director of the project prior to registration for the study. The number of students accepted for the work will depend on the availability of the staff. Independent Study may not count as one of the electives fulfilling minimum requirements for the major or minor without prior written approval of the English department. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

491 Seminars in English and American Literature

Seminars require a substantial amount of writing, a major written project of at least 15 pages involving research in secondary sources, and oral presentations. Topics will vary from semester to semester. Open to junior and senior English majors only. Prerequisite: English 290. Any current offerings follow.

491A VT: Jane Austen and Her Context
4, x Alker

This course is centered on the work of Jane Austen in her historical and literary context. We will read five (out of six) of Austen's completed novels alongside extracts from her letters, her incomplete work, and her juvenilia. We will place her work in the broader context of Romantic Literature, and women writers of the period in particular, reading her alongside some of the authors she admired, such as Frances Burney, Charlotte Smith and Maria Edgeworth. We will also be attentive to what some scholars have called the cult of Jane Austen or Jane Austen Syndrome through attention to reception theory and theories of celebrity. Distribution area: humanities.

491B VT: The American Road Novel
4, x Elliott

From the Odyssey, the Decameron, and The Canterbury Tales, through American nineteenth century novels like Moby Dick and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the road, broadly construed, has served as inspiration; setting; and guiding narrative, thematic, and metaphorical force for many great works of literature. In this seminar we’ll examine some notable predecessors and the historical underpinnings of the mid-to-late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century American novel of the road and explore questions of identity, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, freedom, mobility, excess, abundance, scarcity, and much else opened up by several notable examples in the category.  As practice for senior oral exams, students will also read and give presentations on short stories and poems of the American road. Authors may include John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Vladimir Nabokov, Marilynne Robinson, Mona Simpson, Cormac McCarthy, Erika Lopez, and others, including one contemporary text of the student’s own choosing. Distribution area: humanities.

497 Thesis
4, 4 Staff

Designed to further independent research projects leading to the preparation of an undergraduate thesis. The creative thesis, an option for a student of exceptional ability in creative writing, will be a substantial, accomplished collection of work in a particular genre. Limited to, but not required of, senior English majors. Prerequisite: approval of a proposal submitted to the English department prior to registration by a date designated by the department. For full details, see the English Department Handbook.

498 Honors Thesis
4, 4 Staff

Designed to further independent critical and creative research projects leading to the preparation of an undergraduate thesis. The creative thesis, an option for a student of exceptional ability in creative writing, will be a substantial, accomplished collection of work in a particular genre. Required of and limited to senior honors candidates in English. The candidate will be assigned to an appropriate thesis adviser, depending upon his or her field of interest. Prerequisite: approval of a proposal submitted to the English department prior to registration by a date designated by the department. For full details, see the English Department Handbook.