Literature Undergraduate Course Descriptions
*For Spring 2024, ENG 2130: Intro to Science Fiction, ENGL 2140: Intro to LGBTQ+ Literature, and ENGL 3060: Mind and Body will all count as English electives.
ENG 2140: LGBTQ+ Literature | Robb Kunz
This course provides an introduction to Literature that centers on/surrounds/considers the experience (historical, cultural and discursive) of individuals within LGBTQ: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (a term that is by nature flexible and which is used by many who feel that they in some way fall outside of "norms" of gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation) communities. Students will read, discuss, write, and present on ideas gleaned from the study of theoretical and literary texts ranging from novels, short stories, graphic novel, novella, and poetry. Students will be introduced to approaches in queer theory, gender theory, and the history of sexuality as a field of inquiry as it aligns with epistemological and human studies. Working in small and large (full class) groups, students will extrapolate ideas, exchange personal experiences and anecdotes, make evaluative connections between classroom studies and “real world” implementation.
ENG 2150: Introduction to Science Fiction | Russ Winn
In this course, students will consider different definitions of humanity through the lens of science, technology, and bodily autonomy, among other things. The texts will investigate large questions. Parable of the Talents, for example, asks us to imagine what it means to be human while Earth is ravaged by climate catastrophe; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep asks what it means to be human when it’s impossible to distinguish an AI replica from a human being. Students will use comparative analysis, personal and external interpretations, and humanistic traditions to identify questions that cut not only across a text’s history, but that grasp at the core truths of what it means to be human.
ENG 2150: Introduction to Science Fiction | Zackary Gregory
In this course we will explore the foundational works, core concepts, and essential elements that shape the genre of science fiction. We will begin by delving into the genre’s murky origins, examining proto science fiction works from the 19th century. From there the course will beam forward through the 20th century, exploring the key works from authors like H.G. Wells, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. Le Guinn, Philip K. Dick, and Octavia E. Butler. Finally, we will make contact with contemporary science fiction literature by studying texts from writers like Ted Chiang and Kazuo Ishiguro. Throughout this course we will explore Ursula K. Le Guinn’s assertion that “Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.” Keeping Le Guinn’s quote in mind we will delve into the questions like: What insights do writers convey about their present through their fictional visions of the future? How do authors dissect cultural anxieties through imagined alien encounters, self-aware androids, and technological biohacking?
ENGL 2600: Literary Analysis | Tackett
In this course, we will investigate the key elements of literary analysis by practicing sustained reading, close listening, critical writing, and creative performance across various genres such as fiction, poetry, film, and television. Our goal will be to learn how to make persuasive literary arguments in both conversation and writing. This section will focus on our interactions with technology, such as artificial intelligence, and how they shape our ideas about sexuality, gender, race, and environment. We’ll experiment with ChatGPT and other technologies as we explore literature that might include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Nalo Hopkinson’s Skin Folk, episodes of Black Mirror, and code-davinci-002’s I Am Code.
ENGL 2600: Literary Analysis | Mann
Becoming an English major means mastering your powers of interpretation, and literary analysis is at the heart of every English major’s interpretive practice. This course will introduce you to methods of literary analysis, or “close reading.” Specifically, we will focus on analyzing three main genres of literature—poetry, drama, and prose fiction—and course readings will include poems, short stories, a novel, and a play. As we explore these different genres, we’ll also consider what it means for a text to be considered “literary.” You will learn to notice the nuanced construction of a text, become familiar with literary concepts and terms, and understand the relationship between form and meaning. Writing assignments will develop your powers of analysis and synthesis. You will form compelling arguments, support your ideas with evidence, integrate the ideas of others into your writing, and contribute to a scholarly conversation. Major texts may include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Shakespeare’s King Lear, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric.
ENGL 2600: Literary Analysis | Cooper-Rompato
This is an introductory course in Literary Analysis, which teaches students to read texts closely, to draw connections between form and content, to make interpretative claims, and to write persuasive arguments. This semester we will read three remarkable texts about young people—Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Kiki's Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono (in translation), and Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger—and watch film adaptations of Coraline and Kiki's Delivery Service. These YA/children's fantasy novels and film adaptations create new universes that we will explore with in-class discussions and short papers.
ENGL 2630: Intro to American Studies: Myths of the American West | Franks
This course investigates the creation of some of the most iconic notions of the American West: the rugged frontier, the gun-slinging cowboy, and the promise of absolute freedom. We'll encounter some of the works that helped build these myths up—Frederick Jackson Turner's frontier thesis, a novel by Louis L'Amour, and John Ford's film The Searchers—before engaging with those that challenge them—scholarship by Richard Slotkin, a satirical novel by Percival Everett, and C. Pam Zhang's How Much of These Hills is Gold, a radical reimagining of the West from the perspective of Chinese and Chinese American peoples in nineteenth-century California. We'll also work to define what American Studies is as a discipline and how it's done in and out of the classroom.
English 3060: Mind and Body: The Rhetoric of Health and Healing—Mary Ellen Greenwood
In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore cultural expressions that reflect the condition of the human mind and body, which will include historical perspectives and the work of contemporary writers across multiple disciplines. Our goal is to critically analyze, summarize, and synthesize a variety of ways health is viewed, presented, and discussed through key units of study, which include exploring what rhetoric and health mean and how they connect to identity; investigating the rhetoric of mental health and physical health; considering spiritual and holistic approaches to health writing as well as the voices of conventional medical professionals; and unpacking health and healing rhetoric in a digital age.
ENGL 3325: Eighteenth-Century British Literary History: The Gothic Imagination | Mann
Tyrannical fathers, haunted castles, deranged monks, ancient prophecies, and things that go bump in the night. These are familiar features of the Gothic novel, a genre that flooded the literary landscape at the end of the eighteenth century and captivated the imaginations of British readers. From Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), this course will examine the origins and the evolution of the Gothic in the long eighteenth century. While the main focus of the course will be the rise and early influence of the Gothic novel, we will also read poetry and plays that experimented with Gothic conventions. We will consider how the Gothic was shaped by developments in aesthetics, philosophy, politics, and science, and how the genre reflected anxieties about gender, religion, and race. Course readings will include works by Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, Charlotte Smith, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, and Jane Austen.
ENGL 3365: Nineteenth-Century American Literature | Tackett
We live in a world sculpted by nineteenth-century America. From the origins of the United States in the eighteenth century to World War I, Americans navigated industrial, political, and social upheaval that literature caused, recorded, and reacted to. Indigenous people, enslaved and freed people, queer people, immigrants, feminists, and others wrote, memorized, performed, and published poetry, fiction, drama, essays, and everything in between. Writers from Phillis Wheatley to Stephen Crane, John Rollin Ridge to Paul Laurence Dunbar, Emily Dickinson to Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe to Walt Whitman made their mark on the way we read, speak, and think. To understand our era, we must understand theirs. Through discussion, research, and composition we’ll ask how literature made America and will continue to in the future.
ENGL 3375: American Literature Since 1900: Black American Canon | Rivera-Dundas
This course will move chronologically through the 20th century to analyze some of the most important writers in the Black American canon. We will read three beautiful and challenging novels: James Baldwin's fictional autobiography Go Tell it on the Mountain, Toni Morrison's Beloved, and Octavia Butler's prescient speculative fiction novel Parable of the Sower. Through each, we'll discuss the representations of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability to understand how Black American literature has evolved over the course of the 20th century, keeping an eye on the relationship between literary forms, intersectional identity, and American race relationships. Themes of religion and love tie the three novels together. We will supplement our reading with essays and poetry.
ENGL 3385: Postcolonial World Literature: After the Raj—Colonial and Postcolonial Anglo-Indian Literature | Blackstock
English 3385 covers a variety of texts that emerge from and explore the experience of colonization. The period of British control over South Asia was known as the Raj and produced some of the greatest works of 19th and 20th century literature written in English. The Oxford Companion to English Literature offers the following brief assessment of Anglo-Indian literature: “[A]lso referred to as Indian literature in English, produced both in India and across the vast Indian diaspora, Anglo‐Indian literature represents one of the most innovative and dynamic fields of world writing in English today.” In class we will be examining the novels, short stories, and poems of British writers including Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, and E.M. Forster, along with works by writers of South Asian descent such as Salman Rushdie and Sara Suleri.
ENGL 3395: World Literature in Translation: Medieval Worlds | Cooper-Rompato
This class will explore a range of literature from the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe during the Middle Ages. Readings will include poetry of the Japanese Heian Court as well as excerpts from what is argued to be the first novel,The Tale of Genji (ca. 1000), which follows the life and loves of the amazingly handsome and charismatic Genji; selections from a new translation of the Ethiopian national epic Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings), which describes how the Ark of the Covenant made its way to Ethiopia; short tales from the Thousand and One Nights and Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, as well as a number of other texts that students will vote on as a class to read. Special attention will be paid to texts that English Teaching students can bring into their secondary school classrooms. We will use Norton’s Anthology of World Literature (volume B), 4th edition.
ENGL 3610: Multicultural American Literature | Ricketts
In this course, we'll embark on a literary exploration of the kaleidoscopic American experience, weaving through time and across cultural landscapes to deepen your understanding of the rich tapestry that makes up American culture and identity. As we move from historical texts to contemporary works, we'll delve into the complexities of identity, memory, and belonging within various ethnic communities in the United States. By engaging with narratives that challenge and expand the traditional American literary canon from authors such as Leslie Marmon Silko, Julia Alvarez, Jhumpa Lahiri, and others, this course invites you to immerse yourself in voices that broaden the American narrative. In a time when questions of identity and belonging are more vital than ever, this course offers you a journey through the literary landscape of America, seen from perspectives too often pushed to the peripheries.
ENGL 4300: Shakespeare: Shakespeare the Authoritarian? | Graham
At the end of The Taming of the Shrew, Kate seems to have learned her lesson of obedience to male authority: “Such duty as the subject owes the prince, / Even such a woman oweth to her husband.” The enslaved spirit Ariel in The Tempest similarly promises to Prospero to “be correspondent to command.” And many characters in Julius Caesar and Corialanus treat the plebeians with withering contempt. Some questions we will ask in this class, then: To what extent do these characters speak for the larger lessons of the texts? To put it crudely: was Shakespeare an authoritarian? To speak of his views on “democracy” would be an anachronism, but is the outlook of his plays at odds with democratic values? Or, on the contrary, do the plays subtly question, undermine, or resist these messages of unquestioning obedience to (certain kinds of) authority? What is the subject’s (or wife’s) rightful position with regards to authority, as these plays depict it? We will read Julius Caesar; Henry IV Parts 1 and 2; The Taming of the Shrew; and The Tempest, in addition to a handful of sonnets and a few examples of academic writing.
ENGL 4330: World Writers: Masterpieces of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature | Blackstock
The nineteenth century is known as the Golden Age of Russian literature, seeing the rise to prominence of such monumental and influential writers as Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekov. Two of these writers in particular--Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy—profoundly influenced the thought of the age in which they lived and of the ages to follow, not only in Russia but throughout the world, and their ideas helped shape the twentieth century both philosophically and politically. As professor of philosophy Walter Barrett has written, “It has been said that every man is born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian; it might be said with equal justice that he is born either a Tolstoyan or a Dostoevskian.” This course will examine the lives, times, and works of these two literary giants, along with the contemporary writers who influenced them and who were influenced by them. Representative poems, stories, novels, and plays of these authors will be studied in their historical, social, and cultural contexts.
ENGL 4340: Studies in Fiction: Novel Forms | Caron
In this class, we’ll focus our attention on novels that challenge conventional narrative forms. We’ll look at a range of novels, including novels-in-stories, novels-in-fragments, collage novels, and novels that resist easy categorization. Through our close reading and careful study, we’ll consider each novel on its own terms, examining how authors create their fictional worlds. We’ll then expand the conversation to consider how these books make space for new kinds of stories and new ways of telling them. Authors will include William Maxwell, Julie Otsuka, Jenny Offill, Max Porter, Lindsey Drager, and others.
ENGL 4350: Studies in Poetry: Lyrical Bodies, Romantic Lyrics | Mann
At the turn of the end of the eighteenth century, the objectives of poetry and medicine seemed to converge. As doctors and scientists sought to accurately describe the structures and functions of the human body, so, too, did poetry turn inward, taking an interest in the “inner life” of the self. In this class, we will endeavor to see the body in Romantic poetry. Romantic poets concerned themselves with the material, the visceral, the sensory, the bawdy, and the anatomical; they exalted and celebrated these physical aspects of the human condition; and they resisted them. They also shared close relationships with scientific thinkers, and the development of their poetry coincided with developments in medical science. Throughout the semester, we’ll explore the intersections of poetry and medicine in the Romantic period, and we’ll consider the body as a salient feature of the Romantic lyric. As we read selections of poetry by canonical and non-canonical British and Anglophone Romantic writers, we’ll discuss a variety of themes, including gender and sexuality, illness and pain, youth and aging, sex and desire, race and identity, mental health and the mind, trauma and disability, etc. Secondary readings in health humanities, disability studies, and history of medicine scholarship will supplement our readings of poetic texts.
ENGL 4370: Native American Literature | Franks
This broad survey of literatures by Indigenous writers of North America will cover foundational works by writers like William Apess and Zitkala-Ša, as well as major works from and inspired by the so-called Native American Renaissance of the mid-twentieth century. We'll read novels from N. Scott Momaday, Linda Hogan, Louise Erdrich, and Darcie Little Badger, as well as collections from Layli Long Soldier (poetry) and Thomas King (essays). Fans of YA will love Little Badger's speculative novel Elatsoe, and anyone looking forward to the theatrical release of Killers of the Flower Moon won't want to miss Hogan's historical novel Mean Spirit.
ENGL 5330: Literature of Race and Ethnicity: Black Feminist Intersectionality | Rivera-Dundas
In this seminar-style course, we will read texts that center and celebrate difference. We will talk about race, what it means that everyone--regardless of background--has a racial identity, and how race has shaped American politics, law, and literature. In addition, we'll discuss how other kinds of identity such as gender, class, religion, and ability interact with race and what it means to represent those stories through literature. Two novels will bookend our semester--Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward and Dawn by Octavia Butler--and we will supplement our reading with essays, poetry, and short prose pieces by writers including Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin. By the end of the semester, students will be able to write an intersectional analysis of a piece of pop culture of their choosing.