Spring 2018 Course Descriptions
Undergraduate and Graduate Courses
ENGL 2273: Literary and Cultural Analysis: Reality and Perception
English 2273, Literary and Cultural Analysis, offers an introduction to literary and cultural analysis focusing on textual explication, interpretation, and critique. In literature, as in life, things are not always as they appear. More information may help us easily solve a problem that previously seemed insurmountable. Experience may afford us new access and tools that enable us to approach the world in new ways, and different experiences may reveal different truths. Literary study allows us to utilize different strategies and perspectives in understanding the art of literature which gives substance to our own thoughts, opinions, and experience and helps us understand language, thus enabling our own self-expression. Many, if not all, of the literary selections in this course may take on surprising interpretations depending upon one’s critical approach. Through literary analysis, our goal is to cultivate critical thinking and analytical skills and to strengthen writing strategies in such a way as to both increase our understanding and facilitate our communication of that understanding to others.
ENGL 2883.002: American Literature from the Civil War to the Present
This course will survey late 19th and 20th century American literature, including the works of African-American, Jewish-American, Southern, and Women writers, with a view to what it means to be “other” in America, drawing not just on WEB Dubois’s notion of double-consciousness, but on the thought of recent French philosophers Michel Foucault and Emmanuel Levinas, all of whom made resistance to the normalizing forces of modern social and political life a central focus of their work. Among the authors whose work we will read are Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Susan Glaspell, Henry James, Ambrose Bierce, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, WEB Dubois, Charles Chesnutt, Ralph Ellison, Jack London, Stephen Crane, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather, Bernard Malamud, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Roth, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Maxine Hong Kingston.
ENGL 3103 Creative Non Fiction Writing
Creative nonfiction is factually accurate narrative that employs literary techniques more commonly associated with fiction and prose poetry. This course introduces writers to the skills needed to write effective creative nonfiction, including memoir, lyric essay, historical essay, and personal reportage, through intensive reading, writing, peer criticism, and revision. Coursework includes responses to assigned readings as well as written and oral analysis of fellow writers’ work. Prerequisite: ENGL 2123
ENGL 3253.001 Special Topics in American Indian Literature: Indians, Oil, and Water
Indians, Oil, and Water traces the complex relationship between tribal nations and people and non-Indians involving natural resources, in particular,oil and water, and how that relationship has been depicted in American Indian and Indigenous oral traditions, fiction, and film and Alaskan Native poetry. Some attention will also be paid to the legal structures that guide natural resource extraction on Indianland and to activism regarding natural resource extraction, particularly in regard to the recent intertribal, international movement Idle No More, along with site-specific activism in the past two decades including the 2016-17 occupation at Standing Rock. Thegoal of this course is to gain exposure to various American Indian ethics and beliefs about natural resources and natural resource development as expressed in literature, film, and other media and be able to discuss and write about these in an informed, intelligent,and cordial manner. Some of the books and films we will study in class include Linda Hogan’s SolarStorms and Mean Spirit, JosephErb’s The Beginning They Told and We Prayed in Water, and SacredWater: Standing Rock Part I—RISE. We will do both in class and out of class short, informal writing assignments in multiple genres, create a multigenre research paper, and takea final exam.
ENGL 3423: Film and Other Media
Joshua B. Nelson
TR 3:00-4:15, Screenings T 6:30-8:30
Examines the relationship between film and other areas of creative expression such as literature, music, art, video games, or online media. This course will examine several influential linked works that have inspired artists in a variety of genres in the humanities. We’ll investigate how they change across the mediums of music, film, and literature, how different historical contexts change the works’ reception, and why their themes have found such staying power across these dynamic times and artistic modes. Examples of texts might include George Orwell’s 1945 novella Animal Farm and Pink Floyd’s 1974 album Animals; Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic 1998 indie album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea combined with the The Diary of Anne Frank; heavy metal reworkings of Romantic poetry; or Greek tragedy remade in novel and album. These eclectic and, at times, even bizarre combinations will require some flexibility from us as we think through how to use what we know to make sense of the works, and how to found out what we don’t, as we explore how new voices emerge from older ones.
ENGL 3573.001 Arthurian Legend and Literature (crosslisted with MLL 3573)
Sixteen hundred years old and still going strong, the legends of Britain's King Arthur have proved an inexhaustible source of entertainment, inspiration, and meaning.This course traces the medieval origins and the development of this once and future fascination, from the fifth to the twenty-first century. All readings will be in modern English.
English 4133.001 History of the English Language
This course traces the development of the English language, from its Indo-European roots to its Germanic ancestry, and then through the major phases of its transformations: Old English (Anglo-Saxon), Middle English (the language of Chaucer), Early Modern English (the language of Shakespeare), and contemporary English, in some of its various forms. We will track changes in pronunciation and spelling, changes in vocabulary, and shifts of meaning for certain words. We will also follow the adjustments in the habits of sentence formation. Along the way we will see how various idiosyncrasies of modern English came to exist. Why do we say life with an [f] but alive with a [v]? Why the different pronunciations of l-i-v-e in “I live for live music”? Why don’t we say thou anymore? And what is ye in “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe”? Why is there a b in debt and a gh in night? (Not the same reason in each case.) Many such questions will be addressed in this class.
1) workbook assignments; workbooks to be turned in at each exam
2) 3 in-class exams
3) comprehensive final exam
4) one 10-page paper
5) one reading aloud of a passage of Old, Middle, or Early Modern English
Requirements are weighted with respect to the final grade as follows:
1) 10% 2) 15% each 3) 20% 4) 20% 5) 5%
ENGL 4233 Major Figures in Theory: Jacques Lacan
Ever wondered about the causes of hate and aggression? The nature of love? You know that you do things with language, but have you considered what language does to you? Have you wondered about our strange relation to our bodies? Surely, you have thought about human happiness and why we never seem to find it?
Jacques Lacan, twentieth-century psychoanalytic thinker, philosopher, sometime literary critic and very occasional film theorist, wrote about these things and more. This course will study the work and trace the influence of Jacques Lacan on literature, culture, and film. Lacan is considered the most important psychoanalytic thinker since Freud and we will examine how his theories can help us understand phenomena such as misogyny, racism, and capitalism.
Some of the texts we will study together with Lacanian theory will be the films of David Lynch; Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady; horror films such as the recent Get Out (Jordan Peele); Nella Larsen’s Passing; and psychoanalytic writing about the Trump presidency.
ENGL 4333.001 Black Arts/Black Power
This course examines the key texts, ideas, events, and debates of the Black Power era and its aftermath. Emerging from a matrix of Marxist and Black Nationalist thought and movements, artists, activists and other intellectuals coalesced to form new cultural and social movements in the 1960s and 1970s in North America, the Caribbean, and Africa. Besides reading historical, personal and literary accounts of the events and debates, we will watch films and listen to music from and about the era. Some of the texts we will study: Lorraine Hansberry, Raisin in the Sun; Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice; Larry Neal and Amiri Baraka, eds. Black Fire; Toni Cade Bambara, ed., The Black Woman; and films such as A Huey P. Newton Story, dir. Spike Lee, 2001; or music by Nina Simone.
ENGL 4733.001: American Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism
This course will survey works in 19th and 20th century American Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism, with attention to the relations between modern subjectivity and state power – to the ways in which gender, class, and race have been influenced by the normalizing processes of society and government. Among the authors we will read are Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry James, Kate Chopin, Booker T. Washington, Charles Chestnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Katherine Anne Porter, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jack London, James Weldon Johnson, Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitgerald, William Faulkner, and Abraham Cahan.
ENGL 4853.001 Capstone: Eating Local in Indian Country/Indigenous Food Studies
Food studies is an emerging field that engages critically the social, cultural, scientific, historical, and even literary and filmic contexts of food.In Eating Local in Indian Country, we will study and discuss in particular “decolonial” and traditional Indigenous food ways as depicted in a number of new nonfiction texts and cookbooks as well as in more literary texts. We will also do some cooking, enjoyeating some food, spend time with Indigenous expert guests who will visit our class, and go urban foraging as time permits. Some of the books we will read include Roberto Cintli Rodriguez’s Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother: Indigeneityand Belonging in the Americas, Heid Erdrich’s Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes,editors Hannah Kay Wittman, Annette Aurelie Desmarais , and Nettie Wiebe’s Food Sovereignty:Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community, and poet Rain Cranford Gomez’ s Smoked Mullet CornbreadCrawdad Memory. The goal of the English Capstone is to demonstrate mastery of the competencies you have developed during your undergraduate experience as an English major in asignificant amount of writing. In light of this, we will write a research paper in our topic area as the major project.
ENGL 4923/5923 Advanced Fiction Writing
Intensive writing workshop designed to increase developing writers’ skills in the craft of fiction. Our focus will be on creating short stories in the contemporary literary vein. Students will submit new works of fiction, offer constructive detailed critique of fellow students’ work, and hone the craft of revision. Coursework includes detailed written responses to fellow writers’ work as well as verbal analysis and feedback in workshop. Prerequisites for 4923: ENGL 2123 and ENGL 3123.
ENGL 5803.001 20th C. American Literature: From the New Negro to the Black Panthers
This course surveys and evaluates the cultural and political agendas of the “New Negro” through the Black Arts/Black Power movements in the Twentieth Century and beyond. We examine the formation and expressions of Black Power from its Caribbean origins in the early 20th Century to its impact on the larger African Diaspora through the present. In our discussions, we focus on the cultural exchanges and intellectual engagements between the local struggles for civil rights and the larger global movements for decolonization in Africa and the Caribbean. We will read and critically engage with a variety of literary, historical, and other cultural texts, including film and music.