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Optional Content Course Descriptions, Spring 2015

Below you will find the course descriptions for Optional Content courses in the English Department for Spring; additions and updates will be posted as soon as they are made available.

To read all of the course descriptions for the department, go to the current issue of the Undergraduate Bulletin or toTitanWeb. For more information about these courses--or about *any* English courses you are interested in taking--do not hesitate to contact the instructor named in the course listing in TitanWeb, or contact the English office.

Course & Section Number, Course Name: Topic


364/564 19th Century English Novel:  The Voyage Out, The Voyage In

Instructor: Julie Shaffer

Description:  The nineteenth century witnessed a huge change in Britain in economics, political might, and various social values, changes which we will chart in the novels we read.  The value of one's rank began to be replaced with a valuation of self-determination, colonization of other nations began to be replaced by "reverse colonization" - colonial subjects coming to England; and traditional gender roles themselves began to be redefined.  Novels we'll read from Jane Austen's_Persuasion_to Bram Stoker's_Dracula_demonstrates the ways Britons tried to come to terms with these wide ranging changes


369/569 Literature of Victorian Period: Art and Science in Victorian Literature

Instructor: Pascale Manning

Description: The Victorian era was characterized by radical disturbances in how people perceived themselves and the world around them.  Contemporary debates about evolution and an ever-increasing preoccupation with understanding and mapping the human psyche--in all its mystery and madness--can be seen to influence the art and literature of the period.  In this course we will explore some of the intersections of science and art in the Victorian age.  Authors to be considered include Tennyson, Bronte, Darwin, Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, Stevenson, and Wilde--all of whose innovative works not only reflect the upheavals of their era but also remain indispensable to an understanding of our own.


English 380/580 Modern Drama:  American and Continental Drama

Instructor:  Robert Feldman

Description:  The purpose of this course is to gain an understanding and an appreciation of a number of major works by well-known modern and contemporary American and Continental playwrights.  After focusing on the significance of these works within the framework of their respective periods and movements--realism, existentialism, naturalism, expressionism, absurdism--students will be tested on their knowledge  of and insight into these works.  These plays enable students to examine themselves, their place in history, and the world in which they live.


English 386/586 Rhetoric of Literature:  Politics, Memory, Language.

Instructor:  Marguerite Helmers

Description:  This offering of The Rhetoric of Literature will examine the relationship between storytelling, poetry, and propaganda in England and Ireland during the First World War (1914-1918).  We will read secondary sources that examine rhetoric and the role of language and image in constructing patriotic citizenship.  We will read two short popular novels, The Riddle of the Sands (1903) and The 39 Steps (1915).  The major project will involve the class in digital humanities--scholarly investigation and public digital republication of a small book of poetry published in 1915 by Stephen Gwynn and Thomas Kettle, two leading figures in Irish Nationalists circles.  This text will lead us deep into the debates over language, Kettle's legacy, and the relationship of Irish Nationalism to the First World War.


448-001 Topics in Shakespeare II: Shakespeare and the Classical World

Instructor:  Duke Pesta

Description:  English 448 examines Shakespeare's Greek and Roman plays in the context of his biographical sources.  We will read plays like Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, and Pericles alongside the biographies of these figures as recorded in the works of such ancient historians as Plutarch and Suetonius.  In this sense, students will get three courses in one:  a concentrated study of Shakespeare, a primer on ancient history, and a study in biography.

English 481-001  Seminar in English Studies: Writers and Writing Processes

Instructor:  Samantha Looker

Description: As English scholars, you are skilled and experienced in working with texts, but you may not have had an opportunity to consider the processes by which those texts are created.  This course anchors itself in Writing Studies research on writing processes, which helps us understand how writers of everything from poems to novels to academic journal articles produce their work.  We will gain theoretical grounding in this research, exploring how scholars' thinking about writing processes has evolved in recent decades into its current rich complexity.  We will also apply this theoretical grounding to examples of writing practices from professional writers, our colleagues, and ourselves.




English 481-002  Seminar in English Studies:Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man

Instructor:  Roberta Maguire

Description: We will be focusing on Ralph Ellison's 1952 novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953, was selected in 1965 as "the most distinguished single work" to appear in the previous decades, and was named in 1978 as the most important American novel to have been published since World War II.  It remains today on innumerable "Top 100" book lists and is the focus of essays, scholarly volumes, and dissertations.  Set primarily in Harlem, New York, the novel is a daring narrative experiment that comments on U.S. history generally and the role that African Americans play in the construction of our national identity.  Along with the book, we will read material that will help amplify its historical and cultural background, listen to the jazz that was so important for the novel's composition, and consider the novel's relevance for us today.  Students will produce a major project for the course--creative or the traditional paper--which will have a significant research component.


English 701  Seminar in Literature:  Medieval Identites

Instructor:  Margaret Hostetler

Description:  This course will focus on medieval identites.  How did people in various classes and professions in medieval Europe see themselves and carve out identities for themselves?  What did it mean to be a knight or a monk or nun?  What did it mean to be considered a heretic or a mystic?  How did issues of masculinity and femininity or other sexualities contribute to individual or communal identities?  We will look at how those identities are represented and/or hidden in literary works and other types of texts from the 10th century through the 15th.  Some texts we will read (either in whole or in part) include:  Aelfric's Lives of Saints, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, The Book of Margery Kempe, The Life of Christina of Markyate, Chaucer's "Pardoner's Tale" and "Prioress's Tale,"  The Wooing of Our Lord, the Lais of Marie de France, Chreitien's Erec and Enide, the Romance of Silence, and excerpts from various inquisition and trial records of both Cathar and Lollard Heretics.




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by bushna27 last modified Oct 06, 2014 08:40 AM