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Spring Optional Content 2013

Optional Content Course Descriptions, Spring 2013

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 to TitanWeb. 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.


Selected Course Descriptions Spring 2013


English 226-002,003, Modern American Literature:  19th- and 20th-Century Literature

Instructor:  Robert Feldman

The purpose of this course is to gain an understanding and an appreciation of a number of major works by well-known modern American writers.  Students will examine American literature between the post-Civil War era and the present.  After focusing on the significance of these works, students will be tested on their knowledge and understanding of the literature.  The literary genres of study will consist of short stories, poetry, novels, and dramas.

226-004 Modern American Literature

Instructor: Diane Crotty

226-381 Modern American Literature

Instructor: Pam Gemin

319/519-001 African American Literature II

Instructor: Tish Crawford

We will explore what is "family" among African Americans.  It is a term that suggests bloodline connections and conceptual notions of kinship that have served the group for better or worse over time, even into the 21st century.  Our study will consist of selected African American short fiction, poetry, novels, and a film adaptation.  Students will build critical analysis skills in short papers, a mid-term and a final essay.


332/532-001 Early Women Writers

Instructor: Julie Shaffer

This class will focus on novels by British women of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to see how they focus on their roles in society and other issues of concern to them.  We will explore questions such as the following:  How do these novels define proper femininity?  Ideal masculinity?  romantic love? sexual desire? anger? their proper sphere, however they define it?  What happens when women don't fit their prescribed roles, behaviors, even thoughts?  Another question we might explore is, how do these women use the French Revolution to comment on their own place in society?

343/543-001 Nature Writing: Writing on Environmental Justice

Instructor:  Douglas Haynes

This course will focus on contemporary stories of environmental injustice and environmental justice activism from writers around the world.  According to bioethicist Kristin Shrader-Frechette, environmental injustice is, "when an individual or group suffers disproportionate environmental risks...or has less opportunity to participate in environmental decision-making."  We will read both fictional and nonfictional accounts of communities disproportionately suffering from different forms of environmental degradation, including garbage, fossil fuel pollution, deforestation, military occupation, and global climate change.  Authors we read will include Jamaica Kincaid, Raja Shehadeh, and Arundhati Roy.  Our discussions of these writers will focus on how their choices in genre, narrative structure, and voice reflect the aims of their texts.  We will also explore ways that other media such as photographs and film are used to supplement writers' stories, and class members will undertake their own writing/multimedia projects that immerse them in issues of environmental injustice and environmental justice activism in Wisconsin.


350/550-381 Study Tour

Instructors:  Marguerite Helmers and Pamela Gemin

Reading and Writing in Place:  Ireland offers students a variety of opportunities to learn about Ireland and the Irish, including how the rich literary history of Ireland grows from its landscape and cultural heritage (English 225, 350, 550).  The group will visit places associated with the great writers James Joyce and William Butler Yeats and that inspired them to compose their works.  Students will also learn about how the other arts, such as film, music, and storytelling, celebrate Irish culture and history (English 357), and the Irish-American experience will be a focal point of the American Literature (226) section.  We will visit the cities of Dublin and Galway, the monastic center of glendalough, ancient settlements along the Boyne Valley, and the Aran Islands where Irish is still the daily language.  Although we will tour, everyone will have sufficient time for contemplation, writing, sketching, and discussion.



356/556-001 Special Topics in British Drama: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Instructor: Duke Pesta

A course on Elizabethan and Jacobean Revenge Tragedy (1580-1640) focusing on Shakespeare's great contemporary playwrights, including Marlowe, Webster, Jonson, Middleton, Marston, Tourneur, and Ford.  Our theme will be the seedy underbelly of Renaissance courts and palaces, and we will study plays that include as central characters rogues, murderers, thieves, malcontents, necrophiliacs, hucksters, charlatans, quacks, poisoners, adulterers, arsonists, blackmailers, and committers of incest.  These plays ask the fundamental and very modern question:  In a society that is depraved and morally rotten, how does the wronged individual obtain justice?  If you like twisted anti-heroes and have a nose for depravity, this course is for you.


357/557-001 Literature and Other Arts

Instructor: Pamela Gemin


358/558-001 Postcolonial Literature

Instructor:  Francis Ngaboh-Smart


364/564-001  19th Century British Novel

Instructor:  Christine Roth

 This class will focus on the nineteenth-century struggle, excitement, and anxiety surrounding modern notions of science, marriage, gender roles, nationality, sexuality, and urbanization.

378/578-001 Modern American Novel:  Native American Novels

Instructor:  Miriam Schacht

This course focuses on novels in the Native American literary tradition.  As a literary form, the novel traces its origins to European literature; we will explore how Native authors have adopted and adapted it to reflect Indigenous literary traditions. How have Native authors shaped the modern novel, and how has the novel shaped contemporary Native literature?  Students should be prepared to read a range of theoretical works as well as novels by American Indian authors.

380/580-001 Modern Drama:  American and Continental Drama

Instructor:  Robert Feldman

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.

391/591-001 Gay and Lesbian Literatuare

Instructor: Jordan Landry

 This course focuses on the dialogue between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) peoples, activists in LGBTQ community, and theorists about LGBTQ topics in academia and elsewhere.  We will particularly explore stories of how gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people find home and belonging.


481-001 Seminar in English Studies: Moby-Dick; or The Whale 

Instructor:  Don Dingledine

Students will read Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851), along with a selection of critical analyses of Melville’s novel. Students will write fifteen- to twenty-page projects concerning Moby-Dick; final projects will include abstracts and annotated bibliographies.  

481-002 Seminar in English Studies

Instructor: Ron Rindo

An intensive examination of Wisconsin's literary landscape, which features well-known writers such as John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Thorton Wilder, as well as lesser-known figures such as Anish'nabe storytellers, poet Lorine Niedecker, and fiction writers Susan Engberg and Lorrie Moore.  Together, we will read, discuss, and write about the work of several Wisconsin writers, and then students will develop final capstone writing projects focused on Wisconsin writers of their choice.


708-001 American Poetry: Technique & Process

Instructor: Loren Baybrook

A study of classic modern American poetry--and how it reinvented literary studies and American culture.


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by Brucks, Sandra J. last modified Oct 09, 2012 11:32 AM