2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog

2008-2009 Catalog


Students may complete a major or minor in English. Within the major, students may complete a concentration in creative writing. English majors may also complete concentrations in Africana studies, in environmental studies and in gender and sexuality.


Linda-Susan Beard, Associate Professor
Peter M. Briggs, Professor
Anne F. Dalke, Senior Lecturer
E. Jane Hedley, Professor
Gail Hemmeter, Senior Lecturer
Nimisha Ladva, Lecturer
Warren Liu, Assistant Professor
Hoang Tan Nguyen, Lecturer
Raymond Ricketts, Lecturer
Katherine A. Rowe, Professor and Chair
Bethany Schneider, Associate Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
Jamie Taylor, Assistant Professor
Kate Thomas, Associate Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
Karen M. Tidmarsh, Associate Professor
Michael Tratner, Professor

A rich variety of courses allows students to engage with all periods and genres of literature in English, as well as modern forms such as film and contemporary digital media. The department stresses critical thinking, incisive written and oral analysis, and a sense of initiative and responsibility for the enterprise of interpretation.

With their advisers, English majors design a program of study that deepens their understanding of diverse genres, textual traditions, and periods. We encourage students to explore the history of cultural production and reception and also to question the presuppositions of literary study. The major culminates in an independently written essay, developed during a senior research seminar in the fall semester and individually mentored by a faculty member in the spring.

Summary of the Major

•     Eight courses, including at least three at the 300 level (exclusive of 398 and 399)
•     ENGL B250 Methods of Literary Interpretation (prerequisite: two 200-level English courses)
•     ENGL B398 Senior Seminar
•     ENGL B399 Senior Essay

As students construct their English major, they should seek to include courses that provide:

•     Historical depth—a sense of the construction of traditions.
•     Formal breadth—experience with more than one genre and more than one medium: poetry, prose fiction, drama, letters, film, epic, non-fiction, essays, documentary, etc.
•     Cultural range—experience with the Englishes of more than one geographical location and more than one cultural tradition, and of the exchanges and transactions between them; a course from another language or literary tradition can be valuable here.
•     Different critical and theoretical frameworks—the opportunity to experiment with several models of interpretation and the debates that animate them.

Summary of the Minor

•     ENGL B250 Methods of Literary Interpretation
•     Five English electives (at least one at the 300 level).

Minor in Film Studies

There is no limit to the number of courses in film studies that may count toward the English major, except for a student majoring in English who is also seeking to declare a minor in film studies. In that case two (and only two) of the courses that comprise the six-course film studies minor may also count towards the 11-course English major. The minimum number of courses required to complete an English major and a minor in film studies will thus be 15 courses.

Concentration in Creative Writing

Students may elect a concentration in creative writing. This option requires that, among the eight course selections besides ENGL 250, 398 and 399, three units will be in creative writing; one of the creative writing units may be at the 300 level and may count as one of the three required 300-level courses for the major. Students enrolling in this concentration must seek the approval of their major adviser in English and of the director of the Creative Writing Program; they must enroll in the concentration before the end of their sophomore year.

Other Concentrations

The Department of English contributes courses toward concentrations in Africana Studies (see page 58), in Environmental Studies (see page 156), and in the Program in Gender and Sexuality (see page 174).

ENGL B125 Writing Workshop

This course offers students who have already taken College Seminar 001 an opportunity to develop their skills as college writers. Through frequent practice, class discussion and in-class collaborative activity, students will become familiar with all aspects of the writing process and will develop their ability to write for an academic audience. The class will address a number of writing issues: formulating questions; analyzing purpose; generating ideas; structuring and supporting arguments; marshalling evidence; using sources effectively; and developing a clear, flexible academic voice. Students will meet regularly with the course instructor, individually and in small groups, to discuss their work. (Ladva, Ruben)

ENGL B126 Writing Workshop for Non-Native Speakers of English

This course offers non-native speakers of English a chance to develop their skills as college writers. Through frequent practice, class discussion and in-class collaborative activity, students will become familiar with the writing process and will learn to write for an academic audience. Student writers in the class will be guided through the steps of composing and revising college essays: formulating questions; analyzing purpose; generating ideas; structuring and supporting arguments; marshalling evidence; using sources effectively; and developing a clear, flexible academic voice. Writers will receive frequent feedback from peers and the instructor. (Litsinger)

ENGL B201 Chaucer: Canterbury Tales

Access to and skill in reading Middle English will be acquired through close study of the Tales. Exploration of Chaucer’s narrative strategies and of a variety of critical approaches to the work will be the major undertakings of the semester. (Taylor, Division III)

ENGL B202 Understanding Poetry

This course is for students who wish to develop their skills in reading and writing critically about poetry. The course will provide grounding in the traditional skills of prosody (i.e., reading accentual, syllabic and accentual-syllabic verse) as well as tactics for reading and understanding the breath-based or image-based prosody of free verse. Lyric, narrative, and dramatic poetry will be discussed and differentiated. We will be using close reading and oral performance to highlight the unique fusion of language, rhythm (sound), and image that makes poetry different from prose. (Hedley, Division III)

ENGL B204 Literatures of American Expansion

This course will explore the relationship between U.S. narratives that understand national expansion as “manifest destiny” and narratives that understand the same phenomenon as imperial conquest. We will ask why the ingredients of such fictions—dangerous savages, empty landscapes, easy money, and lawless violence—often combine to make the master narrative of “America,” and we will explore how and where that master narrative breaks down. Critical readings will engage discourses of nation, empire, violence, race, and sexuality. Texts will include novels, travel narratives, autobiographies, legal documents, and cultural ephemera. (Schneider, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B205 Introduction to Film

This course is intended to provide students with the tools of critical film analysis. Through readings of images and sounds, sections of films and entire narratives, students will cultivate the habits of critical viewing and establish a foundation for focused work in film studies. The course introduces formal and technical units of cinematic meaning and categories of genre and history that add up to the experiences and meanings we call cinema. Although much of the course material will focus on the Hollywood style of film, examples will be drawn from the history of cinema. Attendance at weekly screenings is mandatory. (Nguyen, Division III; cross-listed as HART B205)

ENGL B207 Big Books of American Literature

This course focuses on the “big books” of mid-19th-century American literature, viewed through the lenses of contemporary theory and culture. Throughout the course, as we explore the role that classics play in the construction of our culture, we will consider American literature as an institutional apparatus, under debate and by no means settled. This will involve a certain amount of antidisciplinary work: interrogating books as naturalized objects, asking how they reproduce conventional categories and how we might re-imagine the cultural work they perform. We will look at the problems of exceptionalism as we examine traditional texts relationally, comparatively, and interactively. (Dalke, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B209 Emerging Genres: Form and Transformation

Beginning with a biological evolutionary model, we examine a range of explanations for how and why new genres evolve. Readings will consist of critical accounts of genre; three hybrid novel forms will serve as imaginative test cases for these concepts. Students will identify, compare, and write an exemplar of a genre that interests them. (Dalke, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B210 Renaissance Literature: Performances of Gender

Readings chosen to highlight the construction and performance of gender identity during the period from 1550 to 1650 and the ways in which the gender anxieties of 16th- and 17th-century men and women differ from, yet speak to, our own. Texts will include plays, poems, prose fiction, diaries, and polemical writing of the period. (Hedley, Division III)

ENGL B211 Renaissance Lyric

Both the continuity of the lyric tradition that begins with Wyatt and the distinctiveness of each poet’s work are established. Consideration is given to the social and literary contexts in which lyric poetry was written. Poets include Donne, Herbert, Jonson, Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and Wyatt. (Hedley, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B214 Here and Queer: Placing Sexuality

The power of the marching-cry “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” emanates from the ambiguity of the adverb “here.” Where is “here?” In the face of exclusion from civic domains, does queerness form its own geography or nationality? This course will ask what it means to imagine a queer nation, and will work towards theorizing relations between modern constructions of sexuality, nationality, and ethnicity. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which assertion of queer presence can cut both ways: both countering discourses of displacement and functioning as vehicles for colonial or racial chauvinism. (Thomas, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B220 Writing in Theory/Writing in Practice

This course is designed for students interested in tutoring college or high-school writers or teaching writing at the secondary-school level. Readings in current composition studies will pair texts that reflect writing theory with those that address practical strategies for working with academic writers. To put pedagogic theory into practice, the course will offer a praxis dimension. Students will spend a few hours a week working in local public school classrooms or writing centers. In-class collaborative work on writing assignments will allow students to develop writing skills and share their insights into the writing process with others. (Hemmeter, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B220 and EDUC B219) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B223 The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories

In this course we will experiment with two interrelated and reciprocal inquiries—whether the biological concept of evolution is a useful one in understanding the phenomena of literature (in particular, the generation of new stories), and whether literature contributes to a deeper understanding of evolution. We will begin with several science texts that explain and explore evolution and turn to stories that (may) have grown out of one another, asking where they come from, why new ones emerge, and why some disappear. We will consider the parallels between diversity of stories and diversity of living organisms. Lecture three hours a week. (Dalke, Grobstein, Division II or III; cross-listed as BIOL B223)

ENGL B225 Shakespeare

A basic introduction to the plays of Shakespeare, this course explores Shakespeare’s dramaturgy, the material text, Bardolatry, adaptation, gender performance, symbolic geography, and Shakespearean recycling. Readings will include selections from the Sonnets, “A Lover’s Complaint,” Titus Andronicus, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Henry V, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, Macbeth, The Two Noble Kinsmen. (Rowe, Division III)

ENGL B227 American Attractions: Leisure, Technology and National Identity

(Ullman, White, Division III; cross-listed as HIST B227) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B229 Movies and Mass Politics

This course will trace in the history of movie forms a series of debates about the ways that nations can become mass societies, focusing mostly on the ways that Hollywood movies countered the appeals of Communism and Fascism. (Tratner, Division III; cross-listed as COML B229)

ENGL B231 Modernism in Anglo-American Poetry: After Us the Savage God

This course will familiarize students with the broad outlines of that movement in all the arts known as Modernism, and in particular, with Modernism as it was evolved in Anglo-American poetry—both from its American sources (Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams) and from its European sources (T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein). The course prepares students for ENGL 232, American Poetry Since World War II; together, these courses are intended to provide an overview of American poetry in the 20th century. (Kirchwey, Division III)

ENGL B232 Voices In and Out of School: American Poetry Since World War II

This course surveys the main developments in American poetry since 1945, both as made manifest in “movements” (whether or not self-consciously identified as such) and in highly original and distinctive poetic voices. The course will consider the work of the Beats, Black Mountain poets, Confessional poets, New York School, political-engagement poets, post-New Criticism poets, Poundians, Surrealists, Whitmanians, Zen and the environment poets, and other individual and unaffiliated voices. (Kirchwey, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B233 Spenser and Milton

The course is equally divided between Spenser’s Faerie Queene and Milton’s Paradise Lost, with additional short readings from each poet’s other work. (Briggs, Division III)

ENGL B234 Postcolonial Literature in English

This course will survey a broad range of novels and poems written while countries were breaking free of British colonial rule. Readings will also include cultural theorists interested in defining literary issues that arise from the postcolonial situation. (Tratner, Division III; cross-listed as COML B234)

ENGL B238 The History of Cinema 1895 to 1945

(Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as HART B238)

ENGL B239 Women and Cinema: Social Agency and Cultural Representation

(Gorkfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as HART B239)

ENGL B240 Readings in English Literature 1660-1744

The rise of new literary genres and the contemporary efforts to find new definitions of heroism and wit, good taste and good manners, sin and salvation, individual identity and social responsibility, and the pressure exerted by changing social, intellectual and political contexts of literature. Readings from Defoe, Dryden, early feminist writers, Pope, Restoration dramatists and Swift. (Briggs, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B242 Historical Introduction to English Poetry I

This course traces the development of English poetry from 1360 to 1700, emphasizing forms, themes and conventions that have become part of the continuing vocabulary of poetry, and exploring the strengths and limitations of different strategies of interpretation. Featured poets: Chaucer, Donne, Jonson, Milton and Shakespeare. (Briggs, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B243 Historical Introduction to English Poetry II

The development of English poetry from 1700 to the present. This course is a continuation of ENGL 242 but can be taken independently. Featured poets: Browning, Seamus Heaney, Christina Rossetti, Derek Walcott and Wordsworth. (Briggs, Division III)

ENGL B250 Methods of Literary Study

Through course readings, we will explore the power of language in a variety of linguistic, historical, disciplinary, social, and cultural contexts and investigate shifts in meaning as we move from one discursive context to another. Students will be presented with a wide range of texts that explore the power of the written word and provide a foundational basis for the critical and creative analysis of literary studies. Students will also refine their faculties of reading closely, writing incisively and passionately, asking speculative and productive questions, producing their own compelling interpretations, and listening carefully to the textual readings offered by others. (Hedley, Taylor, Tratner, Division III)

ENGL B252 Graphic Novels

The primary question driving this course is relatively simple: Are “graphic novels” simply stories with fun pictures? In an effort to reach some possible answers, the course will pair readings of graphic novels with a variety of critical texts, covering a range of interpretive methods. (Liu, Division III)

ENGL B253 Romanticism

Through an emphasis on Romanticism’s readers, this course will explore the Romantic movement in English literature, from its roots in Enlightenment thought and the Gothic to contemporary visions of Romanticism. By reading over the shoulders of writers such as Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and Tom Stoppard, the course will explore fiction, prose, and especially poetry of the period 1745 to 1848. While these years mark revolutions and expansion in almost every cultural sphere in Europe, America, and the Caribbean—politics, the arts, literature, and science—writers looked inward to the thoughts and passions of individuals as they never had before. (Ricketts, Division III)

ENGL B254 Subjects and Citizens in American Literature, 1750-1900: Female Subjects

This course traces the changing representation of the citizen in U.S. literatures and cultural ephemera of the 18th and 19th centuries. We will explore the ideal of American civic masculinity as it developed alongside discourses about freedom and public virtue. The course will focus on the challenges to the ideals of citizenship produced by conflicts over slavery, women’s suffrage, homosexuality, and Native-white relations. In addition to critical articles, legal and political documents, and archival ephemera, texts may include works by Henry Adams, Margaret Fuller, Thomas Jefferson, Herman Melville, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Wilson. (Schneider, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B256 Milton and Dissent

John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, was written during a period of cultural turmoil and innovation. This renaissance poem has helped shape the way later writers understand their profession, especially their obligation to foster dissent as a readerly practice. Exploring this legacy, readings interleave Paradise Lost and Milton’s political writings with responses by later revolutionary writers, from Blake to Philip Pullman. (Rowe, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B257 Gender and Technology

Explores the historical role technology has played in the production of gender; the historical role gender has played in the evolution of various technologies; how the co-construction of gender and technology has been represented in a range of on-line, filmic, fictional, and critical media; and what all of the above suggest for the technological engagement of everyone in today’s world. (Blankenship, Dalke, Division III; cross-listed as CMSC B257)

ENGL B259 Victorian Literature and Culture

Examines a broad range of Victorian poetry, prose, and fiction in the context of the cultural practices, social institutions, and critical thought of the time. Of particular interest are the revisions of gender, sexuality, class, nation, race, empire, and public and private life that occurred during this period. (Thomas, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B262 Survey in African American Literature: Laughin’ to Keep from Cryin’

A study of African American representations of the comedic in literary and cinematic texts, in the mastery of an inherited deconstructive muse from Africa, and in lyrics that journey from African insult poetry to Caribbean calypso to contemporary rap. We will examine multiple theories about the shape and use of comedy, and decide what amendments and emendments to make to these based on the central texts of our analysis. (Beard, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B263 Toni Morrison and the Art of Narrative Conjure

All of Morrison’s primary imaginative texts, in publication order, as well as essays by Morrison, with a series of critical lenses that explore several vantages for reading a conjured narration. (Beard, Division III)

ENGL B266 Travel and Transgression

Examines ancient and medieval travel literature, exploring movement and cultural exchange, from otherworld odysseys and religious pilgrimages to trade expeditions and explorations across the Atlantic. Mercantile documents, maps, pilgrim’s logbooks, and theoretical and anthropological discussions of place, colonization, and identity-formation will supplement our literary analysis. Emphasizes how those of the Middle Ages understood encounters with “alien” cultures, symbolic representations of space, and the development of national identities, exploring their influence on contemporary debates surrounding racial, cultural, religious, and national boundaries. (Taylor, Division III; cross-listed as COML B266) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B267 Poets of Cinema

A study of several film makers who made a distinct mark on cinema of the 20th century. In the face of commercial Hollywood cinema, directors such as Yasujiro Ozu, Andrei Tarkovsky, Theo Angelopoulos, Miklos Jansco, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Ildiko Enyedi broke with convention as they opened new frontiers of creativity and filmic expression. These filmmakers not only shaped their national cinemas, but also had profound influence around the world, forging new ways of thinking about cinematic language and specificity. Through their work, we will explore connections between cinema, the study of language and narrative, visual arts, literature and philosophy. (staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B267 and HART B267) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B269 Vile Bodies in Medieval Literature

The Middle Ages imagined the physical body as the site of moral triumph and failure and as the canvas to expose social ills. The course examines medical tracts, saint’s lives, poetry, theological texts, and representations of the Passion. Discussion topics range from plague and mercantilism to the legal and religious depiction of torture. Texts by Boccaccio, Chaucer, Dante, and Kempe will be supplemented with contemporary readings on trauma theory and embodiment. (Taylor, Division III)

ENGL B270 American Girl: Childhood in U.S. Literatures, 1690-1935

This course will focus on the “American Girl” as a particularly contested model for the nascent American. Through examination of religious tracts, slave and captivity narratives, literatures for children and adult literatures about childhood, we will analyze U. S. investments in girlhood as a site for national self-fashioning. (Schneider, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B273 Masculinity in English Literature: From Chivalry to Civility

This course will examine images and concepts of masculinity as represented in a wide variety of texts in English. Beginning in the early modern period and ending with our own time, the course will focus on texts of the “long” 18th century to contextualize the relationships between masculinity and chivalry, civility, manliness, and femininity. (Ricketts, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B274 Romantic Love

This course aims to critique the sentimentalism and idealism associated with “romantic love” by centering on a core body of Romantic literature that includes Shelley and Byron, looking back to earlier romance models—as in Tristan and Isolde and Adam and Eve—and looking forward to modern romance, as in Nabokov’s Lolita. (Forbes, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B276 Contemporary American Fiction: Visions and Versions

This course will focus on (relatively) recently published American novels. We will attend to questions of style, authorship and interpretation against the backdrop of contemporary cultural and political history, and explore how representations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class inform and shape these visions/versions of the contemporary. (Liu, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B277 Nabokov in Translation

(Harte, Division III; cross-listed as RUSS B277) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B279 Introduction to African Literature

Taking into account the oral, written, aural and visual forms of African “texts” over several thousand years, this course will explore literary production, translation and audience/critical reception. Representative works to be studied include oral traditions, the Sundiata Epic, Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments, Mariama Bâ’s Si Longe une Lettre, Tsitsi Danga-rembga’s Nervous Conditions, Bessie Head’s Maru, Sembène Ousmane’s Xala, plays by Wole Soyinka and his Burden of History, The Muse of Forgiveness and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat. We will address the “transliteration” of Christian and Muslim languages and theologies in these works. (Beard, Division III; cross-listed as COML B279)

ENGL B284 Women Poets: Giving Eurydice a Voice

This course covers English and American woman poets of the 19th and 20th centuries whose gender was important for their self-understanding as poets, their choice of subject matter, and the audience they sought to gain for their work. Featured poets include Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lucille Clifton, H.D., Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Christina Rossetti, Anne Sexton, and Gertrude Stein. (Hedley, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B285 Contemporary International Films

This course will focus on world cinema or non-Hollywood cinemas, which means films that are made geographically far from Hollywood and films which have adopted different aesthetic models from those used in Hollywood. Such films have formed, as we will see, a major part of the national history and culture in countries around the world. (staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B285 and HART B285) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B286 Asian American Poetry, 1900 to Present

This course will provide a historical overview and a disciplinary framework through which to trace the development of Asian American poetry. We seek to understand that development in relation to larger questions of identity and citizenship, and explore how Asian American poetry intertwines with American literature as a whole. (Liu, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B287 Media Culture and Movies

What happens when the media see themselves in the mirror? This question is the premise of this course, a study of how films have become Media Movies, a strange but powerful body of films that make us think of the media culture. This self-critique, it turns out, is a healthy preoccupation of quite a few films, which embody the philosophical crises in our media culture, and which reflect thoughtfully on the nature of our lives, the structure of our values and the spirit of our culture. (staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B287) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B288 The Novel

This course will explore the multi-vocal origins of the novel in English and the ways in which its rapid development parallels changes in reading, vision, thought, and self-perception. The course will trace the novel’s evolution from its 17th-century beginnings in romance, spiritual autobiography, and travel literature; through its emergence as a middle-class mode of expression in the 18th century; to its period of cultural dominance in the Victorian era; and to modernist and postmodern experimentation. In studying the novel’s historical, cultural, and formal dimensions, the course will discuss the significance of realism, parody, characters, authorship, and the reader. (Ricketts, Division III)

ENGL B293 Critical Feminist Studies: An Introduction

Combines the study of specific literary texts with larger questions about feminist forms of theorizing. A course reader will be supplemented with three fictional texts to be selected by the class. Students will review current scholarship, identify their own stake in the conversation and define a critical question they want to pursue at length. (Dalke, Division III)

ENGL B294 Art and Exploitation: Gender and Sexuality in 1960s American Cinema

(Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as HART B294) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B296 Introduction to Medieval Drama

Introduces students to the major types of dramatic production in the Middle Ages: mystery plays, morality plays, and miracle plays. Also examines early Protestant political drama know as “interludes” and the translation of medieval plays into contemporary films and novellas. Explores the construction of local communities around professional acting and production guilds, different strategies of performance, and the relationship between the medieval dramatic stage and other kinds of “stages.” (Taylor, Division III; cross-listed as ARTT B296) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B297 Terror, Pleasure, and the Gothic Imagination

Introduces students to the 18th-century origins of Gothic literature and its development across genres, media and time. Exploring the formal contours and cultural contexts of the enduring imaginative mode in literature, film, art, and architecture, the course will also investigate the Gothic’s connection to the radical and conservative cultural agendas. (Ricketts, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B299 History of Narrative Cinema

(King, Division III; cross-listed as HART B299) Not offered in 2008-09.

All courses at the 300 level are limited in enrollment and may require permission of the instructor to register.

ENGL B303 Piers Plowman

A contemporary of Chaucer, William Langland dedicated his life to writing and rewriting a moving poem that questions the relationship between artistic expression, social activism, and spiritual healing. We will read his great text, Piers Plowman, both as our subject and point of departure for thinking about the literary, political, and religious cultures in late 14th- and early 15th-century England. In addition, we will contextualize the poem using selections from penitential manuals, legal documents, treatises on translation, and rebel broadsides, as well as texts by contemporary authors (including Chaucer, Gower and Lydgate). (Taylor, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B306 Film Theory

An introduction to major developments in film theory and criticism. Topics covered include: the specificity of film form; cinematic realism; the cinematic “author”; the politics and ideology of cinema; the relation between cinema and language; spectatorship, identification, and subjectivity; archival and historical problems in film studies; the relation between film studies and other disciplines of aesthetic and social criticism. Each week of the syllabus pairs critical writing(s) on a central principle of film analysis with a cinematic example. Class will be divided between discussion of critical texts and attempts to apply them to a primary cinematic text. (King, staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B306 and HART B306) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B309 Native American Literature

This course focuses on late-20th-century Native literatures that attempt to remember and redress earlier histories of dispersal and genocide. We will ask how various writers with different tribal affiliations engage in discourses of humor, memory, repetition, and cultural performance to refuse, rework, or lampoon inherited constructions of the “Indian” and “Indian” history and culture. We will read fiction, film, and contemporary critical approaches to Native literatures alongside much earlier texts, including oral histories, political speeches, law, and autobiography. Readings may include works by Sherman Alexie, Diane Glancy, Thomas King, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Gerald Vizenor. (Schneider, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B310 Victorian Media

This course proposes that the Victorian era was an information age—an age in which the recording, transmission, and circulation of language was revolutionized. The railroad, the postal system, the telegraph, the typewriter, and the telephone were all 19th-century inventions. These communication technologies appeared to bring about “the annihilation of time and space” and we will examine how they simultaneously located and dislocated the 19th-century British citizen. We will account for the fears, desires, and politics of the 19th-century “mediated” citizen and analyze the networks of affiliation that became “intermediated”: family, nation, community, erotics, and empire. (Thomas, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B315 Experimental Fictions, 1675 to 1800

This course will examine a deliberately eclectic set of readings, mostly in prose, in order to explore different dimensions—aesthetic, social, psychological, substantive—of 18th-century creativity. Readings will range from Bunyan and Defoe to Fielding and Sterne, from Aphra Behn to William Hogarth to Frances Burney. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and permission of the instructor. (Briggs, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B316 Spenserian Allegory

This course will focus on Edmund Spenser’s allegorical epic, The Faerie Queene, which will be read in its entirety to gain access to the rich resources of the allegorical mode as it was understood and practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: resources for staging self-confrontation, constructing and reconstructing the experience of falling in love, and probing the mysteries of life and death, good and evil. The course will also explore the allegorical mode in the 19th and 20th centuries, as it appears in works such as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. (Hedley, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B317 Exhibition and Inhibition: Movies, Pleasures and Social Control

This course is a wide-ranging exploration of what it means to go to the movies. In it, we investigate the changing nature of the cinema in society—including all cinematic modes of display and exhibition, spanning pre-cinematic visual technologies to more recent film and video practices. Topics covered include audience segregation, film censorship and the reform movement, the Hollywood production code, movie theatre architecture, fan cultures of various kinds, journalistic and narrative accounts of moviegoing, and the shift from analog to digital images. Readings from film and cultural theory on mass spectacle, the observer, the spectator and the mass audience will shape our discussion and guide our individual research. (staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B317) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B319 A Sense of Place

The purposes of this course are to explore strategies for the artistic representation of place and to look into historical, emblematic, and theoretical dimensions of literary and pictoral settings. The course will also ask whether classical, European, and American writers sought to realize settings in similar or distinctively different ways. (Briggs, Division III; cross-listed as COML B319) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B322 Love and Money

This course focuses on literary works that explore the relationship between love and money. We will seek to understand the separate and intertwined histories of these two arenas of human behavior and will read, along with literary texts, essays by influential figures in the history of economics and sexuality. The course will begin with The Merchant of Venice, proceed through Pride and Prejudice to The Great Gatsby, and end with Hollywood movies. (Tratner, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B323 Movies, Fascism, and Communism

Movies and mass politics emerged together, altering entertainment and government in strangely similar ways. Fascism and communism claimed an inherent relation to the masses and hence to movies; Hollywood rejected such claims. We will examine films alluding to fascism or communism, to understand them as commenting on political debates and on the mass experience of movie going. (Tratner, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B324 Topics in Shakespeare: Shakespeare on Film

Films and play texts vary from year to year. The course assumes significant prior experience of Shakespearean drama and/or Renaissance drama. (Rowe, Division III)

ENGL B329 Screen Melodrama

This course will explore the broad range of sentimental and sensationalist techniques used in the melodramatic mode of representation on screen. Our focus will be on the affective and spectacular strategies of film and television drama, and narratives in which ethical or moral judgement result in redemption, salvation, or punishment. Topics to include: Hollywood’s “woman’s weepies”; Bollywood spectacle; race films; the culture of kitsch; the family romance; rescue fantasies; music and melodrama. Critical approaches to melodrama drawn from classical literary theory, psychoanalytic and classical film theory, and feminist theory. Prerequisite: ENGL B205 or HART B299 and junior or senior standing. (staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B329) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B334 Topics in Film Studies: Queer Cinema

The course explores how communities and subjects designated as “queer” have been rendered in/visible in the cinema. It also examines how queer subjects have responded to this in/visibility through non-normative viewing practices and alternative film and video production. We will consider queer traditions in documentary, avant-garde, transgender, AIDS, and global cinemas. (Nguyen, Division III; cross-listed as HART B334)

ENGL B337 Contemplating Art Cinema: Michael Haneke, Claire Denis, and the Dardenne Brothers

(Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as HART B337) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B340 Brown Affect: Narrating Latina and Latino Lives

(Lima, Division III; cross-listed as SPAN B329) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B341 Cult Genres: Camp, Kitsch, and Trash Cinema

(Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as HART B341) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B348 Cinema and Popular Memory

This course is a broad and eclectic introduction to the relationship between cinema, history, and popular memory. It explores a diverse range of films which claim to show that film can express and also shape popular memory, and pays special attention to the manner in which films write and rewrite history by articulating and shaping such memory. The course will be based on a premise that cinema shapes or negotiates the vision of who we are as individuals, groups, and larger collectives. (staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B348 and HART B346) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B349 Theories of Authorship in the Cinema

(King, Division III; cross-listed as HART B349) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B354 Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf has been interpreted as a feminist, a modernist, a crazy person, a resident of Bloomsbury, a victim of child abuse, a snob, a socialist, and a creation of literary and popular history. We will try out all these approaches and examine the features of our contemporary world that influence the way Woolf, her work, and her era are perceived. We will also attempt to theorize about why we favor certain interpretations over others. (Tratner, Division III)

ENGL B355 Performance Studies

Introduces students to the field of performance studies, a multidisciplinary species of cultural studies which theorizes human actions as performances that both construct “culture” and resist cultural norms. Explores performance and performativity in daily life as well as in the performing arts. (Ricketts, Division III)

ENGL B356 Endgames: Theater of Samuel Beckett

(Lord, Division III; cross-listed as ARTT B356)

ENGL B359 Dead Presidents

Framed by the extravagant funerals of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, this course explores the cultural importance of the figure of the President and the Presidential body, and of the 19th-century preoccupations with death and mourning, in the U.S. cultural imaginary from the Revolutionary movement through the Civil War. (Schneider, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B360 Women and Law in the Middle Ages

Studies the development of legal issues that affect women, such as marriage contracts, rape legislation, prostitution regulation, and sumptuary law, including the prosecution of witches in the 14th and 15th centuries in official documents and imaginative fictions that deploy such legislation in surprising ways. Asks how texts construct and interrogate discourses of gender, sexuality, criminality, and discipline. Broadly views the overlap between legal and literary modes of analysis. Examines differences between “fact” and “fiction” and explores blurred distinctions. (Taylor, Division III)

ENGL B361 Transformation of the Sonnet: Petrarch to Marilyn Hacker

Theory and practice of the sonnet in the Renaissance, 19th and 20th centuries. Sonnets and sonnet sequences by Barrett Browning, Countee Cullen, Dante, Dove, Frost, H.D., Hacker, Hopkins, Millay, Petrarch, Christina Rossetti, Shakespeare, Sidney, Wordsworth and others. (Hedley, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B362 African American Literature: Hypercanonical Codes

Intensive study of six 18th-21st century hypercanonical African American written and visual texts (and critical responses) with specific attention to the tradition’s long use of speaking in code and in multiple registers simultaneously. Focus on language as a tool of opacity as well as transparency, translation, transliteration, invention and resistance. Previous reading required. (Beard, Division III)

ENGL B368 Pleasure, Luxury, and Consumption

Course will consider pleasure and consumerism in English texts and culture of the 17th and 18th centuries. Readings will include classical and neoclassical philosophies of hedonism and Epicureanism, Defoe’s “Roxana”, Mandeville’s “Fable of the Bees”, Pope’s “Rape of the Lock”, John Cleland’s “Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” and early periodical essays, among others. Secondary readings will include critical studies on cultural history and material culture. Prerequisites: at least two 200-level English courses. (Ricketts, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B369 Women Poets: Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath

In this seminar we will be playing three poets off against each other, all of whom came of age during the 1950s. We will plot each poet’s career in relation to the public and personal crises that shaped it, giving particular attention to how each poet constructed “poethood” for herself. (Hedley, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B374 Experimental Poetry: Form and Experience

This course will focus on the questions of poetic experiments and their worth: What is “experimental poetry,” and why would anyone want to write it? The course will focus on the histories of American experimental form in conjunction with the material conditions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. We’ll seek to understand contemporary theorizations of “form” itself, and develop a deeper understanding of the larger field of poetics and poetic theory. Students will be responsible for in-class presentations, two essays (one of which contains a significant research component), and a number of short, creative assignments. (Liu, Division III)

ENGL B378 Eating Culture: Food and Britain 1798 to 1929

This class will explore British culinary culture across the long 19th century. One of our main goals will be to explore the role of matters culinary in the ordering and Othering of the world and its populations. We will pay particular attention to the relationship of food to 19th-century class and labor relations, colonial and imperial discourse, and analyze how food both traces and guides global networks of power, politics and trade. We will work towards theorizing food’s materiality, considering the physiognomy of food, the aesthetics of a menu, and the hermeneutics of taste. (Thomas, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B379 The African Griot(te)

A focused exploration of the multi-genre productions of Southern African writer Bessie Head and the critical responses to such works. Students are asked to help construct a critical-theoretical framework for talking about a writer who defies categorization or reduction. (Beard, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.

ENGL B385 Problems in Satire

An exploration of the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of great satire in works by Blake, Dryden, Pope, Rabelais, Smiley, Swift, Wilde and others. (Briggs, Division III)

ENGL B387 Allegory in Theory and Practice

Allegory and allegories, from The Play of Everyman to The Crying of Lot 49. A working knowledge of several different theories of allegory is developed; Renaissance allegories include The Faerie Queene and Pilgrim’s Progress, 19th- and 20th-century allegories include The Scarlet Letter and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. (Hedley, Division III; cross-listed as COML B387)

ENGL B398 Senior Seminar

Required preparation for ENGL 399 (Senior Essay). Through weekly seminar meetings and regular writing and research assignments, students will design a senior essay topic or topics of their choice, frame exciting and practical questions about it, and develop a writing plan for its execution. Students will leave the course with a departmentally approved senior essay prospectus, an annotated bibliography on their chosen area of inquiry, and 10 pages of writing towards their senior essay. Students must pass the course to enroll in ENGL 399. (Hemmeter, Ricketts, Rowe)

ENGL B399 Senior Essay

Supervised independent writing project required of all English majors. Students must successfully complete ENGL 398 (Senior Conference) and have their Senior Essay prospectus approved by the department before they enroll in ENGL 399. (staff)

ENGL B403 Supervised Work

Advanced students may pursue independent research projects. Permission of the instructor and major adviser is required. (staff)

ENGL B425 Praxis III


Bryn Mawr currently offers the following courses in creative writing:

ARTW B159 Intro to Creative Writing
ARTW B240 Literary Translation Workshop
ARTW B260 Short Fiction I
ARTW B261 Poetry I
ARTW B264 News and Feature Writing
ARTW B265 Creative Nonfiction
ARTW B266 Screenwriting
ARTW B269 Writing for Children
ARTW B360 Writing Short Fiction II
ARTW B362 Play Writing II
ARTW B382 Poetry Master Class
ARTW B403 Supervised Work

Updated August 25, 2008 by Tracy Kellmer