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 and Chair
Anne Bruder, Lecturer
Anne F. Dalke, Senior Lecturer
E. Jane Hedley, Professor
Gail Hemmeter, Senior Lecturer
Nimisha Ladva, Lecturer
Hoang Tan Nguyen, Assistant Professor
Katherine A. Rowe, Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
Bethany Schneider, Associate Professor
Asali Solomon, Visiting Assistant Professor
Jamie Taylor, Assistant Professor (on leave semester I and II)
Kate Thomas, Associate Professor
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
As students construct their English major, they should seek to include courses that provide:
Summary of the Minor
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.
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. (staff, Division III)
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)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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. (Kirchwey, Division III)
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 2009-10.
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)
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)
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)
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 2009-10.
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 EDUC B219)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
A basic introduction to the plays of Shakespeare, this course explores Shakespeare’s dramaturgy, the material text, Bardolatry, adaptation, gender performance, cultural geography, and genre. Readings will include ten plays and poems. Film and video viewings and attendance at stage performances are also required. (Rowe, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
(Ullman, White, Division III; cross-listed as HIST B227) Not offered in 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
Considers American plays of the 20th century, reading major playwrights of the canon alongside other dramatists who were less often read and produced. Will also study later 20th-century dramatists whose plays both develop and resist the complex foundation established by canonical American playwrights and how American drama reflects and responds to cultural and political shifts. Considers how modern American identity has been constructed through dramatic performance, considering both written and performed versions of these plays. (Hemmeter, Division III; cross-listed as ARTT B230) Not offered in 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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)
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B238) Not offered in 2009-10.
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B239) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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. (Beard, Hedley, Thomas, Division III)
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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. (Dalke, Blankenship, Division III; cross-listed as CMSC B257) Not offered in 2009-10.
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)
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 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
An interrogation of poetric utterance in works of the African diaspora, primarily in English, this course addresses a multiplicity of genres, including epic, lyric, sonnet, rap, and mimetic jazz. The development of poetic theories at key moments such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement will be explored. Prerequisite: Any course in poetry or African/American literature. (Beard)
Exile, immigration, colonial geography, and the elusive concept of home will be themes at the center of this study of Caribbean novels and prose. We will consider representations of national, racial, religious, gender identity and sexuality while reading a mix of contemporary and classic fiction, essays, travelogues and one “biomythography” by Caribbean, Caribbean-American and British-Caribbean authors. (Solomon, Division III)
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 2009-10.
Literatures of the violent struggle for land in the English-speaking “New World.” How was private property ideologically wrested from Native land? How did the literatures of this conflict—fantasies of geographical, religious and sexual ownership and also of resistance to that conquest—affect the land and ecology itself? (Schneider)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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)
An extended visit with one of America’s most interesting and influential families: the unruly, expansive children of Henry James, Sr. The course will focus on the remarkable writings of the diarist Alice, who became a feminist icon; the great novelist Henry; and the groundbreaking psychologist and philosopher William. (Dalke)
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
This course traces an arc from the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries through to the present day food crisis. We will explore the cultural, political, philosophical, ethical and ecological histories of what and how we eat, and look towards sustainable, biodiverse and local agriculture. (Thomas, Werlen, Division III)
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
(Harte, Division III; cross-listed as RUSS B277)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
Beginning with George Eliot and Charles Dickens, two authors whose work helped form the basis for the contemporary novel in English, we will move outwards into a wide-ranging and transhistorical expanse of texts that increase the possibilities of novel structure and scope by combining realistic narratives with a strong sense of experimentalism and play. We will address connections between content and form, and consider representations of gender, racial and class identity. This course also offers students the opportunity to investigate the novel as creative writers, and contemplate from this vantage point why authors from Eliot to Everett make the choices that they do. (Solomon, Division III)
Literary works are generally called “Modernist” because of unusual aesthetic and formal features—because they are plotless, characterless, fragmented, or simply strange. We will seek to understand how such formal features can express cultural conceptions—can embody reactions to racial mixture, to the decay of the bourgeoisie, or to national cults of instinctive masculinity. (Tratner, Division III)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B294) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
(King, Division III; cross-listed as HART B299)
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 2009-10.
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, Division III; cross-listed as COML B306 and HART B306) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
For roughly half the semester we will focus on the sonnet, a form that was domesticated in England during the sixteenth century. The other half of the course will focus on the “metaphysical” poetry of John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell. There will be a strong component of critical and theoretical reading to contextualize the poetry, model ways of reading it, and raise questions about its social, political and religious purposes. (Hedley, Division III)
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)
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 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
Lesbian literature has repeatedly figured itself in alliance with tropes of immortality and eternity. Using recent queer theory on temporality, and 19th- and 20th-century primary texts, we will explore topics such as: fame and notoriety; feminism and mythology; epistemes, erotics and sexual seasonality; the death drive and the uncanny; fin de siecle manias for mummies and seances. (Thomas)
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. (King, Division III; cross-listed as HART B334)
The course examines experimental film and video from the 1930s to the present. It will focus on the use of found footage: the reworking of existing imagery (e.g., Hollywood movies, television, historical archives, educational film, nature documentary, home movies, pornography) not created by the filmmaker herself in order to generate new aesthetic frameworks and cultural meanings. The course situates found footage film within the larger art and culture contexts of Dada, Pop Art, appropriation art, music sampling, zines, and digital visual culture. Key issues to be explored include copyright, piracy, recycling, archive, activism, affect, aesthetics, access, interactivity, and fandom. (Nguyen, Division III; cross-listed at HART B336)
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B337) Not offered in 2009-10.
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as HART B341) Not offered in 2009-10.
This course focuses on fiction, poetry and drama by black women (African and Caribbean American) published since 2000. Attendant to the diversity of aesthetic and thematic approaches in this body of literature, we will explore exploding notions of racial identity and allegiance, as well as challenges to the boundaries of genre. Prerequisites: an African or African-American literature course at the 200 level or permission of the instructor. (Solomon, Division III)
(King, Division III; cross-listed as HART B349) Not offered in 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
(Lord, Division III; cross-listed as ARTT B356) Not offered in 2009-10.
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)
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
Intensive study of six 18th- to 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) Not offered in 2009-10.
The course explores the role of pleasure in the production, reception and performance of Asian American identities in film, video and the internet. It will take as its focus the sexual representation of Asian Americans in mainstream texts and work produced by Asian American artists from 1915 to present, and draws on scholarship in queer studies, feminist theory, cultural studies and comparative ethnic studies. In several units of the course, we will study graphic sexual representations, including pornographic images and sex acts some may find objectionable. To maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect and solidarity among the participants in the class, no auditors will be allowed. (Nguyen, Division III; cross-listed as HART B367)
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 2009-10.
Beginning with Mary Rowlandson’s 1682 captivity narrative and concluding with Maxine Hong Kingston’s 1975 memoir The Woman Warrior, this course examines how American women have constructed themselves in print. Gender, ethnicity, spirituality, and sexuality all inform public narratives of textual self-creation. Letters and diaries serve as a counterweight, revealing women’s construction of private selves. Together these genres prompt a rich exploration of authority, authorship, history, citizenship, and identity. Course will include students’ own life-writing and a final project based on archival research in the college’s Special Collections. (Bruder, Division III)
An historical overview of hip hop music from its origins to the present, connecting literary, political and cultural antecedents and influences and contemporary cultural forms it has shaped through listening and close reading of lyrics, novels and poetry, films and performances. Immersing students in analytical approaches in cultural studies and literary theory, the goal is to synthesize a theoretical apparatus suited to hip hop studies. Prerequisite: at least one course in African-American literature or performance or permission of the instructor. (Solomon, Division III)
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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.
Joyce’s works lend themselves particularly well to critical disagreements: he has been called the most pessimistic nihilist and the greatest optimist; a misogynist and a radical feminist; a true Catholic and a great Jewish writer; the worst of elitists and a celebrator of the common man; a fascist and a socialist; the most boring writer and the writer providing the most intense, orgasmic pleasures. We will read one novel but that journey will be broken up with forays into Joyce’s earlier works. (Tratner, Division III)
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 2009-10.
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 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
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) Not offered in 2009-10.
Using the independence dates of so many African countries (1960 and beyond), this is an intensive study of half a century of experiments in African fictive narratives. While our texts for analysis are primarily English-language based (including pidgin, flytall, and other Africanized English forms), we will examine a few works in translation. (Beard, Division III; cross-listed as COML B388)
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, Schneider)
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)
Advanced students may pursue independent research projects. Permission of the instructor and major adviser is required. (staff)
Bryn Mawr currently offers the following courses in creative writing:
ARTW B159 Introduction to Creative Writing
ARTW B260 Short Fiction I
ARTW B261 Poetry I
ARTW B262 Playwriting I
ARTW B264 News and Feature Writing
ARTW B265 Creative Nonfiction
ARTW B269 Writing for Children
ARTW B360 Writing Short Fiction II
ARTW B361 Writing Poetry II
ARTW B364 Longer Fictional Forms