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Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
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Bryn Thompson, Administrative Assistant

Course Descriptions

FALL 2010                                                                                       




B 126 Writing Workshop for Non-Native Speakers of English B. Litsinger

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 feedback from peers and the instructor.

B 219 Facing the Facts/Essaying the Subjective A. Dalke
  Non fictional prose genres, which may well constitute the majority of all that has been written, are very seldom the focus of literature courses. This class will address that gap, by exploring the use-value of the category of non-fictional prose in organizing our experience of, and our thinking about, literature. Might our attending to such text alter our sense of what literature is?
B 225 Introduction to Shakespeare   K. Rowe
  This introduction to Shakespeare’s works explores the Bard's language, sources, print and stage history, and cultural geography. We’ll think about wordplay and genre, race and nationhood, authority and intimacy, gender and servitude. We’ll read a number of plays and poems, watch film adaptations, and attend a performance. The course will prepare you for a rich array of Shakespearean encounters in the rest of our life: recited, read privately, on stage, at the cinema, quoted and appropriated in a variety of modes and media.
B 238 Silent Film: US-Soviet Russia 1895-1945   T. Harte
  This course will explore cinema from its earliest, most primitive beginnings up to the end of the silent era. While the course will focus on a variety of historical and theoretical aspects of cinema, the primary aim is to look at films analytically. Emphasis will be on the various artistic methods that went into the direction and production of a variety of celebrated silent films from around the world. These films will be considered in many contexts: artistic, historical, social, and even philosophical, so that students can develop a deeper understanding of silent cinema’s rapid evolution.
B 242 Historical Intro to English Poetry I   P. Briggs

The purposes of this course are essentially threefold. First, it aims to trace the chronological development of English poetry from around 1360 to 1740 and to explore some of the "histories" that might be constructed on the basis of such developments. Second, it will emphasize forms, themes, and conventions that have become parts of the continuing "vocabulary" of poetry, a literary tradition richly in conversation with itself. Third, the course will often revisit that perennial question, what to say about a poem, and explore the strengths and limitations of different strategies of interpretation.

Readings:Readings will include a broad sampling of authors and of different poetic kinds, together with "featured" poets who will be explored in greater detail. Featured poets for the Fall semester will include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and Pope.

Course Requirements:The formal requirements of the course are three 5-6 pp. papers spread over the semester; there will not be a final examination.

Prerequisites:There are no prerequisites for this course. Students are free to take English 242 as an independent unit or in combination with English 243: An Historical Introduction to English Poetry II (not offered in 2010) which takes up developments after 1700. The two semester courses were designed, of course, to be taken in sequence.

B 250 Methods of Literary Study   K. Thomas
  This course aims to revisit, historicize and theorize key terms in the study of English Literature.  We will unpack the concepts of author, text and reader through examining significant movements in the history of literary criticism and theory. Our premise is that this course marks your entry into the discipline of literary study, and that this is therefore the right moment to start exploring the intellectual contexts and methods of that discipline.  Studying method gives us the means to reflect on our own processes as literary critics. You should expect reading that will lead you through some types of critical theory (e.g., deconstruction, feminist criticism, new criticism, performance theory, critical race theory and cultural studies).  Assignments will encourage the exercise of - and experimentation with - a range of scholarly approaches to texts. Students will also refine their faculties of reading closely, asking speculative and productive questions, producing their own compelling interpretations and engaging the textual readings offered by others.
B 259 Victorian Literature and Culture K. Thomas

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.

B 268 Native Soil: American Literatures 1492-1840 B. Schneider
  “This Land is Your Land, this Land is My Land , from California to the New York Islands . . .” We are used to thinking of the geographical limits of the United States as a huge shape that means “democracy,” “freedom” and “opportunity.” But the vast acreage of the United States once contained five hundred separate Native American nations. Changing that land from Indian Land to the Native Soil of United States democracy took centuries of intense imaginative work. And that imaginative work – the work of fantasizing America as empty, promised land – changed the very land itself. For example, did Pocahontas bequeath Virginia itself to her mixed-race son? Many white Virginians trace their ancestry and their sense of belonging back to that Indian “Princess.” What effect might the largely legendary power of Pocahontas have had on American literature and on American landscape? This course will consider the literature of contact and conflict between English-speaking whites and Native Americans between the years 1492 and 1920. We will focus on how these cultures understood the meaning and uses of land, and the effects of these literatures of encounter upon American land and ecology and vice-versa. At the core of this interdisciplinary approach is the drive to understand how ideas and narratives about land and land use change land itself. Texts will include works by Native, European- and African-American writers, and may include texts by Christopher Columbus, John Smith, William Bradford, Handsome Lake, Samson Occom, Lydia Maria Child, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, John Rollin Ridge, Mark Twain, Mourning Dove, Ella Deloria and Willa Cather.
B 284 Women Poets: Giving Eurydice a Voice   J. Hedley
  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.
B 314 Troilus and Criseyde J. Taylor

Examines Chaucer’s magisterial Troilus and Criseyde, his epic romance of love, loss and betrayal. We will supplement sustained analysis of the poem with primary readings on free will and courtly love as well as theoretical readings on gender and sexuality and translation. We will also read Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato, Robert Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida

B 324 Shakespeare on Film - canceled    

Films and play texts vary from year to year. The course assumes significant prior experience of Shakespearean drama and/or Renaissance drama.

B 334 Queer Cinemas in a Transnational Frame   H. Nguyen

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, and AIDS cinematic production. Using Asian cinemas as a case study, we will interrogate how same-sex eroticisms are configured differently in transnational contexts that exceed Euro-American lesbian and gay visibility politics.

B354 Virginia Woolf   M. Tratner
  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.
B 385 Problems in Satire     P. Briggs

An exploration of the methodological and theoretical underpinnings of great satire in works by Blake, Dryden, Pope, Rabelais, Smiley, Swift, Wilde and others

B 388 Contemporary African Fiction   L. Beard

This course locates an area of vigorous experiment in genre such as that described as the “proemdra” by South African writer and critic, Mothobi Mutloatse. In the late 50s, Chinua Achebe warned that African writers intended to do “unheard of things” with the English language. This course follows the concrete trajectory of contemporary experiments in form. It is the logical conclusion of the work of English 279 – a broad, continental introduction to a Cape- to- Cairo- imaginary and the complement of the other single 300-level African literature course that focuses on a single writer or two. It prepares students for a richer, globalized understanding of a continent of more than 50 countries and engages them in an eclecticism that involves the study of three Abrahamic religions, many indigenous religious and cultural traditions, and a variety of storytelling traditions and innovations.

B 398 Senior Seminar     Hemmeter, Schneider
  This course is designed to prepare you for the writing of your Senior Essay. Through weekly seminar meetings and regular writing and research assignments, you will develop your essay topic, frame challenging and practical questions about it, and develop a writing plan. You will leave the course with a persuasive proposal for department review, an annotated bibliography on your chosen area of inquiry, and 10 pages of writing towards your Senior Essay. Some of you may already know a great deal about your area of study. For others of you, this will be your first excursion into your topic. Some of you will be writing creative essays with an analytical component. The assignment sequences in this course are designed to maximize your preparation and to help you develop your ideas and your research, regardless of your level of preparation. The work we will do in this class will significantly advance your project and prepare you to use most efficiently your independent research time in spring semester. You must pass this course in order to enroll in the spring semester independent study; you must pass both this course and the spring semester independent study in order to graduate as an English major.

Course Requirements: In order to pass this course you must attend each class, participate in class discussions and workshops, and complete each assignment on time.

B 125 Writing Workshop     Staff
  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.
B 126 Writing Workshop for Non Native Speakers of English B. Litsinger
  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; analysing purpose; generating ideas; structuring and supporting arguments; marshalling evidence; using sources effectively; and developing a clear flexible feedback from peers and the instructor.
B 202 Understanding Poetry     J. Hedley
  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.
B 205 Introduction to Film     M. Tratner
  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.
B 223 The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories A. Dalke
  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.
B 230 American Drama     G. Hemmeter
  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.
B 243 Historical Introduction to English Poetry II   P. Briggs
  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.
B 250 Methods of Literary Study   J. Taylor, L Beard
  We will explore the power of language in a variety of linguistic, historical, disciplinary, social, and cultural contexts, focusing on the power of the written word to provide a foundational basis for the critical and creative analysis of literary studies. This course will build on the reading, writing, and interpretive skills honed in 200-level courses and help to broaden our ideas of what texts and language accomplish socially, historically, and aesthetically. Students will thus 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 interpretations and insights offered by others.
B 254 Female Subjects: American Literature 1750-1900 B. Schneider
  On March 31, 1776, while the "founding fathers" were in Philadelphia thrashing out the meaning of “freedom,” Abigail Adams wrote a letter to her husband, John. She asked him to "remember the ladies" and to make women equals to men in the bid for independence. John Adams wrote a playful letter back to his wife that is by turns flirtatious, chiding, and dismissive. "As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh." He called her "saucy" and compared her to "insolent" slaves and Indians. Together, the two letters hint at the complex interconnection of sexuality, gender and race in the moment of revolution and foundation. Although women, the poor, and people of color were excluded from the franchise, their exclusion and the possibility of them coming to voice haunted the fears and fantasies of the national imagination. This course explores the centrality of the subject, subjection and subjectivity of women and female sexualities to U.S. national literatures the thirteen decades between the signing of the Constitution and the ratification of the 19th Amendment. While figures like Columbia were wheeled in to “represent” the nation, while the representation of women in fiction grew and the number of female authors soared, the culture found itself at pains to define and domesticate the appropriate places and moments for female speech and silence, action and passivity. We will engage a wide variety of pre-suffrage literatures and cultural ephemera that place women at the nexus of national narratives of slavery and freedom, foreignness and domesticity, wealth and power, masculinity and citizenship, and sex and race “purity.”
B 256 Milton and Dissent     K. Rowe
  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.
B 257 Gender and Technology A. Dalke
  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.
B 258 Finding Knowledge Between the Leaves: 19th Century Literature of Education A. Bruder
  This class will examine innovative extra-institutional methods and spaces of learning. We will explore a genealogy of unconventional and progressive models of instruction found in imaginative literature, in personal letters, and in material culture. Our readings will range from novels by Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Louisa May Alcott to poetry and letters by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to personal narratives by Henry David Thoreau and Booker T. Washington.
B 263 Toni Morrison and the Art of Narrative Conjure L. Beard
  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.
B 269 Vile Bodies in Medieval Literature J. Taylor
  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.
B 309 Native American Literature   B. Schneider
  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.
B 322 Love and Money     M. Tratner
  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.
B 364 Slum Fiction     K. Thomas
  David Simon’s acclaimed television show “The Wire” has repeatedly be related to the Victorian novel. This course links Victorian London and twentieth-century Baltimore by studying: literary relations between Dickens and Poe; slum writing; the rise of the state institution; a genealogy of serial fiction from the nineteenth century novel to television drama.
B 367 Asian American Film, Video and New Media H. Nguyen
  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. Students should be prepared to engage analytically will all class material, written and audio-visual. To maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect and solidarity among the participants in the class, no auditors will be allowed.
B 369 Women Poets: Gwendolyn Brooks,  Adrienne Rich, and Sylvia Plath J. Hedley
  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.
B 399 Senior Essay     Advisor

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.

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