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101 North Merion Ave
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
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Bryn Thompson, Administrative Assistant

Spring 2010

(Please check the Tri-Co Course Guide for possible schedule changes.)




B 125 Writing Workshop   Ricketts/Ruben

This course offers students who have already taken the Emily Balch 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 thier work.

B 202 Understanding Poetry   K. Kirchwey

This course is for students who wish to develop their skills in reading and writing critically about poetry.  Poetry texts will include The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Shorter Fourth Edition), an instructor anthology entitled Subjects and Predicates: A Source-Book for Poets and Readers, and one or two complete books of poems by contemporary American poets.  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.  Poems, as Northrop Frye explains, involve both “babble” and “doodle”—they speak to both the ear and the eye.  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.  Alongside the poems themselves, we will read and discuss some classic essays by critics (T.S. Eliot, Cleanth Brooks, Jonathan Culler and others) who have undertaken to explain what poetry is and “what to say about a poem.”

B 204 Literatures of American Expansion 1776-1900 B. Schneider

“Go West, young man, and grow up with the country!”  This famous sentiment, first articulated by John B. Soule in 1851, ties youth, hope, and a bright future to the project of United States imperial expansion. This course explores the fantasy structures that underpin 19th century literatures of the American “west.”   We will ask how the ingredients of such fictions—dangerous and eroticized savages, imperiled or vicious women, empty and fertile landscapes, easy money and lawless violence – combine to make the master-narrative of “America.”  We will examine how this master-narrative was peddled to America’s own inhabitants and exported to promote America abroad. We will trace the literal and literary space between the easy-seeming promise of “manifest destiny” and the violent labor that was necessary to make “destiny” manifest on landscapes, peoples and nations. We will interrogate the myth of empty, ravishable land and the models of heroic white American masculinity and strong, suffering white femininity invented to inhabit and “tame” it.   We will also engage literatures that interrogate and challenge the idea of the supposedly singular “frontier" of 19th century U.S. imagination.  In fact, the west was a vastly diverse network of Native-, African- Asian- and Euro-American peoples whose landscapes were already inhabited, already historied, already national.   What work did 19th century literatures do to both preserve and destroy that diversity?  Texts may include The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper, the Indian captivity narrative of Mary Jemison, Nick of the Woods by Robert Montgomery Bird, as well as works by Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Samson Occom, J. Hector St. John de Crévecoeur, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Herman Melville, John Rollin Ridge, and Sui Sin Far.

B 205 Introduction to Film   H. Nguyen
  This course is intended to provide students with the tools of critical film analysis. We will consider film forms, genres, and histories within the broader framework of visual culture practices. Emphasis will be placed on readings of documentary, feminist, and avant-garde film, video art, and new media alongside Hollywood production. Attendance at weekly screenings is mandatory.
B 209 Literary Kinds   A. Dalke

“Gestaltenlehre ist Verwandlungslehre”
(“The study of forms is the study of transformations”—Goethe, via Propp)

This course will look at the ways new genres evolve, and ask what aesthetic, cultural and political purposes those transformations may serve.  The class will take as its point of departure a longstanding reliance on the Darwinian theory of evolution as the model for the development of literary forms. (Used most enthusiastically in Ferdinand Brunetière’s 1890 “L'évolution des genres,” it has been reinvented by virtually every student of genre since.)  Our reading of Darwin and Brunetière will be supplemented by David Duff’s 2000 Longman Critical Reader on Modern Genre Theory, which includes essays by Propp, Bahktin, Frye, Jauss, Jameson, Todorov, Derrida, Folwer, Eagleton, and others, and highlights a range of ways of thinking about the relationships among different genres in different periods of literary history. 

Following Bakhtin’s claim that “faced with the problem of the novel, genre theory must submit to a radical restructuring,” three hybrid novel forms will function as exemplars and imaginative test cases for these concepts. All were written in the United States during the same decade as The Origin of the Species:  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “romance,” The Scarlet Letter (1850), Herman Melville’s “anatomy,” Moby-Dick (1851), and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “sentimental novel,” Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

In a series of linked writing projects, students will 1) identify their own investment in a genre other than the novel 2) research and report on its history 3) write a comparative analysis of several test cases of that form, and 4) try their hand at a creative exploration of an imaginative exemplar of their own. A total of twenty-five pages of writing will be required by semester’s end; the length of each individual project may vary, based on student interest and ambition.

B 210 Renaissance Lit: Performance of Gender J. Hedley

“I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.”  (Macbeth)

“I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women . . . that between you and the women the play may please.”  (As You Like It)

The readings for this course call attention to the ways men and women of the Renaissance (1550-1640) understood and thought about sexual identity and sexual difference.  From 1558-1603 a woman oc­cupied the throne of England; under Elizabeth I literature of all kinds, but es­pecially poetry and theater, be­gan to flourish as never before.  The plays, poems, prose fic­tion, polemical pamphlets and philosophi­cal writings of this period deal with the gendered subject and the subject of gen­der from many different angles and with many different purposes: some­times with utmost seri­ousness, sometimes in a spirit of subver­sive play; sometimes to mark out distinct, complementary spheres for women and men, sometimes to pro­vide a make-believe space where pre­vailing social arrangements can be sus­pended or transgressed.  

What were those arrangements?  How fluid were they?  How did they differ from one social class to another?  In what ways do the gender anxieties of 16th and 17th century men and women speak to our own?  Questions like these will urge us beyond the literary texts from time to time into social history and the sister arts of music, portraiture and dance.  We will take an especially careful look at literary and social stereotypes that don’t have precise counterparts for us today, such as the Petrarchan lover, the female virtue of Chastity, and the figure of the Shrew. 

Shakespeare, As You Like It or Twelfth Night; The Taming of the ShrewMacbethSonnets; "The Rape of Lucrece"; Middleton and Dekker, The Roaring Girl; Ben Jonson, Epicoene, or The Silent Woman; George Gascoigne, The Adventures of Master F. J.; Thomas Deloney, Jack of Newbury; Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book III; "Epithalamion";  John Milton, "A Masque presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634" (a.k.a. "Comus");  early feminist writings;  lyrics by Thomas Wyatt, Philip Sidney, John Donne, Mary Wroth, Ben Jonson, Katherine Philips; poems, speeches and portraits of Elizabeth I.

Course Requirements
Regular class attendance and participation; 2 short papers (3-5 pages); a 10-page paper; a take-home final exam.

B 220 Writing Theory/Writing Practice   G. Hemmeter

Praxis Course: Bryn Mawr’s Praxis Program offers students the opportunity to extend the sites of learning into the community and to investigate the juncture between their academic knowledge and real-world practice.  This is an especially useful goal for an undergraduate course in the teaching of writing, where students are not yet employed in a teaching capacity and thus would otherwise lack the chance to put newly-learned skills into practice.  As a part of this Praxis I course, you will be required to spend, for eight weeks, one morning or afternoon each week serving as a writing tutor or writing consultant in a writing classroom or writing program, most likely in a school setting.  The Praxis component of this course will require about four hours a week of your time, and your placement will be coordinated to your academic schedule.  More information about site placement and transportation, as well as training, will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.  Work at the off-campus sites will begin the week of 30 January.

     Coordinating and facilitating your praxis assignments will be Nell Anderson, Coordinator of Bryn Mawr’s Praxis Program.  She will visit our class briefly on the first day of classes and again in the next few weeks to orient you to your off-campus placements, and she’ll meet with you individually to discuss the placement that is most appropriate for you.  She’ll provide her contact information when she visits our class.
B224 Fixing Identity: Growing Up Ethnic                          K. Baumli

In diverse, multicultural America in the twenty-first century, growing into adulthood involves a complicated coalescence of talent, heritage, and opportunity. In this course, we will study narratives, both novels and films, that view a young adult’s development through the frame of ethnicity. Sometimes one wants to “fix” identity by repairing the differences that separate a person from others; at other times, one wants to “fix” identity by finding some stability in a sometimes bewildering world. In the course we will discuss ethnic experience as an important location for the formation of personal and social identity.

B 234 Postcolonial Literature in English   M. Tratner

This course will survey novels, poems, plays and movies produced in countries after breaking free of British colonial rule in South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, as well as one work about escaping American colonialism.  These works actively seek to change the meaning of such concepts as “colony”,“British,” “American,” and “nation.”   So the course will begin with some images and texts which convey the standard or clichéd meanings of these words and then examine works that seek to modify those meanings or embed them in new contexts--to create the “post-colonial,” the “post-British,” the “post-American” and the “post-national.”  

Aamir Khan, Lagaan
Salmon Rushdie, Midnight's Children
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Wole Soyinka, Collected Plays, Vol. 1.
Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Assia Djebar, Fantasia, An Algerian Cavalcade
Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984,
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water

Assignments:   The course will be divided into three units, each about 5 weeks long.  In each of the units, students will have a choice of either keeping a journal (a page on each week’s reading) or writing a 5-page paper (with the caveat that one of the three units must be done as a paper).  At the end there will also be a 7-10 page paper.

B 248 Narratives of Border: Frontiers of Culture, Nation, &  Gender       K. Baumli

In this class we will interrogate the impact of external constructs on identity formation. We will begin by discussing texts about immigration and displacement: texts that question ways socially constructed notions shape an individual subjectivity. After looking at examples of the interplay of culture, nation, and gender, we will move to a specific geographic location: the US/Mexican borderlands. This rich locus will allow us to fine-tune our examination; we will read novels and view films that explore the connections and disjunctions in the matrix of cultures created by African American, Anglo, Chicano/Mexican and Native American who live on the border.

B 250 Methods of Literary Study, Sec. 1   J. Hedley

“The imagination that produces work which bears and invites re-readings, which motions to future readings as well as contemporary ones, implies a shareable world and an endlessly flexible language.”   Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark

“To read is to play the role of a reader and to interpret is to posit an experience of reading.”  Jonathan Culler, “Stories of Reading,” in On Deconstruction

This course is designed to create opportunities for close reading, analysis and comparison of texts that “bear and invite re-readings.”  By means of these texts and the readings they generate, we will be exploring the possibilities and powers of language—its power to enchant, to persuade, to inspire, to build a shareable world.  We will also be building a critical vocabulary, a special set of lenses with which to “play the role of a reader” in a self-conscious way. 

The construction of a variety of different kinds of textual encounter (with poetry, with fiction and film, with discursive and polemical writing) will take precedence in this course over continuity and “coverage”; thus you should already have some experience with literary study at the college level—at least one, but ideally two other 200-level courses.

Developing your own interests and strengths as a reader and finding your own critical “voice” will be a primary course objective.  Written assignments will be frequent; opportunities for revision will be built into the syllabus; revised essays will be graded on process as well as product.  

Required Texts:

M. H. Abrams.  A Glossary of Literary Terms
Jane Austen.  Emma
Roland Barthes.  A Lover’s Discourse
Jonathan Culler.  Literary Theory: An Introduction
Marilyn Hacker.  Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons
Toni Morrison.  Beloved
The Oxford World’s Classics text of William Shakespeare’s  Hamlet
William Shakespeare. The Sonnets
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
E-reserve Readings:  see Schedule of Readings for required texts on Blackboard reserve.

B 250 Methods of Literary Study, Sec 2   L. Beard

From our earliest days as readers and spectators, we have been engaged in processes of appreciation, interpretation and analysis.  We enjoy anew and re-write texts in our close examination of them. Part of the pleasure of the story – whether we admit it or not – began with interrogating  the motivations, assertions, and strategies  of Rapunzel, Huck Finn, Scarlet O’Hara, Captain Ahab, Harry Potter, Ivanhoe, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Jane Eyre, the sisters of Alcott’s Little Women, Sula Peace, Achebe’s Okonkwo, Peter Pan, or Atticus Finch. We are routinely intrigued, disappointed, annoyed, stunned, or exhilarated by the ever-changing contours of story, its temporal play, and its intimacy with the reader, listener and viewer in written, visual, or aural texts.  The contemporary blog is, among other things, a popular and practical repository of critique, assessment, and qualitative judgment.  The world is [over]full of the play and power of analysis. Everyone is a critic.

This section of English 250 foregrounds, teases out, and sharpens our skills as informed, critical, resisting, cooperative, skeptical, contemplative, and incisive readers, critics, and theorists. Toni Morrison confesses that her two favorite genres of reading are biography and contemporary critical theory. The latter, she insists, provides lenses and tools for asking provocative and incisive questions that enrich our encounter with a wide assortment of texts. As a writer, she enjoys critical strategies that move the reader beneath the surface into the deep structures of the text.

We end the course with a thorny question: What is the role of literature in a post-Holocaust world of ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing?  Two contemporary, living witnesses provide their own answers: Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka (a survivor of the Biafran Civil War and imprisonment), and Spanish Communist/French Resistance writer and film director, Jorge Semprún Maura (a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp). Each student will fashion her own response in wrestling with what it is that constitutes “literature.”

Required Material for Study
Makaryk, Irene  Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory-Approaches/Scholars/Terms
Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan (eds.)   Literary Theory: An Anthology   
Kennedy, J. Gerald  (ed)  The Portable Edgar Allan Poe               
Adichie Ngozi Chimamanda  Half of a Yellow Sun              
Strand, Mark and Eavan Boland (eds.)  The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

3 Assigned Films (see syllabus)
1 Assigned Piano Concerto, Opera, or Ballet (Student Choice)

B 259 Victorian Literature and Culture   K. Thomas

This course 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 264 New The Black Bard : Poetry in the Diaspora L. Beard

Chinua Achebe maintains in Things Fall Apart that “proverbs are the palm wine with which words are eaten.” In many ways, that is an apt description of the ways in which poetic utterance and allusion permeate the fictive and non-fictive prose of writers of the African diaspora over more than 3 centuries.  Those ancient black bards of turn-of-the-twentieth-century James Weldon Johnson, who would ask God “why make a poet black and bid him sing,” speak across temporal lines. One easily traces the footsteps, for example, from the Harlem Renaissance sonnet from which Maya Angelou names her initial autobiographical tome (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) to the “Breaths” of the contemporary ensemble, Sweet Honey in the Rock, taken directly from West African poet Birago Diop. The 18th century Wheatley continues to be referenced by contemporary poets such as Naomi Long Madgett.

This course foregrounds the voice of the poet in works written, primarily in English, over a period of 3 centuries. Major poets for study will include writers stretching from the medieval creators of the Sundiata Epic of Mali to the contemporary works of Rita Dove.  We will interrogate the deployment and reconceptualization of established poetic genres (e.g. epic, the sonnet, the lyric poem), the international phenomena of Francophone "Negritude", the Spanish and Portuguese experiences of "Negrisma" and the twinned epochs of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement of the sixties. The practice of poetry and the simultaneous construction of aesthetic and political theories about poetry will surface as interdependent projects.

Students will write several short essays on individual poets and one synthetic essay comparing two poets from two different parts of the diaspora. 

B 271 New House of Wits: Wor(l)ds of Alice, Henry & William James Family A. Dalke
  An extended visit with one of America’s most interesting and influential families: the unruly, expansive children of Henry James, Sr. We 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.
B 290 Modernisms   M. Tratner

This course will examine a range of works (novels, poems, paintings, and movies) that have been called “Modernist” from around the world—in general, these are works that are plotless, characterless, fragmented, eerie or just plain strange.  The central question we will be exploring is, why did artists decide to create such distinctly unrealistic works?  Was it it due to the horrors of war, the speed of modern travel, the loss of cultural coherence, the demise of religion, the rise of feminism, the challenge to Eurocentrism? . We will consider both purely aesthetic theories (e.g., a modernist seeks only to explore the medium) and cultural explanations (during the twentieth century, it became impossible to believe that one’s own culture was “true” and hence impossible to believe that the perspective through which one viewed the world revealed “reality”).  We will attempt to merge these two different forms of explanation, seeking to trace relationships between the literary devices associated with modernism (e.g., fragments, images, streams of consciousness, myths) and conceptions of race, nationality and gender. 

Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera
Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood                                                            
Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and selections from other works
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando                
Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis
Nella Larsen, Passing
Poems by T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats
Paintings and musical works such as Pablo Picasso’s D’emoiselles d’Avignon and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rites of Spring

Assignments: two ten-page papers and a class presentation

B 315 Experimental Fictions   P. Briggs

This course will examine a deliberately eclectic set of readings, mostly in prose, in order to explore different dimensions—aesthetic, social, psychological, substantive—of eigthteenth-century literary creativity. Although novels make up more than half the reading list, this is not really a course on the early history of the English Novel. Rather, novels are interspersed with an extended allegory, some journalism, a little poetry, some graphic artwork, and a personal diary in order to establish a broader vision of the kinds of fiction available to artists and embraced by the public.

Representative texts include:
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, part 1
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko
Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, selected Spectators (“The Club”)
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the LocK
Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders
Graphic art by William Hogarth, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson
Henry Fielding, Jonathan Wild
Samuel Richardson, Pamela
Samuel Johnson, Rasselas
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (at least four books)
James Boswell, London Journal (Boswell’s affair with ‘Louisa’)
Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto
Frances Burney, Evelina

Formal requirements:
Regular class participation, brief oral reports; two 7-8 pp. papers and a longer 10-12 pp. “project” paper. No final exam.

B 333 New Lesbian Immortal   K. Thomas
  This class springs from a fissure in queer studies: much scholarship focuses on queer subjectivity’s turn backwards to history to find its footing in the present, and queer theory has denounced futurity as belonging to “hetero-time.”  Lesbian Immortal proposes that in between these concerns, lesbian literature has repeatedly figured itself in alliance with tropes of immortality and eternity.  Using primary texts from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we will explore topics such as: fame and notoriety, time warps and mythology; epistemic erotics; sexual seasonality; the death drive and the uncanny; feminist temporality; fin de siècle manias for mummies and séances.    
B 336 New Topics in Film Form: Found Footage Film H. Nguyen
  The course examines experimental film and video from the 1930s to the present. It will concentrate on the use of found footage: the reworking of existing imagery in order to generate new aesthetic frameworks and cultural meanings. Key issues to be explored include copyright, piracy, archive, activism, affect, aesthetics, interactivity, and fandom.
B 359 Dead Presidents   B. Schneider
  .Between 1799, when cities up and down the United States staged funerals for President Washington, and 1865, when Lincoln's funeral train crawled through town after town on its way to Illinois, the United States grew exponentially in acreage and population, and grew toward and through a Civil War that remains the per-capita bloodiest war in American history.   This course explores the cultural importance of the figure of the President and the Presidential body, both alive and dead, in the changing and fractured conception of the nation, and examines the ways in which 19th century preoccupations with and performances around death and grief, established a strangely cohesive national culture of mourning and monumentality.   The course will also engage material culture; we will explore funerary fashions, the rural cemetery movement, and architectures of memorialization.  Students will be responsible for in-class presentations, archival research, and two essays.  Texts will include works by Thomas Jefferson, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, William Appess, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass, among others.
B 372 New American Women's Life Writing   A. Bruder

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.

B 399 Senior Seminar   Hemmeter, Schneider

During the second semester of the senior year, every senior English major enrolls for 399 in order to write a 35-page thesis.  Thesis proposals are approved and advisers assigned in November (see course description for English 398); an initial ten pages of writing comes in at the end of the first semester.  In the second semester, each student sets up a schedule of meetings with her adviser to discuss her work in progress; a series of interim deadlines is posted on the department website to give individual students and their advisors a template for pacing the drafting and re-drafting process. 

The thesis is due on Monday of the last week of classes.  Each thesis has two readers: the adviser, and a second reader for the finished essay. 



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