English Course Descriptions: Summer 2008

Session II (June 9 – July 31)


12:30-1:45 MTuWTh

English 101 provides students with a foundation in the methods of detailed reading and analysis essential to an understanding of poetry and, more broadly, to the study of literature. It provides students with an understanding of and experience in the ways we write about poetry. The course also addresses the basics of prosody, poetic devices (such as diction, metaphor, image, tone), and major verse forms (such as the sonnet, elegy, ode, ballad, dramatic monologue, free verse). The selection of poems from a range of literary periods and movements reflects both the continuity and variation in the history of British and American poetry and provides a sampling of works from the sixteenth to the later twentieth centuries.


B: MTuWTh 9:30-10:45; D: MTuWTh 11-12:15

English 109 is designed to introduce students to the critical analysis of prose fiction. By reading a wide range of short and long fiction across several historical periods, we will examine how such narrative strategies as plot, character, point of view and language construct meaning. Individual instructors will bring a variety of texts and interpretive methods to their courses, but special emphasis will be placed on concepts and skills central to good literary critical writing.


MTuWTh 2-3:15

This course might be called “How to Be an English Major.” It offers tips on how to make the transition from the high-school study of literature to college-level study. The class will read a relatively small number of poems, short stories, and plays, exploring a number of critical approaches to each. Emphasis will be placed on close reading of short passages, the historical contexts of literature, the way genre affects our reading practices, and the criteria for persuasive interpretations. Students will practice their critical skills in a number of short papers.

English 251 D—THE AMER NOVEL SINCE 1914

MTuWTh 11-12:15

Group III or V

This course explores the growth and internationalization of the American novel in the 20th century, an “Age of Cataclysm” during which the United States became an unignorable actor on the world stage. We will examine how “Great American Novels” by such modernists as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Nella Larsen drew on experiences of foreign migration and self-imposed exile. We will also look at midcentury works which critically reflect upon the nation's growing sense of itself as a pluralistic society and new world power. Finally, we will explore contemporary novels which give expression to the hidden histories that have returned to redefine the America of our own moment.


Hart. MTuWTh 11-12:15

This course will introduce you to several crucial theoretical concepts and interpretive methods in the critical study of literature. It won’t make you an expert in literary theory, but it will teach you about how writers from the classical period to the present have approached such seminal questions as: What is literature? What is an author? What is a “close reading”? Should writers and critics be guided by moral or political duties? Is literary creation a conscious or unconscious activity? And do certain people—that is, people like us, with our various races, nationalities, genders, and sexual identities—produce certain kinds of writing?

In addition to our readings in critical theory, we will also read selected poems by modernist writers and Thomas Pynchon’s novel, The Crying of Lot 49. We will read these creative works so as to help you develop your own ideas about the best method of literary-critical interpretation and allow you discuss the different ways that people find meaning in literary texts. Requirements involve weekly quizzes, an online reading journal, a formal paper, and a final exam. You should also be willing to work through difficult philosophical writing. Most English majors should take English 301 in sophomore or junior year, but only if they have already taken several literature courses. The most common complaint about this class comes from seniors who regret not taking it sooner.


D. Baron. MTuWTh 9:30-10:45 Group V

An examination of the history of the English language from its beginnings to the present, this course will treat in detail, and with equal emphasis, the English of the middle ages, the Renaissance, and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the English used in the Americas and elsewhere in the world today. Our focus will be on language in its social context, and so we will develop a picture of English as it functions in the real world of people communicating: speaking, writing, reading, and using language as a social, political, literary and economic instrument.

We will consider as well what happens when languages come into contact, both more violently, in terms of wars and colonial conquests, and more peacefully, in terms of trade, globalization, cultural exchange, tourism, and the Internet. We will concentrate on relationships between language and literature; dialect and the process of language standardization; the social implications of linguistic variety; and the nature of World Englishes. We will also study new word formation, the impact of technology on language, and the attempts, over the past four centuries, to reform English spelling, grammar, and usage.

This course should be of particular value to students of language and literature who seek a greater understanding of the linguistic forces at play in the texts they study; and to prospective teachers hoping to show their students that language is a living, ever-changing, user-friendly part of their lives. No previous background in language study is necessary, although such experience will not be held against you.

TEXT: David Crystal, The Stories of English (paper ed., New York: Overlook Press).


Deck. MTuWTh 12:30-1:45 Group IV

TOPIC: Toni Morrison and Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison are of major importance to twentieth century African and African American fiction. In this class we will explore their concerns as black writers with a) responding to the representations of Africans and African Americans in white-authored novels, b) retrieving the African and African American versions of history, c) exploring the consequences of western modernization on African and African American cultural identity. We will explore all of this and more in the course of the semester.

Required readings: Achebe, Things Fall Apart, No Longer At East, Hopes and Impediments (essays); Morrison, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (essays).

Required assignments: weekly 1-2 page response papers, one essay (7-10 pages), final exam.


Hawisher, McCarthey, Morley. MTuWThF 9-4 (1st half session (6/9-7/4/08)

TOPIC: National Writing Project

Same as CI 566

As a new National Writing Project site, the University of Illinois Writing Project (UIWP) will hold its first invitational summer institute from 9 June-3 July, 2008 (9:00-4:00 each day). The institute is designed for experienced teachers from all disciplines and at all levels of instruction, kindergarten through university. Participating teachers will have opportunities to demonstrate their own teaching and classroom successes; study writing theory and research; engage in writing; and participate in writing groups. The goal of the first invitational is to provide a technologically-rich environment designed to identify, celebrate, and extend participants’ expertise. Applications may be downloaded at http://www.uiwp.uiuc.edu


MTuWTh 9:30-10:45

CW 104 is the beginning course in the writing of short fiction. There may be some minimal “structuring” and specific assignments, especially in the beginning, to ease the student into the discipline of writing fictional prose. Somewhat less production is expected than in the more advanced courses. Students will be required to submit their own stories for criticism from the class. An anthology of short fiction may be required.


MTuWTh 12:30-1:45

Rhetoric 105 is a basic study of the methods of exposition, particularly of academic argumentative writing based on sources. Emphasis will be on stance, thesis, organization, drafting, revising, and editing. All sections require 30 typed pages of finished writing, usually divided into seven essays and a research paper. There is no final exam. This course fulfills the campus Comp. I requirement.


Multiple sections - see course schedule.

This course teaches students to apply the principles of successful professional communication to business writing tasks. Students will also practice editing and supervising the writing of others. Assignments replicate typical business cases, scenarios, situations and cultures; they also deal with multiple audiences. They range in complexity, length, formatting demands, and the manipulating of genre. This course features an extended section on writing longer reports based on information collected, interpreted and compiled from several sources. This course fulfillsthe campus Advanced Composition requirement.

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