English Course Descriptions: Summer 2009

Session I (May 18 – June 12)

English 202—Medieval Lit and Culture, C. Wright. MTuWTh 9-11:50 Group I

same as CWL 253, MDVL 201

In this course we will read a selection of medieval European literature in modern English translation, focusing on the Romance genre from the era of “courtly love”: the Lais of Marie de France (the medieval answer to “Desperate Housewives”); Chrétien de Troyes’ narratives of the chivalric and erotic (mis)adventures of King Arthur’s knights; Gottfried von Strassburg’s account of the fatal attraction of Tristan and Isolde; and Chaucer’s tragic love story set in the Trojan War, Troilus and Cressida, together with Robert Henryson’s notorious sequel, The Testament of Cresseid. We’ll also learn about the rich diversity of cultures in the Middle Ages through excursions into the history, art, and cultures of the times and places in which these works were produced.

English 245—The Short Story, Valente. MTuWTh 12-2:50

same as CWL 267

Historical and critical study of the short story (American and European) from the early nineteenth century to the present.

English 301—Critical Approaches to Lit, Hart. MTuWTh 9-11:50

English 301: Critical Approaches to Literature introduces you to theoretical concepts and interpretive methods that you will encounter in your study of literature. A required class for English majors, English 301 is designed to help you to use and recognize critical and theoretical terms and discourse. In addition to essays in the disciplines of critical theory and literary criticism, we will read The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon and several poems by modern and contemporary writers. In reading literary texts we will have two goals in mind: helping you to develop your own approach to critical interpretation, and allowing you to participate in discussions about the different ways that people find meaning in literature. We therefore focus on three major themes in the history of literary studies: (1) literariness as a philosophical and disciplinary idea; (2) historical and social criticism, as exemplified by Marxism and postcolonial studies; and (3) the performance and representation of gender and sexuality. We therefore take an eccentric route from ancient Greece to the contemporary academy, helping you to identify topics and ideas that will invigorate and lend rigor to your study of literature and its meanings. Assignments include a paper, a take-home midterm, a final exam, and daily readings. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.

English 401—Intro to Study of Engl Lang, D. Baron. MTuWTh 9-11:50

Everything you always wanted to know about the English language but were afraid to ask, this course is an introduction to English linguistics. Topics include the nature of language; how we acquire our first language; the sounds, structures, and meanings of English; the nature of conversation and other forms of scripted and unscripted speech; the relationship of speech to writing; language change; linguistic variety and the development of language standards; the language scene in the US today; English and Englishes around the globe; the nature of literary language; and linguistic stylistics. Note: no previous study of grammar or linguistics is required for this course (but students with such experience are welcome!)

English 455—Major Authors, Murison. MTuWTh 12-2:50 Group IV

TOPIC: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe has been a suspect American author ever since his early death in 1849. Celebrated by the French, often excluded from the American canon, and called the most important author “to the conception of American Africanism” by Toni Morrison, Poe’s career eludes easy classification. Both marginal and central, Poe exemplifies the aesthetic and political debates of antebellum America but resists and, at times, perverts the conventions of the period as well. In this course, we will examine how Poe’s poetry, prose, and critical reviews not only reflect important cultural and political aspects of antebellum America – including slavery, imperialism, science, and reform – but how they also helped shape our understanding of poetics, genre, and, indeed, what constitutes the category of “American literature” itself. We will read Poe’s short fiction, poetry, critical essays, and literary reviews along with his hoaxes on the antebellum reading public and two of his longer pieces, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and Eureka. We will supplement these readings with critical and biographical pieces. Course requirements may include two essays, a final, and active class participation.

English 461—Topics in Literature, Garrett. MTuWTh 9-11:50 Group II or V

TOPIC: 19th Century Gothic Fiction

This course will sample the development of Gothic fiction in the nineteenth century, when several of the most memorable examples were produced. It begins with Jane Austen, whose Northanger Abbey parodies the popular eighteenth-century variety of Gothic, then explores the ways Romantic versions by Shelley, Hogg, and Poe focus on isolated, aberrant figures in which features of the artist, the madman, and the criminal are closely connected. The second half of the course shifts to the later Victorian period and its fascination with forms of decadence and alien menace in Stevenson, Stoker, Wilde, and James. Throughout, we will be concerned with the cultural role of Gothic as a counter-narrative to more optimistic stories of civilized progress, idealized spirituality, and domestic moderation. With its evocations of a dark past and fearful superstitions, its tales of violent passions, monstrosity, and death, Gothic continually produces disturbing effects of excess and transgression. It also continues to give pleasure, and we will need to ask why. Does the thrill of Gothic terror come from subverting the authority of reason and social norms, expressing our unacknowledged desires, or do we enjoy it only because we know that in the end those norms will prevail and the disturbance be safely brought under control? Our readings will enable us to pursue these mysteries, and more. REQUIREMENTS: two papers (20 pages total) and a final exam

TEXTS: Austen, Northanger Abbey; Shelley, Frankenstein; Hogg, Confessions of a Justified Sinner; Poe, Selected Writings; Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Stoker, Dracula; Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey; James, The Turn of the Screw.

English 500—Intro to Criticism and Research, Markley and Hutner. MTuWTh 9-11:50

This workshop will offer Ph.D. students the opportunity to revise extensively an existing seminar paper or dissertation chapter for submission to a scholarly journal. Students will be responsible for detailed, thoughtful criticism of others' work and for substantively revising their own work during the course of the summer session. At the end of the session each student will provide a completed essay to submit to a suitable journal.

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