Spring 2017 Course Descriptions

Following are descriptions for courses being offered in the Spring 2017 semester. Please contact the professor with any questions.

English 213: Writing and Research about Literature (formerly ENG 111: Introduction to Literary Studies II 
Dr. Michael Bibby
MW 2:00-3:15

This course is designed to help you expand on the knowledge and skills you gained in Eng. 130 (or ENG 107) by introducing you to critical perspectives and research methodologies essential to literary scholarship in the English major. Students in this course will learn how to write researched analytical papers on representative literary texts in the three classic genres: drama, poetry, and fiction. You will be introduced to standard research practices in the discipline, including how to access and use authoritative critical, cultural, and/or historical sources, how to use specialized research tools, and how to develop an ability to apply diverse critical perspectives. In addition you will be introduced to basic concepts of some of the literary theories current in the field.

Possible Texts

Judith Farr, ed., Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

MLA Handbook, 8th ed.

English 213: Writing and Research about Literature (formerly ENG 111: Introduction to Literary Studies II 
Dr. Erica Galioto / IA Spencer Pechart
TR 12:30-1:45


Desire. Lust. Fantasy.

Sexuality. Power. Boundaries.

Transgression. Censorship. Perversion.


In this section of ENG 213-Writing and Research about Literature, we will be undressing Lolita: the novel, the character, and the pop culture icon. Since Lolita’s publication in 1955, Vladimir Nabokov’s most famous novel persists as an unmatched literary controversy that captivates readers in attraction and repulsion and reverberates into contemporary culture through the many musical, cinematic, and visual reproductions of the sexy schoolgirl image synonymous with her name. This course will expose these various controversies by engaging with critical, cultural, and historical sources and applying diverse critical perspectives to Lolita and its successors. And like Humbert Humbert who describes Lolita through her multiple names, we too will encounter the various phenomena that Lolita signifies depending on our angle of viewing: “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” Who will you see beneath the plaid skirt and kneehigh socks and behind the heart-shaped sunglasses?


English 224: Introduction to Creative Writing
Dr. Kim van Alkemade
MW 6:30 - 7:45

English 229: Advanced Composition
Dr. Carla Kungl
MWF 10:00 - 10:50

There have been countless books written throughout the ages about how to have “good style.” It is hard to write with good style, however. In those countless books, you’ll hear all kinds of advice about how to not be wordy, not to start sentences with expletives like “there is” or “it is.” Furthermore, it has been suggested in these books that passive voice is no good. And that you shouldn’t mix using really kick-a** words with words that denigrate the beauteous nature of the English language. And that you shouldn’t start a sentence with “and.”

Wow—it’s tough to be a writer! (and hopefully you’ve figured out by now that the above paragraph is garbage!) When should we follow those time-honored rules of writing, and when it is effective to break them? Why do some sentences flow and some feel impossible to get through? Why is it always clear to us what we’ve written, but our peer readers say it doesn’t make sense? Why is the semi-colon Dr. Harrow’s favorite punctuation mark? And why do I like the dash better?

Using examples from writers who have vastly different styles, we will work through the niceties of language to take our writing from good to great. We’ll read and write, read and write, and hopefully learn that while style is largely a question of taste, there are some excellent guidelines to follow.

English 233: American Literature I
Dr. Raymond Janifer
TR 12:30-1:45

English 237: British Literature II
Dr.Cathy Dibello
MWF 1:00-1:50

ENG 237, the second of a two-part chronological survey of British literature, features prose, poetry, and drama written by British writers after 1798. Representative writers include Wordsworth, Tennyson, Shaw, and Woolf. To deepen our understanding of the literature, we will also examine cultural and historical background of the period. Expect to write a paper and to take a mid-term and a final exam. This course counts as a survey for both the old and new curricula.

English 238: Technical/Professional Writing I
Dr. Carla Kungl
TR 9:30 - 10:45

You know what? Descriptions of technical writing classes can be sound really boring: you'll write memos, business letters, a status report, and a resume; you learn how to write formal, research-based documents; how to work collaboratively to finish a project; how to design documents using technical writing conventions. Nothing too exciting, right?

But the truth is, you'll learn more about the intricacies of being a good writer than you could have imagined. Technical writing is all about conciseness, precision, clarity, and meeting the needs of an audience. Thus, regardless of your major, if you want practice in these skills, this is the writing class for you. My overall goal is to help you become a more capable and more confident reader and writer as you learn to create documents that are appropriate for a specific audience and purpose. On the way, you will learn how how to conduct primary and secondary research, how to use advanced features of Microsoft Office, and how to work collaboratively to meet a project goal. Your major project for the course brings together all aspects of a long technical document, including appropriate graphics, front and back matter, effective document design, and, since you will deliver your findings orally in front of your colleagues, professional presentation skills.

Another plus: because this course is required for the Technical/Professional Communications Minor, it fills up fast with students from many different majors. You'll learn a lot from interacting with other students who have such a variety of interests, career goals, and writing backgrounds.

English 239: Postcolonial Literature

Dr.Cathy Dibello
TR 11:00-12:15
Expand your reading horizons beyond the familiar Anglo-American texts with this new survey course. Designed to introduce you to a wide range of postcolonial literature, ENG 239 features a rich selection of novels, short stories, autobiography, and poetry by representative authors from former British territories in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Authors may include Jamaica Kincaid, Derek Walcott, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Salmon Rushdie. This student-centered course emphasizes discussion; written assignments include a paper and exams. This course counts as a required survey for the new curriculum and for the Multicultural Perspectives category for the old curriculum. It also fulfills the world literature requirement for Secondary Certification students.

English 307: Poetry Writing

Dr. Nicole Santalucia
TR 9:30-10:45

English 308: Fiction Writing
Prof. Neil Connelly

MWF 12:00-12:50

English 330: Shakespeare
Dr. Jordan Windholz
TR 9:30-10:45

In this course, we are going to read some of Shakespeare’s plays, along with a few of his poems, to think about what makes his work good and bad, as well as where, how, and why uglier elements of early modern English culture animate the plots, motivate the characters, and contribute to the meanings of his works. We will be looking at representative—and not so representative—plays in the following genres: comedy, tragedy, romance, and history. While I have organized this class around good plays, bad plays, and ugly plays, these categories—and the premises that underwrite them—will remain open for debate. As we come to define our terms and encounter Shakespeare’s wide-ranging works, we will ask how they anticipate or defy modernity, what they have to teach us about gender, sexual, racial, and economic identities, and if Shakespeare should remain a central author in the Anglophone literary canon.

English 335: Creative Nonfiction Writing
Dr. Kim van Alkemade
MW 5:00 - 6:15

English 336: Theories and Approaches: Language, Learning, and Literacy— Creating, Collaborating, and Performing
Dr. Tom Crochunis
MW 6:30 - 7:45

In this course, we will explore how three powerful ways of engaging in learning can enhance student literacy, language, social, and intellectual development. We will experiment with learning approaches inspired by group collaboration, creativity, and theatrical performance to find out how we might work with adolescents in ways that activate some of their greatest strengths as learners. To understand “performance,” the course will also look at how several plays use performativity to make us aware of ourselves and our society in new ways and how theatrical processes use collaboration while engaging in literate acts.

While especially relevant for secondary English certification students, this course may also interest others interested in teaching or in theatre as a “learning medium.” The course meets the English department’s “genres” category requirement.

Major assignments will include a few short writing assignments and collaborative presentations/performance, ongoing participation in discussion and performance activities, and one final substantial scholarly or creative project.

English 362: Disability in Literature

Dr. Matthew Cella
MWF 9:00-9:50

In this course we will use Disability Studies as a lens to look at how literary texts represent people with disabilities, highlighting a series of tropes that appear with stunning regularity. We will consider portrayals of intellectual, physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities, and will draw on works by both people with and without disabilities. Along these lines, we will begin by examining portraits of disability authored by nondisabled writers, some of which have served to marginalize people with disabilities. We will analyze whether literary productions by the nondisabled empower or undermine the effort to make the world inhabitable for all mind-body types. We will ask what kinds of cultural messages about disability are conveyed by such popular icons as Tiny Tim (from Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”), Forrest Gump (as played by Tom Hanks), Ahab (from Melville’s Moby Dick) or even Disney’s Nemo and Dory (from Finding Nemo).

We will also read memoirs and essays by authors with disabilities. These texts place the perspective of people with disabilities at the center and perform the important work of refashioning the world to accommodate all mind-bodies. Through reading, writing, and discussion, we will ultimately emphasize the power that literature has to shape our ideas about disability and the ways in which this identity intersects with issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality.

Possible readings include the short fiction by Flannery O’Connor; Toni Morrison’s Sula; Billy Bob Thorton’s film Sling Blade; selections from Eli Clare’s Exile & Pride and Nancy Mairs’s Waist-High in the World, among others.

English 370: Queer Studies

Dr. William Harris
MW 5:00-6:15

“Queer” can be a slur, motivated by hatred or ignorance. More recently, though, many gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons have recuperated the term, embracing it as a more inclusive group label than “gay and lesbian”—and even as a sign of an individual's active resistance or critical thinking about prescribed gender and sexual norms. The term “queer,” some activists and scholars have argued, is not necessarily limited to those who identify as GLBT but can be used, positively, to describe anyone who resists or finds himself or herself outside what some institution or group defines as “normal.” In addition to different ways of being “queer” (gay as a sexual and sociopolitical identity), this course will also examine issues of GLBT & queer culture: for instance, are there distinctly queer versus straight forms of cultural practice? Are there gay ways of reading, enjoying, and communicating through cultural artifacts that may be either “taken straight” or “queered”? How have gay, lesbian, & transgender identity & experience been perceived or represented in the past & in our present? And how do these representations problematize our notions about identity, norms, culture, & politics?

ENG 370 is a concentrated study of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender literature in the context of the history of GLBT social and political movements and the branch of cultural theory known as queer theory. Works from a variety of genres by GLBT authors and/or containing queer thematic content will be examined in a non-homophobic environment. Students will examine continuing debates, sparked by the rise of queer theory, about topics such as the constructed or essential nature of sexuality and gender. This course will provide students with a better understanding of the artistic contributions and political struggles of GLBT figures as well as an invigorating analytical tool (queer theory) with interdisciplinary applications. Assignments may include midterm and final exams as well as a research paper. Films screened may include The Boys in the Band, Girls Will Be Girls, Suddenly, Last Summer, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, and episodes of the recent award-winning TV show Transparent. There will be some critical readings in queer history & theory (by David Halperin, Judith Halberstam, & Eve Sedgwick, for example).

Possible Readings We Might Include…

Gore Vial, Myra Breckinridge Mark Merlis, An Arrow’s Flight

Susan Stryker, Transgender History John Cameron Mitchell & Stephen Trask,

Mart Crowley, The Boys in the Band Hedwig & the Angry Inch

Emma Donoghue, Kissing the Witch Sarah Waters, The Night Watch

Andrew Holleran, Dancer from the Dance Tennessee Williams, Suddenly, Last Summer

Vin Packer, Spring Fire David Halperin, How To Be Gay

English 376: Studies in Medieval Literature

Dr. Shari Horner

TR 11:00-12:15

“Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”

Perhaps the most enduring literary legend in Western literature is that of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. The ideals of Camelot fascinated medieval readers and writers from the 12th to 15th centuries, and Arthurian legends have continued to fascinate everyone from Tennyson to Twain to Tolkien to Monty Python. In this course we will read medieval Arthurian literature from England and France. We will look at the history and development of these legends, examining the ways that histories, pseudo-histories, and verse and prose romances constructed Arthurian literature. Arthurian literature is comic and tragic, full of great battles and enduring romance. Arthurian texts work to establish ethnic, national, gender, and class identities across diverse regions and in diverse languages and provide insight not only into medieval desires but also into modern understanding of chivalry and romance. Texts will be read in Modern English translation, and occasionally in normalized Middle English. This course satisfies the English Department's History and Movements requirement.

Readings may include:

  • early Arthurian histories (6th to 12th centuries), including Nennius, Gildas, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Culhwch and Olwen
  • Romances by Chretien de Troyes and Lais by Marie de France
  • Wace and Layamon
  • The Alliterative Morte D’Arthur
  • Holy Grail narratives
  • Beroul, The Romance of Tristan and Isolde
  • Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale
  • The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell and other Gawain romances
  • Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur

English 426: Teaching Adolescent Literature

Dr. Shannon Mortimore-Smith
MW 2:00-3:15

English 427: Advanced Poetry Workshop
Dr. Nicole Santalucia
TR 12:30-1:45

English 440: Selected Topics in Genre: Film Studies
Dr. Michael Pressler
M 10:00 - 11:50; WF 10:00-10:50

The Director's Cinema

While a movie is always a collective effort that depends on the work of many artists and technicians, most people would agree not only that virtually all worthwhile film directors are chiefly responsible for what goes on the screen, but also that the most interesting directors are those whose personality, thematic interests, and artistic style unmistakably shape their work. This course will feature a selection of films by directors whose work has earned them the status of what French film critics call auteurs, creative “authors” of films with a distinctive artistic imprint.

In considering these films, we will not apply a rigidly auteurist perspective, however, by regarding their creators as demigods or puppet-masters in complete control of their material and operating outside the boundaries of their various cultures and ideologies. Instead, we will learn a variety of critical approaches that will together illustrate the advantages of a multiple perspective. Eclecticism will not only be involved in the choice of films for the course, in other words, but in the critical methodologies employed.

Many of the movies that we will view and discuss in the course—such as those by Hitchcock, Fellini, and Kurosawa—have long been regarded as classics of what has been called a “renaissance” in American, European, and Asian filmmaking that stretched roughly from the post-WWII years to the late seventies. But we will also be looking at some earlier films, and at films by currently practicing directors such as Jim Jarmusch, Paolo Sorrentino, and David Lynch. Films to be screened will most likely include:

  • Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
  • Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1974)
  • Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
  • Smiles of a Summer Night (Ingmar Bergman, 1955)
  • Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2002)
  • The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013)
  • Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 1986)
  • Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
  • The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939)
  • On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)

Reading in the course has yet to be determined, but it will include casebooks or anthologies of critical articles on at least two of the films, plus handouts and selected articles on various critical and/or theoretical perspectives, much of them online.

English 460: Senior Seminar
Dr. Michael Bibby

MW 3:30-4:45

Rewriting the Master Narratives: Counter-memory and "Race" in Postmodern American Fiction

Many critics have noted postmodern fiction's interest in the historical novel. Partly in response to the political pressures of the 1960s, many writers saw the historical novel as a means of de-mythologizing history. Some critics, such as Fredric Jameson and Terry Eagleton, view this tendency as symptomatic of the disappearance of history, a means of reproducing historical experience as superficial nostalgia. In constrast, other critics, such as Linda Hutcheon, have argued that postmodernist writers have developed historiographic metafictions as a means of self-consciously interrogating the ideological construction of history. In the US, this postmodern approach to historical fiction has been especially evident in the works of post-1960s writers of color, who seek to subvert, resist, and/or revise the "master" narratives that tend to marginalize and silence their communities. Combining literary realist and postmodernist techniques, these writers recuperate the forgotten memories and histories of America in order to problematize notions of national identity.

In this seminar we will consider postmodern historiographic metafiction by minority writers and how the work of "rememory" (as Toni Morrison calls it) interrogates ideological constructions of "race" and American identity. As we discuss these novels and questions of narrative style, we will also investigate the nature of "race" as it is lived and articulated in post-1945 America. As a senior seminar, this course provides a culminating opportunity for senior English majors and minors to demonstrate the skills of literary interpretation, critical thinking, independent research, and analytical writing that the major provides. Students will produce at least one lengthy analytical essay and deliver a presentation on their work at an academic forum. Pre-requisites: ENG 130 (or ENG !07) and ENG 213 (or ENG 111).

Possible Texts

Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues

Paul Beatty, The Sellout

Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban

James McBride, The Good Lord Bird

Viet Than Nguyen, The Sympathizer

Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

Monique Truong, The Book of Salt