Spring 2021: Majors Course Descriptions

 

English 130: Literary Studies for English Majors and Minors

Dr. M. Cella

This course will introduce you to the various methods for analyzing and interpreting literature in order to improve your proficiency as a literary scholar/English major.  Our readings will cover the three main literary genres (fiction, poetry, and drama) and will be drawn from a wide range of time periods and cultural backgrounds.  Through critical thinking, writing, and active discussion, we will dissect these works of literary art using the tools and approaches most commonly employed within the field of English studies.  We will review the fundamental elements of the three literary genres, reviewing terms and concepts like symbol, theme, meter, diction, stage directions, and so on.  We will also be mindful of the ways in which social and historical contexts influence both the production (writing) and consumption (reading/analyzing) of literary art.  With a broad background in the practices and principles that characterize literary study, students will learn to read literature both more closely and more deeply. Requirements include, but are not limited to, three papers and three unit exams.

NOTE: this course is required.


English 213: Writing and Research About Literature

Dr. Bibby

This course is designed to help you expand on the knowledge and skills you gained in Eng. 130 by introducing you to critical perspectives and research methodologies essential to literary scholarship in the English major. 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 write effective critical analyses of literature. In addition you will be introduced to basic concepts of some of the literary theories current in the field. Course work will include writing short abstracts of secondary sources, an annotated bibliography, a short researched analysis, and a longer research project.

NOTE: this course is required.


English 236: British Literature I

Dr. Windholz

This is a survey course of British literature from around 800 to 1800. Because we’ll be covering such a wide period of time, we’ll necessarily only cover a sampling of the literature produced from the middle ages through the early modern era. Nonetheless, we will attend closely to various literary forms and genres repurposed and advanced by a variety of authors. By the end of this course, you should have a clear understanding of the developments of British literature as well as the social, economic, and cultural contexts of its production. I encourage you to read beyond the assigned reading, dipping into any work that seems interesting from our anthology.

This is course is also designed to develop your skills as an English major. We will practice close literary analysis, archival research, analytical writing, and oral communication. You will be responsible for short response papers to our weekly readings, for leading a discussion session, and for presenting work from an author not included in our schedule of readings. You will also have to write a research-based essay. While I will lecture every now and then, this course is organized around inquiry and discussion. You must come to class prepared to think about and talk about what you have read. I want each and every one of you to succeed. If for any reason you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or visit me during my office hours.

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement in pre-1800 literature survey.


English 239: Postcolonial Literature

"Empire’s Ghosts: Rewriting Heart of Darkness in the Postcolonial Novel"

Dr. Zumkhawala-Cook

Joseph Conrad’s 1899 Heart of Darkness stands out in literature not only as one of the most studied novels of all time, but also one of the first extended narrative representations of Africans for its white western readership. For Europeans and Americans it became a significant and warped lens through which they began to understand themselves in relation to the black and brown peoples of the colonial world. For the many colonial subjects in Africa, South Asia, and the West Indies who read Conrad’s narrative, the novel and its uncritical popularity affirmed the racism and exploitation not only the colonial project, but of the literary tradition itself.  As a result, a number of authors across the globe set out to reclaim themselves and their people by rewriting the Heart of Darkness narrative and all that it represents.

Beginning with a close study of Conrad’s novel in its historical context, this class will examine a number of novels that in one way or another attempt to (or have been said to) reframe and dismantle the legacy of imperialism that Heart of Darkness thematized and reinforced. We will be interested in how the novel form functions to raise the broader concerns of postcolonial literature: the elusive divisions between modernity and tradition, the legacy of economic dependency and marginalization, as well as the dynamics of cultural hybridity and assimilation. While most of the texts we will read focus on the specific contexts of nations outside of Europe and the United States, we will also be attentive to the neo-colonial relationships that continue to shape globalization and diasporic identities. Finally, we will be interested in how these texts shape or perhaps change our vision of the non-western world.

Students in the class should expect to conduct class presentations, write two essays, and complete a final exam.

Possible texts include:

  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  • Ngugi, Wa Thiongo, The River Between
  • Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North
  • Arun Joshi, The Strange Case of Billy Biswas
  • Abdulrazak Gurnah, Paradise
  • V.S. Naipaul, The Bend in the River
  • Ama Ata Aidoo, Our Sister Killjoy
  • John Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
  • Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
  • David Dabydeen, The Intended
  • Zakes Mda, The Heart of Redness

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement in global literature survey.


English 307: Poetry Writing

Dr. Nicole Santalucia

This course will introduce you to a variety of poets and their poetics, help you find your voice and style, and give you the opportunity to be part of the larger creative writing community. The course is designed to help you improve your poetic craft. You will write a variety of poems as responses to prompts and workshop several of them in class. We will have fun exploring poetic techniques and we will work together to take risks in our own writing. As a group of writers, we will work together to build a safe environment for us to take risks. One of the greatest opportunities a poetry workshop offers is community. Our classroom community will engage with the literary/creative community at large.

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement for a course in Advanced Literary Studies - Writing


English 308: Fiction Writing

Dr. Neil Connelly

Uncover the secrets of storytelling.  Work closely with a published author and study the intricacies of character construction and plot development, culminating in the creation of your own unique and original short story.

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement for a course in Advanced Literary Studies - Writing


English 333: Cultural Studies

"We’re Going Camping: Queer Recoding, Feminist Recuperation, and Making Trouble from the Margins in mid-20th-Century American film"

Dr. Harris

Cultural Studies is an approach to studying the conflicts and contingencies of contemporary culture in relation to broader systems of power—for example, class structure, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender. This semester we’ll be focusing, within the broader approach known as cultural studies, on issues of gender, sexuality, and the opportunities for critique and resistance afforded within apparently normative contexts.

In looking at a series of films and texts from 1940 to 1960 (mostly American except for one British excursion), our focus will be on interlocking issues of gender, sexuality, heteronormativity, and the imaginative modeling of the limits as well the possibilities of change and resistance in this social and cultural period. This period in American film proves an especially rich ground for images of so-called normative and non-normative gender and sexual, images that have been read alternately as reactionary, subversive, or as some mixture of the two.

Films will be screened individually by students, via their choice of streaming platform, rental or purchase. Readings will also include film and literary criticism from a range of theoretical schools (feminist studies, queer studies, gender studies, as well as psychoanalytical and postmodern theory). Assigned work will include short, focused response papers, a longer synthetic paper, and regular discussions of the assigned film and literary and critical texts.  Students will meet with instructor at least once a week for discussion.

 

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement for a course in Advanced Literary Studies - Genre.


English 370: Queer Studies

Dr. Rhodes

Queer studies seeks to both the theoretical underpinnings of queerness, as well as the artistic contributions of queer people and texts about queer themes. In this course, we will explore the constellations of queerness, such as the diversity of the queer community, its history and present conditions, and its interactions with race, colonization, ableism, and more. We will think about queerness as both a cultural production and a form. A portion of this course will also be completed in conjunction with the students of Dr. Angel Daniel Matos’s GSWS 2001: Queer Theory at Bowdoin College.

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement for a course in Advanced Literary Studies - Identities


English 427: Advanced Poetry Workshop

Dr. Santalucia

 

This course is designed to help you improve your poetic craft through a process of reading, analyzing, discussing, writing, revising, and interacting with poetry. This writing and reading intensive provides students with an opportunity to produce written work for review by safe and welcoming community of writers.  We will generate many poems in and out of class, and have the opportunity to work closely with each other to polish a portfolio of poems. We will gain deeper insight into the writing process, and define what that means to you. Together, we will consider poetry’s connection to life, culture, and society as we dive deeper into our own craft.

NOTE: this course fulfills a requirement for a course in Advanced Literary Studies - Writing


English 460: Senior Seminar

"The End and After: Apocalypse and Dystopia in the 20th and 21st Century Novel"

Dr. Zumkhawala-Cook

The novel form has long been in the business of speculating about social collapse from a world gone wrong. Narratives of world-changing catastrophes compel us to confront real cultural anxieties about our fragile civilization, the strained promises of modernity, and the assumptions of a shared humanist morality.  Can we survive, recover, and rebuild after severe natural disasters, alien invasions, global plagues, and radical political upheaval? While often bleak, violent, and dystopic, each of these narratives questions the current socio-economic order of things by imagining an alternate world that is hauntingly not so-far from our own.

Paying particular attention to recurring tropes of the genre and how it overlaps with other novel forms, this seminar will examine some of the more well-known historical apocalyptic and dystopian long narratives, such as Camus’s The Plague and Orwell’s 1984, as well as more recent novels like Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, McCarthy’s The Road, Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Whitehead’s, Zone One, and El Akkad, America War, to name a few. We will consider the historical forces and contexts these novels respond to and pursue the questions why and how this genre remains such a thriving form, especially by western writers to western readers. A section of the course will investigate the apparent increasing interest in apocalyptic/dystopian novels, especially in the young adult market (Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner) as well as the genre’s well-established place in middle and high school curricula (The Giver, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies).

Seminar students will complete weekly writing assignments and a 12-15 page final research project. Majors specializing in Second Certification will have the option of constructing a multi-week unit plan for middle or high school learners based on one of the novels in the course.

NOTE: this course is required