Department of English

Undergraduate Course Descriptions
FALL 2020

ENG 190-001: Adventures in Literature: The Hunger Games Trilogy and Modern Life
Jennifer Lozano
Power, deceit, corruption and the individual and collective responses that might undermine them. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy tackles just these ideas and has spent more than 260 weeks on the Times best-seller list. The series has more than 100 million printed copies in circulation worldwide. This class will explore the first two books in Collins’ series--The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009), as well as the film adaptation of the first book in the series. In addition we will study how Collins’ series is informed by Greek mythology, its copious allusions to US political history, and how it explores pressing concerns of modern existence through her exploration of the “just-war theory” (is there ever a moral right to wage war?). Assignments will include close reading responses to the text(s), a “fiction-to-film” analysis, group presentations, and a creative response (e.g., creating a game for The Hunger Games series or other cross genre creations). Come join us and may the odds be ever in your favor.

ENG 190-002: Adventures in Literature: “After Ever After: Fairy Tales in Popular Culture”
Meghan Sweeney
Mermaids who walk, ogres who devour small children, and miniature men who are baked into puddings…The focus of our course will be on "the great fairy tale tradition" and, in particular, the stories, films, comics, and advertisements they have inspired. We’ll explore the staying power of these tales and think about why there are so many (so many!) adaptations at this particular moment.

ENG 190-003: Adventures in Literature: Music and Literature
Nicholas Laudadio
In this course, we will be exploring popular representations of radical evil personified, from ancient texts to contemporary popular media and with a particular (though not exclusive) focus on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Beginning with an historical overview of the devil as an individual, the class will then trace the evolution of that ancient idea along various lines into contemporary versions of the  Satan that we encounter in fiction, music, film, television, and media. Obviously, given the subject matter, many of the texts we will encounter along the way might be graphic and/or disturbing in presentation and content. Please be forewarned.  Also, it is important to note that this is a class rooted in cultural and literary studies—that is, the focused, methodical, and critical analysis of the “stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.” This is not a theology course and we most certainly will not be dealing with issues of faith and belief except as they function as motivating forces in the texts we encounter. 

ENG 202-001: Introduction to Journalism
Shirley Mathews
Go beyond the mundane "who, what, where, when and why" of journalism and, over the semester, discover the fact that remains as true today as when the Founding Fathers raised Freedom of Speech as a fundamental right: One person telling the truth can indeed change the world. Extensive practice in the basics of writing news stories, instruction in how a newsroom works, training in how to look for stories and the importance of accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Roll up your sleeves, put on your good shoes and prepare to walk in the footsteps of giants. Texts include Melvin Mencher’s News Reporting and Writing and The Associated Press Stylebook 2016 or newer.

ENG 204: Introduction to Professional Writing (hybrid)
Anirban Ray       
This course prepares you to face workplace challenges that require professional communication skills in terms of writing and presentation. It will enable you to develop critical appreciation for core technical concepts including audience, context, persuasion, and purpose in writing situations with an emphasis on ethics in communication. You will be exposed to writing a variety of business collaterals, such as resumes, memos, proposals and reports in different contexts and for different purposes. Additionally, this course puts a huge emphasis on information design from a visual communication framework and challenges students to create technical documents from a defined visual perspective. Most importantly, you will find opportunities to collaborate with peers to share expertise, knowledge, and experience in a service-learning framework. By the end of this course, you will learn to design effective technical documents to solve problems with attention to text, visuals, format, usability, and citation. Since this class is a hybrid, we will meet face-to-face twice a week and online (asynchronous) once a week.

ENG 204: Introduction to Professional Writing (Online/Canvas)
Anthony Atkins
An introductory survey of concepts in professional writing, including audience analysis, research methods, visual thinking, and composing processes. Includes a service-learning component. Partially satisfies University Studies IV: Building Competencies/Writing Intensive. Partially satisfies University Studies IV: Building Competencies/Information Literacy. Satisfies University Studies V: Explorations Beyond the Classroom.

ENG 205: Introduction to Literary Studies
Mark Boren
In this course we’ll refine our critical reading skills, sharpen our research, writing, and speaking skills, and  be introduced to a range of  theoretical approaches to written texts, such as psychoanalysis, feminism, and deconstruction. We will look deeply at specific texts and approach them from different angles. Significant energy also will be devoted to learning how to conduct research, come up with original ideas, and write essays of literary criticism. Through the analysis of poetry, of fiction, and of non-fiction, and through the methodical study of critical essays on primary texts, we’ll learn the intricacies involved in negotiating the world through language. Students will produce a variety of essays.

ENG 224-001: American Literature Since 1870
Keith Newlin
In this course, we will read representative fiction, plays, and poems in American literature from the late 1900s to the present. We will discover how and why each story “works”—how it captures the reader’s interest, the aesthetic methods the authors use to tell their story. We will also look at the political, social, and cultural context; and we will discuss such issues as emerging feminism, critical responses to racism, the literature of propaganda, alienation and literary experiment, and why some writers get represented in anthologies and others do not. This section will also emphasize critical discussion and writing. Text: Cain, American Literature, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. (Penguin Academics).

ENG 230-001: Women in Literature: Coming of Age at a Time of Trauma
Katherine Montwieler
For centuries, women writers have confronted trauma, injustice, abuse, and the daily struggle of living in fiction.  Our current moment is no different.  In this class in contemporary women’s fiction, we’ll explore novels that address growing up at a moment of chaos.  Against the backdrop of the sexual revolution, September 11, and Hurricane Katrina, Elizabeth Strout, Patricia Park, and Jesmyn Ward explore the pains and wonders of growing up female at a time of crisis.  How, we’ll ask, does U.S. feminine adolescence relate to trauma? Why do novelists turn to teenagers for inspiration?   Do novels offer a balm for our time?  An apolitical escape?  Or creative solutions for working through instability and moving forward?  Books we’ll read may include Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.

ENG 286-001: Critical Theory and Practice
Nicholas Laudadio
In this class, we will be exploring the influence that critical and cultural theory has had on the ways we understand literature and culture in the 21st century. Beginning in the late 19th and moving through to the present, we will read a broad array of challenging texts that will help us better understand most of the “-isms” we hear so much about—Marxism, structuralism, feminism—as well as many other theoretical approaches to understanding how we humans make things mean things. This is a difficult class, though if you keep up with the reading, note taking, and class discussion, I think you might find it to be a rewarding one. There will be regular reading notes, a midterm, a bibliography, and a final essay.

English 290: Themes In Literature: Evolution of the Vampire (Honors)
Ashley Sumerel
Vampires. From the ghastly, ruthless monster to the sympathetic version with a conscience, these mythological creatures have fascinated readers for centuries. In this course, students will explore the ways in which the vampire myth has evolved, as well as the common themes that occur throughout every vampire story. Students will study vampires in literature, film, and mythology. They will draw connections between these texts, analyzing the implications of vampires across time periods and cultures and discussing the fascination with these timeless monsters. Readings will include short stories and novels from the 1800’s to present time, as well as select critical articles.

ENG 303-001 & 002: Reading and Writing Arguments
Jeremy Tirrell
This course asks students to analyze the rhetorical strategies of effective written arguments that address contemporary social and cultural issues. Students then will compose their own arguments using insights gained from engaging these materials. An argument's effectiveness derives from internal features including its structure, diction, and evidence as well as external aspects such as its audience and context. In this course, students will examine these elements and put them into practice by producing analyses and essays refined through drafting, providing and receiving feedback, and revising.

ENG 305-001: Professional Review Writing: Everybody’s a Critic! (hybrid) 
Shirley Mathews
And in this course, everyone is a critic. Students will have an intensive hands-on experience in the fundamentals of how to think and write critically – and fairly – about plays, restaurants, concerts, music, photography, movies and other creative endeavors, all with an eye to producing professional-quality – and publishable – work. Emphasis is on background research that will strengthen the perspective and credibility of the student’s finished review.  Students do not need experience in any of the areas they will review, but all students will need a willingness to learn about unfamiliar topics and to think about them analytically. The only formal text required is the Associated Press Stylebook, 2016 edition or newer. Students will need to budget about $60 (or more) for expenses involved in reviewing assignments.

ENG 308-001: Grant and Proposal Writing
Colleen Reilly
Students in this course learn how to successfully navigate the research and writing processes essential to locating and securing grant funding to support organizational projects. Students gain experience in comparing sources of funding and selecting the most appropriate sponsors for the community-based clients that we will partner with during the semester. Grant writing also provides students with advanced skills in audience analysis, web-based research, interviewing, proposal writing and design, and delivering presentations.

ENG 309-001: Technical Editing
Colleen Reilly
Students in this course develop strategies to improve documents and to explain their plans for revisions orally and in writing. In the process, students acquire proficiencies in the conventions of English grammar, punctuation, and usage. Students work on the fundamentals of effective writing, organization, and design to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to edit technical documents, which include forms, manuals, policy handbooks, and websites, and to argue successfully for the changes they make or recommend. Projects prompt students to edit documents comprehensively, addressing the clarity of sentences, overall structure and organization, and visual design.

ENG 312: Writing for Business (hybrid)           
Anirban Ray
Why enroll in Writing for Business? What do you want, my sixty second or six-volume answer? You’re right—it depends on how much and what you want to know. Writing for Business is precisely about finding how much your audience in workplace wants and how they want it. It is less about what you know and want to tell and more about what someone else wants to hear. In this sense, the course marks a transition from academic to professional/workplace writing in four major ways:

  • Action-oriented: writing that influences actions in your audience
  • Collaborative: writing situations will invite you to work in groups to meet real-life workplace challenges
  • Genre-orientated: writing that spans across communication channels— memos, resumes, reports, and proposals (traditional); Twitter, podcasts, Wikis, and blogs for business
  • Strategic: writing that utilizes various organizational techniques in the writing process

These three features will help you to realize and identify the basic goals and objectives of ‘another’ kind of writing that exists when you’re ready to explore the professional space. You will learn to separate between two very important skills in writing: creative and critical skills. According to Peter Elbow, an eminent theorist, we need creative skills to generate ideas, topics, sentences, and words while require critical skills to decide which ones to use. Most often writers are unable to separate the two skills and create miscommunications in reports, proposals, and even in regular emails. Some of the areas we will cover include creating social media resume, writing persuasive messages, and developing social media marketing skills.

ENG 316-001: Style Analysis
Don Bushman
An analytical writing course in which we will study the prose style of  other writers in order (1) to be able to speak with specificity about what makes an effective prose style within a given rhetorical context and (2) to be able to adopt an effective prose style within whatever rhetorical contexts one finds oneself. We will look in detail at the prose style of various authors, both contemporary and historical, both literary and non-literary. Required will be several written analyses and a final project. Texts include: Corbett and Connors, Style and Statement; Hale, Sin and Syntax.

ENG 320-001: Introduction to Linguistics
Addie Sayers China
This course will introduce students to the basics of linguistics, the study of human language, with an emphasis on applying linguistics in the everyday world. We will explore such topics as language structure, language variation, language and society, and language change, with an emphasis on practical application of language study. Students will interact with several types of language data and will have the opportunity to connect linguistics to their own personal interests and areas of study.

ENG 324-001:Topics in Sociolinguistics: Language, Gender, & Sexuality
Addie Sayers China
In this class we will examine the connections between language, gender, and sexuality, and how language constructs sexual differences and power relationships across various groups. We will explore social constructions of gender through language, and gender and sexuality as sociolinguistic variables, with an emphasis on linguistic approaches to feminist theory, hegemony, performativity, identity, and intersectionality. Coursework will be inclusive of trans folk and nonbinary gender identities.

ENG 333-001: Shakespeare's Later Plays
Lee Schweninger
“All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.” (As You Like It). This course will offer you an in depth look at several of Shakespeare’s individual plays. We will read each play in its literary, historical, political, social and even philosophical contexts. And we will also look at how this early modern drama still speaks to us today. We will read from the Bard’s comedies, tragedies, and historys (and maybe throw in a romance) in order that you come away from the course with a well-rounded and good familiarity with Shakespeare’s body of works.

You will be asked to keep an informal reading response journal, to write formal and informal short response essays, to be responsible for the readings and class discussions, to take occasional reading quizzes and mid-semester and final essay exams.  As this will be a discussion-based class, attendance and attention to the readings will of course be required.

ENG 336: British Romanticism
Mark Boren
Traditionally, Romantic subjectivity privileges the individual walking alone in Nature considering a transcendent or sublime experience.  This cultivation of a solitary, particularly masculine Romantic ego dominates the genre, and we’ll explore that, but we’ll also see how women, slaves, and soldiers exist in the English landscape and the imagination of its inhabitants as well.  In this course, we’ll look at how Romantic writers living in England between 1780-1830 conceptualize what it means to be human in a beautiful but terrifying world. We’ll read a number of canonical and non-canonical texts, including work by Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Byron, the Shelleys, Hemans, and Landon, and we’ll see how the dark Romantics elevate the Gothic genre.

ENG 362-001: Studies in the Novel Crises and Calm: The Work of Elizabeth Strout
Katherine Montwieler
Young girls.  Predatory teachers.  Immigration.  Nativism.  Abuse.  Sensuality.  Solace.  Crises of faith.  Hope and resilience.  In this class, we’ll dive deep into the work of award-winning contemporary novelist Elizabeth Strout.  From the late sixties space race to last week’s hate crimes, from domestic assault to terrorist attacks, Strout’s fiction spans intimate exchanges and international tragedies, recent history and the global landscape to address femininity, U.S. identities, and human loss and connection.  Awarded the Pulitzer Prize, chosen for Oprah’s Book Club, adapted for HBO and Broadway, Strout’s work has been described as “wonderful,” “exquisite,” “astonishing,” and “magnificent.”  We’ll begin with the 1998 Amy and Isabelle and conclude with 2019’s Olive, Again, exploring why now is the ideal time to read Strout’s novels discussing her voice, visions, and themes in the current #MeToo, virulent, crisis-filled moment.

English 376-001: Environmental Literature
Melissa Sexton
This course will explore how the stories we tell about the natural world affect our treatment of the environment. We will look at a mixture of older texts that were influential to the environmental movement and contemporary texts that reimagine our world.
Some of our discussion will be historical: how did literature play a key role in big environmental changes, like wilderness preservation and campaigns against toxins? Moving into the present, we will examine how fiction, nonfiction, poetry, music, and film continue to shape our cultural attitudes about key issues like climate change and environmental justice. 

ENG 377: Queer Literature
Katie Peel
As Kath Weston notes in her article “Get Thee to a City,” an element often cited in coming-out narratives is the discovery and understanding of queer identity via reading. We see this in the literature itself, from Stephen Gordon in Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness to Alison in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. We will spend the semester reading both historical and contemporary queer literature and discussing the relationships between narrative and identity. Our focus will be on the narrative production of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities and communities, and the production of queer narrative. If “queer” can mean that which challenges the normative, then what does this mean for narrative?

ENG 381: Young Adult Literature
Katie Peel
Dismissed as “chick lit” or a guilty pleasure for adult readers, young adult literature actually has a history of grappling with serious, contemporary issues. This semester we will explore constructions of both young adult literature and the young adult, with a particular eye towards issues of agency and social justice. We will consider issues of genre (including both fiction and non-fiction), marketing, and, of course, censorship. We will discuss the goals and agendas of young adult literature, especially when it comes to identity formation, and will pay special attention to how young adult literature handles issues of “otherness,” particularly in depictions of gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability, and age.

ENG 382: Ways of Teaching Literature
Michelle Manning
Although part of the teacher education requirements, this course is open to all majors and to anyone who plans to teach in public school (regardless of grade level), who plans to become a TA in graduate school, or who would like to explore the field of teaching. You have acquired all this expertise in literature or other majors, but how do you take that knowledge and create engaging, appropriate and meaningful lessons?  In a hands-on, student-centered environment, you will learn how to strike a balance between pedagogy and the practical concerns of teaching as you enter the classroom as a new teacher.

ENG 393-002: Writing in Scientific Disciplines
Jeremy Tirrell
This course prepares students to compose and present contemporary science writing in professional and academic contexts. Students will engage writing rhetorically as part of a collaborative knowledge-making process that is situated within scholarly and public conventions and discourses. Students will exit the course with honed abilities to create research and make it accessible.

ENG 495-001: Senior Seminar in Literature: Hemingway, the Writer and the Myth
Keith Newlin
This seminar, intended as the capstone experience for English majors with the literary studies option, will examine the major works of Ernest Hemingway, his aesthetic, his milieu, and the myths that have arisen concerning him. In addition to a generous sampling of his short fiction and major novels, we will read a biography and articles about his works and times. Texts include Complete Short Stories, The Sun Also Rises, A Moveable Feast, A Farewell to Arms, To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea.

ENG 496-001: Senior Seminar in Writing: Advanced Topics in Argumentation
Don Bushman
A writing course investigating the concept of argumentation through a variety of lenses, both practical and theoretical.  The theoretical side will explore ways rhetoricians (from Classical times to the present) have described what counts as acceptable and unacceptable argumentation, as well as how changing media and technology have influenced our understandings of argumentation. And because the argument is a pervasive discursive form in schools, jobs, and the civic realm, we will explore the differing emphases placed upon argument in these sorts of cultural contexts.  Required will be two lengthy, researched essays, several short, informal papers, and an oral presentation. 

ENG 501: Introduction to Research Methods in English
Meghan Sweeney
This course is an introduction to English studies, with a focus on the methods of research necessary for graduate students. We will read a variety of essays that introduce us to various subfields of English studies and engage with members of the department who work in those areas. Assignments will include a literature review, a conference presentation, and a research paper as well as reading and research assignments that will ask students to become more aware of—and be able to articulate—what they do as practicing critics.

ENG 502-001: Introduction to Literary Theory
Nicholas Laudadio
In this class, we will be exploring the influence that critical and cultural theory has had on the ways we understand literature and culture in the 21st century. Beginning in the late 19th and moving through to the present, we will read a broad array of challenging texts that will help us better understand most of the “-isms” we hear so much about—Marxism, structuralism, feminism—as well as many other theoretical approaches (queer theory, disability studies, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, etc.) that help us understand how we humans make things mean things.

ENG 509: Topics in Literature: Contemporary Narratives of Migration and Diaspora
Jennifer Lozano
In this class, we will look at theories surrounding nation, citizenship, and belonging in the US and how terms such as (im)migrant, refugee, exile, diaspora, and traveler have been used over time and in different ways including the most recent shifts due to globalization. This will foreground our consideration of how these ideas are represented by contemporary writers and received by critical and popular audiences, as well as the way the study and aesthetic representation of migration has often privileged male-identified experiences. Finally, we will consider the ethics and politics of who can write narratives of migration and diaspora. What role do these fiction and non-fiction texts play in the ongoing debates about what it means to belong in America in the 21st century? Possible texts include Valeria Luiselli's Tell me How it Ends, Viet Nguyen's The Sympathizer, Hamid Mohsin's Exit West, and Reyna Grande's The Distance Between Us among others.

ENG 580: Rise of the Gothics
Mark Boren
This seminar will follow the development of the Gothic in literature from its inception to the present, with a focus on developments due to the transatlantic shift in the genre.  The Gothic characteristically deals with such things as the supernatural, sexual ambiguity, violence, perversions, and myriad marginalized social human practices and beliefs, and the works belonging to this genre follow well-developed and highly complex structures.  Using psychoanalytic and genre theory, we’ll analyze the Gothic as both literary and social phenomenon in order to reveal, among other things, how this genre of deviance, which is more pervasive  today than ever, functions to define less “deviant” genres, from children’s tales to romance novels and  historical fiction. Of particular note is how the selections we’ll read describe a trajectory of cultural fascination with mental and behavioral aberration, documenting the “dark side” of the evolution of the Romantic “ego” and the maturation and commercialization of the Gothic in myriad “disturbed” characters, written by authors often popularly believed to be at least momentarily “insane,” if not pathologically perverse. In addition to discovering the nature of the “madness” at work in each of these texts, we’ll seek insight into the secrets of how these works define “normalcy.” More dangerously intriguing will be those aspects of our investigation that venture into those realms in which narrative insanity seduces the reader into abnormal ways of thinking. Note: this class will be run as a formal research seminar, and thus will be intellectually demanding, provocative, and to some degree experimental.