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Indiana University Bloomington

Undergraduate Courses


Current Courses (Spring 2016)

100-Level Literature Courses

L111 Discovering Literature
Dana Anderson
TOPIC: "Literature through the Lens of Disney"

GenEd A&H,
12787 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

You would rightly expect that the primary objective of a course titled “Discovering Literature” is, in fact, to learn more about texts that earn that literary label, along with the various activities that surround these texts within culture. You might not expect, however, that a very effective way to accomplish these objectives would be to spend some time viewing, talking, and writing about Disney films. But you would be wrong about that. As wrong as the years of loving sisterhood lost to Elsa’s self-imposed isolation. Yes, that wrong.

Few individuals or organizations have had more influence on how Western culture (and perhaps the world) understands important literary texts than Disney. For nearly a century, the various industries that Walt Disney spearheaded have consistently turned to literary texts as sources and inspirations for creation of new works, ranging from animated and live-action films to physical spaces and experiences. Earning perhaps equal numbers of supporters and critics in the process, Disney has vivified stories and characters from literary history that will forever bear the company’s stamp. The power behind this result, coupled with the company’s incredibly wide range of interest in literature, gives us a unique vantage point from which to consider the key questions of our course:

  • What is “literature”? What distinguishes it as one type or kind of text or communication in the world?
  • How is literature part of culture more generally? How does it enter culture (indeed, how does it become literature), and then what kinds of experiences does it make possible within culture once it gets there?
  • What tools, ideas, and concepts help us to better understand what literature is, including its values and functions as part of culture?
  • Finally, how does the filmic adaptation of literary texts grant us insight into the above questions?

To engage these questions, we will read several works of literature in their original forms (in some cases, the English translations of their original forms). We will then view and analyze the various animated, live action, and physical/experiential adaptations that the Disney Company has created through their interpretations of these original texts. In each instance, our goal will be not merely to talk about the obvious differences between these texts and adaptations but rather to examine how these differences enable the texts to do different things in culture, to perform different persuasive functions—rhetorical functions—on and for their intended audiences. What we ultimately hope to discover in “Discovering Literature,” then, more than a simple sense of what literature is, is an informed appreciation of its nature, functions, and worth as a cultural force.

200-Level Literature Courses

L203 Introduction to Drama

4512 11:15a-12:05p MWF 3 cr.

Acquaints students with characteristics of drama as a type of literature through the study of representative significant plays. Readings will include plays from several ages and countries.

L204 Introduction to Fiction
Christine Farris

4522 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

This section open to majors and minors or Hutton Honors College only.

The aim of this course is to develop your abilities to read and write about fiction analytically. We will examine how a selection of 19th–21st century authors work in traditional and experimental ways with various elements of fiction, including plot, conflict, character, point of view, imagery, and intertextuality. We will work on strategies for finding patterns and puzzles in details and pose interesting questions that invite more than one interpretation, lively class discussion, and, finally, your construction of complex claims based on evidence. We will read short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Flannery O’Connor, and Annie Proulx, and novels by Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye), Paul Auster (City of Glass), and Tim O’Brien (In the Lake of the Woods). There will be four microthemes, two longer papers, quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam.

L204 Introduction to Fiction
DeWitt Kilgore

34999 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This course focuses on how a particular literary genre, science fiction, has been adapted into motion pictures. As an intensive writing course this allows the student to focus attention on the process and effect of translating fiction into film. Questions to be asked and answered are: Why do certain stories become material for cinematic translation? What are the qualities of an effective adaptation? How do we approach the formal differences between film and literature as we consider the challenges faced by directors and screenwriters? Why do certain literary stories persist over time to be made and remade again? This course will focus on these problems as well as on the conceptual tools commonly used in the analysis and interpretation of film and fiction.

This course requires two critical essays with revision, one research team project and report, film quizzes, and active, informed classroom participation and attendance.

L204 Introduction to Fiction

Additional sections not reserved for majors or minors. See Schedule of Classes.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Shannon Gayk

4525 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

This course is an introduction to the art and historical development of poetry. Its goal is to help you learn to appreciate and understand poetry, and, even more importantly, to enjoy reading it, discussing it, and writing about it. Over the course of the semester, we will survey the historical development of lyric poetry, starting with Greek lyrics in translation and concluding with lyrics written in the last decade. As we discuss the history of and changes in poetic style and form, we will acquire the interpretive tools needed to be good readers of poetry. By the end of the course, you will have mastery of major poetic conventions, forms, and techniques. Finally, we will explore the larger questions and issues raised by these poems and ask whether or not the central themes and concerns of poetic art have changed over the course over the two millennia of poetry we will survey. Our class time will be structured largely by discussion of the assigned poetry, so regular attendance and engaged participation will be expected. Other course requirements include three papers, an exam, and a number of shorter informal assignments, including reciting poetry aloud, annotating poems, and creative exercises that involve trying out some poetic forms and stylistic imitation.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Karma Lochrie

35095 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

What is a poem? “A Strange thing which operates as nothing else in the world does,” according to one reader of poetry. This course will introduce you to the strange world of poetry, including the diverse ways in which poems “operate as nothing else in the world does.” Using our text, the Norton Anthology of Poetry, Shorter 5th edition, we will delve into the forms and techniques of poetry, the sounds and contours of words that poetry shapes, and the meanings that poems create. Readings will include a wide range of poems from different historical periods. Since this course satisfies a Writing Intensive requirement, we will focus on writing about poetry, including short paragraph responses and four essays. There will also be a midterm and final exam requiring some knowledge of those terms and techniques that help us to understand that “strange thing which operates as nothing else in the world does."

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Monique Morgan

4524 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

This section open to majors and minors only.

This course introduces the formal and stylistic elements of poetry, provides them with a shared vocabulary for recognizing and analyzing different literary forms, and develops their reading, writing, and critical discussion skills. By focusing on the techniques through which poems communicate to and emotionally affect us, we will better understand both what individual works of literature mean, and how literature creates meaning. Readings will include exemplary texts from a variety of historical periods, genres, and stanza forms, ranging from medieval ballads to postmodern free verse. In fulfillment of the Intensive Writing requirement, students will complete two essays, one revision, a research paper, and several short quizzes and writing exercises. Students will also be evaluated based on mandatory attendance and regular and informed participation in class discussion. The required text is The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Shorter 5th ed.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Alyce Miller

14250 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

Welcome to L205! Whether you are already a poetry lover, or just curious about reading poetry, this course is designed to help you engage with poetry in new and meaningful ways, and to enjoy language, rhythm, and sound, as well as meaning. We will read and analyze poems by many different kinds of writers about love, family, nature, joy, sadness, and social justice. There will be three to four short papers, two in-class exams, and maybe even a memorization exercise!

L206 Introduction to Prose
Walton Muyumba
TOPIC: "Sound and Color: Understanding Popular Culture Through Critical Arts Journalism"

15039 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

We’ll watch movies, listen to music, and read books alongside arts criticism that teaches us to engage those art forms newly.  We will also study criticism as literary art and the art of the essay, examining how a variety of critics have expanded the essay’s formal and intellectual possibilities.

L207 Women and Literature
Stephanie Li

31106 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

Focusing on contemporary American literature, this course explores the contributions of women writers. We will read in a wide variety of genres including memoirs, novels, essays, short stories, and graphic texts in our study of the issues that most concern American women writers of the 20th and 21st century. Discussions will highlight questions of sexuality, the relationship between mothers and daughters, female friendship, and the particular struggles women face in work environments. Considerable emphasis will be placed on student participation in class discussions. Texts to be studied include: Toni Morrison’s Sula, Joan Didion’s Play it as it Lays, Clare Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home among many others.

L208 Topics in English and American Literature and Culture
Cathy Bowman
TOPIC: "Literature of The Occult"

37474 4:00p-6:30p TR 3 cr.

All art is a magic operation, or, if you prefer, a prayer for a new image—Charles Simic

The mega-popularity of Harry Potter and Stephen King are examples of the 21st century’s obsession with magic, ghosts, telepathy, divination, alchemy and mystical systems. This class will explore various expressions of the spooky, the strange and the demonic in modern and contemporary literature and film. The occult is defined as something hidden, concealed, not exposed to view. We will read poems, fiction and critical works and watch several films where the occult acts as conduit for creation, a system for making art and transformation. We will compare the ways that writers have used the occult to break with traditional culture and mainstream religions, to ask questions about the primacy of science, rationality and the empirical. We will think abut how the occult offers writers past and present a means to explore sexual identity, race, gender, cultural taboos, the outsider, otherness and the processes of the psyche and the subconscious. We will also look at occult rituals some writers practice. And the ways some writers define themselves as magicians or shamans. Throughout the semester we will ask questions about who or what is being demonized and why as we explore the nature of difference in the literature of the occult. We will read poems by H.D., Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Yeats, James Merrill and others. Fiction by Michael Chabon, Kaoru Ishiguro, John Updike, Mia Couto, Shirley Jackson, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Edwidge Danticat, Bram Stoker and others. We will watch films drawing from excerpts and scenes from Nosferatu, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Let the Right One In and others.

L208 Topics in English and American Literature and Culture
L. Anne Delgado
TOPIC: "A Crime in Mind: Pursuing the Criminal in Popular Culture and Fiction"

12235 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

From Jack the Ripper to Hannibal Lecter to Dexter Morgan, the idea of the criminal has inspired both fear and faint admiration. In many ways, the criminal, or at least our idea of this person, gives us a sense of ourselves. We imagine our pursuit of the criminal just as we imagine becoming one. Indeed, our relationship with the idea of criminals has always been fairly ambivalent. From Robin Hood to the 18th-century Newgate Calendar, a bulletin that described criminals and their crimes in lurid detail, we repudiate yet live vicariously through these stories.

This class will focus on our obsession with the criminal and the crime in popular culture and fiction. To that end, we will look at primary texts from the 18th and 19th century that illustrate the complexity of this obsession. These texts will include the Newgate Calendar, The Illustrated Police News, a Victorian publication that capitalized upon stories of Jack the Ripper and his victims, and A Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon, Victorian journalist W.T. Stead’s investigation of child prostitution. We will also take a look at the Penny Dreadful, a form of popular literature from the Victorian period that, critics claimed, glamorized and inspired criminal behavior among the working classes.

From there we’ll turn to the fictional figure of the detective in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes as well as the hard-boiled detective in pulp fiction of the 1930s and 1940s. We will also examine contemporary true crime stories as well as the cultural impact of people like CNN news commentator, and onetime Dancing with the Stars hopeful, Nancy Grace, a talking head who gives voice to American moral panic about crime. We will conclude the course by reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, a contemporary re-imagining of the criminal, the victim, and public rhetoric on both.

L220 Introduction to Shakespeare
Joan Linton
TOPIC: "Taking Conflict to Task"

4526 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

Shakespeare wrote his plays over 400 years ago, and his characters continue to live on the page and stage, in film and other media today, embodying issues that remain vitally relevant in our world today. In studying a number of his plays, we will explore the richness of his language, analyze the characters in light of their social situations and stage conventions, and understand the issues the plays present within their cultural/historical contexts as a basis for comparison with our times. In doing so, we will focus in particular on the ways in which these plays work through conflicts to resolution, or the lack thereof, as a vehicle for reflecting on our own ways of addressing conflict on local and global scales.

Texts may include (but are not limited to): A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry IV, part 1, The Tempest, Titus Andronicus, Timon of Athens, and Twelfth Night. In addition to active participation in class discussion and activities, assignments may include a group presentation, contribution to a Shakespeare glossary, 4 focused analyses (500–600 words), and a final project or exam (student choice).

L223 Introduction to Ethnic American Literature
Alberto Varon

31107 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This course will provide a general introduction to Ethnic American literature. We will examine some of the important and representative writers from across a wide array of ethnic traditions, including, African, Asian, and Anglo American, Latina/o, and American Indian, whose work collectively paints a more inclusive and fully realized picture of American life in the late 20th and 21st centuries. The course will ask two basic questions: what does it mean to be an American? and how does literature both represent and create that experience? 

This course will expose you to an array of ethnic American writers who represent some of the most visible ethnic groups in the U.S., but also those producing some of the most influential work. Together we will introduce and work to develop the basic skills of literary and cultural analysis by examining texts across a wide variety of media and genres. This includes fiction (both novels and short stories), poetry, film, and graphic literatures, as well as autobiography, popular culture artifacts, and critical work. Selected texts may include work by: Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Jose Antonio Villarreal, Alice Walker, Gene Luen Yang, Alex Rivera, Jhumpa Lahiri, Justin Simien, and others. Concepts we will address include but are not limited to: race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and ethnicity, but also on globalization, transnationalism, border theory, neoliberalism, im/migration, and history.

L224 Introduction to World Literatures in English
Purnima Bose

13452 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

In an interview, novelist and physician, Abraham Verghese remarks that “geography really shapes your destiny.” Taking this insight as our starting point, this course will examine the ways in which different authors make sense of the relationship between geography and experience, focusing in particular on novels that are set in conflict zones. The novels on the syllabus represent individuals caught in extraordinary historical circumstances including civil war and foreign occupation. Our focus will be on how the characters respond, often with great courage and honor, to their historical challenges. We will place the novels in their historical context by watching documentaries, and learning about ethno-nationalism, sectarian violence, and the gender dynamics that underwrite these geopolitical conflicts. Students should expect to write one 5-6 page paper, take three exams, and actively participate in class discussion. A tentative list of readings includes: Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone (Ethiopia and the United States); Mohammed Hanif, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, (Pakistan); Slavenka Drakulic, S. (Yugoslavia); Etel Adnan, Sitt Marie Rose (Lebanon); Manlio Argueta, One Day of Life (El Salvador); Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns (Afghanistan); and Meaghan Delahunt, In the Casa Azul (Mexico/Russia).

L230 Introduction to Science Fiction
Jesse Molesworth

13074 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This course offers an introduction to the analysis and appreciation of science fiction, or as it is sometimes called, the literature of cognitive estrangement. We will follow five units—usually featuring one novel, one film, and one theorist—each of which focuses on a topic of particular relevance to the genre: Cognitive Estrangement, Governmental Dystopia, Economic Dystopia, Cyberculture, and Time Travel. Along the way, we will explore such concepts as cognitive estrangement, speculative fiction, postmodernism, posthistoricism, posthumanity, and the uncanny. Special attention will be given, especially in light of the works by Moore, Gilliam, Atwood, Cuarón, Dick, and Scott, to the critical concept of dystopia: the depiction of a fictional world marred by disharmony. My intention is to foster not only an understanding of such concepts and their implications for contemporary culture but also a love for what is surely one of the most imaginative of all literary genres.

Required texts:

  • Ursula Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness
  • Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
  • David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
  • Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta

Required Viewing:

  • Ridley Scott, Blade Runner
  • Terry Gilliam, Brazil
  • Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men
  • Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Chris Marker, La Jetée

Assignments will include three medium-length papers, in-class quizzes, as well as regular attendance and participation.

L240 Literature and Public Life
Christine Farris
TOPIC: "Confession Culture"

31108 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

America has become a confessing culture, as individuals use social media to disclose more information, and celebrities, politicians, and corporations are increasingly compelled to publicly apologize for bad behavior. In this course, through autobiography, fiction, and real-life cases, we will examine how public performances of confession function narratively and rhetorically—in particular, how they are marked by contradictory intentions in their efforts to admit wrongdoing, express the self, seek forgiveness, and renegotiate social values. We will examine some historical examples of confession, tracing how a classical defense against the accusations of others and religious penance evolved over time into private and public rhetorical and literary performances that accomplish things other than the revelation of truth. We will consider how confessants—public figures, ordinary people, and fictional characters—inform, persuade, and entertain, and why we respond as we do to their truths and deceptions.

Texts will include Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter; Ian McEwan’s Atonement; J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace; O.J. Simpson/The Goldman Family’s (If) I Did It: Confessions of a Killer; former New Jersey governor James McGreevey’s Confession; and the film The Contender. We will also read excerpts from Plato’s Apology; the confessions of Saint Augustine, Rousseau, and Bill Clinton, as well as some contemporary analyses of confession, including sections of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Susan Bauer’s The Art of the Public Grovel, and Alec Wilkinson’s Mr. Apology and Other Essays. Assignments will include short microthemes, a comparative analysis paper, quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam.

L249 Representations of Gender and Sexuality
Rebekah Sheldon
TOPIC: "Reproductive Futures"

31109 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

From the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996 to the contemporary ubiquity of genetically modified seeds, the 21st century has been an age of intense scientific investment in the processes of production and reproduction. Alongside these instances of biotechnical control, however, is the sneaking suspicion that things are already out of control--whether through mass sterility, genetic mutation, ecological catastrophe, resource scarcity, or pandemic disease. Contemporary representations of the near-future link the dizzying spectacle of transformation to future worlds characterized by exhaustion and entropic decline. In this course, we will look at science fictions, films, and TV series to consider how these two seemingly opposed tendencies effect the imaginative work performed by human reproduction. We will pay particular attention to the way the reproductive woman shapes discourses of childhood, gender, kinship, race, sexuality, temporality, embodiment, and citizenship. Our authors may include Joanna Russ, Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Larissa Lai, Kazou Ishiguro, Cormac McCarthy, and Paolo Bacigalupi. Films and TV shows may include Children of Men, Battlestar Galactica, and Beasts of the Southern Wild. Students should also expect to read short selections of feminist philosophy and critical theory.

L260 Introduction to Advanced Study of Literature
Ivan Kreilkamp
TOPIC: "Literature and Interpretation"

15259 11:15a-12:05p MWF 3 cr.

Friday Discussion Sections:
15260 10:10a-11:00a
15264 11:15a-12:05p

This class serves as a gateway to the English major by introducing you to a range of sophisticated strategies for analyzing and interpreting literature. Goals include fostering a close attention to language, both literal and figurative; an ability to analyze a variety of genres; an appreciation of the impact of historical contexts; and an awareness of traditional and contemporary literary theories. Our particular focus this semester will be on the ways literature presents itself at once as something to be interpreted, and something that resists interpretation. Many of the greatest, more enduring works of literature retain their power because they seem never to explain themselves fully, always retaining some core of mystery. We’ll consider how certain texts – novels and novellas, short stories, poems, plays, and a graphic novel —generate effects of irony, paradox, and ambiguity, demanding continual interpretation and re-interpretation. We’ll also read a few classic texts of literary theory and criticism that will help us better understand precisely how and why a work of literature can operate as a puzzle, an enigma, a mystery in need of a solution. Final choices as to readings have not yet been made, but some likely texts include Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter," Shakespeare's sonnets, poetry by Emily Dickinson, Robert Browning, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Herman Melville's novella Benito Cereno, Nella Larsen's novel Passing, a sequence of works that build upon and respond to one another-- Shakespeare’s Othello, Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, and the Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North – and Charles Burns’ graphic novel Black Hole. Assignments will likely include two 4-5 page papers, a midterm and final exam, and regular short written responses on Canvas.

300-Level Literature Courses

L305 Chaucer
Patricia Ingham

13362 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

This course serves as an introduction to the amazing poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. While our main objective will be a critical analysis of his famous Canterbury Tales, we will also read some of his earlier work, attending to critical questions that continue to circulate around Chaucer and his poetry. Notoriously slippery, Chaucer’s authorial position is often difficult to track: Is Chaucer’s Knight a brave military hero, or cynical soldier we are urged to view with some melancholy? Are we meant to celebrate the Wife of Bath’s (mis)reading of the Bible as strategic, or be horrified by her errors? Is the “Prioress’ Tale” a critique of religious prejudice or a sign of the poet’s own anti-Semitism? You’ll be surprised how many issues, important to us today, also emerge in Chaucer’s poetry.  Not to mention quirky, clever, funny, and mind-bending turns of phrase.  (Meanwhile: follow our illustrious poet on Twitter, @LeVostreGC.)

L308 Elizabethan & 17th Century Drama
Ellen MacKay

31110 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

No course desciption is available at this time.

L310 Literary History 1: Beginnings through the Seventeenth Century
Karma Lochrie

31197 1:25p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

Friday Discussion Sections:
31202 11:15a-12:05p
31203 12:20p-1:10p

This course in an introduction to literature in English from its beginnings in the early Middle Ages to the seventeenth century, or about 1000 years of literary history. From Beowulf to Milton, we will be exploring poetic forms and salient issues that resonate in our contemporary world as well. Gender, sexuality, race, nation, alterity, sovereignty, and religious freedom are among a few of the issues that emerge in texts where you might least expect it. At the same time, we will be attending to the ways in which the past becomes construed through literary history, and the ways the present relies more on versions of the past that it is aware. Some of the works we will be reading are Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a selection of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (in Middle English), Middle English drama, The Book of Margery Kempe, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, lyrics by Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, and Marvell, and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Assignments will include three examinations and two short literary analyses.

L312 Literary History 2: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Nick Williams

15044 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

The years from 1700 to 1900 saw developments in the English-speaking world that essentially create the modern world as we know it: the creation of political democracy (and the founding of the United States), the Industrial Revolution, the abolition of slavery, and so on. In this broad survey of British and American literature during these two centuries, I’ll focus our selections by stressing the themes of individualism and the emergence of the modern individual self. Students will gain a grasp of broad literary and artistic movements such as Neo-Classicism, Gothicism, Romanticism, Realism and others. I’ll include novels (Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Melville’s Billy Budd, Chopin’s The Awakening), and also poetry and essays from the likes of Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Paine, William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and several others. Students will be assessed on weekly quizzes, exams and 2 essays.

L313 Early Plays of Shakespeare
Ellen MacKay

4527 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

No course desciption is available at this time.

L314 Late Plays of Shakespeare
Linda Charnes

31112 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

This course will examine literature and political psychology. Concentrating on Shakespeare's most political plays-Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, Henry V, and Coriolanus-we will examine how the playwright anatomizes power politics and the dynamics of getting to be, being, or staying, "in charge." The seminar will spend considerable time looking at the historical conditions that organize Shakespeare's political thinking. Since it is an election year, we will also make connections between the politics of Shakespeare's day and our own, to see what Shakespeare can teach us about our own political psychology. Although we will conduct deep, complex and respectful political conversations with each other, the seminar will be run in a "non-partisan" manner and will remain focused on how Shakespeare himself understood and represented power dynamics. This course is NOT an introduction to literary study; it is designed only for upper-division students who have already satisfied their composition requirements and who have experience studying literature at an advanced level. Majors in Political Science, English, History, Psychology and other cognate fields are encouraged to apply, as are students of all political backgrounds and sensibilities.

L316 Literary History III
Judith Brown
TOPIC: "Stories of Migration"

31200 12:20p-1:10p MW 3 cr.

Friday Discussion Sections:
31204 12:20p-1:10p
31205 1:25p-2:15p

 In this class, we’ll consider the movement of people from one place to another over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. Migration raises significant challenges that may be personal, cultural, legal, and ethical as people move voluntarily or involuntarily across borders, or far away from home. We’ll consider a number of narratives—including works by Jean Rhys, Mulk Raj Anand, Samuel Selvon, Michael Ondaatje, Shaun Tan, Mohsin Hamid,  Jhumpa Lahiri, Toni Morrison, and others—that depict a variety of experiences, and we’ll discuss the ways that race, gender, economics are represented in fictional form. We’ll read a graphic novel, poetry, critical essays, and mostly novels, so please be prepared for significant reading. Class evaluation will be based on two essays and two exams.

L317 English Poetry of the Early Seventeenth Century
Kathy Smith

31116 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This course is designed to enable students to read and thereby to acquire an understanding and appreciation of the poetry of Jonson, Donne, Herbert, and Marvell, among others, while at the same time introducing the historical, cultural, and intellectual contexts contributing to the creation of their poetry. To that end, we will identify and practice strategies for reading and writing about early seventeenth-century English poetry in the context of daily class discussions, informal and formal writing assignments, and a comprehensive final exam. Attendance is required and daily participation expected.

L335 Victorian Literature
Monique Morgan

12541 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

Sherlock Holmes claimed, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Holmes is one of many Victorian figures obsessed with evidence, probability, and truth. This course will explore a wide range of Victorian poems that depict struggles to understand what we can know and how we can know it, from a sonnet sequence about suspected infidelity, to an epic consideration of a Renaissance murder trial, to a comic ballad spoken by a fossil who questions the value of thought. We will also consider the formal techniques through which poems themselves convey knowledge and create ambiguity and doubt. The dramatic monologue will receive special attention as a form that displays subjectivity, distortion, and error, while indirectly suggesting something more truthful. In addition, we will read examples from three Victorian prose genres which foreground questions of evidence: sensation fiction, science fiction, and detective fiction. We will contextualize our study of literature through non-fiction prose from evolutionary biology, thermodynamics, philosophy, and theology – texts that assembled wide-ranging evidence for processes and concepts that were too gradual, too heterogeneous, or too abstract to grasp more directly.

Readings will likely include Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine; short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, George Meredith, Arthur Hugh Clough, Christina Rossetti, Augusta Webster, Amy Levy, May Kendall, Algernon Swinburne, and Gerard Manley Hopkins; and non-fiction prose by John Stuart Mill, Arthur Henry Hallam, John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Lord Kelvin, James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Carlyle, John Henry Newman, and George Eliot’s translations of Strauss and Feuerbach. Evaluation will be based on regular and informed class participation, two formal essays, quizzes, and a final exam.

L348 Nineteenth-Century British Fiction
Rae Greiner
TOPIC: "Stupidity and Enlightenment"

32730 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

In this class we will explore how 19th century British fiction represents states of reasoned thinking, ratiocination, enlightenment, and sane level-headedness alongside mental and ontological states that represent (or seem to represent) their opposites: irrationality, animality, criminality, madness, idiocy, stupidity, monomania, and misapprehension. We will explore how this material portrays or invokes theories of mind, cognition, mental perception, and the imagination, including the mental efforts required for a variety of seemingly normal sentiments and states, including romantic or filial love, sympathy and/or empathy, and interpersonal as well as self-understanding. Course requirements include a serious commitment to reading many pages of writing each week; weekly quizzes and in-class assignments; two close readings; and two papers.

Readings will include Jane Austen, Emma; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Charles Dickens, Bleak House; and Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White. We will also read a selection of poems, essays, and (possibly) shorter fiction, and critical essays pertaining to 19th c. literature and culture.

L354 American Literature Survey
Scott Herring
TOPIC: "Ignorance"

15050 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

At the start of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, the novel asks what it would be like to have no memory of the world. At the end of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, Bone Boatwright wonders if she can ever forget the traumas of sexual knowledge. Throughout Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, Helga Crane reels from misreading the key scenes of her life. All three novels posit that if multiple forms of knowledge exist, so too must multiple forms of ignorance. Alongside these three works, we’ll test this hypothesis with a variety of twentieth- and twenty-first century literatures by Ernest Hemingway, Tillie Olsen, David Eggers, William Gibson, T.C. Boyle, Audre Lorde, and Edward Albee. Along the way, we’ll hit hot-button topics like racial, socio-economic, ablest, and sexual ignorance as well as themes of denial, repression, unawareness, misinformation, elephants in the room, ideas swept under the rug, incomprehension, unfamiliarity, stupidity, incredulity, and the unconscious. We’ll also examine the felt experience of being uneducated, in the dark, inexpert, unacquainted, and out-of-the-loop—of readings that try to do anything but teach you something new.

L356 American Poetry to 1900
Christoph Irmscher

9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

It seems that everyone wrote poetry in nineteenth-century America, from the slave George Moses Horton, who memorized the valentines he composed for the students of the University of North Carolina, to President Lincoln, who in his youth wrote satirical verse that was for a while, a neighbor claimed, better remembered in Indiana than the Bible. Nineteenth-century American poetry is rich, diverse, and fun. It is also often surprisingly modern. In this course, we’ll read the “game-changers”—poets such as Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson, poets that influence the way we think and write today, even if we have never really read them. And we’ll read the ones that are forgotten or perhaps never expected to be famous but just felt that poetry helped them discover who they were and where the belonged in the confusing landscape of the developing United States. We will find out how poets responded to the major crises of the century, the genocide of the Native Americans, slavery, the Civil War, and women’s suffrage. We will pay special attention to the development of American print culture and its impact on the production of poetry; some our time at least will be spent looking at books and autographs in the Lilly Library. At the end of the course, each of you will be working on your own personal project involving original manuscripts by Poe, Whitman, Dickinson and others. I will help you acquire some basic skills in dealing with Lilly Library materials that might come in handy later if you decide to work in museums, libraries, or any other job that involves explaining things to people. We will be using only one book in this class, the college edition of American Poetry:  The Nineteenth Century, edited by John Hollander and published by the Library of America.  

L357 Twentieth-Century American Poetry
Nikki Skillman

13149 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

Exploring how poetic language, structures, and devices grow and change over the course of “the American century,” in this course we will study some of the most memorable, rapturous, iconoclastic, difficult, innovative poets and poems in the history of English.  We will examine the kinds of pleasure and rigor and freshness to which the verse of this era aspires, always striving to “make it new,” and trace the shifting notions of authority and authenticity poets invoke in the face of profound upheavals of value and historical consciousness.  Though our focus will always be on poems as individual works of art, we will also consider how they reflect and pronounce upon the social world; we will situate the poems we read within broad aesthetic movements, within the long history of the genre in English, and within the oeuvres of their makers.  Poets will include Robert Frost, Gertrude Stein ,T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Rae Armantrout, Tan Lin, and Claudia Rankine, among others.  Evaluation will be based on two essays (the latter of which may take the form of a review of a recent book of poetry), two exams, and class participation.

L360 American Prose
Stephanie Li

31119 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

Why has memoir become one of the most popular literary genres of the past few decades? This class will examine the development of our “confessional culture” while also charting a historical trajectory of American memoirs from the mid twentieth century to our current moment. We will pay special attention to the differences between memoir, autobiography and creative nonfiction in our study of how the self is represented and transformed on the page. Discussions will highlight the relationship between the narrating “I” and the development of national mythologies that present American identity as defined by specific distinctions of race, class, gender and sexuality. Students will explore various modernist and postmodernist innovations apparent in contemporary memoirs as well as changing conceptions of the self.

L369 Studies in British and American Authors/SLAV S320:Special Topics in Slavic Studies
Jacob Emery
TOPIC: "Nabokov and His Milieu"
This course is cross-listed with Slavic Studies.

33470 4:00p-5:15p MW 3 cr.

This course provides an overview of Vladimir Nabokov’s work in both Russian and English and contextualizes that work within the Russian diaspora. The focus is on Nabokov’s prose fictions, but we will also consider him as a poet, playwright, critic, translator, and constructor of crossword puzzles. Samples of literature by other Russian émigré authors might include Nina Berberova, Ilya Zdanevich, Joseph Brodsky, Eduard Limonov, and Gary Shteyngart. In analyzing Nabokov’s major works, we will explore the themes that make Nabokov a central figure of twentieth century literature: the poetics of exile and nostalgia; translation and transnational culture; literary trickery and deceit; paranoia as a tactic of reading; the relationship between the aesthetic and the sadistic; artifice and the imagination; and art as an image of a higher reality. All readings are available in English.

L371 Critical Practices
Joshua Kates

9864 4:00p-4:50p TR 3 cr.

Friday Discussion Sections:
32961 10:10a-11:00a
32963 12:20p-1:10p

The aim of this course is to familiarize students with some of the leading problems and debates comprising the field of literary theory. We will study, in particular, two issues. The first will be literary or artistic value: are some works to be judged better than others, and, if so, how, by what criterion or standard? What is the “standard of taste,” as the Scottish philosopher, David Hume put it? Secondly, how does one understand or interpret literature; what should a reader do with literature and what is he or she actually interpreting—the author’s intention, the words on the page as defined by a dictionary, or something else? Here we will touch on debates that include legal interpretation (Judge Antonin Scalia’s textual views) as well as theories of poetics and language (those of the so-called New Critics, Speech Acts, some Structuralism and Post-Structuralism). Students are expected to complete the readings for the classes for which they are assigned, and grade will depend on midterm and final papers and exams, in addition to weekly assignments and discussion.

L371 Critical Practices
John Schilb

15472 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

This course will examine how our critical practices can enable us to articulate the value of the humanities—at a time, unfortunately, when many people fail to see that value. Specifically, we’ll tackle the question “What’s the good of fiction?” In one sense, it’s a question that prods us to identify uses that fiction can serve. We’ll pursue this task in three ways. We’ll look at recent work on the psychology of consciousness, considering how fiction can strengthen our ability to understand human minds. We’ll investigate theories of genre, especially those that probe how fiction critiques everyday types of speech. We’ll also turn to literary critics and philosophers who see fiction as an imaginative means of exploring complex ethical issues (what’s good in a moral sense). Throughout the term, we’ll test and refine our developing ideas by applying them to fictional texts, including short stories as well as novels. For instance, we’ll read Henry James’s famously ambiguous horror tale The Turn of the Screw; Valerie Martin’s Property, a novel whose female narrator owns slaves; Toni Morrison’s novel Sula; and stories by Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin, Alice Munro, and Ha Jin. Required writing will include several short exercises, two papers, and a final exam.

L373 Interdisciplinary Approaches to English and American Literature
Ivan Kreilkamp
TOPIC: "The Contemporary Graphic Novel"

14396 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

Most of the major literary genres and forms one is likely to study in an English class -- lyric poetry, prose fiction and the novel, the sonnet, drama -- are at least several centuries old. This course offers the exciting opportunity to consider and closely analyze a genre that is historically almost brand-new, still in the process of its early creation: that of the contemporary “graphic novel” or graphic narrative. (It’s a bit like being able to study the sonnet in the 13th century, or the novel in the 18th.) We’ll consider the contemporary graphic narrative from its first point of breaking away from the comic book in the 1980s to the present day. Using Scott McCloud’s influential Understanding Comics as a critical guide – a work of criticism in the form of graphic novel or narrative comic book – we will together read, analyze, discuss and write about some of the standout works from this almost-new genre. Organized around the rubrics Comic Book Legacies & Revisions, Representing War and Trauma, Coming of Age, and Representing Counter-Cultures, we’ll read such texts as Art Speigelman’s Maus, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Joe Sacco’s Journalism, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Jaime Hernandez’s The Girl from HOPPERS, Daniel Clowes’s Ghost World, and Charles Burns’s Black Hole. Major topics and questions considered will include, among others, the graphic novel’s debts to the comic book and to prose fiction; the effects of seriality; the relationship and tension between image and text; the representation and definition of identity, including ethnicity, gender, and sexuality; representations of trauma and violence; depictions of youth and counter-cultures. Assignments will probably include three papers and regular shorter assignments on Canvas. NOTE: the books for this course will be fairly expensive if you buy them all new. You are welcome to buy some of them used online through Amazon or elsewhere. The books you’ll need for the first couple weeks are Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Art Speigelman’s Maus.

L381 Recent Writing
Walton Muyumba
TOPIC: "The Epic, Invented, Collected Self: How Writers Use the Essay to Invent Culturally Critical Selves"

8117 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

Borrowing its title from Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, his new three-part musical essay about Los Angeles, jazz, and American culture, this course is an investigation of recent essay collections and epic self-invention. We will examine how writers have revised the definition of “epic” and improvised on the essay form, creating various, adaptable nonfiction forms that allow them to critique American cultural politics while “inventing” personal narratives simultaneously. We will detail the different literary techniques these artists employ in order to describe the ways that their epic personal identities emerge from engagements with America’s multilayered social arrangements.?

L390 Children's Literature
Ray Hedin

31138 12:20p-1:10p MW 3 cr.

This course will focus on children's stories, ranging from fairy tales to contemporary fiction and film. It will emphasize the ways in which stories express and give shape to basic wishes and basic fears. We will also emphasize the strategies by which stories either convey or subvert prevalent cultural values. We will address such questions as: Why do stories fascinate children (and others)?  What is the relationship between the structure of stories and the emotions and values they convey? What is the role of illustration in children’s books? How does children’s literature address central issues such as the relationship of adults to children, the ambiguities of growing up, changing notions of childhood, the lure and dangers of imagination, and the experience of death? To what extent does its cultural or historical context shape a children’s book or film – and does it matter? Do children’s books reinforce cultural values or subvert them? How might adults (parents, educators, etc.) respond to children’s books or films that convey different values – about race or gender, for instance - from their own? Why is the analysis of a children’s story a useful adult activity? These issues will not be addressed in the abstract, but in the context of discussing specific, influential children's stories.

The class will meet twice a week in a mix of lecture, discussion, and occasional panel presentation and once a week in discussion sections. Students will be expected to have read the assigned material or to have viewed the assigned film by the first day on which it is considered in class. Students may either attend a film screening or watch the film on their own. Students will also write two 5-7 page essays, a mid-term and final exam; they will also be expected to post regular comments and questions on the course’s Forum site. One of the essay assignments may be fulfilled by a creative paper - e.g., a children’s story or a set of illustrations to one of the books we will consider. Additional, short readings will be assigned for discussion sections; those readings will be included in the exam material.

Course Materials for L390 Children’s Literature:
Any complete and unabridged edition of book-length works is acceptable. Shorter works will be available on Oncourse. This list is tentative; please contact me in early December for a final version (
Beauty and the Beast (Disney film)
Sexton, “Snow White” and “Cinderella”
Carter, “The Tiger’s Bride”
Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (online)
Wilder, Little House on the Prairie
Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
White, Charlotte’s Web
Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat (online)
Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen (online)
Wiesner, Tuesday (on reserve)
Becker, Journey (on reserve)
Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (on reserve)
Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy
Lobel, Frog and Toad Are Friends
Lobel, Frog and Toad Together
O’Brien, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia
Lowry, The Giver
Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 
Ryan, Esperanza Rising
Sachar, Holes
The Wizard of Oz (film)
Up (film)
One additional film.
Short readings for discussion sections; to be announced.

L391 Literature for Young Adults
Rebekah Sheldon
TOPIC: "Saving the Future: Catastrophe and Contemporary Young Adult Fiction"

13172 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

In this course, we will focus on the figure of the teenager in contemporary American depictions of catastrophe. The child and the teenager are surprisingly frequent features of disaster, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic novels and films intended for adults, and they are also a prominent part of political rhetoric promoting action in the present to save us from a harmed and harming future. At the same time, contemporary young adult fiction has been increasingly dominated by science fiction and fantasy, and many of these novels are set in post-apocalyptic landscapes. This course will explore the conjunction of the teenager and the harmed future in contemporary American fiction young adults and for adult readers. Indeed, a significant part of our thinking together this semester will concern the overlaps and the resistances between novels written for teenagers and novels written about teenagers. It will be our guiding contention that writing for and writing about teens are not only importantly in dialogue with each other, but that they together constitute the world whose expectations and assumptions teenagers must navigate. Books may include Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Jonathon Letham’s Girl in Landscape, M.T. Anderson’s Feed, Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, Karen Thompson Walker’s Age of Miracles, China Mieville’s Railsea, Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Fluted Girl, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Ben Marcus’s Flame Alphabet, and John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. Students should also expect to read short nonfiction selections on science fiction and young adult fiction.

L395 British Film Culture
Ranu Samantrai

34935 2:30p-5:00p TR 3 cr.

This course meets during the second eight weeks of classes.

British film between 1945 and 2000 mirrors a period of rapid and volatile change in the nation. We’ll organize our study around five themes: formal experimentation, such as the new localism of post-war cinema; imperial nostalgia and the rise of the heritage industry; the angry children of Thatcher; the multicultural nation; and gender as an index of social change. We’ll likely include films by Tony Richardson, Hugh Hudson, David Lean, Gurinder Chadha, Neil Jordan, and Stephen Frears, as well as looking at studio productions from the Ealing comedies to the Black Arts collectives.

400-Level Literature and Language Courses

G405 Studies in the English Language
Michael Adams
TOPIC: "English and the Culture of Correctness"

13055 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

Why are we so concerned about “correctness” of English we write and read, speak and hear? Who gets to decide what’s correct and what’s not? How do grammar rules and dictionary definitions affect our day-to-day lives? What are the social consequences of correctness? These are the central questions of ENG-G405 in Spring Term 2016. It’s a great course for future writers, editors, teachers, or anyone else interested in our attitudes towards language.

L450 Seminar: British and American Authors
Judith Brown
TOPIC: "Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group"

14414 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

In this seminar we will study the literary oeuvre of Virginia Woolf, one of the most innovative and challenging writers of the twentieth century. Woolf reinvented character, the representation of human consciousness, and created a uniquely lyric writing voice; she was also a fierce critic of gender norms and the politics of war. We'll think about her work in relation to these social, political, and artistic commitments, including modernist aesthetics, and the art and philosophy of the Bloomsbury Group.

Class evaluation will be based on presentations, short writing assignments, and a final research paper.

L460 Seminar: Literary Form, Mode, and Theme
Shannon Gayk
TOPIC: "Eco-Literature"

12258 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

This seminar will explore the relationship between literature and the environment.  Beginning with a brief survey of how early literature represented the ideas of nature, ecology, and environment, the remainder of the semester will focus on 19th and 20th century poetry and nonfiction, examining major literary genres and movements, such as the pastoral, romanticism, and transcendentalism, but also recent ecocritical theory, including work on ecomaterialism and posthumanism. Together, we will ask: How and why do writers represent the non-human world?  How do they understand the relations between humans and animals, plants, non-sentient objects, and places? Between nature and civilization or industrialization? In what ways do the discourses of natural science and ecology affect literary representation?  How might environmentally-focused literature be read within larger social or political contexts? How does literature engage issues of conservation, advocacy, or environmental activism?  In addition to our readings, students should expect several out of class excursions.  Assignments include a number of short pieces of writing throughout the semester, a presentation, and a longer piece of researched writing.

L460 Seminar: Literary Form, Mode, and Theme
Jennifer Fleissner
TOPIC: "Minds, Brains, and the Contemporary Novel"

14382 1:00p-2:15p 3 cr.

How does the contemporary novel relate to contemporary psychology? A recent essay called "The Rise of the Neuro-Novel" proposes that advances in brain science have had a significant effect on the way today's fiction portrays human interiority, behavior, and decision-making. This class puts that theory to the test by examining a range of recent novels and memoirs interested in these issues, from a mystery novel narrated by a man with Tourette syndrome to the story of an amnesiac who painstakingly tries to rebuild a single scene from his former life.

Likely texts will include: Ian McEwan, Enduring Love; Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn; Tom McCarthy, Remainder; Myla Goldberg, Bee Season; Aimee Bender, An Invisible Sign of My Own; Michael Greenberg, Hurry Down Sunshine; and background readings from contemporary philosophers, scientists, literary scholars, and doctors that ask, Are we our brains? What is a self? Do we have free will? What does happiness look like? What is lost, and gained, when we choose to describe psychological suffering through the language of body chemistry?

L480 Seminar in Literary History
Nikki Skillman
TOPIC: "Contemporary American Poetry"

14420 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

This course will trace developments in American poetry from the 1960s to the present, focusing on the changing philosophies of selfhood and self-expression that this period’s diverse, radically experimental forms come to embody. What possibilities for seducing and resisting readers have recent poets discovered, and what debts to the past do they betray in their attempts to “make it new”? The course will both track and interrogate the shifting boundary between the “mainstream” and the “avant-garde” and will consider the special challenges of producing sensitive criticism of very recent literary work. Poets may include Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery, James Merrill, Rita Dove, Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rae Armantrout, Jorie Graham, Harryette Mullen, Kenneth Goldsmith, Tan Lin, Juliana Spahr, Ben Lerner, Natasha Tretheway, Cathy Park Hong, and Claudia Rankine.

Though a strong background in poetry is not necessary, several classes in English or related humanities fields (history, philosophy, gender studies, cultural studies, et cetera) are strongly recommended. As a capstone course, this class will culminate in a sustained, individual research project of your own devising. The formal assignments for the course reflect this primary focus on original research. Requirements include an annotated bibliography and a preliminary, 8-10 page essay upon which your longer, final essay will build, in addition to individual conferences to guide your independent research and writing over the course of the semester.

Rhetoric Courses

R209 Topics in Rhetoric & Public Culture

11802 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

The imprint of religious rhetoric on the shape of public culture in the United States is hard to overstate. Familiar concepts like “freedom,” “liberty,” “education,” and “capitalism” are either infused with, or responsive to, religious understandings of human nature and social order. Public figures say things like “God bless America,” and the problem of global religious extremism continues to challenge liberal norms of tolerance and cultural pluralism. In a nominally “secular” society like the United States, concerns about the “proper” role of religion in public life are part of the everyday cultural fabric.

In this course we examine specific artifacts of public culture—news stories, television shows, photographs, movies, political speeches—with an eye toward understanding how they are shaped by terms, symbols, story lines, and orientations that derive from religious discourse. Because rhetoric is an organizing principle of the course, our attention will remain focused on the ways in which religious symbols, arguments, and narratives are used in public, and how such usages influence the beliefs and actions of citizens in a liberal democracy.

This is not a course in theology or religious history, nor is it an objective of this course to advocate "for" or "against" religious rhetoric in public life. Students who take this course will approach the rhetoric of religious symbolism as an object of academic study—inquiring into its historical context, persuasive capabilities, political usages, and rhetorical entailments.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Recognize that religious discourse influences aspects of public culture that may not seem “religious” in nature.
  • Evaluate the central arguments, methods, and strengths and weaknesses of scholarship addressing the rhetoric of religion.
  • Identify particular religious motifs and symbols in public texts and popular media.
  • Write persuasively about the public use of religious rhetoric, drawing on both past and current trends in academic scholarship.
  • Analyze and explain religious aspects of particular symbols in public culture.
  • Pull from course readings related to religious rhetoric in public culture in order to discuss the implications of religious symbolism for contemporary democratic citizenship.

Grades for this course will be determined by a combination of class participation, written assignments, blog posts, and/or exams.

R211 Rhetoric and Sports
Justin Hodgson

31141 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

The sports industry is a financial and cultural behemoth that regularly responds to significant ethical and legal situations with little more than sound-bytes from public relations executives or leading figureheads. Combine that with the limited federal oversight into the governance and function of these multi-billion dollar entities, the intensity of media coverage and investigation with regards to the athlete/celebrity figure, the diverse cultural backdrops in which athletes emerge (with issues ranging from race to privilege, class to exploitation), and the ever-present role of social media and self-branding, and what we are presented with is a petri dish of rhetorical situations, ecologies, homologies, and practices. Given this dynamic, this course will ask students to be more than mere sports fans—asking them to critically and creatively engage key sports issues, texts, artifacts, and moments in exploring the intersections of sports, rhetoric, and culture.

This grade for this course will be determined by a combination of class participation, reading responses, blog/vlog posts, short papers, and/or exams.

Course artifacts will include selections from film (Hoosiers, Green Street Hooligans, Warrior, etc), selections from texts (Sperber’s Beer and Circus, Kissinger’s Friday Night Lights, etc.), as well as any number of print and online scholarly articles related to rhetoric, sports, and culture.

R224 Persuasion

312416 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

Motivational appeals in influencing behavior; psychological factors in speaker-audience relationship; contemporary examples of persuasion. Practice in persuasive speaking.

R228 Argumentation and Public Advocacy

29353 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.
29354 1:00p-2:15p TR

R305 Rhetorical Criticism
Cindy Smith

31142 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

R305 is a course in the practical art of rhetorical criticism. It focuses on the application of a variety of critical tools to communication artifacts. Those tools will help us discover how persuasive messages are formulated, why they work the way they do, whose interests are being served in their production, and what the implications are for human beings of “buying in” to what we’re being sold. While rhetorical criticism originates in the study of speeches, in this class you will have the opportunity to examine many different kinds of communication artifacts including television, speeches films, photographs, museum exhibits, and much more. R305 enables you to write about the kinds of artifacts that interest you, with guidance from me. Rhetorical criticism can be a life-changing experience. Through it, we can better understand the strategies and motives of the myriad of communicative texts we experience every day.

During the semester we will work together to meet a number of learning objectives. At the end of C305 you will:

  • Be able to offer a working definition of “rhetoric” and “rhetorical criticism”
  • Demonstrate improved clarity in your writing and ability to support an argument with examples and evidence
  • Understand the connection between critical approaches and artifacts
  • Apply your knowledge of these critical theories and methods to your own original analyses of specific artifacts
  • Analyze and articulate the various implications for human beings of participating in the rhetoric of various artifacts

R396 The Study of Public Advocacy

15513 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

R398 Culture, Identity and the Rhetoric of Place
Cindy Smith
TOPIC: “The Rhetoric of Architecture”

8654 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This class provides an introduction to the study of the built environment from a rhetorical perspective. It does so based on the assumption that the built environment is rhetorically constructed and therefore both reveals and influences the social values and issues of the past, present, and future. Taking a rhetorical approach to architecture provides a materially-focused way to understand our society, to assess its values and behaviors, and to evaluate the implications of those values and behaviors for human beings. Even more specifically, architecture and its corresponding discourses function to shape certain kinds of citizens. In other words, architecture both addresses and shapes its audiences; it “produces” people. We will see that the shaping process of architectural rhetoric operates along a continuum between the overt and intentional to the inadvertent and unforeseen. The course explores the persuasive dimensions of places and spaces people build and that simultaneously shape those people. It examines how structures like buildings, theme parks, and housing developments are the product of strategic communication choices designed to influence how we think and behave.

R398 is also an Intensive Writing course. At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Recognize that architecture is an inherently rhetorical process; that the built environment is the product of human choices, persuasive efforts, socioeconomic forces, and media coverage
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the most frequently used critical approaches to the study of architecture as rhetoric
  • Recognize the structural and symbolic components of particular forms of architecture, and understand how those components operate to shape culture, to influence human thought and behavior, and to constitute particular types of citizens
  • Gain a working knowledge of information sources relevant to the study of architecture (including primary sources, historical documents, archives and special collections, and online databases), thoughtfully incorporating the evidence from those sources into your final course paper
  • Pull from a variety of course readings the tools to create your own rhetorical method for analyzing an architectural text, craft that analysis, and share your findings with the class
  • Analyze the rhetoric of particular architectural forms, discussing the implications for human beings and democratic citizenship of those forms

Creative Writing Courses

W103 Introductory Creative Writing

various sections

Introduction to the art of creative writing. Short assignments, independent work, and classroom discussion of the fundamentals of writing fiction, poetry, and drama.

W203 Creative Writing

various sections

PREREQUISITE: W103 or English major/minor or MFA Director permission. Students who have not met the prerequisite may request permission to enroll by submitting the form found at

Exploratory course in the writing of poetry and/or fiction. Does not satisfy the English composition requirement. May be repeated with a different topic for a maximum of six credit hours.

W301 Writing Fiction
Bob Bledsoe

14115 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

Enrollment is limited. Permission of instructor is required. To obtain permission, first submit the form at For priority consideration, submit the form well before your actual registration date.

In W301, we will read short stories (and perhaps a novel) by those considered masters of the genre.  I will expect you to put your analytical skills to use in reading like a writer and taking stories apart according to their craft elements.  I will ask you to write a few short creative assignments, and analytical essays in addition to writing two stories to share in workshop.

W301 Writing Fiction
Jacinda Townsend

12466 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

Enrollment is limited. Permission of instructor is required. first submit the form at For priority consideration, submit the form well before your actual registration date.

Once you have submitted the form, please email a ten page sample to the instructor at:

W301: Recommended ENG W203 or equivalent. Class may be repeated once for credit.

This course presumes your familiarity with the basic elements of fiction, and your readiness to see your work through to the next stage of mastery. The best learning is doing, and this semester, we will help one another become better writers by workshopping pieces each week. We will also use a text to help us develop a conversation about craft. I am also asking you to buy the most recent issue of the Indiana Review, as we will visit with the stories in that volume.

W303 Writing Poetry
Romayne Rubinas Dorsey

10967 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

Enrollment is limited. Permission of instructor is required. To obtain permission, first submit the form at For priority consideration, submit the form well before your actual registration date.

This upper-level poetry workshop will focus on developing students’ original work while reading and discussing what’s being written and published in contemporary poetry. We will read multiple examples of work by contemporary poets, and we will explore the work both through class discussion and in our own writing.

In class, we will focus on an understanding of craft through close reading of poetry along with a few essays on poetics and in-class writing. In workshop, we will engage the poem in process: how craft elements are put to use, the ways in which the poem explores form and conventions, and what is wonderful and what might be improved about the poem.

You will be expected to hand in 10-12 new and original poems, several from prompts or developed from in-class writing. Revision is where writing happens and you will be expected to discuss your process in the preface to the course’s final portfolio of your work. You will be expected to offer substantive written critique of peer work as well as participate actively in all workshops and class discussions. In preparation for discussion, you will keep a reading journal on course readings.

Possible course texts: A Best American Poetry anthology; selected essays on poetics; and a variety of individual collections of poetry (possibilities include: Berry’s Ampersand Revisited; Calvocoressi’s The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart; Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude; Howe’s What The Living Do; Leonard’s Ramshackle Ode; Levis’ Winter Stars; Smith’s Life On Mars; Story’s Post Moxie; Wicker’s Maybe The Saddest Thing).

I will admit and notify students as they apply, so chances for admission increase with early submission of materials.

W381 The Craft of Fiction
Stacey Brown

11872 9:30a-10;45a MW 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W203, W303 or permission of instructor. To obtain permission, first submit the form at

In this course, we will read as writers, examining elements of fiction—point of view, character, setting, dialogue, etc.—to figure out how successful stories are made. We will enact close readings with an eye toward their architecture and then engage in writing exercises to hone our own craft. And we will do all of this through the lens of micro, or "flash," fiction--stories that are small in size but immense in scope and depth.

Required texts include Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World, edited by James Thomas, Robert Shapard, and Christopher Merrill. Students should expect weekly reading and writing assignments in addition to in-class discussions and exercises.

W383 The Craft of Poetry
Catherine Bowman

12701 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W203, W303 or permission of instructor. To obtain permission, first submit the form at

This is a class for those that write poetry or would like to give it a try. W383 is also a class for any writer, artist or scholar that that wishes to explore the “oldest art.” In this class we will look at ancient and sacred texts. We will experiment with the traditional fixed forms of poetry such as the sonnet and the sestina. We will also try restraint-based oulipo experiments. We will discuss aspects of how a poem begins and how it makes its way down the page to closure. We will explore diction, syntax, the line, tone and rhythm. We will look at literary lineages, poetic schools and communities, aesthetic and cultural values embodied in poems past and present, the art of translation, poets and painters, poets and musicians, visual forms of poetry, publication and what’s going on in the poetry world today. There will be lots of in-class writing, craft assignments and response papers. You will also write and revise your own poems. We will read several collections of poetry and essays on craft and poetics.

W413 Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing
Alyce Miller

32728 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

Enrollment is limited. Permission of instructor is required. To obtain permission, first submit the form at For priority consideration, submit the form well before your actual registration date.

Welcome, writers of all stripes (poets, fiction writers, journalists, etc.) to Creative Nonfiction! In this workshop, we will focus on the personal essay, and engage in readings by a range of essayists, as well as your own writings to help broaden our notions of “personal writing.” If you enjoy writing, and have stories you’d like to tell in an intimate, supportive workshop, please complete a permission request form at and then follow the directions in the follow-up email from the Creative Writing program to submit a brief note and writing sample to the instructor.

You will write a few 500-word essays (prompted by our readings), and one long essay, in addition to the thoughtful critiques you will write for your peers. There may be brief quizzes or a short exam, or a couple of response papers, as well.

Public and Professional Writing Courses

W231 Professional Writing Skills

various sections 3 cr.

Designed to develop research and writing skills requisite for most academic and professional activities. Emphasis on methods of research, organization, and writing techniques useful in preparing reviews, critical bibliographies, research and technical reports, proposals, and papers.

W240 Community Service Writing
Joan Linton
TOPIC: "Going Public: Writing Wellness in the Community"

15383 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

N.B. This service-learning course requires a minimum total of 20 service hours over 10 weeks. Because W240 fulfills an IW requirement, you can expect frequent writings and revisions throughout the course.

Most of us are familiar with the conventions and requirements of writing and research within our academic disciplines, over time developing proficiency as communicators. How do we adapt these skills in the service of others, relocating the writing self from the academy to the community? How do we reorient ourselves from being professionals in training to being engaged citizens, addressing public audiences on public issues in public venues? What new responsibilities come with citizenship, and how do we develop a voice that goes beyond our individual and academic needs and interests to address larger public issues?

Going Public aims to help students develop as public communicators through a holistic approach to health and wellness in the community. This course invites students to practice and expand the critical skills of synthesis and analysis, and rhetorical skills of persuasion through service, writing, and research in the community. In going beyond the classroom, students will develop the knowledge and understanding needed to address issues of concern to the community, and find their own voice in communicating this knowledge to public audiences—the very people whose lives are affected by these issues.

While community service provides real-life situations in which we may apply our academic skills and knowledge, analysis of that experience will allow us to reflect on our roles as service–learners and writers, as grounding for research into related social issues. Through readings and reflection, we shall see (1) how our life experiences, socio-economic status, and other visible or invisible kinds of differences shape our perceptions of each other and the people we serve; (2) how larger social structures and global forces operate beneath the apparent randomness of social interactions and autonomy of our choices; (3) how through social networking people can develop a community’s assets and leverage its resources in meeting collective challenges and dreams; and (4) how such lived knowledge of a community’s “ecology” gained through service and writing informs our public role as citizens wherever we live.

Both your service and your participation in class activities will provide a rich basis for your written assignments. These will include: public service writings for a community agency, reflective essays, and a research project and paper on a topic related to your service, and a journal of reading responses and field research notes.

W270 Argumentative Writing

4654 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

Offers instruction and practice in writing argumentative essays about complicated and controversial issue. Focuses on strategies for identifying issues, assessing claims, locating evidence, deciding on a position, and writing papers with clear assertions and convincing arguments.

W280 Literary Editing & Publishing

4655 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

Principles of editing and publishing literary writing. Kinds of journals, varieties of formats (including print and e-zine), introduction to editing and production processes. Possible focus on genre publishing (fiction, poetry, non-fiction prose), grant writing, Web publishing.

W321 Advanced Technical Writing
Dana Anderson
TOPIC: "Professional Writing and Document Design"

10873 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W231 or permission of instructor.

How does the design of a document—the material and visual shaping of text on a page—contribute to its effectiveness in achieving its purposes? Likewise, how do poor design choices prevent documents from accomplishing their aims? How are design elements such as page layout, font, spacing, size, proximity, color, and contrast central to our visual literacy—our ability to interpret, understand, and make use of information based on how it is physically structured for our reading?

These are the questions we'll be exploring as we look at a range of different documents, especially (but certainly not limiting ourselves to) those that we would call "professional writing"—reports, proposals, process and procedure descriptions, brochures, announcements, online documents such as web pages, and the like. In addition to essential concepts and theories of document design, we will learn how design choices have very real, specific consequences for how persuasive texts are in the purposes they seek to accomplish. This working knowledge of document design you'll develop is increasingly expected of people who write in their various workplaces. To that end, your work will provide you with a portfolio of various texts that you've created to help you demonstrate your abilities as both a writer and a designer of professional documents.

We’ll be completing various short writing and design assignments, as well as a semester project, which will be the writing and design of a longer document needed by one of our many community service organizations.

This course is designated as fulfilling credit toward the Public & Professional Writing concentration within the English major and is highly recommended for those pursuing this concentration. (Please note, however, that interested students from any major are welcome.)

W350 Advance Expository Writing
Michael Adams

34735 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W231 or permission of instructor.

The world abounds with interesting subjects, and one way of experiencing the world we encounter is to write about it. This course blends three aspects of writing practice: (1) we will spend considerable time cultivating style, through a series of short essays and imitations; (2) members will write two long-form essays, not opinion pieces or intellectual arguments or analyses of texts or other objects, but well-researched, complex reports anchored in events and in facts, articles of the kind you might find in The New Yorker or any other magazine dedicated to the art of exposition; and (3) members will copy-edit one another’s work, learning in the process how to check facts as well as propose changes in focus, structure, style, and the evidentiary basis of an essay. Besides the writing, there will also be some reading assigned from magazines available through the library or supplied to you by me, via Oncourse, as well as in the following required texts: Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel (Vintage, 1993; ISBN 978-0679746317; $18.00) and Joyce Carol Oates, ed., The Best American Essays of the Century (Houghton Mifflin, 2000; 978090618-15587-3; $19.95).

W350 Advance Expository Writing
Justin Hodgson
TOPIC: "Rhetoric, Play, & Games"

4656 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W231 or permission of instructor.

In the wake of the video game explosion in the early 1990s, scholars began to investigate the teaching/learning potential of games, the knowledge-making practices of games, and the cultural implications of games. Not surprisingly, games have been exceedingly fruitful for these discussions: from understanding how games offer immersive learning models (cf. James Paul Gee) to how games, based in critical theories of play, have proliferated the histories of humanity (cf., Johan Huizinga). Beyond those considerations, games offer us access to wide range of conversations, from narrative theory to new media practices. Add to this the fact that the gaming industry rivals the cinema industry in terms of yearly sales, and we see not only a cultural shift occurring but also a need for us to critically and creatively consider the rhetorical possibilities emerging with games.

As such, this course will focus on gaming rhetorics: from rhetorical considerations of ludology (theories of play) to conversations on social media, games, and gaming communities, to serious games (games designed to make critical/cultural commentary or to engage in civic/social issues). Along the way, students will be asked not only to read texts on games and game theory, but to play games. Playing will be a central part of this course. And students will be asked to use those play/gaming experiences to inform their research, writing, and digital making activities.

Course artifacts will include readings from James Paul Gee, Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, Mary Flanagan, Ian Bogost, Jesper Juul, and Jane McGonigal (as a sample) and a few targeted games (ranging from Candy Crush to World of Warcraft, as potential examples).

W350 Advance Expository Writing
Katherine Silvester

13213 11:15a-12:05p MWF 3 cr.

Open to multilingual speakers.

W350 Advance Expository Writing

4657 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.
16247 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr. -- Open to multilingual speakers.
11868 1:25p-2:15p MWF 3 cr. -- Open to multilingual speakers.

Advanced writing course focuses on the interconnected activities of writing and reading, especially the kinds of responding, analyzing, and evaluating that characterize work in many fields in the university.