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Indiana University Bloomington

Undergraduate Courses


Upcoming Courses (Fall 2015)

English Language Courses

G208 World Englishes
Michael Adams

12449 9:30a-10:45a TR 3cr.

Speakers of English who live in the United States tend to view their English as THE English language, singular and monolithic, despite the dialectal variation within it, despite the fact that it is American English but not the English of England (or Scotland, or Canada), let alone all English, the “best” English, or the most spoken English. English does not “belong” to North Americans — it doesn’t even “belong” to the British, who gave it to subjects throughout their colonies (as has the United States to its colonies and territories). Speakers of formerly colonial English are reluctant to agree that there is one and only one English. Arguably, there are as many Englishes spoken around the world as there are English-speaking cultures, hence the title of this course.

Nearly 500 million people across the globe speak some variety of English as their first language, making English the third largest language by number of native speakers. Some variety of English is an official language in 53 countries, either the majority language or an official language in countries on six continents. English is also an official language of international organizations, such as the United Nations, and serves as a common commercial language worldwide.

The status of English around the world suggests that the world is “shrinking,” that more and more people are “speaking the same language.” Paradoxically, though, this is only possible as English develops more varieties aligned with the historical, cultural, and linguistic situations of particular places and people, most of which are not English in heritage, though they are often formerly (occasionally even currently) colonies, territories, or protectorates of English-speaking countries like England or the United States (once a colony of England, itself). The purpose of this course is to use various Englishes, their structures and histories, in order to explore English-speaking cultures around the world, not in isolation but in relation to one another. We will observe the ways in which local values, political structures, and material culture shape varieties of the “global” language called English.

Texts: Our basic text will be English in the World: History, Diversity, Change, edited by Philip Seargeant and Joan Swann (Routledge, 2012), though this will be supplemented in many ways during the term.

Assignments: Members of the course will write two brief essays (3-4 pages each) and both midterm and final examinations, and will participate in designing and delivering a group presentation.

100-Level Literature Courses

L111 Discovering Literature
Scott Herring
TOPIC: "Town and Country"

GenEd A&H,
30459 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

Are you a city slicker or bona fide Hoosier? Is your Zip code from inside the Circle City or from the hinterlands of IN? Does your family come from Martinsville or Schaumburg or Owensboro? And why do these questions seem to matter so much? No matter where you live, almost all of us have an opinion on the differences between the country and the city. Usually, it's not very pretty. This class will tackle this topic -- its history from the Romans to Amy Poehler, its stereotypes, and where it may be going in contemporary American culture -- over sixteen brief weeks. Along the way, the course offers you a further introduction to the humanities and to something it likes to call "critical thinking." We'll read some novels, a play, a memoir, and a short story. We'll also listen to few songs and watch a film. To make the large topic of "town and country" manageable, the course is divided into three sections that each addresses a different theme: pastoral, migration, and places left behind. In "Pastoral," we start with Book Two of Virgil's Georgics on the uses of olive oil, move to Our Town and My Ántonia, and end with some songs by John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. In "Migration," we'll cover two classic works in African-American literature, Sula and Their Eyes Were Watching God, then a heartbreaking memoir about Haitian refugees by Edwidge Danticat. In "Places Left Behind" we'll read short stories by Bobbie Ann Mason and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and address some local tensions between Bloomington's recent Slow Food movement and the IN-37 Cracker Barrel.

L111 Discovering Literature
Paul Gutjahr
TOPIC: "Best Sellers in America"

GenEd A&H,
31286 1:25p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

This course will explore American literary culture through the lens of novels and other types of writing which have sold extraordinary well in the United States over the past two centuries. By looking at best selling literary works beginning with Charlotte Temple (1791) and moving through J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter (1997), we will investigate not only why these narratives gained such popularity, but also what relationship they have had to American politics, fine arts, gender relations, racial tensions, and religion. We will also study some of the motion picture adaptations based on these books. Aside from the reading for the course, there will be two short papers and weekly quizzes. There will be no midterm and no final examination.

200-Level Literature Courses

L203 Introduction to Drama

3653 12:20p-1:10p 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

Open to majors and minors only.
3665 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

The aim of this course is to develop your abilities to read and write about fiction analytically as well as emotionally. We will examine how a selection of 19th – 21st century authors work with (and against) 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 Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway), 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


3654 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.
3655 9:05a-9:55a MWF 3 cr.
3656 10:10a-11:00a MWF 3 cr.
3657 12:20p-1:10p MWF 3 cr.
3658 11:15a-12:05p MWF 3 cr.
3659 1:25p-2:15p MWF 3 cr.
3660 2:30p-3:20p MWF 3 cr.
3661 3:35p-4:25p MWF 3 cr.
3662 8:00a-9:15a TR 3 cr.
3663 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.
3664 1:25p-2:15p MWF 3 cr.
3666 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.
10912 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.
3667 5:45p-7:00p TR 3 cr.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Nikki Skillman

3668 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

Out of the quarrel with others, W.B. Yeats proposes, we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. In this course we will explore the special linguistic strategies poets use to render the most invisible dimensions of human experience available to others; we will trace how poems work upon the senses, how they sharpen our awareness by making the familiar strange and the strange familiar, how they seduce us by “resisting the intelligence,” Wallace Stevens writes, “almost successfully.” As we range widely across the long history of poetry in English, we’ll survey varieties of poetic form and consider the kinds of defenses poets have offered for their genre; we’ll also ask how the attitudes, values and judgments of individuals and social groups find distinctive expression in poetic form. Students will amass a critical vocabulary for describing individual poems and for defending their own literary tastes, and will learn to draw on this vocabulary to support elegant analytical arguments about how poems produce meaning and why. Evaluation is likely to be based on several short papers, a mid-term and a final exam, and class participation.

L205 Introduction to Poetry

3669 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.
13998 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

L206 Introduction to Prose
Michael Adams

14003 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

This course will introduce students to principles and practices of writing and reading nonfiction prose. We will read a wide variety of essays written in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries very carefully, in order to figure out how they tick, and in order to figure out what they contribute to culture, why nonfiction writing matters to the way we live now. The works we’ll read are informative and full of pleasure. The way we think about prose will not only help you read better but write better, too, no matter your work or walk in life. Because this course satisfies the IW requirement, you’ll write at least 20 finished pages, some of which will be revised from earlier drafts. Texts: The Best American Essays of the Century, edited by Joyce Carol Oates (Mariner Books, 2001; ISBN 978-0618155873; $19.95); Muriel Spark, Curriculum Vitae (New Directions, 2011; ISBN 978-0811219235; $14.95); and Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel (Vintage, 1993; 978-0679746317; 18.00).

L207 Women in Literature
Christine Farris
TOPIC: “Women’s Work”

12452 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

In this course, we will read selected works from the 19th century to the present, with an eye toward how women authors have variously represented women’s economic (in)dependence and characterized the complex relationship between women’s domestic and workplace lives and identities. We will investigate how women’s work, informed by history and culture, is represented in literature and film through intersecting lenses of gender, race, class, and sexuality. We will be particularly concerned with the ways in which authors give voice to their own experiences and those of others and with how fictional and cinematic texts work through conflicting ideals of femininity, equality, and difference via the use of and/or the subversion of stereotypes. We will also explore the bases for our own connections to these works, as we cultivate critical reading and analytical writing skills.

Texts will include Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”; Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and “Professions for Women”; Fannie Hurst’s Imitation of Life; Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye; Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” and “Everyday Use”; Kathryn Stockett’s The Help; and the films I Walked With a Zombie (1943) and Imitation of Life (1943 and 1959). Assignments will include microthemes, a comparative analysis paper, a midterm, and a final exam.

L208 Topics in English and American Literature and Culture
De Witt Kilgore
TOPIC: "Higher, Faster, Further: Superhero Narrative and American Culture"

15980 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

The focus of this course is the American superhero narrative, its history and evolution in comic books, television and film. The superhero is a narrative icon that represents what freedom and morality may mean, the value of action, the kind of social order we hope for, what must be defended and who may be punished. We will cover the careers of familiar mainstream superheroes as well as the progress of less familiar, creator-owned paragons who both reflect and challenge their mainstream siblings. This is a creator-focused course. It pays particular attention to the craft of the artists and writers who create this aspect of American life. We will also tackle the ways superhero comics embody American culture in adventures invoking race, gender, class, religion and national identity.

L220 Introduction to Shakespeare

3670 11:15a-12:05p MWF 3 cr.

Rapid reading of at least a dozen of Shakespeare’s major plays and poems. May not be taken concurrently with L313 or L314.

L223 Introduction to Ethnic American Literature
Walton Muyumba
TOPIC: “Through The Wire: Crime and the Mysteries of Identity in American Ethnic Narratives”

116690 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

In this course we will develop our understanding of American ethnicity through a close study of crime and mystery narratives. In our discussions we’ll consider why mystery novels, television crime drama, and film noir have been especially useful forms for interrogating ethnic group identities and exploring the complexities of American history.

Among other works, we will study The Wire, season two (David Simon); Clockers (Spike Lee); Gangs of New York (Martin Scorsese); Indian Killer (Sherman Alexie); The Plague of Doves (Louise Erdrich); Black Water Rising (Attica Locke); and The Intuitionist Colson Whitehead.

Assignments will include building and posting digital projects on Tumblr and practicing arts criticism.

L224 Introduction to World Literatures in English
Joan Linton
TOPIC: “Becoming a Person”

11000 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

Pinocchio strives to become a real boy, and the Little Mermaid gives up her voice and tail to become human. Growing up, our fairy tales have given us a sense of being in the world prior to becoming a person, and a process of becoming that is full of adventure but also full of trials and peril. So what does it mean—and what does it take—to become a person in your own right? This is in fact a question that great writers around the world and through the ages have posed from their diverse cultural perspectives. They have challenged us to explore the implications of becoming persons through the rich imaginative and lived experiences their works offer. In this course, we will take up the challenge by reading a number of short stories, poems, and novels, and sharing our responses to them in discussion and writing. Course readings and activities will address three trajectories of becoming a person: (1) coming of age and reclaiming one’s heritage; (2) surviving war/displacement and reviving one’s humanity; and (3) severance from and healing with nature. Attending to these trajectories will allow us to experience the power of language in uncovering personal experiences, histories, and social systems that shape individuals’ lives as persons and collective existences as peoples. The process will also enable us to reflect on our own histories, circumstances, and experiences as resources for redefining our relation to home, to one another as individuals and peoples, and to nature.

In addition to selected poems and short stories, readings may include: Elliott Ackerman, _Green On Blue_; Amitav Ghosh, _The Hungry Tide_; John Green, _The Fault in Our Stars_; Doris Pilkington Garimara, _Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence_; Gregory Scofield, _Singing Home the Bones_; Leslie Marmon Silko, _Ceremony_; Jacinda Townsend, _Saint Monkey_; Jeanette Winterson, _Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit_

Regular attendance and participation in class activities will provide a strong basis for the following written assignments: (1) a journal of reading responses and research notes; (2) a personal profile based on an interview; (3) analysis of an in-class presentation in relation to a reading; (4) a mid-term exam; and (5) a final project.

L240 Literature and Public Life
Stephanie Li
TOPIC: "Contemporary American Memoirs"

11819 2:30p-3:45p 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.

L260 Introduction to Advanced Study of Literature
Kathy Smith

15647 11:15a-12:05p TR 3 cr.
15648 9:05a-9:55a W 3 cr.
15649 12:20p-1:10p W 3 cr.

Why Study Literature?

The goal of this class is to introduce you to strategies for studying literature that foster an 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. To meet this goal, we will spend the semester reading and writing about texts representing poetry, fiction, drama, and film that prompt us to explore and perhaps determine for ourselves the most compelling reasons for studying Literature in the first place.

300-Level Literature Courses

L307 Medieval and Tudor Drama
Shannon Gayk

30477 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

This course is an introduction to early English drama. From biblical drama to allegorical morality plays, medieval theater offers a unique mix of the sacred and the profane, the high and the low, the bawdy and the profound. Unlike the renaissance theater that followed it, medieval drama was often the project of entire towns, performed in the streets rather than in theaters and acted by merchants, artisans, and laborers rather than professionals. Throughout the semester, we will read widely in early English drama, exploring the literary strategies used to move, teach, and make audiences laugh, discussing issues of performance and staging, and considering the larger social, economic, and religious contexts in which the drama is produced. We will focus on biblical drama and morality plays but end the semester looking toward the renaissance stage by reading Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (a work that itself glances back at the medieval stage). Course requirements included preparation and engaged participation, a series of short papers and one longer essay, a midterm exam, and participation in a group performance project.

L310 Literary History 1: Beginnings through the Seventeenth Century
Rob Fulk

15222 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

The approach of the course to early English texts will be archaeological, in the broadest sense of the word. Although the primary focus of the course will be on the close reading of English texts from earliest times to the Restoration, we will continually attempt to supplement close reading by placing these texts in their cultural contexts, recovering the material conditions under which they were produced and received in the Anglo-Saxon, late medieval, and early modern periods. That is, we will map and navigate the methods of interpretation peculiar to the study of texts from periods separated from modern literature by time and cultural difference. We will, for example, study the Elizabethan book trade to understand the milieu in which works like the poems of Wyatt and Surrey, Marlowe's Hero and Leander, and Shakespeare's sonnets reached the reading public. We will study how the late medieval explosion of book production and the invention of the printing press molded the development of canonical forms of literature, language, and religious and political belief. We will examine how the concurrent rise of the Gothic style in art and architecture and of more natural, less stylized literary forms express a profound cultural shift related to the rise of affective lay piety. And we will examine the nature of monastic life to facilitate an understanding of how modern conceptions of literacy as print-based, of literature as high art, and of authors as independent agents of inspiration stand in the way of our understanding of the intentions of those who recorded such works as Beowulf and The Wanderer in the Old English period. In the process we will examine some of these works in their manuscript contexts and learn how to decipher varieties of Tudor and medieval handwriting. Our approach will be “archaeological,” then, in the sense that we will attempt to reconstruct literate cultures from their disparate remains and make sense of early English texts in the context of what we know about the uses of literacy in early times. In fine, we will aim to do the work of professional scholars in these periods--the kinds of work that make medieval and Renaissance studies refreshingly different and medieval and Renaissance texts documents both absorbing and enjoyable to study.

The texts to be studied will include all or parts of Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Book of Margery Kempe, a medieval drama, Spenser's Faerie Queene, dramas by Marlowe and Shakespeare, lyrics by Wyatt, Surrey, Elizabeth I, Sidney, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, and Milton, and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Assignments will include three examinations and two brief analytic papers.

The textbook will be the ninth edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 1, ed. Stephen Greenblatt (ISBN 978-0-393-91247-0), which, however, may be purchased in three volumes of more manageable size (Vols. A-C, ISBN 978-0-393-91300-2).

L312 Literary History 2: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Rae Greiner
TOPIC: “The Ethics of Intelligence”

15223 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This course offers a broad overview of British and American literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: the era of empire, industry, and revolution. Readings will draw on themes relating to the project of Enlightenment - which emphasized reason, intelligence, and scientific rationality - as well as states existing in between enlightenment and stupidity or animality (as in the “noble savage”) or in apparent opposition to the Enlightenment project (irrationality, idiocy, madness, delusion). Organizing these readings will be an emphasis on ethical questions pertaining to how intelligence is determined and measured, where it is found, of what it consists, and its shifting value across cultural differences. Readings (likely) to include novels by Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Olaudah Equiano, Herman Melville, and Stephen Crane, as well as shorter fiction (Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Conan Doyle) and select prose and poems.

L313 Early Plays of Shakespeare
Linda Charnes

3671 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

This course will examine social and political politics, familial relations, and competing versions of “history” in six of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan plays. We will pay special attention to how social and economic systems organize familial and love relations, how conflicts between individuals and social codes are worked out (or not, depending on one’s viewpoint), through strategies of genre, scapegoating, misrecognition, marriage, death and revenge. We will ground our reading of the plays in Renaissance social and cultural history, looking at the effects of female rule in a patriarchal culture, an emerging capitalist economy, and other factors that strongly influenced gender, family and class relationships. We will read several comedies, history plays, and tragedies; and look at how the choice, structure, and conventions of genre alter, disguise or reveal the debates and crises circulating in early modern England and the theatre.

Plays will include Richard II, 1 Henry IV, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet. Requirements will be two papers, a midterm, attendance and participation, and a final exam.

L314 Late Plays of Shakespeare
Penelope Anderson
TOPIC: “Revenging and Forgiving in the Later Plays of Shakespeare”

3672 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

Would you forgive the person who humiliated you in front of the person you love? what about the person who tricked you into believing that your beloved was unfaithful? or the one who made you so certain of that infidelity that you killed the person you loved?

In this course, our readings encompass almost unimaginable acts of horror and – perhaps equally incomprehensible – more fragile, and much more difficult, attempts to forgive those acts. What does it say about characters, or a society, if they respond to atrocity with vengeance and an escalation of harm? What does it mean if they try to move toward reconciliation? What if they wish to do one but instead turn to the other? Revenge and forgiveness raise a range of questions about memory, self-awareness, and difference; they both illuminate and distort how we see ourselves and others in the world.

By focusing on Shakespeare’s later plays, we will look not at his tragedies closest to the (by Shakespeare’s time) old-fashioned revenge tragedy, but instead at a range of genres that address these questions in different ways. We will focus on the literary – the ways that language, image, character, and plot shape a text – but in so doing we will also always be conscious of the ways that literature shapes our expectations and ways of relating to the world.

We will read two tragedies (Othello, King Lear); two comedies (Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night); and two romances (Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale), along with relevant criticism. Requirements for the course will include regular attendance and active participation; one informal writing assignment; two formal papers; an oral presentation or performance; written discussion questions; and a final exam.

L316 Literary History III: Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries
Scott Herring

30486 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

This course surveys major works in twentieth- and twenty-first century Anglophone literatures. We will read classics by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Baldwin as well as recently lauded works by Edwidge Danticat, R. Zamora Linmark, Alison Bechdel, Dave Eggers, and Cormac McCarthy. Along the way, we will travel from New York City to the Great Plains, from the swamplands of Florida to the streets of Paris, from Haiti to Honolulu, and from pre-Katrina New Orleans to the end of the world. We’ll also cover major genres such as modernism, regionalism, African-American literature, the gay and lesbian novel, diasporic literature, and dystopian fiction. Assignments will include a midterm, a final, and two papers.

L332 Romantic Literature
Monique Morgan

8972 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

British literature of the Romantic period was, and is, revolutionary: much of it was written during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars; it contested long-standing notions of natural order, social organization, ethical behavior, and artistic value; and it invented new genres and reanimated old ones. We are still living in the cultural legacy of Romanticism’s revolutionary thought. This course will focus on the poetry of British Romanticism, but will also include two novels and a range of nonfiction prose. Lectures will incorporate formal analysis, historical contexts, and a variety of critical approaches. Previous familiarity with poetry is recommended but not required. Assignments will likely include two essays, a midterm, a final exam, reading quizzes, and regular participation in class discussion. The required texts are: D. L. MacDonald and Anne McWhir, eds. The Broadview Anthology of Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 1770-1832; Jane Austen, Persuasion; and, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818 version).

L345 Twentieth-Century British Poetry
Nikki Skillman

30504 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

In this survey of twentieth-century British and Irish poetry, we will explore some of the most memorable, rapturous, iconoclastic, difficult, innovative poets and poems in the history of English. Tracking the evolution of poetic styles from the twilight of the Victorian period to the present, we will examine how successive generations of British and Irish poets, traumatized by world wars, ethnic and religious conflict, and the contraction of empire, sought to redefine the role of the imagination in a disenchanted century. Though we will situate the poems we read within broad aesthetic movements, within the long history of poetry in English, and within the oeuvres of their makers, our focus will always be on poems as individual works of art. The course will begin with the poetry of Thomas Hardy, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, World War I poets, and W.H. Auden; later poets are likely to include Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Anne Stevenson, Grace Nichols, Maebhe McGuckian, Carol Ann Duffy, and Caroline Bergvall. Evaluation will be based on two exams, two papers (one of which may be a review of a recent book of poetry), and class participation.

L346 Twentieth-Century British Fiction
Ranu Samantrai
TOPIC: "The Shrinking Nation, 1945-2000"

13413 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

This course is designed to provide a broad overview of English prose literature of the second half of the twentieth century. England entered the era as the leader of the industrial revolution and ruler of the largest modern empire. By the end of the century it had shrunk to a deindustrialized service state in a federation, pushed to the margins of the globalized world. England’s sense of itself was transformed during this period, and each of our texts reflects upon the changing state of the nation. Using work by major writers, we will survey the intellectual history of this period and attend to its major aesthetic and philosophical developments, including the new realisms, postmodernism, and postcolonial aesthetics. We will give ourselves a thematic focus by attending to how authors address the loss or destabilization of religious, political and epistemological certainties. In many of our texts we will find anxiety regarding the significance of the individual, the basis for ethical action in an age characterized by flux, doubts cast on national and religious institutions, and the dubious legacy of previous generations. Throughout the semester we’ll discuss the intricate relationship between form and content—the meeting point where authors struggle to say the unsayable, to make room for untold stories, and to create narratives that reflect and participate in the world-altering events of their remarkable times. Authors likely will include Priestley, Osborne, Selvon, Stoppard, Pinter, Churchill, Ishiguro, Barker, Rushdie, Mitchell, and Evaristo. Students may expect to present research in class, write two papers and take two examinations.

L347 British Fiction to 1800
Jesse Molesworth
TOPIC: "Enlightenment and the Novel"

12466 11:15a-12:30p 3 cr.

Two theses have dominated eighteenth-century studies for the last half-century or so: one having to do with the “rise of the novel” and one having to do with the sway of the “Enlightenment,” in all of its philosophical, political, and scientific dimensions. Effectively, though, these theses have been one and the same. To what extent do novels work to enlighten and to what extent to they resist enlightenment? Using Kant’s seminal essay “What is Enlightenment?” as a framework, these questions will guide our investigations into five landmark works. Topics will include the relation of the novel to the epic, the rise of empire, the bourgeois “public sphere” hypothesis, the waning (?) of Providence, and the nature of literary realism, among many others.

Texts will include Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, Frances Burney’s Evelina, Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

Assignments will include a short essay, a long essay, frequent reading quizzes, and regular class attendance and participation.

L351 American Literature 1800-1865
Paul Gutjahr

30513 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

American publishing experience unprecedented, exponential growth during the first half of the nineteenth century. An emerging market economy, widespread religious revival, reforms in education, and innovations in print technology worked together to create a culture increasingly formed and framed by the power of print. While debates raged about whether the United States even had its own literature, other debates concerning American printed material appeared as well. This course will examine American literature and its place in the cultural landscape through the lens of the popular and the supposedly “classic” literature of the time. There will be frequent reading quizzes and both shorter and longer papers. Texts may include: Charlotte Temple by Susannah Rowson; The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper; Hope Leslie by Catharine Maria Sedgwick; Moby-Dick by Herman Melville; Ragged Dick by Horatio Alger; Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott; Ten Nights in a Bar-Room by T.S. Arthur; portions of Quaker City by George Lippard and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

L355 American Fiction to 1900
Jennifer Fleissner
TOPIC: "American Fiction and Social Change"

15063 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

This is a class about what happens when fiction and politics mix. Our area of study is the mid- to late nineteenth-century U.S., a period that saw a remarkable proliferation of movements for social reform. Often overlapping, these movements championed such causes as antislavery and (later) racial equality; women’s rights; workers’ rights; communitarian living; and sometimes the complete overhaul of society. We will focus primarily (though not exclusively) on the first three of these, and on novels, stories, and a memoir in which they come forward as major subjects.

Likely texts will include: Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin; Davis, "Life in the Iron-Mills"; Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance; Melville, short fiction; Thoreau, Walden (selections); Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Chopin, The Awakening; Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition; Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000-1887.

L357 Twentieth-Century American Poetry
Joshua Kates

30522 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

This course surveys 20th-century American poetry. We will begin from the modernists (T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound) and anti-modernists (Robert Frost), registering the importance of the image and imagism to both. We will proceed through objectivism (Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams) and the Harlem Renaissance’s adaptation and advance of these styles. This leads us to the turn to more “autobiographical” poetry in the second half of the century (the Beats, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop) and we end with the turn to language (John Ashbery, Jorie Graham). Throughout we will pay attention to the way poetry works: meter, syntax, metaphor and other tropes. Participants in this course should come prepared to read carefully and closely—and also to enjoy. There will be many opportunities for participation—some classes will be workshop-style where students read and discuss poems together and present their findings. Grades depend on these and other opportunities for participation, midterm and final papers and exams, and possibly some other short assignments.

L366 Modern Drama: English, Irish, American, Post-Colonial
Ranu Samantrai
TOPIC: “The English Stage, 1945-2000”

30548 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

This class provides a survey of English drama of the second half of the twentieth century. We'll cover the major aesthetic innovations of the era, from the kitchen sink realism of the Angry Young Men to absurdist and postmodernist theater, and from feminist to multicultural experiments with naturalism. Because in this short half century England shrank from ruler of the largest modern empire to a deindustrialized service state in a federation, the drama of this period is especially preoccupied with the state of the nation. Through the lens of theater we'll create a map of the intellectual and political history of the period. Playwrights likely will include Priestley, Osborne, Pinter, Delaney, Stoppard, Churchill, Bennet, Hare, Armah, Bean, and Din. Students may expect to present research in class, write two papers and take two exams.

L367 Literature of the Bible
Herbert Marks
TOPIC: “The Agnostic Bible”
Note: This course is cross-listed with HON H303 and CMLT C301.

33358 5:30p-6:45p TR 3 cr.

There is arguably no book of world literature that has been more embroidered, distorted, and misread than the Hebrew Bible. As the basis of Christian theology and the ultimate source of Jewish law, it is commended even today as a moral and metaphysical guide, a treasury of dogmatic truth. But there is a significant strain in the Bible--perhaps the predominant strain--that is impatient with piety and suspicious of dogmatic wisdom, particularly the wisdom of those who presume on their knowledge of the uncanny central figure it calls God or Yahweh. Indeed, if one reads against the grain of tradition, the Bible is a book that revels in contradiction, invites questions but frustrates answers, views human morality, like divine “goodness,” with skepticism, and treats its characters, legendary or historical, with irreverent license. In this course we shall be exploring this skeptical strain in biblical literature, beginning with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job, continuing with parts of the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic History, and concluding with the Gospel of Mark. Theoretical questions about the epistemology of reading (how we know what we know) will be a constant focus, but we shall approach them through specific readings and narrowly focused discussion. Secondary texts will include essays on general and special hermeneutics as well as selections from modern biblical scholarship. Students will be asked to write a series of short exercises and two more formal papers.

L371 Critical Practices
Joshua Kates

15724 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

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.

L381 Recent Writing
Alyce Miller
TOPIC: "Legacy"

10409 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

Reading list:

  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Black Notebooks, Toi Derricotte
  • Winter Birds, Jim Grimsley
  • Feed, M.T. Anderson
  • Lying, Lauren Slater
  • Redeployment, Phil Klay
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid
  • Once the Shore, Paul Yoon
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, Alice Munro
  • After Long Silence, Helen Fremont

in terms of a number of dynamics that will emerge from our readings: the roles of religion, race, history, geo-politics, social justice, sexuality, ethnicity, love, culture, family, society, childhood, etc., in shaping our human experience. We will be reading an eclectic combination of nonfiction, and novels, and short story collections of various genres and approaches.

There will be two substantial papers, two exams, and several short assignments directly tied to class participation.

Please note that you will need to purchase Winter Birds on your own from Amazon, as it will not be available in the bookstores.

Please have all books purchased by the start of the fall semester, so you’re ready to go!

L383 Studies in British or Commonwealth Culture
Vivian Halloran
TOPIC: “Tropical Canada: Literature of the Caribbean Diaspora”

14171 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

A recent topic being discussed in the Canadian Parliament is the sentiment that “Canada needs a Hawaii.” In fact, our friendly neighbors to the North are so serious about the prospect of adding a new province in a warm climate that they’ve approached the government of Turks and Caicos with an offer to acquire the island. Given this national interest in sunny climes, and to practicing a belated Manifest Destiny of sorts, the stage is set for an in-depth investigation into how members of the Caribbean diaspora have made themselves at home in Northern climes.

In this class, we will read literary works by writers from various Caribbean islands who have adopted Canada as their new homeland. We will investigate the role that nostalgia plays in literary framings of life in Toronto, Montreal, and less urban outposts. By reading short fiction, novels, and poetry by these Tropical Caribbean writers through two critical lenses—as both part of a multicultural Canadian literary canon and as diasporic works—we will consider how “tropical” each art form is.

L389 Feminist Literature and Cultural Criticism
Rebekah Sheldon
TOPIC: “Women, Nature, Science”

15365 2:30p-3:45p MW 3 cr.

“What is a woman?”

So asks Simone de Beauvoir in her acclaimed work of feminist philosophy, The Second Sex. “Very simple,” she answers, sarcastically. “She is a womb, an ovary. She is female—this word is sufficient to define her.” De Beauvoir’s seemingly innocent question catalyzed a line of argument connecting the treatment of women to imperialism, industrialism, and the exploitation of the environment. In this class, we will explore the way feminist philosophers have theorized the web of relations that tie together nature, science, sex, gender, and sexuality in the wake of de Beauvoir and consider how and why those theories have changed over time. In so doing, we will become familiar with major movements in feminist thought including liberal feminism, feminist ecocriticism, Marxist feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, Black feminism, postcolonial feminism, queer theory, and new materialism.

Authors may include Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Freidan, Susan Griffin, Gayle Rubin, Greta Gaard, Luce Irigaray, Donna Haraway, Chela Sandoval, Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Elizabeth Grosz, Sylvia Wynter, Jane Bennett, Melinda Cooper, Karen Barad, Jordana Rosenberg, or Stacy Alaimo.

L395 British and American Film Studies
DeWitt Kilgore
TOPIC: “Science Fiction in Cinema in the 20th Century”

30566 11:15a-12:30p MW 3 cr.

Over the past century science fiction films have evolved into a uniquely expressive genre of narrative cinema. At its best cinematic science fiction allows us to escape from the mundane in ways that are both pleasurable and challenging. In this course we will define science fiction film as a genre, explore the story-telling potentials of special effects and their meaning, investigate the impact of futurist or exotic design on narrative, and examine how it reflects the social and political interests of its times. Major narrative themes will be the city of the future; space travel, its machines and environments; the monster and first contact with extraterrestrial aliens, the robot and other artificial intelligences. Films such as Things to Come (1936), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Star Wars (1977), and Blade Runner (1991) will be our primary texts. Critical readings will supplement our reading, thinking, and discussion.

L396 Studies in African American Literature
Stephanie Li
TOPIC: "Radical Narratives of Toni Morrison"

15342 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

Toni Morrison has emerged as one of the most influential writers and critics in contemporary American culture. This course will examine her diverse literary and critical work from a variety of perspectives. Special attention will be paid to Morrison’s contributions to African American literature and theory, in particular how she conceives of Black art and the responsibilities of its practitioners. In our study of her novels, we will explore such issues as the importance of history and myth in the creation of personal identity, constructions of race and gender, the dynamic nature of love, the role of the community in social life, and the pressures related to the development of adolescent girls. We will also examine the changing nature of Morrison’s reception by critics and academics, and consider how and why she has achieved such widespread acclaim and influence.

400-Level Literature Courses

L450 Seminar: British and American Authors
Richard Nash
TOPIC: Alexander Pope and his contemporaries

30574 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

People ridiculed Alexander Pope for the same reason that Shakespeare ridiculed Richard III (recently excavated from beneath a public parking lot): because he had a “crooked back,” and because they disagreed with his politics.

Arguably, no time and place in literary history is so strongly marked by webbed networks of literary, cultural, and political engagement as was eighteenth-century London. When literature speaks truth to power, and does so in ways that mobilize effective political opposition, what happens? How does authority react? When opposition produces change, is the opposition successful? Or has it been coopted? How can the study of literary and cultural history guide us through the ever more complicated networks of power that frame our own lives and political commitments? Just as importantly, how can we move such study down from dusty bookshelves, and out of cramped cubicles and carrels, to imagine new tools for a dynamic, ongoing method of teaching and learning about literature’s complex relation to larger cultural and political forces. This course will be about history, about literature, about study; and most importantly, about how new tools help us imagine these categories and our work more effectively.

L460 Seminar: Literary Form, Mode, and Theme
Monique Morgan
TOPIC: “Science Fiction before ‘Science Fiction’”

30582 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

The phrase ‘science fiction’ has a clear origin: Hugo Gernsback coined the term shortly after he began publishing Amazing Stories in 1926. The origin of the genre we call ‘science fiction’ is more open to debate, but it arguably predates Gernsback’s term by two centuries. In this seminar, we will study the prehistory of science fiction in Britain and America, from the eighteenth century through the early-twentieth century. Our primary texts will likely include Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and selections from The Last Man, short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau, E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland. A range of literary criticism and theory will help us analyze these novels’ radical experiments (both those they depict and those they enact), and what they tell us about their world (and ours). Since this is a capstone seminar, previous university-level coursework in literature is strongly recommended. Assignments will include three 2-page response papers, a term paper proposal, and a 15-page term paper.

L480 Seminar:Literature and History
Linda Charnes
TOPIC: “Subjects, Rebels, Citizens: From Divine Right to Democracy”

14177 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

“The Making of Modern Persons: from Reformation Theology through the Declaration of Independence”

This seminar will discern the gradual emergence of modern idea of the sovereign individual, the person as sole “owner” of him or herself. We’ll begin with texts from the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther’s influence on the idea of the individual ‘in charge’ of his own soul, to the decline and fall of the Divine Right of Kings. We will track a slow shift from regarding entire populations as “subjects” and as property (including women) to the emergence of philosophies and political ideas that culminate in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, yet still lag behind with respect to the social and economic legacies of slavery. From Shakespeare’s plays Richard II, Henry V, Merchant of Venice, Othello, and possibly The Tempest, we’ll go to selections from the work of John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, Aphra Behn, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Jefferson, Susanna Rowson (who wrote the first American “bestseller” novel), Adam Smith, and Ben Franklin, and (if there’s time) some Freud and the ideas of his successors. How did transatlantic literature, political theology, psychology and philosophy transform the subjects of monarchy (and its evil twin, Tyranny) into individuals who participate, to greater and lesser degrees, in arguably democratic processes?

How do these discourses of Western Culture form the amalgam of how people come to regard, and experience themselves, as “persons”? We’ll consider not just what forms this viewpoint but what contradicts and complicates it as well.

This is designed to be a “capstone” course. Pre-requisites might include a few courses in literature, history, psychology, philosophy, cultural studies, gender studies, postcolonial studies, or political science. Some previous exposure to college humanities classes is advised, and a love of reading and debate is a necessity. Students will prepare a brief presentation on a topic of their choice (which may include early slave narratives, colonial texts, or other literature not on the syllabus), and write a twelve to fifteen page final seminar paper. There will be lots of discussion in class, all political viewpoints will be respected (disagreement is built into the reading selections themselves) and attendance and participation will count for 20% of your course grade. A blog will also be set up for weekly discussion notes.

Queries can be directed to me at

Creative Writing Courses

W203 Creative Writing

CASE A&H Breadth of Inquiry

3821 11:15a-12:30p TR
3822 1:00p-2:15p TR
9011 2:30p-3:45p TR

9012 11:15a-12:05p MWF
3824 11:15a-12:05p MWF
3823 1:00p-2:15p MWF
3825 2:30p-3:45p TR
11565 4:00p-5:15p TR

Fiction and Poetry:
3826 5:45p-7:00p MW

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

7517 1:00p-2:15p 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.

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
Elizabeth Eslami

30655 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.

In most workshops, students hastily write three or four pieces, revise a couple of them, and call it a day. But what would happen if you had the entire semester to work on one story, to write multiple versions, gut those versions, start from scratch each week and embrace new ideas? What would happen if you changed the point-of-view, attached a clock to it, or told the whole thing in reverse order?

Each week I’ll throw a new challenge your way. One semester, one story. You’ll write a lot for this class, but if you give it your all, this could be the best story you’ve ever written. I’ll assign several stories as models for you to study. We’ll begin each class with a discussion of assigned material, with an emphasis on specific elements of craft. Why does the writer make this decision? What is the result? How can we pull off such sleights-of-hand in our own fiction?

In the second half of the course, each student will choose one version of their story to be workshopped by their peers. Students will critique the work of their peers and apply criticism to their own work, actively engaging in the revision process. The final project will be a file that contains every draft of your story, including a version you’ll revise using group feedback. You will also write 1-2 pages making a case for the version you think is your best.

W303 Writing Poetry
Stacey Brown

10410 1:00p-2:15p 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.

W303 Writing Poetry is a course dedicated in equal parts to the study of concepts of poetic craft (the line, imagery, music, etc.) as well as the creation, workshopping, and revision of the students’ own original poems. Students will be responsible for reading about craft concepts, completing writing exercises based upon those concepts, and producing a total of 6 original poems for workshop and revision. Students will also read contemporary poems and respond to them weekly in writing and keep a writing journal for fragments, images, and ideas.

W311 Writing Creative Nonfiction
Romayne Rubinas Dorsey

10048 11:15a-12:30p TR

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 this writing workshop we will be reading and writing essays that intersect with the personal whether through social/polemical/historical concerns (e.g., Baldwin, Berry, Laymon or Vowell); satirical or humorous approaches (e.g., Parker, Sedaris, Allen, Paine); journalistic pursuits (e.g., Orlean, Vidal, Wolff); contemplative practice (e.g., Dillard, Norris, Lamott); or the quotidian (e.g., Montaigne, Sanders, Hampl). We will read multiple examples of the genre, and we will explore them through class discussion and in our own writing. In the workshop component of the class, we will focus on how craft elements—from syntax to overall form—are being put to use, the ways in which each of our essays engages the genre and its conventions, and what is striking and what might be improved about each of our essays.

Students will be expected to hand in 35-40 pages of new and original work, consisting of four short essays, two of which will be developed into longer essays for workshop. You will offer substantive written critique of peer work and you’ll be expected to be prepared to participate actively in all class discussions. In preparation for class discussion, you will keep a reading journal of reflections on all course readings.

Probable texts include: A few essay collections like Jamison’s The Empathy Exams and Kiese Laymon’s How to Slowly Kill Yourselves and Others in America; a representative anthology such as The Touchstone Reader; The Norton Reader; Short Takes (ed. Judith Kitchen); and/or a Best American Essays anthology; and possibly a craft text like On Writing Well.

W381 The Craft of Fiction
Jacinda Townsend

7843 9:30a-10:45a MW 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W203 or W301 or W311 or permission of instructor. To obtain permission, first submit the form at

This course is designed to give you an arsenal of technical skills that will help your fiction as you move from having wet feet to swimming in the deep end of the pool. The process of creation can be a daunting one, but you should end this fall term having become more comfortable in your artistic skin. We will discuss works by published authors in order to deepen our understanding of technical elements, and we will discuss one another’s short exercises. Most important, for your writing practice, is that you deepen your understanding of literary fiction through the act of reading. To that end, you will be loosely emulating the works of contemporary authors. To measure the growth of your writing this fall, you will turn in weekly exercises in the areas of character, setting, dialogue, pacing, plot, and point of view. Because I see setting as the most oft-overlooked one, we will be writing stories set in the same American town this semester.

W401 Advanced Fiction Writing
Jacinda Townsend

7518 1:00p-2:15p 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.

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--The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction--as well as several accompanying stories to help us develop a conversation about craft.

W403 Advanced Poetry Writing
Catherine Bowman

33381 1:00p-2:15p 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 course is an advanced undergraduate writing workshop in writing poetry. Students will write and revise twelve poems over the semester as well as complete several readings response papers and experiments with prosody, form and content. Approval of the instructor is required for admission. We will read four collections of poetry, a packet of poems and essays. I will also assign a book on craft and poetry.

Public and Professional Writing Courses

W170 Introduction to Argumentative Writing

TOPIC: Shore Raids and Shield Maids: The Viking in Popular Culture

11397 9:05a-9:55a MWF 3 cr.
33972 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

The Viking remains one of the most fascinating figures of the middle ages, working its way into our history, our national mythos, our sports culture, our fantasy and science fiction—even our Capital One commercials. From the horn-helmet-wearing singers of opera to the blood-wine-drinking Klingons of Star Trek, each age has reinvented the Viking to serve its own cultural purposes. Each work of literature or film adds a new layer to established character types: the barbarian, the explorer, the warrior, the shield-maiden, the Valkyrie. This course will first ask who the Vikings were, through a look at medieval history and a reading of Egils saga Skallagrimsson, one of the greatest Icelandic sagas. Then we will ask what we make of the Viking in modern popular literature by analyzing the Marvel comics version of Thor and the History Channel drama Vikings.
The course will fulfill the English Composition requirement through a focus on critical reading and thinking, text and film analysis, and modes of academic writing.

TOPIC: Dystopia in Popular Culture: Heroines, Hunger Games, and Hope for the Future

3815 3:35p-4:25p MWF 3 cr.
3818 5:45p-7:00p TR 3 cr.

“Who cares about pretty? I’m going for noticeable.”
- Divergent, Veronica Roth
“This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.”
- The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
The popularity of stories like The Hunger Games and Divergent has exploded in the past ten years. Not only have these works inspired millions to read the books and watch the films, they have also become media and entertainment franchises. Why are people wearing Katniss braids and Mockingjay pins? Why is “The Hanging Tree” song from Catching Fire playing on Top 40 radio stations? As we develop the skills for analytical thinking, reading, and writing through engagement with various media, this composition course will explore the cultural phenomena revealed by the recent surge in dystopian works. We’ll ask questions such as: What makes a world dystopian? Why are the heroes of these stories often young women? What do they tell us about our hopes and fears as a culture? Why do we create dystopian works? As the culmination of this course, students will have the opportunity to compose a research-based essay on a primary source of their choosing from among texts (popular books, comics, films, video games, TV shows, and more) that depict heroines in dystopian worlds.

TOPIC: Phonies, Fraudsters, and Fakes: The Problem of Authenticity in America

12199 4:40p-5:30p MWF 3 cr.
7079 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

The confidence artist or phony is generally considered to be a profoundly inauthentic person who abuses the very notion of authenticity to get what he or she wants. These fakers and fraudsters are all over the place in our popular culture, especially in recent films like American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street and television shows like Faking It and Better Call Saul. Which begs the question: why are we so drawn to them? What makes the con-artist a particularly American phenomenon? What can the con-artist teach us about the trickiness of authenticity? Using a variety of films, essays, and novels this course will teach students the skills of critical reading and writing necessary to analyze and contextualize the complex figure of the con-artist in American culture. In teasing out the difficulties of authenticity, the course disturbs and disrupts simple notions and straightforward values of truth, lies, identity, and desire.

TOPIC: Superheroes and the Body in American Popular Culture

11398 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.
7081 4:00p-5:15p MW 3 cr.

Superheroes are inescapable. In the next year, Batman will face off against Superman, Ant-Man will save the world, and the X-Men will face Apocalypse, with sequels to these unreleased films already in development. The superhero craze isn’t limited to the big screen, either: the releases of new installments of comics and video games are hotly anticipated, and shows like Gotham and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have introduced superheroes to television. This course looks at the very thing that makes these characters so remarkable: their superpowered bodies. Examining the superhero across a range of media, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), Chris Claremont’s X-Men of the 1980s, and Alan Moore’s nihilistic Watchmen, this course will ask how superheroes relate to violence, gender, and even the idea of being human. As we ask these questions, students will learn the essential skills of college writing that will allow them to analyze the rhetorical features of these superhero narratives, make compelling arguments about them, and enter into conversation about them with other writers.

TOPIC: Representations of the Chosen One in Science Fiction and Fantasy

3817 5:45p-7:00p TR 3 cr.

Neo. Ender Wiggin. Frodo Baggins. Anakin Skywalker. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ash Ketchum. Avatar Aang. King Arthur. Harry Potter. The most common heroic type in science fiction and fantasy (SF), especially in the young adult genre, is The Chosen One. They are the ones spoken of in prophecy, or the last of their kind, or the secret heirs to unique powers—in short, the only one who can save the day. Who is the Chosen One? For what are they chosen, and by whom are they chosen? What obstacles do they encounter on their way to their destiny? We will consider these questions and others through SF texts, primarily Harry Potter, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Matrix. This course will investigate the cultural uses of the Chosen One story and how it might support or subvert various cultural fears and desires regarding heroism and monstrosity. We will discuss new levels of meaning in some of the best-known works of popular culture. The course will fulfill the English Composition requirement through a focus on critical reading and thinking, textual and film analysis, and modes of academic writing.

TOPIC: Once Upon a Time to Happily Ever After

34814 4:00p-5:15p MW 3 cr.

Malificent. Grimm. Once Upon a Time. Mirror, Mirror. Into the Woods. Beauty and the Beast. Fables. Cinderella. Snow White and the Huntsman. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Frozen. In the past two years, America’s book, film, and television industries have exploded with adaptations of classic fairy tale narratives. And in the next year we’re slated to get hit with a lot more: Emma Watson as Belle, Robert Downey Jr. as Pinocchio, Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard. We know the stories. So why do filmmakers, television producers, and writers keep retelling them? Why do we, as consumers of the entertainment industry, keep watching and reading them? The aim of this course is to explore the function of fairy tales in our current cultural moment. Why won’t these stories go away? What do they contribute to the way we think about ourselves, our relationships with others, and the world around us that makes us keep coming back? Through literature, film, critical essays, television, and comic books this course will investigate these age-old stories in order to broaden our understanding of their pervasiveness. The course will introduce students to close reading, analytical writing, and sustained research skills using primary and secondary sources on fairy tales for its groundwork. The course will incorporate some historical context for the tales we all know by asking you to read the earliest written versions of these tales by the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and several anonymous tale writers. But we will also contemplate more contemporary adaptations of classic tales, including ABC’s hit television series Once Upon a Time, Disney’s new live-action Cinderella, and Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, a film that echoes Bluebeard in its central motifs.

TOPIC: Representations of Schooling in U.S. Culture

33683 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.

Is high school like a prison, a factory, or a utopia? Are schools really full of geniuses, wallflowers, and delinquents? What exactly is the ratio of evil vice principals to amazing teachers who change your life? Are standardized tests saving American education or destroying it?
This writing course critically examines pop cultural items, such as The Simpsons and Dangerous Minds, in order to study various representations of schooling in relation to contemporary debates about education. We will analyze these cultural objects in conjunction with readings on the theories, practices, and crises of education. We will seek to answer questions such as: How are schools and schooling represented in U.S. culture? How do social factors such as race, class, and gender shape those representations and our reception of them? How do those representations influence the way we think about the aims of education, how teachers should teach, and the role of schooling in society? How might we "talk back" to these representations? These questions give us an opportunity to engage critically with the popular portrayals of education that permeate U.S. culture.
The course readings have the potential to de-familiarize our everyday lived experience of schooling, challenging what we think we know. As a class, we will explore the various implications of the course materials through student-centered text-based discussion (Socratic circles), "found object" journals, and a range of analytical writing assignments. Our work will culminate in a final research-based essay on the course topic and a cultural object of your choosing.

TOPIC: Exploring Digital Writing, From #TBT to #HeforShe

6792 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.

Top 5 Issues Only This 170 Course Will Discuss!

  1. When no on favorites your hilarious Tweet about the movie you just saw.
  2. The challenge of coming up with clever text for your Snapchat.
  3. That awkward moment when someone you don’t know likes your Facebook post.
  4. You want to get to know more about this boy, but all he does on Vine is revine.
  5. When research feels impossible beyond the Wikipedia page.

You probably recognize the list structure above: Buzzfeed popularized it, and now it seems every site uses it. You can’t go anywhere (online) without seeing these “clickbait” articles, amidst all the other media clamoring for your attention. Such a wealth of information can make both navigating and writing digital texts a challenging experience.
In this course, we will discuss a variety of digital writing strategies: from analyzing the ways Buzzfeed “baits” us to questioning the public nature of online spaces. We will examine a broad range of digital media, exploring questions about genre, content, reception, and argument. How do we compose Yelp reviews? Why are some Yaks upvoted over others? Why does the process of inputting information into Apple Watch feel creepy? What are the conventions of a Twitterstorm? To what extent are certain PowerPoints boring and others interesting? These media inform our culture: trending material acts as a gauge for our cultural moments. As such, this course will explore how our culture is both represented and shaped by digital writing technologies. To further such inquiries, we will engage a variety of essays as well as creative texts, such as Spike Jonze’s Her and Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box.” This course will undertake a range of writing assignments that ask students to think critically about digital writing – assignments such as imitating the style of a genre and extending a digital conversation.
The course fulfills the English Composition requirement, and, as such, it is primarily a writing course with a strong focus on critical reading and analytical writing skills.

TOPIC: Petroculture: Reading and Writing in a Culture of Oil

6794 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

Description forthcoming.

W231 Professional Writing Skills

10412 8:00a-8:50a MW 3 cr.
3828 8:00a-8:50a MW 3 cr.
3829 8:00a-8:50a MW 3 cr.
3830 9:05a-9:55a MW 3 cr.
3831 9:05a-9:55a MW 3 cr.
3832 12:20p-1:10p MW 3 cr.
11405 12:20p-1:10p MW 3 cr.
3827 12:20p-1:10p MW 3 cr.
3833 1:25p-2:15p MW 3 cr.
3834 1:25p-2:15p MW 3 cr.
11283 2:30p-3:20p MW 3 cr.
11284 3:35p-4:25p MW 3 cr.
10413 3:35p-4:25p MW 3 cr.
3835 4:40p-5:30p MW 3 cr.
10414 4:40p-5:30p MW 3 cr.
3837 8:00a-8:50a TR 3 cr.
3838 8:00a-8:50a TR 3 cr.
10411 8:00a-8:50a TR 3 cr.
3839 9:05a-9:55a TR 3 cr.
10909 10:10a-11:00a TR 3 cr.
3840 1:25p-2:15p TR 3 cr.
3841 3:35p-4:25p TR 3 cr.
3836 6:50p-8:45p W 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"

14206 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
John Schilb

3842 1:00p-2:15p MW 3 cr.

Spats! Squabbles! Quarrels! Clashes! When you hear the word “argument,” perhaps you think of angry conflicts like these. Sometimes argumentation even seems a form of war, especially on cable news shows where pundits snarl at one another. But there are more thoughtful, civil, and productive forms of argument. Many fields, professions, and social movements thrive on them. In the same spirit, our course will define “argument” as calm, courteous reflection and inquiry. We’ll treat arguing as a process in which we (1) identify a subject of real or potential debate; (2) analyze why we view this subject the way we do; (3) address readers who may not share our view; and (4) try to persuade them that our position is worth considering. Throughout the semester, we’ll study examples of compelling, thought-provoking arguments. We’ll focus on their specific strategies and practice them ourselves. Above all, we’ll aim to develop our own talents for advocacy. Regularly you’ll engage in short, informal writing exercises. You’ll also write a four-page argument on an issue that interests you. For the final assignment, you’ll construct a personal anthology: a “conversation” on a subject you’ve chosen, featuring already-published arguments along with your response to them.

W280 Literary Editing & Publishing

6542 12:20p-1:10p MWF 3 cr.

W350 Advance Expository Writing
Scot Barnett
TOPIC: "The Human and Nonhuman in Science Fiction Film"

3843 2:30p-3:45p 3 cr.

In this course we will examine science-fiction films—both historical and contemporary—focusing on the issue of what constitutes, and is opposed to, “the human,” and whether the “non-human” is technological, alien, or monstrous. In this context, we will emphasize representations of gender, sexuality, race, and class within science fiction. Films to be discussed may include Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Alien, Blade Runner, RoboCop, Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, District 9, and Avatar (students will be required to screen many of the films outside of class). Readings will include critical commentaries on the films and on the broader cultural and technological issues they explore.

Writing assignments will include short assignments that practice close reading, summary, and critique—building toward critical analysis papers using in-course and outside source material. As part of your drafting and revision process, there will be regular peer review workshops and writing conferences with me.

W350 Advance Expository Writing

3844 1:00p-2:15p TR 3 cr.
3845 4:00p-5:15p TR 3 cr.
13411 3:35p-4:25p MWF 3 cr.

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. Topics vary from semester to semester.

Rhetoric Courses

R210 Introduction to Digital Rhetoric
Scot Barnett
TOPIC: “Writing in Digital Environments”

32277 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

In this workshop-based course, we will explore new forms of writing, interaction, and design for digital environments. Our emphasis will be on producing, interpreting, and analyzing media such as images, blogs, podcasts, and videos.

The premise at the heart of this course is that electronic imaging, digital computing, and the Internet in general are not just new technologies but are part of a new “apparatus” that includes institutional formations and identity behaviors specific to electronic media. The fact that these forms and practices have to be invented and do not happen automatically is sometimes forgotten in the excitement about the capabilities of the technology. The focus of this course is on exploring the relationship among the three parts of the apparatus. We will be learning about electronic media by doing (writing in) digital environments. Students will complete a range of digital projects that explore issues related to digital media and that teach technical skills valuable in the workplace and beyond.

Course Goals: Understand the shift underway between traditional media and electronic media; Analyze visual documents that appear in electronic media and understand the rhetorics that give them meaning; Critically engage with theories about electronic media; Use video as a writing tool to product arguments; Learn basic and advanced techniques for shooting video; Understand and use images, sound, and video rhetorically; and, develop a portfolio of electronic media samples.

R222 Democratic Deliberation
Philip Perdue

33834 1:25p-2:15p MWF 3 cr.

Democratic Deliberation is a course grounded in a long tradition of rhetorical studies. Central to the rhetorical tradition are questions about how people use symbols and communication to shape the beliefs and actions of other people. In this course students examine, critique, and explore specific ways that citizens have their say—or “weigh in”—on public conversations.

There are two key components to the course: the ‘democratic’ component and the ‘deliberation’ component. The course places special emphasis on understanding the relationship between these two terms, both conceptually and in real-world every day practice. Is deliberation optional or necessary for democracy? Where and when do people deliberate? What are different ways to deliberate? Which ways of deliberating work better than others? Who gets to deliberate, and who doesn’t get to have their say? Are there rules to democratic deliberation? Who makes up these rules? And what makes deliberation democratic, anyway? Is there a way to deliberate that is un-democratic?

These are the kinds of questions students grapple with in this course. Such questions are designed not just to give students a better intellectual grasp of democratic deliberation, but also to help students learn how to engage deliberative situations with greater awareness and appreciation for a range of social, ethical, and at times controversial dimensions of deliberating about public issues with other democratic citizens. Students will encounter and locate actual examples of democratic deliberation—often in unlikely places—and use real-world case studies as their foundation for learning. Course assignments include engagement with real-world case studies, written papers, oral presentation, and class participation.

R224 Persuasion

33386 8:00a-8:50a MWF 3 cr.
33385 2:30p-3:20p MWF 3 cr.
33384 5:45p-7:00p MW 3 cr.

R228 Argumentation and Public Advocacy
Robert Terrill

32282 9:30a-10:45a TR 3 cr.

Argumentation and Public Advocacy is an introductory course in the theory, practice, and criticism of public advocacy — the use of propositions, evidence, practical reason, and the general rhetorical strategies of symbolic action to promote and advance one’s public or civic interests. The course operates with the assumption that a democracy relies on the ability of its citizens to be active and critical producers and consumers of public arguments as part of a reasoned process of collective decision making. We will analyze arguments made in political campaigns, films, television shows, and news stories, and we will discuss local issues that affect Bloomington and the IU campus. We will use argumentation theory as a way to think about how local, national, and global communities go about creating social and political change. To that end, we will practice argumentation. That means you will read and study argumentation theory, you will learn to analyze the arguments of others, and you will craft arguments of your own about issues you think are important. Accordingly, the course will require all students to be active participants. In addition to lectures, there will be written in-class exercises, small group work, and class discussions that will allow you to practice the fundamental skills of public argumentation while deepening your theoretical understanding.

R340 The Rhetoric of Social Movements
Phaedra Pezzullo

section TBA 2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr.

The upper level undergraduate class examines bodies that move us to protest (murdered, dying, imprisoned, and so forth), as well as how our bodies matter to protest (through free speech zones, naked, loud, and so forth). We will engage bodies from an intersectional perspective (imagined as raced, classed, gendered, sexualized, etc) and questions of social movements through a rhetorical perspective (inventive, judged, contextualized, persuasive, poetic). Course assignments will include written papers, oral presentation, and active class participation.

R355 Public Memory in Communication and Culture
Cynthia Smith

33382 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

This course takes a rhetorical perspective on the contested nature of public memory in the United States. We will examine what public memory is, how it is perpetuated in societies, how and why it is configured to privilege some historical interpretations over others, and how it is modified over time. Ultimately, this course asks the related questions: How do our public memories shape us as American citizens? How do those memories shape our relationship to ourselves, to others, to the state, the nation, and the world? What are the implications of the personae shaped for us through public memory? We will be especially interested in examining how rhetorics of public memory incline (or disincline) people toward particular kinds of public action. This semester we will examine various media of memory such as museums, popular film, memorials, living history museums, children’s toys and collectibles, television, tourist souvenirs, and more.

R397 Visual Rhetoric
John Arthos

33361 11:15a-12:30p TR 3 cr.

The “video essay” has within the last couple years become an exciting new genre of film criticism. Critical commentary on movies is presented as a visual and audio experience in the same medium as the works it considers. Each student in this course will create a substantial “video essay” as a capstone project, ‘quoting’ scenes from films, using your own voice-over commentary, and creating a personal video aesthetic to share your critical analysis. We’ll be mastering Premiere, Photoshop, and Garage Band to create these video essays. The subject of the course is movie genres. Each student will focus on a genre of your choice, discover through research what kind of cultural work that genre does, and select a film that in some way extends, complicates, or subverts the genre in an interesting way. Your video essay will ‘show and tell’ how your film does that. To prepare for this major project, we will study film genre theory, watch classic genre movies, and learn how to do serious genre criticism. You can find out about this exciting new form of the “film essay” here: