Past Courses (Summer 2013)
E303 Literatures in English, 1800-1900
In this course we’ll read and analyze a range of some of the most important and compelling poetry, fiction, and drama published in Britain and the United States in the nineteenth century. This was an age of and framed by wars, revolutions, and revolutionary changes: the American and French Revolutions, the American Civil War, the Industrial and Darwinian Revolutions, the abolition of slavery, and the emergence of women’s rights, to name some of the most prominent. We will read the literary works of this period as at once responding (explicitly and implicitly) to such public or social experiences and events, and as “events” in their own right. We will work as a class to develop a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of some of the major techniques, genres and subgenres, and literary modes of the period, including lyric poetry, the dramatic monologue, the short story and the novel, the slave narrative, psychological realism, the Gothic, and drama, among others. Amid a wide range of topics and questions, one abiding focus for us will be the conflict between the era’s faith in “Enlightenment,” reason, and rationality, on the one hand, and its awareness of a host of opposing forces, including superstition, ignorance, madness, nonsense, and the supernatural.
Although I haven’t made my final decisions, texts will include works by many of the following: William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Chestnutt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Oscar Wilde, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Assignments and expectations will include dedicated class participation (this will not be a lecture class!) along with, most likely, two papers, a midterm in-class exam, and a final take-home exam, along with some shorter writing assignments.
E304 Literatures in English, 1900-Present
This course will introduce you to the major movements and styles of twentieth-century literature--naturalism, realism, modernism, postmodernism, pop, and the "new sincerity." We will track changes in fiction and poetry as they reflect wider social transformations and historical crises--industrialization and the growth of the city; two World Wars; the Great Depression; the Cold War and the atom bomb; Civil Rights; feminism and the gender revolution; pop culture; corporate culture; environmentalism; and globalization. Throughout, we will focus on how literature relates to region and regional experience--the country, the city, the national, the transnational, the global, etc.--especially in light of modern transportation and communication networks. Finally, the professor of this class is a big fan of pop culture and pop music; many of our readings address the rise of pop culture, and we will consider the ways in which twentieth-century literature circulates alongside more popular forms of culture and entertainment. Students should expect daily readings and two papers.
Required texts will likely include: Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Richard Wright, Native Son; Woody Guthrie, Bound For Glory; Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road; Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard To Find; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49; Jonathan Franzen, Freedom.
L202 Literary Interpretation
CASE A&H, IW
In this course, we will define and practice “interpretation” with the aim of helping you analyze literature with greater insight and persuasiveness. Because this is an Intensive Writing section, we will spend much time discussing how to write about literature, so that you will grow more able to compose thoughtful, well-supported studies of such works. This will not be a lecture class. Our format will be almost entirely discussion. For the most part, reading selections will consist of poems and short stories, though we will also read at least one novel. Required writing will include three formal papers (two 3-page essays and one 5-page essay) along with several brief, informal responses to our readings.
L390 Children's Literature
So-called “children’s” literature is a fascinating window onto shifting ideas and ideals of the nature of childhood and children, parenting and education , and the functions of story. Over the weeks of this course we will examine a range of such literature as well sampling some of the critical literature regarding writing for children. Together we will engage a variety of questions that arise in examining our shifting notions of childhood and children’s books. What is the nature of childhood? Are children blank slates? Innocents? Little monsters? What should children’s literature “do”? Educate? Caution? Embolden? Entertain? Join us this summer as we explore the world of childhood as imagined and re-imagined.
L391 Literature for Young Adults
Romayne Rubinas Dorsey
L391 is an upper division English Literature course designed to introduce adult readers to young adult literature, literature often written for and read by people between 12 and 18 years old. We will read six to eight texts from various genres as well supplementary materials, and students will read two additional texts from a selected list for the research paper. As we read this material we will formulate our own definition of young adult literature. Topics we will explore will revolve around the role of the imagination in adolescent life and development, and will include: notions of adolescence and young adulthood; the role of imagination and fantasy in the lives of adolescents and their relationship to literacy both cultural and textual; forms of censorship; and issues of representation concerning age, ability, class, gender, race and sexuality.
Course work: two course papers; regular discussion prompts; quizzes (if necessary); & two course exams on the readings.
Possible texts include: The Giver; Hero; To Kill a Mockingbird; After; The Outsiders; King Dork; Blankets; Black Swan Green; and Code Name Verity.
W350 Advanced Expository Writing Chris Basgier
This course will focus on the ways online communities use writing, often combined with images, sound, and hypertext. In the first three units, we will ask: How do blogs, forums, and videos work rhetorically? What tropes (figures of speech or conventional ways of writing) do individuals use when they write online? How do writers use genres and tropes to move others in their online communities to action? What do these common rhetorical practices reveal about online communities, including their values and beliefs? In the final unit, we will produce a series of collaborative wikis in small groups, based on the research from the first two units. One of our primary aims in producing this wiki will be to consider how academic writing might change when we adapt it to a digital environment.
This course fulfills the Intensive Writing requirement. Students will improve their writing skills by composing and revising papers and a course wiki. In the process, students will receive useful feedback from the instructor and from peers, and they will learn to write collaboratively in digital environments.