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Course Descriptions

For Spring 2011


Here are the course descriptions for some of the English courses to be taught in Spring 2011.  We will add descriptions as faculty make them available.

ENG 203:  Introduction to Fiction Writing

Instructor:  Robert McGuire

Course Description:  This course is designed to provide instruction in understanding and applying the basic tools of fiction writing and critical reading.  We will focus equally on writing literary fiction and critical reading.  The course will function as a workshop where all students will work cooperatively to develop their knowledge and skills and will have responsibility to one another for shared work.  A large part of our class time will be spent reading and discussing one another's writing, and a large part of the grade will be based on how well you meet your reponsibilites to your peers.

Course goals:

  • To understand, practice and develop your skills in the basic elements of fiction including point of view, characterization, plot, dialogue and narration.
  • To identify and evaluate the elements of fiction in the work of professional writers and of your peers.
  • To use critical reading skills to guide revision of your own work.

Prerequisite:  Passing grade in ENG 112

Required text:  Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway et al., 8th edition

ENG 217: Introduction to Literature
Comic Vision

Instructor:  Seth Riemer

Our section's specific purpose is to introduce comedy as a kind of literary vision.  The subject matter is comedy-based written texts, theatrical models, and oral traditions of Western (in this case, European and American) civilization.  Both adult and juvenile materials will be studied (although students will be challenged to determine what is for grown-ups and what is for children!).  Fiction (both short and long), poetry (both lyric and narrative), stage drama along with popular forms (stand-up, folk music, and cartoons) and one notorious essay will serve as topics for students' written assignments and class discussions.

ENG 217: Introduction to Literature
Religion, Secularity and the Literary Imagination                      

Instructor: Seth Riemer

Our section's purpose is to explore a tension - as old as western civilization itself - between religion and secularity and thus to explore the relationship between literature's religious themes and secular tendencies.  We will see ways in which literary tradition reflects a religious-secular conflict that, with the rise of scientific reason, technological advances and materialistic attitudes, has grown all the more intense as the expression of religious committment gave way to skepticism and doubt.  A sample of European and American fiction, verse and drama will show how the class of modern science and religious tradition has reshaped literary models, forms and content.

ENG 217W:  Introduction to Literature:  Genre in Literature and Film  Melodramas Past and Present

Instructor:  Abigail Salerno                                                                  

In this class, we will study the history of melodrama - a type of story that often features a young hero or heroine who, in the course of a complex narrative, must confront physical danger, endure emotional suffering and make difficult decisions.  We will look at the ways in which melodrama shapes other literary and cinematic modes such as the gothic novel and the coming-of-age story, the chick flick, the suspense film and the horror film.

As we study how melodrama inhabits those modes, we will examine the strategies that literary authors, film directors and screenwriters use to tell stories, to engage our interest and emotions, and to reflect on the social world in which we live.  Films include Frozen River, Beloved and Juno; we will also read short stories, poetry and a novel.

ENG 298:  English Special Topics Course                                                Lyrics as Literature:  Folk Singer-Songwriter Traditions             

Instructor:  Professor Melissa McClain

Music professor William Echard charaterizes the lyrics of singer-songwriters as more introspective and "more complicated and subtle than other rock artists."  Working within this genre - and its closely related styles of folk and folk-rock - this course will investigate the song as a musical and literary art form.  The course will also consider influential artists, their inspirations and work, and the historical and social contexts that led to the popularity of folk, folk-rock and the singer-songwriter genre.  The course will also include a study of the poetic elements of lyrics (e.g., sound devices, simile, metaphor, symbol, allusion), song structure (e.g., intro, verse, chorus, bridge, instrumental solo, repetition and opposition), musical elements (e.g., melody, harmony, meter, harmonic progression, hook), and how songwriters use these tools for artistic effect.  Without getting too technical with music theory, the course will guide students in critically reading/listening to a song by breaking down its elements and considering their individual and collective effect on the listener. 

ENG 360 (01W & 02W):  Early American Writers

Instructor:  Professor Paul Petrie

In this course you will study writing originating in a variety of different experiences of the "New World" of the Americas, extending from the era of first contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans into the early decades of the existence of a new nation, the United States.  During this period, the very notion of "literature" - when the term was used at all - was significantly different from our contemporary understanding of the word, and writers and readers shared many assumptions about the purposes and parameters of writing that differ markedly from our own.  We will read a spectrum of texts stretching from Native American oral traditions to the invention of the novel, from the travelogues of European explorers and colonists to lyric poetry, from sermons to political documents, from autobiography to drama, works written by women and men, Europeans, Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans, colonists, citizens, and slaves, victors and vanquished.  What all this writing has in common is an acute awareness of the rhetorical power of literature to shape people's understanding of America and their place in it - a task rendered urgent by the disruptive, threatening yet promising and exhilirating qualities of life in a New World.

Our primary tasks for the semester will be to understand alternative conceptions of literature and literature's purposes as they are embodied in an array of different kinds of writing, and to investigate early Americans' use of writing to engage in the shared and ongoing task of inventing conceptions of "America" commensurate with their experiences in and hopes for life in the New World.

Expect lots of reading and continual writing, ranging from the informal (notes, blogs) to the formal (essays, exams).  Discussion-based classroom requires regular attendance and faithful preparation for each and every class meeting.

ENG 398:  Exploring Young Adult Lit

Instructor:  Professor Anjanette Darrington

This special topics course will examine young adult literature (YAL) as a genre that resists easy definition but that requires special scrutiny in the changing atmosphere of literacy in our times.  This course will involve extensive reading of YAL, including both common class texts and student-selected texts, in order to establish understanding of generic characteristics, common archetypes and themes, rhetorical elements, and varying acceptance of YAL. 

Prerequisite:  University Literature Requirement


Eng 458:  English Romantic Poetry

Instructor:  Professor George Rosso 

The course provides an overview of British Romantic poetry and extensive study of key writers, including works by William Blake, Anna Barbauld, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, and Lord Byron.  We will study the language, themes, and genres of Romantic era poetry, seeking to explore its relationship to important issues of the day: individual identity, relation of self and other, the role of gender, slavery and empire, and the centrality of imagination and the arts to human experience.

ENG 487:  Seminar in James Joyce

Instructor:  Professor James Rhodes

This course will involve an intensive study of three works of James Joyce:  Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses.  The novel Ulysses is a difficult and demanding work, and will be the main focus of study.

LIT 354:  The European Novel Since 1945 will also be taught by Professor Rhodes in Spring 2011

This course will involve study and discussion of works by Camus, Sartre, Grass, Borowski, Kundera, Bachmann, and others.  Fun stuff!