The English department offers courses in English and American literature; some courses also include works from other national literatures. The department offers introductory courses in drama, fiction, and poetry most semesters: nonmajors and prospective majors should begin their study of literature with these courses. Two of these introductory courses are required for the major; they are also a prerequisite for most of the department’s upper-division offerings.
In each academic year, the department offers at least 12 courses at the upper-division level. Among these are three junior seminars (intended principally for majors) and courses in American and British literature in various genres from the 14th to the 21st centuries. Some courses are listed under general rubrics such as “Studies in Shakespeare” or “Poetry and History.” (Students may register for more than one course under the same rubric, provided that the subject matter differs.) Courses in the catalog not offered in the current academic year will normally be offered in one of the next two academic years.
In consultation with their academic advisers, students majoring in English should plan to take courses from a range of genres, topics, and periods within the department. Students may also include in the major one 300-level course in creative writing or one 300-level course in translation given in other departments within the Division of Literature and Languages. (Students with special curricular needs may petition to allow a second 300-level course in literature in translation to count toward the major).
Requirements for the Major
For students matriculating in 2010 or thereafter, two 200-level English courses in different genres (Literature 266, when offered, may be used to fulfill this English department requirement as well); one semester of the junior seminar; at least four other 300- or 400-level English courses at Reed, one of which may be in creative writing or literature in translation; English 470. Aside from the junior seminar and English 470, two of the seven required English courses must be in literature prior to 1900, and one of these must be in literature prior to 1700.
For students who matriculated earlier than 2010, two 200-level English courses in different genres (Literature 266, when offered, may be used to fulfill this English department requirement as well); one semester of the junior seminar; at least three other 300- or 400-level English courses at Reed, one of which may be in creative writing or literature in translation; English 470. One of the English courses aside from the junior seminar and English 470 must be in literature prior to 1700.
Each student must pass a junior qualifying examination before beginning the thesis. The qualifying exam is generally taken at the end of March or at the beginning of April, over a weekend in the spring semester of the junior year, although it is offered also at the beginning of each semester. The exam usually consists of three parts, the first two involving questions about a piece of fiction and a critical or theoretical essay (both of which are handed out to be read before taking the exam). There is generally also a question about a poem or poems, copies of which are sometimes not available in advance. Students are given a weekend over which to work on the qualifying exam, although no more than six hours are to be spent writing on the examination questions.
Departmental courses are open to first-year students only with the consent of the instructor. This will be permitted only on very rare occasions. Students wishing to enroll in a particular course and lacking the prerequisite for it should consult with their adviser and the course instructor.
The department recommends that all majors take at least one course in each of the principal literary genres: poetry, drama, and fiction. 200-level courses are intended primarily but not exclusively for sophomores.
Majors or prospective majors intending to study abroad should confer with an adviser in the English department. Because of the integrated structure of its curriculum, and the importance of the junior seminar, the department strongly recommends that students taking a year abroad do so in their sophomore year.
English 201 - Introduction to Narrative
Full course for one semester. This course explores the vital relationship between American literature and environmental values, and traces the origins of the America's understanding of the relationship between nature and culture. The class will focus upon Transcendentalist and Utopian movements of the mid-19th century and will include authors such as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Fuller. We will pay special attention to changes in the New England landscape during this era, including the rise of industrialization and urban centers. Special attention will be paid to the sublime, tourism, urban planning, utopian communities, and sustainable farming. Genres covered include essays, short stories, novels, and travel literature. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. This class fulfills the English department's pre-1900 requirement. Conference.
Form, Style, and Meaning in Cinema
Full course for one semester. This course considers the cinema as a particular media form and explores issues and methods in cinema studies. The class focuses on questions of film form and style (narrative, editing, sound, framing, mise-en-scène) and introduces students to concepts in film history and theory (industry, auteurism, spectatorship, the star system, ideology, genre). We will pay particular attention to principles of film narration and film form that are instrumental across the study of literature: plot vs. story, dramatic development, temporal strategies, character development, point of view, symbolism, reality vs. illusion, visual metaphor, and so forth. Students will develop a basic critical vocabulary for examining the cinema as an art form, an industry, and a system of culturally meaningful representation. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. In this course we will consider the historical development of the genre and techniques of the graphic novel in America. Authors will include Lynd Ward, Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, Frank Miller, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Marjane Satrapi, Lynda Barry, Gene Luen Yang, and others. Our reading of the graphic novel will be contextualized within postmodernism and the changes in the notion of childhood, heroism, and evil in 20th- and 21st-century American culture. This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental elements of narrative and will include analysis of genre, panels, framing devices, layout, speech, plot, and characterization. The course will emphasize close reading of the texts, and there will be frequent writing assignments. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Introduction to Film
Full course for one semester. This course focuses on questions of film form and style (narrative, editing, cinematography, framing, mise-en-scène, sound) and introduces students to concepts in film history and theory (auteurism, spectatorship, the star system, ideology, genre). We will pay particular attention to principles of film narration and film form that are instrumental across the study of literature: plot vs. story, dramatic development, temporal strategies, character development, point of view, symbolism, reality vs. illusion, visual metaphor, and so forth. Students will develop a critical vocabulary for examining the cinema as an art form, an industry, and a system of culturally meaningful representation. Coursework will include frequent short writing assignments and brief experiments in visual storytelling. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Lecture-conference.
Literary and Visual Culture in 18th-century Britain
Full course for one semester. This course is designed to introduce students to the literary and visual cultures of 18th-century Britain and their connections. We will read prose by Defoe, Johnson, Walpole, and Austen; poetry by Pope, Swift, Gray, Goldsmith, Blake, Collier, and Duck; and drama by Gay. We will also study discussions of aesthetics by Burke and Reynolds and the work of artists Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Angelica Kauffman, and Wright of Derby, as well as the role of patrons such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Throughout our readings and viewings we will return to the following guiding questions: how are stories narrated, in images as well as in words? What are the major aesthetic categories of this period and how do they operate to construct aesthetic experience? Do these categories span literary and visual culture, or are they different in each form? What are their modern legacies? Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Not offered 2010–11.
The Making of the 20th Century
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on American writing produced between 1890 and 1910. Though much of our time will be spent reading novels and short stories—in particular, examples of realist, naturalist, and modernist fiction—we will approach the novel as just one of many narrative arts that played a crucial role in defining the nascent 20th century. Other genres that we will consider include life writing, the tale, aesthetic and cultural criticism, reportage, photojournalism and the photo book, and protest writing. Our readings will be grouped into five units—“American Life, Writing, and Life Writing,” “Race after Reconstruction,” “Narrating City Life,” “Between Asia and America,” and “Modern Women”—and will be drawn from writers such as Henry Adams, Abraham Cahan, Charles Chesnutt, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, W.E.B. Du Bois, Sui Sin Far, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Henry James, Okakura Kakuzo, Jack London, Frank Norris, Jacob Riis, and Gertrude Stein. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 205 - Introduction to Fiction
The American Novel, 1850–1990: Housing the American Self
A survey of American novels, highlighting proprietary models of selfhood and nation (and various challenges to them). The course will run from Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables (1851) to N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn (1968) and Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987). Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.
The American Short Story
Full course for one semester. This course will examine the genre of the short story, especially its traditional and innovative narrative techniques, its various ways of constructing authorial point of view, its mode of plot compression and the relation of literary structure to temporality, and its range of styles from realism and naturalism to allegory and to impressionism. Additionally, we will see how diverse American experience is represented through the form. Readings will be drawn from Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, James, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Malamud, Cheever, James Baldwin, Joanne Greenberg, Paley, Carver, Ozick, Bharati Mukherjee, and Toni Cade Bambara, as well as a collection of Best Short Stories of 2004. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.
American Success and Failure
Full course for one semester. An abiding concern of American literature is an obsession with individual success, particularly the conundrum of attaining material success at the expense of other values. Taking classic essays by Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson as our points of departure, we will examine how 19th- and 20th-century American writers such as Horatio Alger, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Frank Norris, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Nella Larsen have explored that obsession through the form of the novel. We will pay particular attention to the development of literary styles such as regionalism, realism, and naturalism as responses to changes in American culture that likewise shape different novelistic subgenres, such as romance, the realist novel, melodrama, the modernist novel, and the psychological novel. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
"A Native Tradition"? The American Novel and the Element of Romance
Full course for one semester. American Gothic, pastoral elegy, moral melodrama, and adventure-romance are just a few of the romance variants we encounter in American fiction. Why did this particular mode of narrative find such deep root in the American novel? And what can its heightened, Manichean form tell us about the persistent contradictions of American culture? In this course we will investigate the argument that locates the defining feature of American fiction, beginning in the late 18th century, in its alleged resistance to formal realism. Studying the romance genres of the American novel, we will also entertain comparisons with similar subgenres in European fiction. Readings may include works by Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Willa Cather, and William Faulkner. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Basics of the Novel
Full course for one semester. This course serves as an introduction to the history of both the idea and the form of the English novel, beginning in the early 18th century and continuing through to the present day. We will look at short critical writings by major narrative scholars in conjunction with examples of the novel’s various subgenres, including the gothic, the marriage plot, the bildungsroman, the historical novel, the detective novel, the modernist novel, and the postmodern novel. The course will cover major novels by Daniel Defoe, Matthew Lewis, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Virginia Woolf, and J.M. Coetzee. There will be numerous short writing assignments. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2010–11.
British Women Novelists since 1900
Full course for one semester. Using Virginia Woolf's classic feminist literary polemic A Room of One's Own as our point of departure, we will in this course read works by women novelists from the United Kingdom over the span of the last hundred years, paying particular attention to the subgenres of the novel (such as the realist novel, the Gothic romance, the Bildungsroman , the modernist novel, the postmodern novel, and the postcolonial novel) and how these forms are shaped and affected by gender considerations. Writers to be studied include Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, Elizabeth Bowen, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Iris Murdoch, Jean Rhys, Angela Carter, and Jeanette Winterson. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Lecture-conference. Not offered 2010-11.
Empire and the Novel
Full course for one semester. This course will examine the relationship between Imperialism and the novel, primarily between British Imperialism and the modern 20th-century novel. The course will also introduce students to postcolonial theory and criticism. Reading major novels of authors such as Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe, Rudyard Kipling, Doris Lessing, E.M. Forster, Salman Rushdie, Jean Rhys, V.S. Naipaul, Arundhati Roy, and J.M. Coetzee, we will reflect at length upon nationalism, the causes and consequences of the expansion and contraction of the British empire, anticolonial liberation movements, the cultural contexts of literary modernism, and the ongoing debate over globalization. We will read influential writings by theorists and critics such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, and Fredric Jameson. We will also screen films such as The Battle of Algiers, Blade Runner, and Caché. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
For Love or Money: The Victorian Marriage Plot
Full course for one semester. This course offers an introduction to major formal and thematic conventions of Victorian fiction by investigating one of the 19th century’s most celebrated plot lines, the courtship narrative. Reading selected novels and short fiction by Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Thomas Hardy (among others), we will follow the courtship narrative as it combines—or collides—with other dominant 19th-century plot lines, such as the bildungsroman, the plot of social mobility, and the story of female self-education. We will examine how plot and perspective link up with, and become inflected by, class and gender. We will also consider what the marriage plot and its late-19th-century unraveling have to tell us about evolving notions of discipline, desire, and development in Victorian fiction and culture. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Genres of the Early Novel
Full course for one semester. This course will look at the range of genres explored by novelists in the period of the British novel in its rise from marginal status to dominance in the 18th and early 19th centuries. We will focus on the range of formal and expressive possibilities the novel develops in this period, shaped by the various forms it takes (realist, gothic, historical, sentimental, and so on), and pursue the question of how genre conventions and individual works interact. Major authors will include Daniel Defoe, Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Matthew Lewis, Jane Austen, and Walter Scott. Relevant short critical readings on genre, realism, and the novel will be drawn from Auerbach, Bakhtin, Frye, Shklovsky, Todorov, Watt, and others. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Modern Novel
Full course for one semester. The focus of this course is a study of seminal modernist fiction. We will read novels by such figures as James, Conrad, Proust, Kafka, Faulkner, Woolf, Beckett, and Pynchon. We will examine such modernist strategies as the use of nonlinear time, stream of consciousness, fragmentation of the subject, subversions of realism, problems of “pure aesthetics” vs. history, and relativism as both form and subject matter. We will read a number of critical and theoretical texts centering on issues of narration, prose fiction as genre, and the concept of literary modernism, asking whether these writers collectively constitute anything we can regard as a movement. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.
The 19th-Century Novel: The Bildungsroman and the Courtship Novel
Full course for one semester. This course examines the two dominant forms of the 19th-century novel, the bildungsroman, or novel of formation, and the courtship novel. In examining these two forms we will discuss the nature and history of literary genres; narrators and narrative structure; the function of novelistic character; and the concept of realism. We will read a number of critical texts by major scholars of narrative to illuminate these discussions, along with major works by the following novelists: Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Lecture-conference.
Portraits of Ladies
Full course for one semester. This course is designed as an introduction to the basic concepts of narrative theory as exemplified in 18th- and 19th-century British novels by Ann Radcliffe, Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Henry James. We will also focus specifically on the construction of gender, and will analyze how and why ideas of femininity and masculinity change in relation to authorial sensibilities that are by turn gothic, historic, and sentimental. Prerequisites: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Postwar and Contemporary Novel
Full course for one semester. This course will introduce students to major North American novelists and their work from the immediate post-World War II years to the 1990s. As we discuss the assigned readings we will consider questions surrounding representations of race and gender, mass culture and consumerism, the Cold War and the nuclear age, civil rights, feminism, technocracy, the counterculture, American regionalisms, suburbia, linguistic experimentation, genre, postmodernism, globalization, and the conditions of urban experience. Novelists may include Ralph Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Philip Roth, Ishmael Reed, Cormac McCarthy, and Jonathan Franzen. We will also read selected critical and theoretical texts that define the issues that structure the course and watch selected films—such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962)—that provide cultural contexts. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 211 - Introduction to Poetry and PoeticsFull course for one semester. This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental elements of a poem, such as rhythm, diction, imagery, metaphor, tone, form, speaker, and audience. We will read texts from a wide historical range and consider the historical development of selected forms and techniques. The course will also examine what some poets and critics have regarded as the nature and function of poetry and what bearing such theories have on the practice of poetry and vice versa. The course will emphasize close reading of the texts, and there will be frequent writing assignments. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.
English 242 - Introduction to Drama
British and Irish Drama from 1956 to the Present
Full course for one semester. From the early days of London's Royal Court Theatre, a theatre recently described as "the most important theatre in Europe," to the work of playwrights from Ireland and England's industrial heartland, companies trained in European physical theatre, and black British and British Asian writers, the past 50 years have been an especially rich period of experimentation and innovation in British and Irish drama. We will read a number of plays from the last five decades and consider their innovations with respect to performance as well as their relationship to social, cultural, and historical phenomena. Though our class discussions will touch upon many issues, the reading list has been designed to highlight five interrelated topics: gender, race, the British Empire, devised and process-based theatre, and affect on the stage. Likely dramatic texts include those of John Osborne, Ann Jellicoe, Samuel Beckett, Edward Bond, Caryl Churchill, Marina Carr, Forced Entertainment, Complicite, Sarah Kane, Debbie Tucker Green, and Roy Williams. We will also read relevant critical and theoretical texts. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Gender and Genre in Shakespeare's Plays
Full course for one semester. In this semester-long survey of Shakespeare's plays, we will focus upon the intersection of gender and genre, both on the Renaissance stage and in more recent adaptations and productions. How does the genre of a given play (tragedy, comedy, romance) affect the audience's expectations of gender roles? Does genre constrain the dramatic representations of femininity, of masculinity, of breaking or bending traditional gender boundaries? Conversely, we will also think about the ways in which Shakespeare potentially uses gender to challenge the audience's notions of what comedies and tragedies can do, and how gender and genre can collide to resist received notions concerning class, authority, identity, familial relations, and ethnic and racial difference. Plays under consideration may include The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, A Winter's Tale, and The Tempest. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Introduction to Drama
Full course for one semester. This course studies plays from the Western canon to focus on such essentials as the nature of plot, character, dramatic conflict, the language of argumentation and confrontation, genre, and the relation of individual psyches to the cultural issues represented in the play—the conjunction of personal to political narratives. We will investigate ways characters can be both sympathetic and unsympathetic at the same time, and how playwrights structure their work and its dialogue to achieve such emotional complexity. We will read many plays, from dramatists such as Euripides, Shakespeare, Molière, Chekhov, Strindberg, Wilde, Brecht, Beckett, Ionesco, O’Neil, Tennessee Williams, Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Sam Shepard, and Suzan-Lori Park. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Modern European VI
Full course for one semester. This course continues from Modern European V, which covered playwrights whose first major work appeared between 1954 and 1957. Here, we will look at the work of playwrights whose first major plays appeared in the late 1950s; and we will look at the work in its social and political contexts. Probable authors will include Ann Jellicoe, Shelagh Delaney, John Arden, and Fernando Arrabal. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Modern European VII
Previous incarnations of this course have looked primarily at the realist tradition in European drama from the 1830s to the 1960s. We will look at the nonrealist tradition from the 1890s to the 1960s. Likely authors will include Maeterlinck, Briusov, Kandinsky, Marinetti, Tzara, Witkiewicz, Čapek, Ghelderode, Anouilh, and Arrabal. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Shakespeare and Film
Full course for one semester. This course will examine the way Shakespeare’s plays have been transferred to and transformed by the filmic medium. We will read five plays and study two films of each one in order to see how adaptation constitutes interpretation. The plays may include Macbeth, Othello, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest. The directors will include such masters as Orson Welles, Kurosawa, Roman Polanski, Peter Greenaway, Kenneth Branagh, and Baz Luhrmann. The course has three goals: to introduce students to film criticism, cinematography, and a vocabulary for film analysis; to study Shakespearean criticism and interpretation; and to examine the problems of adaptation, interrogating “fidelity” as a valid criterion for interpreting and judging the adaptations. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Conference.
Full course for one semester. A study of several "romantic" comedies (Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Twelfth Night), some "problem comedies" (The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure), and a "romance" (The Winter's Tale). The course will focus on such issues in the Shakespeare canon as cross-dressing and the problematic representation of woman's power, madness and irrationality as comic tropes, the court vs. what has been termed "the green world," and the complex interplay between Elizabethan comic conventions and the psychology of dramatic character. In addition, we'll read one or two comedies by Shakespeare's contemporary, Ben Jonson (Volpone, The Alchemist) to see how Jonson treats comedy in an altogether different manner. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Shakespeare: The Love Plays
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on a range of Shakespeare's plays in which the representation of love is a central theme. We will study such topics as the nature and language of romance and sexuality, the construction of gender roles and their deployment in games of love and power, the function and ideology of cross-dressing and its significance for the status of women, conflicts of love and war (or love as war), the relation of age to love, the origins and consequences of jealousy in love, and the way attitudes towards love are shaped and represented by genre (tragedy and comedy). Plays may include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Shakespeare, Text, and Performance
Full course for one semester. This course will consider the relationship between literary analysis and theatrical or cinematic performance in several Shakespearean plays. We will pay particular attention to images of plays and playing in the scripts, to the different political and ethical implications of different performances, and to changes in conventions of representation. In addition to the normal responsibilities of any course, students will be expected to view films and to work up one or two staged readings of a scene. Plays to be examined include King Lear, Othello, The Tempest, Henry V, and Much Ado about Nothing. Lecture and conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. A study of five Shakespearean tragedies, among them Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra. The focus will be on language, dramatic structure, character, and the conventions of the genre, as well as the role of women, the supernatural, the politics of rule, the self-conscious employment of theatricality, and such cultural issues as attitudes toward race. We will also read some theories of tragedy. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 301 - Junior Seminar in English Literary History
America after the Fall
Full course for one semester. This course, a study of the methods and a sample of the materials of American literary history, will focus on epic and lyric poetry. Texts will include Milton's Paradise Lost and the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Phillis Wheatley, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. In addition, there will be substantial reading in literary theory and an extensive critical bibliography project. We will consider questions about genre, literary authority, tradition and innovation, canon formation, and intertextuality. Primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is usually required no later than the end of the junior year. Prerequisites: junior standing and two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. A study of the methods and a sample of the materials of English literary history using the narrative tradition extending from Chaucer to Fielding. Texts include Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale” and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Fielding’s Tom Jones. There will be substantial reading in literary theory. We will consider questions about representation, figures and tropes, genre, influence, intertextuality, authority, tradition and innovation, and canon formation. Primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is required no later than the end of the junior year. Prerequisites: junior standing, two English courses at the 200 level, or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
This course will engage in an in-depth study of Ellison's 1952 novel by reading not only the text, but also Ellison's essays and interviews and a substantial amount of the critical history. Additionally, we will read texts alluded to in the novel by Emerson, Twain, Douglass, Washington, Du Bois, Whitman, Garvey, and T.S. Eliot. Students must assemble an annotated bibliography of 25 major essays on and a critical history of one major text covered by the parameters of the course. Students should read over the summer Richard Wright's Native Son and James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This course is primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is usually required no later than the end of the junior year. Prerequisites: junior standing and two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference.
English 302 - Junior Seminar in English Literary History
Calls of the Wild
Full course for one semester. This course offers a study of the methods and a sample of the materials of English literary history by studying the ways in which texts from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century posit the relationship between the realms of the human and the nonhuman (variously construed as dichotomies of culture/nature, domestic/wild, civilized/barbaric, urban/rural, etc.) Texts under consideration may include Beowulf, Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Behn’s Oroonoko, and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, as well as lyric poetry by Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, and Whitman. There will also be substantial reading in literary theory, and students will develop their own critical history of the work of a major author. This course is primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is usually required no later than the end of the junior year. Conference.
The Composition of a Novel
Full course for one semester. This course will explore the critical methods and a sampling of texts in English literary history by analyzing the composition of Charlotte Brontë's Shirley (1849) in a variety of ways. These will include: close readings of the dialogue between this still noncanonical novel with its canonical precursors in drama and epic (e.g., Shakespeare's Coriolanus and Milton's Paradise Lost); questions about the role of Brontë's biography, the influence of her contemporary reviewers, and her recourse to newspaper accounts of the Luddite rebellions and the Napoleonic Wars; and Brontë's relations to the intellectual history of her day, especially on matters of national identity, labor economy, and sexual equality (Wollstonecraft, Marx, Engels). We will consider questions of genre, tradition and innovation, canon formation, critical history and gender. This course is primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is usually required no later than the end of the junior year. Prerequisites: junior standing and two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Epic and Novel
Full course for one semester. This course offers a study of the methods and a sample of the materials of English literary history focusing on epic and novel, with texts that may include Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” Milton’s Paradise Lost, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, and a novel by Toni Morrison. In addition, there will be substantial reading in literary theory. We will consider questions about genre, literary authority, tradition and innovation, canon formation, intertextuality, and the role of gender in epic and novel. This course is primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is usually required no later than the end of the junior year. Prerequisites: junior standing and two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. This course, a study of the methods and a sample of the materials of English literary history, will focus on the meanings, means, and ends of lost innocence from John Milton through the 20th century. There will be substantial reading in literary theory. We will consider questions about genre, tradition and innovation, canon formation, authority, and influence. This course is primarily for English majors, for whom the junior seminar is usually required no later than the end of the junior year. Prerequisites: junior standing and two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference.
Studies in Nonfiction Prose
English 303 - American Studies Seminar
The Death of Satan
Full course for one semester. Early Americans viewed their history as an epic struggle against Satan; yet today, Americans’ sense of evil is weaker and more uncertain. How and why did Americans lose their sense of evil? This course offers an introduction to the methods of American studies: we will look at literature in the context of American history and material culture. We will cover major American authors from the colonial period through postmodernism, including works by Rowlandson, Mather, Brockden Brown, Hawthorne, Melville, Douglass, Wharton, James, Lowell, and Morrison. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above, at least one course in either American history or American religion, or consent of instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Messianism and Mysticism in the Jewish Atlantic World
Full course for one semester. Jews in the Atlantic World (1620–1820) didn't stay put for long: one year they were in Amsterdam, the next in London, New York, Newport, Curaçao, Jamaica, Barbados, or Suriname. These wanderers, referred to as “Port Jews,” were primarily merchants who resided in and traveled between port towns during the 17th and 18th centuries. Often Port Jews were descendents of conversos: Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism under the Inquisition and who may have practiced Judaism in secret for generations before they escaped the Iberian Peninsula. Raised in two worlds, Port Jews commonly saw their ties to the “Jewish collectivity” as voluntary and yet saw Jewish (re)education as a must. Many were quite wealthy and had at least indirect ties to the slave trade. They created and sponsored a rich visual and literary culture that trod the line between devotion and heresy. They were deeply messianic, and their belief permeated their shared visual and religious ethos. The course examines this world through close reading of material culture and literary and religious texts. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or Religion 152, or consent of the instructor. This class fulfills the English department's pre-1900 requirement. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 311 - Studies in Nonfiction Prose
Full course for one semester. This course will introduce problems of narrative through the study of autobiography and memoir. We will examine various strategies writers employ to describe the self, whether in isolation or in relationship to family and the surrounding culture. We will focus on the language of self-representation; the function and expression of memory; problems of truth, fiction, and lying in autobiography; the nature of the confessional act; parental secrecy and the older child’s revelation as avenues to self-discovery; the relation of performativity to identity; the ways autobiographers give symbolic meaning and form to their experience; and the relation of gender to self-representation. We’ll look at ways writers experiment with diverse forms, challenging conventional or traditional modes of life writing, such as graphic autobiographies. And we will discuss whether this kind of writing serves anything like a therapeutic purpose. There will also be readings in autobiographical theory. Some possible texts include Nabokov’s Speak, Memory; De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater; Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior; Georges Perec's W; Michel Leiris’ Manhood; Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss; Mary Gordon’s The Shadow Man; Wilkomirski’s Fragments; and Art Spiegelman’s Maus. Prerequisite: two English or literature courses. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The English Enlightenment and the Modern Intellectual
Full course for one semester. In this course we will read a variety of major 18th-century authors whose work opens the modern debate on what it means to be a literary intellectual. Major authors will include Joseph Addison, David Hume, Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, and Mary Wollstonecraft, with some contemporary contributions from writers including Susan Sontag. We will also read critical work attempting to define what enlightenment means, from Immanuel Kant, Horkheimer and Adorno, Michel Foucault, and Jürgen Habermas. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 329 - Film and FictionFull course for one semester. This course looks at ways film directors have adapted significant novels for the screen. We will focus on narrative in fiction as it has been transformed into narrative for films; the different techniques for storytelling each medium employs; and various criteria for assessing the success or failure of such adaptations, along the way examining the notion of “fidelity” as a valid criterion for assessing film adaptations. We will also regard how point of view is established in each genre. Some attention will be given to cinematic codes and to ways of discussing how literary language is rendered in visual terms. Novels and the films adopted from them will include such classics as Nabokov’s Lolita, Mann’s Death in Venice, Graham Greene’s The Third Man, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now), John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Henry James’ Washington Square (The Heiress), and Julio Cortazar’s Blowup. Prerequisite: two English or literature courses. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Studies in Fiction
English 333 - Studies in FictionBlack and Asian British Literature
Full course for one semester. Over the past several decades, the work of Britain’s immigrant and native-born ethnic writers has had a truly global impact. This course will offer an in-depth, interdisciplinary examination of black and Asian British literature. First, we will study the origins of Britain’s black and Asian population, particularly in the postwar period. Dominated first by immigrants from the Caribbean and then by immigrants from South Asia, the postwar mass migration of the formerly colonized forever changed the complexion and culture of Britain. Then we will examine the rise of “black British” identity as a response to racism, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s, when it was claimed by individuals of African, Caribbean, and Asian descent. Finally, we will consider the last two decades, when, after the so-called “Rushdie Affair” (the controversy over The Satanic Verses), the notion of Afro-Asian unity began to fall apart. Our readings will be drawn from novelists, poets, and filmmakers such as Sam Selvon, Buchi Emecheta, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Isaac Julien, Black Audio Film Collective, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Jackie Kay, Monica Ali, and Gautam Malkani. We will also read critical works by Homi Bhabha, Hazel Carby, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, C.L. Innes, Kobena Mercer, and others. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Description and Narration
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on the relations between description and narration in examples drawn from American, French, and English fiction. In what ways does description serve various narrative drives? In what ways does description assert its separate purposes and what might those be? Primary texts include Callistratus’s Descriptions, Chrétien de Troyes’s Yvain, Melville’s Typee, Flaubert’s A Sentimental Education, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, Woolf’s The Waves, Stein’s Three Lives, and Joyce’s Dubliners. Theoretical readings will be drawn from the work of M.M. Bakhtin, Michel Riffaterre, Roland Barthes, Elaine Scarry, W.T.J. Mitchell, and Paul Ricoeur. Weekly writing assignments and active participation are required. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Encyclopedic Fictions: Tristram Shandy, Moby-Dick, Ulysses
Full course for one semester. Edward Mendelson has identified the encyclopedic narrative as a genre crucial to the formation of national cultures by rendering the full range of a nation’s knowledge and beliefs visible by means of the organizing skeleton of epic form. This course will engage with three seminal encyclopedic fictions of the Anglo-American novelistic tradition in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries: Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman; Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or, The Whale; and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Because encyclopedic fiction makes full use of the resources of literary forms while simultaneously rendering them obsolete, we will use these three challenging novels as test cases against which we will read a variety of critical texts concerning narrative theory and the archive, including works by Jorge Luis Borges, Gyorg Lukács, M.M. Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida. In addition, we will read something about the historical national backgrounds against which these three novels are set. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Not offered 2010–11.
Fielding, Sterne, Austen: Narrative Theory and the Novel 1749–1815
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on readings of three masterly experiments with novel form published between 1749 and 1815: Fielding’s Tom Jones, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, and Austen’s Emma, along with fairly extensive readings on narrative theory. We will read historical texts to contextualize these readings, some shorter fictional works from the period covered, and, especially, critical works exploring modes of narration and focalization, character, temporality in the novel, and the nature of literary style. Critics will include classic commentators on the novel genre such as Viktor Shklovsky, Mikhail Bakhtin, Wayne Booth, and Gérard Genette, as well as recent work by scholars of Fielding, Sterne, and Austen. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Henry James Through Theory
Full course for one semester. The consummate novelist of consciousness, Henry James (1843-1916) has proved a compelling figure to many readers of the novel, among them literary theorists and moral philosophers. Our course will explore some of the reasons for this appeal. Reading selected novels and tales by James (e.g., "The Aspern Papers," "In the Cage," "The Beast in the Jungle," The Ambassadors, and The Sacred Fount), we will examine core questions posed by James’s fiction—questions of sexuality and class, of viewpoint and epistemology, of ethics and aesthetics. We will also consider how literary theory may inform our approach. Alongside James's fiction, we will read essays in formalism, psychoanalysis, queer theory, phenomenology, and moral philosophy. Our work with literary theory is designed to introduce students to new critical models that may enrich our analysis of literature. No previous work in theory is required for the course. Prerequisite: two 200-level courses in English, or consent of instructor. Conference.
The Literature of Venice
Full course for one semester. What happens when the symbolic use of space, in fiction, is grafted onto a specific place and the living history of a city? We will explore this question through a body of literature set in the city of Venice. From William Shakespeare to Ann Radcliffe to Thomas Mann, writers have often used Venice to figure a particularly complex relationship to history and modernity, and/or to secrecy, sexuality, and knowledge. We will examine why this city of masks and public spectacles has proved so compelling a setting for Gothic novels, detective fictions, and historical romances. In addition to criticism and theory, our readings will include novels and short stories by (among others) James Fenimore Cooper, Wilkie Collins, and Henry James. Although our focus will be on prose fiction, we will also consider how the literature on Venice has been shaped and illuminated by Venetian histories and travelers’ accounts. Selected film adaptations of the course texts will supplement our analysis. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. This course will introduce the field of postmodern studies—in connection with cultural studies and poststructuralism—and a number of issues associated with postmodernity and postmodernism in their cultural, aesthetic, and political dimensions. While the focus is on fiction and theory, we will also examine films and television programs. Prominent among the topics this course covers are globalization, mass culture, terrorism, virtual reality, hypertext, conspiracy, hybridity, pastiche, “the death of the author/subject,” intertextuality, and nostalgia. We will read fiction by authors such as Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Jean Rhys, William Gibson, Kathy Acker, and J.G. Ballard, along with selected theoretical writings of Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Homi Bhabha, Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, and Slavoj Zizek. We will also screen several films, including films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, and Ridley Scott. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Raj and After: Fictions of English India
Full course for one semester. For almost a hundred years, nearly the entirety of the Indian subcontinent was under the direct political control of the British Empire; through one of the most astonishing imperialist exercises in world history, hundreds of millions of people were thus ruled by a comparative handful of foreign administrators. This course seeks to examine this period through the rich and varied fictional responses to it by British and Indian writers alike both during and after the Raj. We will consider such topics as the mutual assimilations of both the ruling and the ruled cultures; the gathering strength of the independence movement; the gradual decline of imperialist vigor; the problems of linguistic impasse; and the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race within discourses concerning foreign rule and Indian nationalism. Novelists to be studied will include Rudyard Kipling, Rabindranath Tagore, E.M. Forster, Raja Rao, Paul Scott, and Salman Rushdie. We will also read shorter critical texts by Martha Nussbaum, Benedict Anderson, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Sunil Khilnani, and Homi Bhabha. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. In this course we will interrogate the problematic status of the fictional narratives generally classified as romances. Is the romance a historically specific genre, the medieval precursor to the modern novel? Or is it, as Northrop Frye maintains, "the structural core of all fiction"? In thinking through such questions, we will also consider the relationship of the romance to the categories/genres of epic, novel, and history in light of critical discussions by Jameson, Auerbach, Parker, and others. As we move from the Greek romance through the "classic" romances of the Middle Ages and finally on to modern continuations of the form, we will specifically address issues of narrative structure, chivalric vs. heroic identities, and the historical representations of class, gender, and the nation. Texts studied may include Daphnis and Chloe, the romances of Chrétien de Troyes, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Malory's D'Arthur, Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Sidney's The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, Behn's Oroonoko, Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, and Morris's The Wood Beyond the World. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Social World of the
Full course for one semester. The Industrial Revolution, the entrenchment of the bourgeoisie, and the two Reform Bills made possible tremendous transformations in the social worlds of Victorian Great Britain. This course will examine how these changes were both documented and reimagined in the works of five seminal novelists of the period: William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and Charles Dickens. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which these novelists figure communities as constituted around such institutions as the workplace, the home, the beau monde, the church, the legal system, and the government. There will be substantial historical, critical, and theoretical readings in addition to the novels. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Studies in the Novel: James and Ozick, Faulkner and Morrison
Full course for one semester. Through intensive study of the work of four writers whose fictions invite comparative analysis, in this course we will address questions of modernism and postmodernism, intertextuality, American regionalisms and transnational literary traditions, civil rights and feminism, and representations of race, gender, and ethnicity. Toni Morrison’s master’s thesis treated the work of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner; Cynthia Ozick’s treated that of Henry James, “The Master,” as she referred to him in later essays. How does an understanding of the fiction of James and Faulkner inform our reading of the works of these two novelists from the second half of the 20th century? We will also read critical pieces by the novelists, as well as selected critical and theoretical texts. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Full course for one semester. This course will examine an important phenomenon in contemporary literature: the rise of fiction that can legitimately claim to be transnational. We will read several transnational novels by ethnic American and postcolonial writers such as Monique Truong, Ruth Ozeki, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Jessica Hagedorn, Caryl Phillips, Amitav Ghosh, Indra Sinha, and Michael Ondaatje. In addition, we will read influential works in transnational theory and the critical perspectives out of which it emerged and with which it continues to intersect, including those of postcolonial, diaspora, and ethnic studies. Our key theory text will be Lisa Lowe’s influential essay, “The Intimacies of Four Continents,” which will provoke a look forward and backward to the work of thinkers such as Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Pheng Cheah, David Eng, Bishnupriya Ghosh, Fredric Jameson, Walter Mignolo, Edward Said, and Gayatri Spivak. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Studies in British Culture
English 337 - Studies in British Culture
British Literature, Colonialism, and Slavery, 1680–1830
Full course for one semester. In this class we will read a series of texts that focus on the nature of national and imperial identity in an age of exploration, conquest, and colonization. Most of the works are British, along with some French, American, and Caribbean texts, and range from canonical texts by writers such as Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and Jane Austen to journals, letters, autobiographies, and poetry by less well-known authors from the social periphery or margins of empire. Through these readings we will explore two kinds of questions: first, in close readings of the varied forms of these texts (satire, fiction, the memoir and journal, and poetry) we will trace the impact of various literary genres on political arguments and vice versa. Second, we will investigate what national identity is, what it means to be an imperial power, and what the nature of the non-European "other" is in a literary culture fascinated by the possibilities of colonial domination and confronted with the fact of slavery. Associated topics such as the development of a culture of ethnographic and cultural tourism in this period will also be examined. There will also be substantial secondary reading in recent criticism and theory on the questions raised by the readings. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
The Bloomsbury Group
Full course for one semester. This course examines the writings, works and cultural impact of the Bloomsbury Group, one of the most important of all English cultural movements, and one that had an enormous impact on Great Britain in the first half of the 20th century. The course will stress the major attitudes of the group derived from the ideas of the Cambridge philospher G.E. Moore emphasizing the pleasures of human friendship and aesthetic appreciation, as well as the set's rejection of the artistic, social, and sexual restrictions of the Victorians. Particular attention will be given to the writings of Virginia Woolf, the preeminent figure of the group, but we will also look at the fiction of E.M. Forster and Leonard Woolf; the art and design work of Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, and Duncan Grant; and the biographical writings of Lytton Strachey. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Lecture/conference.
Studies in American Literature
English 341 - Studies in American Literature
African American Cinema
Full course for one semester. In this course, we will take a look at African American cinema from classical Hollywood studio productions and the independent race film industry. We will explore a range of films from the silent period to the early sound era that depict the lives of black Americans and consider the social, cultural, and historical constructs that guide these depictions. While much of the scholarship on African American cinema is a response to negative imagery and stereotypes, we will explore how issues of race and its attendant issues (class, gender, sex, etc.) pose questions of spectatorial pleasure, aesthetic practice, medium specificity, and cinematic form. The scholarship of black film scholars such as Jane Gaines, Thomas Cripps, Manthia Diawara, and Jacqueline Stewart will help frame our discussions of films such as Within Our Gates (1920), Imitation of Life (1934), The Blood of Jesus (1941), and Pinky (1949). Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above, including an introductory film course, or consent of the instructor. Lecture-conference.
Albee and Kennedy
Full course for one semester. This course will be an in-depth study of the works of two major avant-garde American playwrights who first gained recognition in the 1960s, Edward Albee and Adrienne Kennedy. Albee's works include The Zoo Story: The American Dream; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; A Delicate Balance; Tiny Alice; and Three Tall Women. Kennedy's work includes Funnyhouse of a Negro; The Owl Answers; A Rat's Mass; and A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Borderlands as Imaginary Narrative Space
Full course for one semester. This course will introduce the discourse of “the border” through a range of literary, historical, and cinematic texts situated on or near the U.S./Mexico border. Our goal is to understand not only the vibrant, violent history of the region—and how that history is rendered aesthetically—but to understand how the border is “felt” as a political truth, a geographical fiction, and a psychic tension. This class is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing from literary studies, cultural studies, film studies, and Chicano/Latino studies for its operating rubrics. Texts will include Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory, and Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, in addition to works by Ana Castillo, Tomás Rivera, and Sandra Cisneros. Films may include LoneStar, No Country for Old Men, The Searchers, and documentaries by Lourdes Portillo and Bill Brown. Prerequisites: two 200-level English courses. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. As the U.S. moved in the 1940s from a wartime experience to a new, postwar context, works of popular culture expressed both the hopes and fears that came with that transition. For example, a series of postwar films such as the well-known It's a Wonderful Life used magic figures who descended to earth to help lost and bedraggled protagonists find their way again in the confusions of the moment. But the way in which George Bailey's American dream so quickly can become a nightmare suggests an underside to 1940s optimism. In this respect, film noir, a trend of films that started during the war but really exploded in the postwar moment, expresses a bleaker, more bitter and downbeat vision of the historical moment. Noir expresses tensions of urban life, of sexual roles and identity, of work and success, and so on. This course will examine noir both thematically and stylistically to pinpoint its expressive commentary on social trends and tensions. The course will also attend to the ongoing fascination with—and frequent revival of—noir style and subject matter to study how the social concerns of film noir continue to express complications in the success story of America as a nation. The course will include both films and novels adapted to film or with a distinctly noir aesthetic, including Thérèse Raquin, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Blank Wall, The Maltese Falcon, and The Big Sleep. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Previous coursework in film studies recommended. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Jewish American Literature
Full course for one semester. What is "Jewish" and what is "American" about Jewish American literature? This course will introduce students to Jewish American fiction, with some attention to drama, autobiography, and poetry from the 19th to the 21st century. We will discuss themes such as identity, exile, gender, history, and the Shoah (Holocaust), and issues such as humor, choice of language, and the relationship of Jewish American literature to other minority discourses and to other Jewish literatures. Texts may include work by Anzia Yezierska, Abraham Cahan, Jo Sinclair, Philip Roth, Joanne Greenberg, Chaim Potok, Cynthia Ozick, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Rebecca Goldstein, Melvin Bukiet, Allegra Goodman, David Mamet, Emma Lazarus, Alicia Ostriker, and Robert Pinsky; we will also view and discuss one or more films. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. In honor of his 100th birthday, this course will be an in-depth study of the major plays of Tennessee Williams, arguably America’s greatest playwright. We will look at plays from Williams’s entire career. Texts will include The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Night of the Iguana, and others. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above. Conference.
English 356 - Studies in African American Literature
The Art of the African American Short Story
Full course for one semester. This course will survey African American short fiction from the late 19th century into the 20th century. We will look at the work in its historical and political context. We will begin in the 1890s with the work of Charles Chesnutt that interrogates the time immediately after slavery and signals the beginning of African American modernism. We will also cover the periods of the Harlem Renaissance, African American Naturalism, The Civil Rights Movement, The Black Arts Movement, and beyond. In addition to Chesnutt, authors will include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Paule Marshall, Ernest J. Gaines, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, Amiri Baraka, Toni Cade Bambara, and Edward P. Jones. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Black Radical Tradition
Full course for one semester. Throughout the history of Black people as a colonized people in the West, there has been an ongoing debate about the proper relationship or stance the colonized should have toward the colonizer. In the 19th century, Martin Delany's radicalism was opposed by Frederick Douglass's more accommodationist stance. Later, the conflict was manifested by the contrast between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, and then between Marcus Garvey and Du Bois. Later still, there were Malcolm X and Dr. King, and then Amiri Baraka and Ralph Ellison. With the possible exception of the DuBois-Washington conflict, the less radical position is the one that has received the most attention, both public and scholarly. This course will examine the work of three representative figures of the Black radical tradition in the 20th century: W.E.B. Du Bois (U.S.A), C.L.R. James (Trinidad), and Richard Wright (U.S.A.). In particular, we will examine their relationship to Marxism as a means to the solution of the problem of the colonized. This course will be both interdisciplinary—we will read works of literature, history, and sociocultural criticism—and cross-cultural. Texts will include Black Reconstruction and The Souls of Black Folk (DuBois); The Black Jacobins and Beyond a Boundary (James); and Native Son and 12 Million Black Voices (Wright). Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Black Radical Tradition II
Full course for one semester. This course continues an examination of the radical solution to the problem of the colonized. This semester we will concentrate on the decades of the 1950s and 1960s. We will do an in-depth study of three writers rather than a more broad-based survey. The three writers are Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, and LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, although for the latter we will study him in the larger context of the Black Arts Movement. This will necessitate some attention to other writers such as Larry Neal, Sonia Sanchez, and Harold Cruse. Prerequisite: two English courses or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Studies in Medieval Literature
English 352 - Studies in Medieval Literature
Full course for one semester. The late-14th-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer is surely one of the greatest masters of irony in English literature. In this course we will study a generous selection of his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales. The first section of the course will focus on developing students' facility with Chaucer's language and with medieval culture through a study of The General Prologue. As we proceed through the tales, we will pay careful attention to Chaucer's representation of gender and class through his use of irony and satire, his manipulation of genre, his relationship to his source materials and to medieval Christian authorities, and his subtle exploration of a poetics of instability. Throughout the course we will also consider and reconsider the implications of Chaucer's ambiguous social status within the Ricardian court, as well the validity of thinking of the poet as a "skeptical fideist." Students will learn to read Middle English fluently by the end of the semester, though no previous experience with early forms of English is required. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Love, Lyric, and Loss
Full course for one semester. Focusing on Chaucer's brilliant narrative poem Troilus and Criseyde, in this course we will explore the invention and long cultural afterlife of medieval constructions of love and loss. In the first part of the course, we will become familiar with Middle English and the continental lyric and narrative traditions Chaucer knew and drew upon in writing his lesser-known masterpiece, Troilus and Criseyde. We will read some of Chaucer's lyrics and early dream visions (The Parlement of Foules, The Book of the Duchess). Other readings will be drawn from medieval and contemporary texts that represent and theorize love and loss (e.g., Boethius, troubadour poetry, Marie de France, Kristeva). Middle English texts will be read in the original, other medieval texts in translation. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Studies in Shakespeare
English 363 - Studies in Shakespeare
Hamlet and Lear: Text and Film
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on just two works: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and King Lear. In the 19th century Hamlet was regarded as “the great” tragedy; in the 20th century and continuing to this day King Lear is. We will examine both works in great detail, surrounding them with literary and theatrical criticism, as well as a modern dramatic version of each play and one or more filmic versions of each. This is a course in slow and intense reading of Shakespeare. Prerequisite: two English or literature courses. Conference.
Shakespeare and the Disciplines of Culture
Full course for one semester. In early modern England a vigorous debate occurred about the effects of theatre on character, a debate that finds its echo in modern discussions of the political and ethical effects of Shakespeare and his place in the canon. This course will examine several of Shakespeare’s plays with particular attention to the way in which they implicitly shape a political subject and a moral self. Among the plays addressed will be Richard II, Henry V, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Full course for one semester. A study of the way in which Shakespearean theatre engages what Stanley Cavell calls the “catastrophe of the modern advent of skepticism.” Among the questions to be addressed are epistemological problems as they relate to tragedy, crises of belief and authority, and the gendering of skepticism. Plays to be read include King Lear, Othello, Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, All’s Well that Ends Well, and The Winter’s Tale. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Studies in Poetry
English 366 - Studies in Poetry
Experimental Poetics of the Americas
Full course for one semester. The hybrid cultures of the Americas have given rise to equally hybrid artistic forms. This course focuses on 20th- and 21st-century poetry, with a particular emphasis on works that explore encounters among multiple cultural and literary traditions in the Americas. Traditions may include modernism, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry, Brazilian concrete poetry, the Caribbean neo-baroque, and bilingual U.S. Latina and Latino poetries. Writers may include Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Nicolás Guillén, Haroldo de Campos, Edouard Glissant, Kamau Brathwaite, Susana Chávez-Silverman, and Cecilia Vicuña. Most works will be in English, and all non-English works will be read in translation. Prerequisites: two literature courses at the 200 level or above, preferably including English 211, or consent of the instructor. English 211 is recommended. Conference.
Image, Body, Text
Full course for one semester. This course examines poetry, painting, and criticism from the Victorian and Modern periods, investigating how the notion of the image was conceptualized and, in particular, how it is connected to the representation of the body. We will investigate such issues as the relationship between vision and textuality, the nature of spectatorship and beholding, the politics of the aestheticized image, and the image as the locus for the performance of gender and sexuality. Readings may include works of Tennyson, the Brownings, D.G. Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Pater, Ruskin, Pound, H.D., Mina Loy, Djuna Barnes, Frank O'Hara, and Mark Doty, as well as theory and criticism drawn from literature and art history. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Not offered 2010–11.
The Lyric, 1789 to the Present
Full course for one semester. A study in the theory, practice, and history of the lyric from Romanticism to the present time. The lyric, as one of, if not the most characteristic poetic form, has historically been a fertile ground for both poets and critics to define and contest the constitutive elements of poetry. We will examine one of the most crucial periods in the construction of lyric, romanticism, and the critical and poetic legacy of romanticism for modernism and postmodernism through a reading of major lyric poets from all three periods. Readings and discussion will include a wide range of critical approaches to lyric, focusing on such questions as the constitution of the speaker; the relationship between the speaker and the fictional or real world he inhabits; organic form; the figure of “voice”; the role of intertextuality; the understanding of symbol and allegory within the lyric; the attack on lyric by aesthetic-ideology critics; and aesthetic form as experiment. Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above, preferably including English 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
The Poetics of
Full course for one semester. This course will explore the theory and practice of literary translation, with particular attention to how texts cross cultural borders. In the process, we will also consider the role of translation in 20th-century poetic innovation, with attention to major theorist-innovators such as Ezra Pound, Jorge Luis Borges, and Haroldo de Campos. We will read selectively in translation theory, and relate this theory to our own translation practice. Students will complete a portfolio of translated poems, short stories, or short dramatic works suitable for submission to a literary journal. Prerequisites: two literature courses at the 200 level or above, preferably including English 211, or consent of the instructor. Students should have a competency in a foreign language equivalent to at least one year of study at Reed, or be concurrently enrolled in the second year of a Reed language course. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 384 - Poetry and History
Full course for one semester. Virginia Woolf wrote that on “or about December, 1910, human character changed,” voicing a widely shared excitement over an anticipated revolution in the arts. The American poets who stayed in the U.S. shared this excitement, but also faced unique cultural circumstances. We will do close readings of poetry by Williams, Moore, and Stevens, and look at how they were responding to and helping shape American attitudes about the arts, including the visual arts. In investigating the poets' ideas about poetry's place and function, we will also look at how modernist poetry circulated in the United States in the early 20th century, drawing on the Reed library's collection of small magazines from the period. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level, or English 211 or a 20th-century American history course, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Contemporary American Poetry
Full course for one semester. This course is devoted to the works of American poets writing after 1945, beginning with poets ranging from Richard Wilbur to Charles Olson and ending with those writing now. While the class will focus on specific texts, we will also consider questions about the relationships between poetry, poetics, and American culture, trying to map the broad features of various poetic traditions and practices in the United States in the last half of the 20th century, with an emphasis on the heterogeneous nature of poetic practices. Prerequisite: English 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
the Self in English Romanticism
Full course for one semester. A course on the relationship between the arguments and discourse arising from the American and French Revolutions (in what is called the revolution controversy) and the project and style of lyric poetry, especially in England. We will explore late 18th- and early 19th-century claims about poetic and political revolution, along with shifting ideas of personal identity. Writers may include the Wordsworths (William and Dorothy), the Shelleys (Mary and Percy Bysshe), Burke, Thomas Paine, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson, Mary Hays, Helen Maria Williams, and Anna Barbauld. Prerequisites: English 211 or a history course in the period. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
English 393 - Literary Theory
A History of
Rhetoric and Literary Theory
Full course for one semester. This course consists of an examination of classical rhetoric ("the art of persuasion") and the ways in which rhetorical systems promulgated theories about the functions of memory, imagination, and language in relation to the composition and reception of literary texts of all genres. Part of the goal is to arrive at sophisticated and historically informed definitions of concepts such as mimesis, copia, and the sublime. Attention will also be paid to the theories and functions of literary tropes, particularly metaphor, metonymy, irony, and allegory. Theoretical texts will be read in conjunction with literary texts, enabling the student to use them and critique various theories in his/her own strategies for close reading. The theoretical texts are taken from Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Longinus, Erasmus, Thomas Wilson, St. Ignatius Loyola, Burke, Kant, Freud, and Lacan. The literary texts include Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare's sonnets, and James Joyce's Dubliners. Prerequisite: two 200-level English courses or consent of the instructor. This course satisfies the pre-17th C requirement. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Contemporary Narrative Theory
Full course for one semester. This course introduces students to problems and debates in narrative theory. We will focus on three current areas of research: theories of character, the analysis of narration (e.g., represented thought), and the contextualist dimensions of literary style. Each week will pair one or more classic paper in narrative theory (e.g. Propp on the folktale, Genette on focalization, Bakhtin on heteroglossia) with a more recent approach to the problem it confronts. Readings may include Marxist, feminist, and postcolonial approaches to narrative; we will also consider what interdisciplinary studies, such as those drawing on cognitive science and the sociology of literature, offer for theories of the novel. To test these theories, we will employ a common set of novels, drawn from various periods and national traditions, which we will read concurrently throughout the semester: Lewis's The Monk, Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Machado de Assis' The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, and selected chapters from Ulysses. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2010–11.
Thinking Through Literature
Full course for one semester. This course will attempt a fairly systematic analysis of some central problems in literary theory, with emphasis on the relationship between literary theory and other relevant disciplines, such as philosophy and psychology. Four main topics will be addressed: signs and communication; tropes; narration; and spectacle and theatricality. Among others, these philosophers, critics, and theorists will be discussed: Aristotle, Bal, Burke, Cherry, Davidson, Debord, deMan, Derrida, Grice, and Norris. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or higher, or Literature 400, or consent of the instructor. Conference.