English Department

2020-2021 English and Creative Writing Courses

A full list of courses that the English department offers can be found here and a full list of Creative Writing classes can be found here

Fall Courses

English 205 - Introduction to Fiction 

Decolonization and the Novel in Africa

Kritish Rajbhandari - In-person/Remote access: Tues/Thurs 10:25-11:45 a.m. and Tues 10:25-11:45 a.m. and Thurs 1:40-3:00 p.m. 
Full course for one semester. Taking root during late colonialism, the novel emerged as a prominent genre in the shaping of postcolonial societies in the Africa. In the wake of decolonization, writers turned to the novel reinventing the genre to imagine new individual and collective identities and assess the legacies left behind by the colonial past. Since then, writers from the regions have variously responded to the failures of the nation-state, neo-colonial formations, and the promises and pitfalls of globalization. This course will examine various novelistic responses to the socio-political changes in different parts of Africa during the late twentieth and the twenty-first century. In what ways did the novel become a catalyst for cultural transformation in postcolonial Africa and the Caribbean? How did the novel become the privileged genre of decolonization? Starting with the critiques of colonialism in the early decolonial period, we will explore topics including narratives of modernity and tradition, post-independence disillusion, critique of patriarchy and gender, migration, displacement, and globalization in various contexts. Attending to the heterogeneity of the regions, we will discuss the novels in comparative frameworks assessing the similarities and the differences apparent in the cultures and historical contexts from which they emerge. We will read works by Tayeb Salih, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayi Kweh Armah, Bessie Head, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Dambudzo Marechera, and Chimamanda Adichie. Theoretical reading may include writings of Aimé Césaire, Franz Fanon, Eduard Glissant, Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí, and Achille Mbembe among others. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.

Detective Stories and Crime Fiction

Jay Dickson - Online instruction only: Tues/Thurs 1:40-3:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. Often derided as a “lower” form of storytelling, crime fiction has been for decades one of the most popular genres of literature on both sides of the Atlantic. Engaged with central questions of what constitutes illicit actions in civilized societies, and how they might be detected and policed, the form also crucially concerns itself with matters both epistemological and ontological (especially concerning hidden identities). This course examines the development of classic crime and detective fiction, starting in the nineteenth century with Edgar Allen Poe’s pathfinding C. Auguste Dupin stories, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone (often called the first popular detective novel in English), and Arthur Conan Doyle’s wildly popular Sherlock Holmes stories. The course will then proceed through the so-called “Golden Age of Detective Fiction” in the United Kingdom and the rise of hard-boiled detective fiction in the United States (both of which coincided with the era of literary modernism). We will finish by looking at how in recent decades the genre’s codes have been re-written, particularly in light of questions about identity politics with regards to established social orders. Primary texts will also include works by Dorothy L. Sayers, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, Patricia Highsmith, P. D. James, and China Miéville. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.

English 213 - American Poetry

Ethnopoetics

Laura Leibman - Online instruction only: Tues/Thurs 1:40-3:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the complexity and pleasure of poetry. We will be learning about the aesthetics of ethnic American poetry by reading it in the context of Western and non-Western poetic traditions. We will use the historical circumstances and theories of ethnicity to help us understand both the political and aesthetic choices behind poetic allusions, language, genre, diction, rhythm, and figurative language. The poems we read are chosen from a variety of genres, authors, and historical periods, ranging from sonnets to blues, Phillis Wheatley to Joy Harjo, and the Renaissance to the present. Our aim will be to understand how the various techniques and genres open to poets enable them to produce works of art which speak to us and push us to think. The course emphasizes close reading of the texts, and there will be frequent writing assignments. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.

English 261 - Introduction to Film

Film Noir

Maureen Harkin - In-person instruction only: Mon/Wed 1:25-2:45 p.m. and Mon/Wed 3:00-4:20 p.m.
Full course for one semester. This course will focus on film noir in American cinema in the 1940s and 1950s, examining its plot-lines and narrative methods as well as its distinctive visual style. Students will be introduced to the language of film analysis and trace the genre's sources in "hardboiled" detective fiction, German Expressionism, and the cultural climate of the US in the decades in which the films were produced. Questions about visual framing, narrative structure, and genre will inform readings and discussions, as will the films’ representations of tensions in post-war social roles. The course will conclude with a consideration of one or two more recent examples of "neo-noir." Required readings on film and narrative theory; directors will include Billy Wilder, Orson Welles, Jacques Tourneur, Fritz Lang, Howard Hawks, and Michael Curtiz.  Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. Conference.

English 301 - Junior Seminar in English Literary History

Michael Faletra - In-person instruction only: Mon/Wed/Fri 1:25-2:45 p.m.

Full course for one semester. This course offers a study of the methods and a sample of the materials of English and American literary history. Offered in two or three sections each year with different emphases, this course engages the in-depth study of one work and its precursors, influences, and effects, or may study a range of works attending to intertextual transformations and generic change. The course will also include substantial reading in literary theory, and students will develop their own critical history, together with an annotated bibliography 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.

English 333 - Studies in Fiction

Short Story Cycles

Gail Sherman - Online instruction only: Tues/Thurs 12:00-1:20 p.m.
Full course for one semester. In the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries, North America has seen remarkable development in the short story cycle, a form of narrative also found in many other periods, cultures, and languages (The Thousand and One Nights, The Decameron, Dubliners). This narrative form differs from story collections in its degree of unity, and from the novel in the relative independence of its constituent parts (stories rather than chapters). How does the development of this genre inflect the history of the novel? In this class, we will explore the constructions of gender, ethnicity, and the ethics of reading in short story cycles from authors such as Anderson, Anzaldúa, Barth, Hemingway, Garcia, Erdrich, Kingston, Jewett, Munro, Naylor, O’Brien, Salinger, and Stein. Readings will also include critical and theoretical essays on narrative and on the history of the novel. In addition to brief response essays, students will write a research paper. Prerequisite: two English or literature courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference.  

English 352 - Studies in Medieval Literature

Chaucer

Michael Faletra - In-person instruction only: Mon/Wed/Fri 11:10-12:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. The late-fourteenth-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. This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement. Conference.

English 366 - Studies in Poetry

Beauty and the Poetic Text

Lucía Martínez Valdivia - In-person instruction only: Tues/Thurs 3:15-4:35 p.m.
Full course for one semester. What makes us perceive things as beautiful? Why do certain works of art move us emotionally, while others engage us intellectually? The concept of aesthetics is nothing if not fluid: it can relate to perception through the senses; the philosophy of beauty; the art (or science!) of what is pleasing; the study of good taste; the standards by which art is judged—the list goes on. We will embark on a transhistorical exploration of beauty and the senses in Western literature across multiple genres, beginning with Plato and moving through the ideas of beauty and the sublime in the medieval world, representation and the self in the Renaissance, taste, sentiment, and the senses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, finally ending with the modern period and the turn toward self-conscious artistic creation. Likely texts include Shakespeare’s Sonnets and T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, as well as works by Longinus, Aquinas, Donne, Thomas Gray, Edmund Burke, Wordsworth, Emerson, Dickinson, Wilde, and Walter Benjamin. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level, one of which must be ENG 211, 212, or 213. This course applies toward the pre-1900 requirement. Conference.

English 370 - Studies in Cultural Contacts

Full course for one semester. Variable topics. See specific listing for prerequisites. Conference. May be repeated for credit.  

Strindberg and O'Neill

Pancho Savery - In-person instruction only: Mon/Wed/Fri 11:10-12:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. This course will be an in-depth study of two giants of modern drama from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, August Strindberg (1849-1912) from Sweden, and Eugene O'Neill ( 1888-1953) from the United States. Topics to be discussed will include naturalism, expressionism, surrealism, family, heredity, alcoholism, drugs, and pipe dreams. Strindberg plays will likely include The Father (1887 ), Miss Julie (1888), To Damascus ( 1898/1904)), and The Dance of Death (1900). O'Neill texts will include Anna Christie (1920), The Emperor Jones (1920), Mourning Becomes Electra (1931), The Iceman Cometh (1939), and Long Day's Journey into Night (1941). Prerequisites: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

English 400 - Introduction to Literary Theory

Nathalia King - In-person instruction only: Tues/Thurs 3:15-4:35 p.m. or Online instruction only: 
Tues/Thurs 6:10-7:30 p.m.

Full course for one semester. This course is a historical and analytical introduction to the major theoretical movements of the last 50 years in Western Europe and America. We will trace the philosophical origins and conceptual affiliations of the major developments in these movements. We will unpack the central concepts or master tropes of these theories to think about their function in literary criticism and learn how to use them purposefully. The course will cover structuralism and semiotics, poststructuralism and deconstruction, psychoanalytic theory, poststructuralist Marxist theory, Foucauldian theory and new historicism, postcolonial studies, and gender and feminist studies. The course will be taught as a seminar, with each student responsible for organizing the discussion of a reading or topic. It is designed for literature majors, but non–literature majors with adequate preparation may be admitted at the discretion of the instructors. Prerequisite: junior standing or at least two literature courses. Conference. 

Creative Writing 201 - Introduction to Creative Writing

The Short Story

Pete Rock - Online instruction only: Mon/Wed 3:00-4:20 p.m. and Tues/Thurs 3:15-4:35 p.m.
Full course for one semester. In this course students will write short stories, and read the work of their classmates as well as that of published authors. Close attention will be paid to the narrative strategies used by writers such as Alice Munro, Jamaica Kincaid, Lydia Davis, George Saunders, and Yasunari Kawabata to help the students in writing their own fiction. We will consider these various strategies when reading and responding to the work of peers. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Creative Writing 224 - Poetry Studio I

Awakenings and Connections

Samiya Bashir - Online instruction only: Mon/Wed/Fri 10:05-10:55 a.m.
Full course for one semester. According to Lucille Clifton, “Poetry began when somebody walked off a savanna or out of a cave, looked up at the sky with wonder and said, ‘Ah-h-h!’” In this introductory poetry studio students will engage in writing exercises designed to help them strengthen their poetry-writing skills. We will read, listen to, and analyze poetry written by nationally recognized authors in an attempt to find a common critical language that we will use while discussing student work. To that end, students will write poetry, both in and out of class, and will workshop that poetry with their peers. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five poems, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Creative Writing 321 - Special Topics Studio

Enrollment limited to 15. Writing sample required. 

Prose Short Forms

Pete Rock - Online instruction only: Tues/Thurs 10:25-11:45 a.m.
Full course for one semester. This workshop is designed for students with considerable experience in writing short prose. Students will read stories and essays by authors such as Ross Gay, Lydia Davis, Yasunari Kawabata and Sandra Cisneros in order to learn how to manage effects economically, and to write with maximum efficiency and suggestion. Students will write one short piece of prose per week; critically responding to others’ work, and the revision of one’s own stories, will also be emphasized. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Creative Writing 331 - Special Topics Studio

Enrollment limited to 15. Writing sample required. 

Multimedia Poetries

Samiya Bashir - Online instruction only: Mon/Wed 1:25-2:45 p.m.
Full course for one semester. This course will be an inquiry into craft and discovery of the multimedia poetries around us and within us. We examine the recent landscape to understand how these poetries and poetics work, how and where they succeed (and fail), and how they might move into the future. We will critically study the work of others, including our peers, while working through regular skills-building creative assignments toward the completion of our own capstone project. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: Creative Writing 224 and one other creative writing course, a writing sample, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Spring Courses 

English 201 - Introduction to Narrative

Monsters and Marvels in the Middle Ages

Michael Faletra - Mon/Wed/Fri 10:00-10:50 a.m. and Mon/Wed/Fri 11:00-11:50 a.m.
Full course for one semester. In this course we will explore the contours of the medieval imagination as it made sense of the world in a variety of literary and historical texts from the sixth through the fourteenth centuries. We will focus on the function of marvels and monsters as plot devices, as ways of representing cultural anxieties, and as modes of construing the relationship between self and “other” and between the natural world and the social world. We will focus mainly on texts from the British Isles and France, including BeowulfThe Travels of Sir John Mandeville, the Lais of Marie de France, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, Gerald of Wales’s Journey Through Wales, Chrétien de Troyes’s Arthurian romances, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the Middle Welsh Mabinogion, as well as shorter excerpts from Isidore of Seville, Walter Map, Gervase of Tilbury, and others. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing. This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement. Conference. 

English 212 - British Poetry

Early Modern Woman

Lucía Martínez Valdivia - Tues/Thurs 12:00-1:20 p.m.
Full course for one semester. Queen Elizabeth I was both an exception and an ideal in early modern England: a woman, ruling a patriarchal nation, about whom countless poems were written. She was also a poet in her own right, serving as both literary subject and object, and the same was true of women at all levels of society. This course introduces students to the range of poetry written by and about women in early modern England. In particular, it examines the ways in which sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poets represented the relationship of English womanhood to the world that produced and surrounded it, at home and abroad. What can we learn from both idealized and realistic portrayals of early modern women? To what extent do changes in literature reflect shifts in English history and culture, including the intersections of religion, politics, science, and class and gender relations? In considering these questions, students will develop a formal analytical vocabulary and skills central to the reading and studying of poetry. This course applies toward the pre-1700 requirement. This course is open to first-year students. Conference.

English 242 - Introduction to Drama

American Theatre Post-Angels in America

Pancho Savery - Mon/Wed/Fri 11:00-11:50 a.m.
Full course for one semester. In a 2018 article "The Great Work Continues," The New York Times asked how American theatre has changed since the first production of  Tony Kushner's Angels in America in 1993, and named the best twenty-five American plays written since then. The list included plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Annie Baker, Anne Washburn, Bruce Norris, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, August Wilson, Anna Deveare Smith, Wallace Shawn, Edward Albee, Eve Ensler, and others. This course begins with a study of Kushner, laying the groundwork for further study of the current state of American theater. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

English 301 - Junior Seminar in English Literary History

Gail Sherman - Tues/Thurs 12:00-1:20 p.m.

Full course for one semester. This course offers a study of the methods and a sample of the materials of English and American literary history. Offered in two or three sections each year with different emphases, this course engages the in-depth study of one work and its precursors, influences, and effects, or may study a range of works attending to intertextual transformations and generic change. The course will also include substantial reading in literary theory, and students will develop their own critical history, together with an annotated bibliography 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. 

English 303 - American Studies Seminar

Jews Across the Americas

Laura Leibman - Tues/Thurs 1:40-3:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. This course examines the diversity of the American Jewish experiences in South America, North America, and the Caribbean.  Moving from the early colonial era to the present, we will examine Jewish life through a variety of literary genres ranging from poetry to fiction to graphic novels. This course offers an introduction to the methods of American studies and digital humanities, and focuses on how to read literature in the context of primary historical sources and material culture. Prerequisites: at least two 200-level English class OR Introduction to Judaism (Religion 131) OR any other course in Jewish literature or history. This course applies toward the pre-1900 requirement. Conference.

English 320 - Studies in Drama

Renaissance Revenge Tragedies

Simone Waller - Mon/Wed 2:40-3:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. Elizabethan statesman Francis Bacon called revenge “a kind of wild justice” that good government and rule of law should prevent. No wonder, then, that an immense body of drama turned to revenge plots to explore contradictions and failings in the legal, political, and moral codes meant to govern individuals’ relationships with each other and public institutions. In this class, we will explore how the theme of revenge interacted with and spurred the development of drama in Renaissance England. From early translations of the Roman philosopher Seneca’s tragedies through to the decadent plays of the Jacobean stage, tales of clandestine affairs and “murder most foul” spurred innovation in stagecraft while simultaneously providing a means to contemplate power and its abuses. Placing famous examples of the genre, such as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in conversation with lesser-known works, such as Elizabeth Cary’s Tragedy of Miriam and John Webster’s The White Devil, we will concern ourselves with three major topics: 1) how the representation of crimes and their discovery on stage influenced plays’ structure and rhetorical style; 2) how allusion and citation among plays produced recognizable character types, including the Machiavel, revenger, and stoic; and 3) how stage conventions regarding the representation of madness and violence interacted with social norms concerning gender and emerging concepts of race. Carrying our discussion of these topics through to contemporary theatrical productions such as Gregory Doran’s Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, we will consider the cultural work revenge tragedies and their theatrical legacy continue to perform today. Prerequisites: two English or literature courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement. Conference.

English 333 - Studies in Fiction 

Description and Narration

Nathalia King - Tues 6:10-9:00 p.m.
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.

Postcolonial Hauntings 

Kritish Rajbhandari - Tues/Thurs 10:30-11:50 a.m.
Full course for one semester. Haunting is central to postcolonial thought and literature. This course will examine the aesthetics of haunting in postcolonial novels from the latter half of the twentieth century. These novels invite us to radically rethink the relations between the past and the present in terms of their contemporaneity and interdependence instead of a linear progression from the colonial past to a postcolonial liberated present. We will reflect on alternative temporalities opened up by literary evocations of ghosts, phantoms, and specters, and explore the themes of memory, loss and trauma in various historical and cultural contexts. How might the language of haunting help us understand the unresolved histories of colonial, racial, nationalist, sexist, and ethnic oppression? How do these texts register the experience of loss in the past sustained through violence in the present? In what ways does the novel imagine the possibility of justice by opening up a space for reinterpreting the past in the present? Putting literary texts in conversation with various postcolonial and poststructuralist theories, psychoanalysis, and afro-pessimist thought, we will consider how particular writers respond to the failures of decolonization, the contradictions of the postcolonial nation, the possibilities of resistance and revolution, and the afterlives of empire and slavery. Readings may include works of fiction by Tayeb Salih, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Leslie Marmon Silko, Erna Brodber, and Fred D’Aguiar, and theoretical writings of Franz Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, Spivak, Saidiya Hartman, and Christina Sharpe. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and two English or literature courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. 

Virginia Woolf’s Modernist Networks

Jay Dickson - Tues/Thurs 1:40-3:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. The idea of the network was central not only to the ways in which Virginia Woolf conceived of relations between and among people in her novels but also according to the terms by which she understood her own fictional career. Woolf’s affiliations with her Bloomsbury Group cohort, her literary collaborators and rivals, and the younger writers she mentored informed her own sense of herself as an author, and were ultimately turned into literary capital regarding the complex manner by which selves are constituted through their engagements with others. This course will explore this dynamic not only through Woolf’s own fiction and essays but also those within the works of Woolf’s modernist network both during her lifetime and after by figures such as Katherine Mansfield, E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, T.S. Eliot, Arnold Bennett, Vita Sackville-West, Elizabeth Bowen, and Ali Smith. We will also read critical and theoretical readings relevant to the concept of the network and to these writers. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and two English or literature courses at the 200 level or above. Conference. 

English 352 - Studies in Medieval Literature

Dante’s Divine Comedy 

Michael Faletra - Mon/Wed 1:10-2:30 p.m.
Full course for one semester. In this course we will study Dante Alighieri’s fourteenth-century masterpiece The Divine Comedy, seeking to understand this ambitious poem both on its own merits and as an index of the major literary, artistic, and intellectual currents of European culture during the High Middle Ages. The Divine Comedy as a whole narrates Dante’s fictional journey through the afterlife, where he witnesses the eternal torments of the damned souls in hell, the patient endurance of the restless Christian spirits in purgatory, and the ineffable delights of the blessed in paradise. As we follow Dante-pilgrim on his journey, we will look specifically at the poetic and narrative strategies that Dante-poet employs in thinking through the changing relationships between language and truth in the separate canticles of the poem, thinking about how an infernal poetics, for example, differs from a paradisiacal one. In light of ongoing debates in Dante studies, we will also focus on the extent to which Dante’s poem enjoins readers to a process of conversion and on the ways in which Dante establishes his own poetic and moral authority as a counterweight to the corruptions of the fourteenth-century church. Readings will be from the English translation by Robert and Jean Hollander, with the Italian text of Dante’s poem on the facing page. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement. Conference. 

English 362 - Studies in Early Modern Literature

John Donne

Lucía Martínez Valdivia - Tues 3:10-6:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. Obsessed with death, love, piety, loss, science, and the power of the written word, John Donne lived and worked on very private and public levels throughout his career. This course will consider the writer who noted that “no man is an island” and pondered “for whom the bell tolls,” reading the prose works in which these words first appeared together with his poetry and letters. We will also consider adaptations of Donne’s poetry and concerns by other writers in other genres in the seventeenth century; the film Wit (2001; based on the 1999 play), which revolves around his famous “Death be not proud” sonnet; and critical receptions of his work since his death. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, one of which must be English 211, 212, or 213. This course fulfills the pre-1700 requirement. Conference. 

English 393 - Literary Theory

The Novel and Narrative Theory

Maureen Harkin - Mon/Wed 1:10-2:30 p.m.
Full course for one semester. “Narrative is to be found wherever someone tells us about something,” according to Monika Fludernik; hence, almost everywhere. In this course we will explore some of the most important critical terms and categories for understanding the workings of fictional narrative. These include point of view and focalization; temporality and the conversion of raw “event” into plot structure; the nature of literary characters and reader investment in them; endings and closure; atmosphere and tone; fiction and metafiction. We will work by pairing critical concepts with example texts, mostly drawn from novels and short stories (including Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and works from Aphra Behn, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Edgar Allan Poe, and James Joyce), but will conclude with one or two film texts in order to compare narrative methods. Theorists will include Barthes, Booth, Chatman, Culler, Foucault, Genette, Moretti, Ngai, Propp, and Shklovsky. Prerequisite: two English courses at the 200 level or above, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Creative Writing 207 - Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

The Personal Essay

Pete Rock - Mon/Wed 2:40-4:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. For many of us, our first impression of the personal essay is that it’s basically autobiography, or maybe memoir; i.e., the “person” in “personal” is us. And this is often the case. But “personal” is also about a tone, a relationship with the reader, a sense of intimacy established, often, through the use of the first person. Which is to say that the personal essay may look outward as much as it looks inward. In this workshop students will write personal essays that cover a range of genres (such as memoir, analytic meditation, and portrait) and discuss the work of writers such as Montaigne, Didion and Baldwin, as well as more contemporary essayists.  Students will also read and discuss the work of their peers. Class sessions will be used for discussion of assigned readings and work in progress. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a prose writing sample of three to five pages, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference.

Creative Writing 224 - Poetry Studio I

Awakenings and Connections

Samiya Bashir - Mon/Wed 2:40-4:00 p.m. and Tue/Thurs 1:40-3:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. According to Lucille Clifton, “Poetry began when somebody walked off a savanna or out of a cave, looked up at the sky with wonder and said, ‘Ah-h-h!’” In this introductory poetry studio students will engage in writing exercises designed to help them strengthen their poetry-writing skills. We will read, listen to, and analyze poetry written by nationally recognized authors in an attempt to find a common critical language that we will use while discussing student work. To that end, students will write poetry, both in and out of class, and will workshop that poetry with their peers. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five poems, at least sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Creative Writing 321 - Special Topics Studio

Enrollment limited to 15. Writing sample required. 

Inspiration as Reaction

Pete Rock - Tues/Thurs 10:30-11:50 a.m.
Full course for one semester. This workshop will investigate where our writing (fiction and nonfiction) comes from, and how to provoke it from within us. We will endeavor to investigate the objects of our personal curiosity, and how to pursue our curiosity to productive and entertaining ends. Such investigations might generate reactions to other writings and works of art, music, the news, our memories, animals, and will involve additional delving into our fears, hopes and blind spots. Class time will be spent in conversation, generating and critiquing work, observing art and perhaps traveling to witness it, show & tell, etc; a fair portion of the reading for this course will be assigned as we go, reacting to the atmospheres that are generated. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: a writing sample of three to five pages, one 200-level creative writing course, at least sophomore standing, and/or consent of the instructor. Conference. 

Creative Writing 331 - Special Topics Studio

Enrollment limited to 15. Writing sample required. 

Regarding Revision

Samiya Bashir - Tues 3:10-6:00 p.m.
Full course for one semester. “I don’t write poems,” poet Robert Lowell famously said, “I rewrite them.” In this special topics studio we will focus intently on the art of re-visioning your poetry through multiple drafts to explore how the poem might become its truest self. While not a workshop in the traditional sense, this course will operate closer to the mode of a workshop in an old garage: placing our previously written (and occasionally newly written) poems on metaphorical sawhorses and trying their shape, their sound, their polish or exposed rough edges. Students will be presented with a variety of revision strategies employed by multiple generations of poets while also testing methods to re-vision old strategies anew and in particular for their own voice and their own poems. Together we will work to demystify the often confounding, yet very gratifying, task of revision. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: any 200-level poetry writing course (instructor may consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis), and a writing sample of three to five poems, sophomore standing, and consent of the instructor. Conference.