Department of English

Spring 2023 Electives


ENGL 305 Professional Writing

This course offers extensive practice in professional writing, communication, and oral presentation. We will examine rhetorical choices - such as audience, purpose, and style - within a variety of genres, including professional emails, memos, cover letters, resumes, reports, and proposals. In addition, students will make inquiries into the types of writing used in their disciplines, exploring the genres utilized in their future professions. This course encourages the types of collaboration used extensively in the workplace today, thus students will be asked to work together to create and present projects for workplace or public audiences.


ENGL 318 Creative Nonfiction

The main goal of the course is to provide a supportive environment in which you can read and write examples of the hybrid genre called creative nonfiction. Our focus in this course will be on how to tell an “authentic” story informed by creativity, critical thinking, and research. We will grapple with the ethical issues raised by this broad, sometimes unruly genre: How do we speak the “truth” and still express creativity in nonfiction? Whose stories are we allowed to tell? What stories must be told? What is the best way to tell those stories? Why is research necessary (and how can we use it without boring our readers)? We will analyze forms such as the personal essay, memoir, nature writing, travel writing, historical writing, and social/cultural commentary. Expect to read a lot in this course, write at every class meeting, and explore the techniques used to produce thoughtful and engaging creative nonfiction. Students should be comfortable sharing their work with others at various stages in the writing process.


ENGL 337 Theories and Research in Writing

This course offers an overview of the history, theory, and practice of writing studies. By exploring the history of rhetoric as primarily the art of oratory, through its transition to composition via print culture, students will understand the complex interplay between speaking, thinking, and writing and how these relationships inform the way we think about composition today. Students will also gain knowledge of the major theories of teaching writing, including current-traditional, expressivism, cognitive/behavioral, and social construcivist approaches. These theories will then be applied to practical aspects of teaching and research in writing studies. Additionally, students will be introduced to scholarly research in composition studies, which includes developing literacy in both qualitative and quantitative methods. Note: this course counts for the Quantitative Reasoning Flag in the Core Curriculum. It also counts for the Writing Minor.



This course will explore twentieth and twenty-first century Latin American and Latinx literature that has been described as “magical realism.” Magical realism engages the usual devises of narrative realism, but with a difference: the supernatural is an ordinary matter, an everyday occurrence, accepted and integrated into the rationality and materiality of literary realism. We will read magical realist fiction from different cultural contexts to compare the workings of magical realism in North and South America and explore the diversity of its early and contemporary styles and subjects.

We will read the work of Latin American Boom writers, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), and Julio Cortazar (Argentina), who popularized magical realism in the 1960s and 1970s; magical feminist writers, such as Isabel Allende (Chile), who reimagined magical realism in the context of Latina feminist discourse; and more contemporary authors, such as Brenda Peynado, Carmen Maria Machado, and Marytza K. Rubio, who engage with magical realism and magical feminism in new and interesting ways.


ENGL 360 Women Writers

In “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision” Adrienne Rich describes women’s writing as the process of re-vision, noting that “[r]e-vision—the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direct—is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival” (18). This class will explore works written by women from across historical time to consider the various ways women’s writing might re-vise and survive. Through our course readings in literature, scholarly criticism, and theory, we will consider the question of what “women’s writing” is and means. To what extent might we find essential characteristics of women-authored texts? How might certain genres or forms lend themselves to feminine literary expression? In what ways do such texts engage, reflect, or challenge the historical contexts in which they were produced? In doing so, this course will allow us to explore the ways in which these authors challenged the patriarchal discourses and expectations of their time, and the ways these authors might continue to challenge our understanding of the literary canon.


ENGL 414 Tolkien

Students will explore key themes that structure J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, through his longer novels (The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion), short stories (“Smith of Wootton Major” and “Leaf by Niggle”), and poetry.  Critical scholarship will supplement our exploration of Tolkien’s unrivaled impact on modern views of myth, morality, and the Middle Ages.



This class introduces William Shakespeare’s works through the lens of performance studies and race. In addition to reading each of the major Shakespearean genres—poetry, tragedy, history, comedy, and romance—we hope to attend two performances at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and a staged reading on campus. Throughout the class, we will consider not only the historical context of the works and their critical heritage, but also what it means to encounter them in theatrical productions today, and how we can enhance our appreciation of the texts through critical race theory and scholarship. In addition to spirited participation in class discussion and a presentation, students will write in a variety of forms, including Twitter, wikis, performance reviews, creative work, and research-driven essays. All of the coursework is designed to strengthen students’ critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. There is a $40 cost associated with this course, covering tickets to the two live performances. If this cost is prohibitive, students can be reimbursed.


ENGL 468 Transatlantic Literature

Sexuality, Reproduction, and The New Woman

If you’ve read the news lately, you’ll know that reproductive rights and justice is front and center in our current American environment. But this investment in and interrogation of women’s embodiment is nothing new; an interest in sexuality and reproduction have long been a facet of cultural and artistic representations of women in both American and British contexts. In this Transatlantic Literature course, we’ll consider representations of sexuality and reproduction from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries, with a particular focus on the late 19th discourse concerning “the New Woman” as it intersects with and challenges traditional models of femininity, maternity, and sexuality. Potential texts we might treat include nonfiction excerpts from a midwife’s diaries from 18th century New England and from letters written by women who gave birth to illegitimate children in Victorian London; fiction about fallen women (Esther Waters by George Moore; Summer by Edith Wharton) and New Women (The Awakening by Kate Chopin; various short stories); and engagement with illegal abortion (Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys; The Wild Palms by William Faulkner; “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway). The course will focus on a wide swath of period-specific readings, but also offer opportunities for students, in their projects and papers, to connect these literary works to contemporary events.  


ENGL 482 Modern American Fiction

In this course we will study a variety of American novels and short stories ranging from the middle of the 20th century to the early 21st century. The organizing theme will be “Teachers and Students.” Readings are likely to include books by Alison Bechdel, Don DeLillo, Donna Tartt, and John Williams, as well as short stories by James Baldwin, Denis Johnson, Flannery O’Connor, ZZ Packer, Philip Roth, and Alice Walker. The course will be discussion based, and assignments will include short essays and a research project.