Department of English

Spring 2023, 205 courses

Conflict and Resolution: Israel and Palestine: Accelerated Online: This accelerated online course will use modern Israeli and Palestinian texts to examine to roots of the conflict and explore the impact of extended unrest on citizens as depicted in literature. We will focus on holding oneself accountable, in literature and in our daily lives, and consider how forgiveness can be life-changing


Conflict and Resolution: Israel and Palestine: Online:
This online course will use modern Israeli and Palestinian texts to examine to roots of the conflict and explore the impact of extended unrest on citizens as depicted in literature. We will focus on holding oneself accountable, in literature and in our daily lives, and consider how forgiveness can be life-changing


Conversations About Feminist:This course will cover one novel each from the Four Waves of Feminism, plus critical article readings. The novels will be The House of Mirth, The Bell Jar, and The Woman Warrior, plus a fourth novel of the student’s choosing from a list of about 100 that have been written since the year 2000. Students are free to choose any edition of the novels they like.


Food and Justice:

This course uses literature to examine social and political power structures and critically analyze inequality and injustice in the US. This course has an immersive learning component, so we will be exploring the way food, in particular, has been a means of both oppression and liberation for marginalized populations. We will examine the cultural aspects of food in life and literature and work with various community partners to help improve social, health, and economic outcomes. 


Identity, Place and Imagination

This course is designed to be an introduction to literature with a focus on the short story and the novel. We will be reading two novels and a combination of short stories, poetry, nonfiction, and critical essays. This course allows students to study elements of literature, to interpret selected texts, to consider viewpoints of literary critics, and to form and support critical arguments, both informally in class discussion and formally in essays. The course aims to enhance the student’s ability to enjoy and interpret the works we read. This course will operate as a discussion rather than a lecture—so students will need to keep up with the reading and come to class prepared to contribute.
The theme for this course is Identity, Place, and the Imagination. This semester we will explore how writers perceive and portray the interplay between these three elements. We will consider the possibilities that writers of place provide as they attempt to reimagine the human role in the ecological narrative. We’ll ask the following questions, and more: What does it mean to have a sense of place? Do we still have a sense of place? How does displacement, either figurative or literal, affect our identity? How does place inform a person’s or a culture’s identity, and what role does the imagination play in the creation of both place and self? How do the stories we tell affect the actions we take? Do our dominant narratives encourage or discourage a sense of alienation or interdependence? How might the imagination help us to see our part and to feel at home in a world that may not feel like home? 


Literature and Multiperspectivity

In an increasingly globalized world, we are asked to hear many voices and understand diverse perspectives. As such, multiperspectivity as an academic approach to both history and literature has taken on new urgency. These sections of Literature & the Moral Imagination will be composed entirely of multi-narratives, novels that are structured to include diverse (and often conflicting) narrative points of view. Course materials will (likely) include Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, Hillary Jordan's Mudbound, Phil Klay's Redeployment, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, and several works of short fiction. Themes examined will include race, armed conflict, spirituality, human response to tragedy, and others.


Literature of Diversity 

Literature raises questions about ethics and society, but rarely answers them; as readers, we must interpret these matters ourselves. In this course, students will develop skills of literary interpretation and analysis to help them discovering and articulating their own responses to the texts. We will examine literature that represents and addresses diversity. We will read books, short stories, and essays that engage with diversity and intersectionality on many levels. We will discuss how these works construct the voices of marginalized people and how our understanding of the marginal can be shaped by art. We will consider how literature represents moral and ethical issues inherent in diversity. 


Memory and Morality

“Memory and Morality” will consider the ethical implications tied to memory. At both a personal and community level, our ability (indeed obligation) to remember the past is challenged by multiple factors. We will consider some of the practical ways in which human memory works according to recent brain science (explaining how we mis-remember and forget events), as well as society’s power structures that actively manipulate memory (leading to misrepresentation, denial, and misunderstanding of crucial narratives). Course texts explore a breadth of genres and include Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif,” Ariel Dorfman’s play Death and the Maiden, and Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl.


Resist, Reshape and Retell

Our focus in this course will be how various stakeholders in literary works (characters, authors, and, yes, we the readers) resist, reshape and retell the ideas that the works bring to the fore,” under the course title Resist, Reshape and Retell.


Secret Identities

What is identity? Can a person have more than one identity, and, if so, is one of those identities more authentic than the others? How do people construct identities? When and how and why do we hide certain identities and adopt others instead? What are the potential consequences of such masking? What are the potential consequences of unmasking? IN this section of ENGL 205, we will explore these and similar questions, using popular U.S. literature from the past 100 years. Our texts are a mixture of fiction and memoir—imagined narratives, juxtaposed with real-life accounts. We will begin with racial passing, followed by assimilation and biculturalism, and ending with gender-and sexuality-based covering. By analyzing identity in these works, this course aims to provide greater insight into the construction and presentation of identities in society. It does so in the hope that, by recognizing and appreciating the diversity of identities surrounding us, we can better understand the people we encounter, better hear their stories, and better share our own.


Science and Nature Writing

Think about the last medical breakthrough or environmental dilemma you heard about. Chances are, you learned of this thing not from a scientist directly, but from a journalist or other content creator. Writers bring emerging discoveries out of the lab and into public discourse. By assembling “facts” into stories, science and nature writers not only help us to make sense of the world; they also inevitably shape people’s perception of the things they describe.

This section of ENGL 205 focuses on contemporary nonfiction science and nature writing. We’ll explore the fuzzy boundaries of these interrelated genres, both of which seek to reveal—and sometimes advocate for—Earth’s plants, animals, insects, microbes, and systems. We’ll examine longform essays and book-length arguments as literature: as creative works that draw on scientific discourse and the literary devices used by novelists and other writers. The course will also examine longform science podcasts. Along the way, we’ll ask questions such as:

  • What is “science writing” and “nature writing,” exactly?
  • What is good science and nature writing—that is, what features do the most compelling works in these categories share?
  • How (and why) do science and nature writers use narrative and other literary devices?
  • How can science and nature writing help to fight misinformation?
  • Who typically produces science and nature writing—and what does this tell us about science and about our culture?

Shakespeare & Fiction 

In this course we will study a handful of plays by William Shakespeare, including comedy, tragedy, history, and romance. We will also examine a variety of modern novels inspired by Shakespeare’s works. Class discussion and written assignments will focus on each work individually, as well as considering intertextual connections between the drama and the fiction. 

The Soulmate

This course will offer an investigation into the concept of the soulmate as represented in literature: what exactly is a soulmate? In what ways (besides romance) might two souls or two lives become intertwined? How is this concept represented in popular culture or popular literatures and what are the implications of those representations? We will consider these questions primarily through a range of literary, popular, and rhetorical texts such as Never Let Me Go and Kindred, as well as a range of other narratives that feature or interact with the idea of the soulmate. This course will investigate the cultural hold of the soulmate narrative and how it supports or subverts anxieties and desires pertaining to love and identity.