Myes Hall

Past Course Descriptions

Course Listings — Fall 2004


English 100 - English for Non-Native Speakers

English for Non-Native Speakers is an introductory course in reading, writing, and speaking skills for students whose first language is something other than English. Course work will include essays, presentations, and a research project, but will be adjusted to meet the needs of the current group of students. The class emphasizes an introduction to American culture and college life as well as language skills. Departmental permission required.

English 101 - Expository Writing

This course is an introduction to composition. We will cover many of the foundational skills of expository writing in class, and we'll work with style and revision exercises from writing handbooks. But ultimately better writing comes from practice, practice, and more practice. Writing is not a matter of chance or good luck. It's not a matter of first-draft inspiration. Successful prose in all disciplines is based on specific techniques any writer can master. We discover these techniques, in part, by analyzing prose we admire and by applying what we learn in that analysis to our own developing style. For this reason, I'll urge you to become an active reader as well as an active writer and to study the essays and narratives in the course as a source for techniques you can use yourself.

English 101 - Expository Writing - General Description

English 101 introduces writing on the college level. Its purpose is to foster the skills necessary to produce coherent, persuasive prose: developing ideas thoroughly, using rhetorical strategies appropriate to subject and audience, focusing and supporting a thesis, structuring well developed paragraphs, generating mature and effective sentences, choosing precise and expressive language, and observing the conventions of written prose. Individual sections employ a variety of techniques for inculcating standards of good prose; but all 101 classes require a variety of writing assignments including paragraphs and short essays written in and out of class (about 4000 words in total) and a short research paper designed to introduce techniques of library research and documentation (about 2000 words).

English 101 - Expository Writing: How to Analyze and Write Essays

In this course, we will read a variety of essays bound by one shared element–they're all compelling, interesting, and well-written. How do they achieve their persuasive success? How do they organize their ideas? How do they deploy just the right words and phrases? And how do they support their argumentative claims logically and convincingly? Through reading, analysis, and discussion of good and even great essays, exercises to sharpen our own writing skills, and ultimately, training in logic, research, and documentation, we will work to help students identify their own strengths and weaknesses and begin a lifelong process of growth and leaning in their own reading and writing. We will encourage a writing process through a variety of means in order to help individual students find their own best writing process, including in various combinations peer critiques, revision assignments, multiple drafts, and professorial feedback. W

English 101 - Expository Writing

This course aims to sharpen your reading, thinking, and writing skills. The reading skills will be put to work on some difficult but influential texts by such writers as Aristotle, Karl Marx, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and your thinking and writing skills will be challenged in various assignments that require you to summarize, analyze, synthesize, and argue with the ideas culled from these readings. In the process of undertaking these writing tasks, you will also have opportunities to hone your research and public speaking skills. The writing component of this class involves multiple drafts and critical feedback from classmates, and the course is writing intensive.

English 101 - Expository Writing

The American frontier–home to Native American prophets, drought-and-grasshopper-dueling farmers, black cavalrymen, women earning more in the gold fields from their pie baking than their customers did in the mines, Irish and Chinese railroad construction workers, bank robbers and cattle rustlers and social reformers–was declared "closed" 112 years ago. Yet it has remained a central element of American culture. We'll use the 19th century American frontier as the focal point for the term's writing and research. Students will write a series of short papers culminating in a research paper. The course goals are to develop writing skills which will be useful in subsequent college courses and to explore a fascinating period of America's past and its influence on contemporary American life. Occasional out of class assignments, probably including a visit to an 18th century trade fair on Labor Day weekend, will be required; do not plan visits home that weekend until the first paper assignment is discussed.

English 101 - Expository Writing: Writing and the Environment

This section of English 101 focuses on writing and the environment. The course explores the ways in which people have used writing as a means of understanding the rights, duties, and obligations we have in relation to the natural environment. This course will offer students the opportunity to learn to write effective thesis statements and arguments, to support arguments with evidence, to write in clear prose, and to consider their audience. It will also help students to approach writing as a process, from initial planning through drafting and revision, and to conduct college-level research. Course work will include reading the work of numerous environmentally-concerned writers, keeping a journal of informal responses to course readings, writing multiple drafts of four papers, writing a research paper of 6 to 8 pages, and a final essay exam. Instruction in the MLA system of documentation is included. Writing Intensive.

English 101 - Expository Writing

Writing at the college level requires a huge shift for most students, one that asks them to move away from report-style essays and toward more thesis-driven, analytical writing. This class will focus on that shift and on ways in which you can hone your analytical skills. We will read a variety of essays that represent many of the disciplines you will encounter in your college work, such as sociology, anthropology, and history. In your writing for the course, you will contribute your own ideas to the on-going conversations that the people in those fields are conducting. As you do so, you will be acquiring the kinds of writing and thinking tools you will need to succeed in college, including summary, citation, and analysis skills, and, above all, practice with thesis, argument, and evidence. We will devote a great deal of time to the process of revising drafts. Students will produce a number of shorter essays, in which you will practice the skills that we discuss in class, as well as four longer papers. The final paper will be an extended research paper.

English 180 - Gender Trouble

In reading Shakespeare's As You Like It, we come across the famous lines "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." It's an observation worthy of reflection, and it's one that can get complicated when we take into consideration the way that men and women don't always stick to the roles that their gender prescribes for them. In fact, in the same play where we find these lines, we also watch the heroine, Rosalind, conceal her true identity under the dress of a man, a masking that becomes all the more complicated when she finds herself/himself in the company of Orlando, the man she loves. Plays, novels, poems, and films frequently revel in the dramatic potential of such gender play, and in this course we will undertake a survey of such works. In addition to the role swapping found in As You Like It and in films like Boys Don't Cry, we will consider stories in which characters actually shift from one sex to another, as in Virginia Woolf's Orlando, and stories in which characters deviate significantly from conventional gender roles, as in tales of same-sex desire like James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room. The course will involve several interpretive papers and several exams.

English 180 - Literature of the ‘60s

So you say you want a revolution? The counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s inspired a creative explosion in many artistic fields, including fiction, poetry, drama and film. In this course we will read some of the most important writing from a tumultuous period in American history, including works by Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe and Richard Farina. We'll examine how the events of the time influenced those writers and how those writers influenced their time. Course requirements include a mid-term, a final and a term paper. You will be expected to come prepared to discuss the assigned reading and take part in what should be lively and often controversial discussions.

English 180 - Making Romance: He Said, She Said

A love story. The oldest story. Yet the least understood?
What are the narratives of love? Its structure? Conventions? Familiar gestures? Consistent cadences? Its deep underlying meanings? Its psychological ramifications? And how do these stories vary according to the one telling the story? In particular, how does gender influence the structure of these narratives and, even more significantly, how do these narratives influence our understanding of gender and the "roles" we play as men and women? This course will provide a historical overview of the romance, beginning with the highly scripted "luf-talking" of Arthurian romance and moving to the fragmentary, uncertain yet just as scripted musings of the postmodern novel. The course will pair male and female authors, continually asking how these "gendered" narratives both differ and concur. In the course of this "paired" survey, we will read such authors as Chretien de Troyes and Marie de France, William Shakespeare and Mary Wroth, William Congreve and Aphra Behn, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Bharati Mukherjee, David Henry Hwang and Jeanette Winterson. Along the way, we will explore both the primary poetic vehicle for declaring one's love-the sonnet-and ubiquitous prosaic one-the fairy tale. This course is discussion based and writing intensive. There will be three shorter formal papers, one longer research-oriented paper, and frequent informal writing. There will be no exams.

English 180 - Film Noir

Film noir, or "black film" has been labeled as a period in film history, a style of film, and a separate film genre with its own themes and conventions. No matter how you define it, films labeled as noir are "deeply unromantic" films that "take a sneaking delight in their displays of passion gone wrong and of murderous calculation confounded". This course will examine the distinctive "noir" visual style and the characteristic "noir" thematics of lives ruled by an unkind fate. We will also trace the history of film noir from its origins in German expressionism and postwar nihilism, to its golden period in the 1940's and 1950's, and to its persistence through the rest of the 20th century in neo-war, neo-B-noir, and Technicolor noir. We will also look at the debt that these films owe to what the French call "serie noir," the searing crime and detective fiction of the 1930's, 40's, and 50's. The course requires frequent quizzes, a midterm and final exam, an oral presentation, a series of shorter papers and a longer term paper. Writing Intensive. The course also requires attendance at weekly film screenings outside of class. Students who register for this course are required to attend film screenings on Wednesdays from 3:30PM to 6:00PM.

English 200 - Introduction to Literary Studies

This introduction to literary studies has two goals: to sharpen your current reading skills and to expand the range of reading skills at your disposal. To accomplish the first goal, we will start from the assumption that reading critically involves knowing the kinds of questions to ask of a text. With that assumption in mind, we will read works in a variety of genres (poems, fiction, drama), and we will identify the kinds of questions that lead us to the most meaningful and satisfying results. We will also take into account how considerations of genre as well as the features of each specific work help guide us in forming these questions. The second goal of the course, expanding your interpretive skills, will be addressed by covering a range of critical approaches that can be used to elucidate (and complicate) literary texts. These approaches can be broadly categorized in three groups: contextual criticism (including biographical, historical, new historical, Marxist, and cultural studies approaches), language criticism (including dialogic, structuralist, and deconstructive approaches), and gender criticism (including feminist and queer approaches). There will also be frequent writing assignments that will give you an opportunity to practice these critical perspectives as well as to sharpen your writing skills.

English 200 - Introduction to Literary Studies

English 200 is designed to introduce you to the kinds of reading and writing assignments you will be doing as English majors and minors, and, to this end, the course will focus on three areas. Our first goal will be to acquaint you with a broad array of literary works from the four genres of short story, poetry, drama, and the novel, and we will devote much of our attention to the various historical, formal and critical concerns raised by each of these. In addition, the course will provide you with many opportunities to write interpretive essays in order to gain experience producing sophisticated, college-level English papers. Finally, in both your reading and writing work, we will concentrate on the overarching question of interpretation: What does that word mean? How do we conduct literary interpretation? What is a valid interpretation? How can you develop your ability to analyze and interpret literary texts? In answering these questions, we will concentrate on some contemporary trends in literary theory and interpretation, and particularly on feminist, Marxist, psychoanalytic, and cultural approaches.

English 240 - Beginning Creative Writing
K. Dixon

This is a beginning writing course. It assumes nothing about the student's previous reading or writing experience. We will take ourselves seriously as writers, however, and build from the rudiments individually, each at his or her own pace, and we'll do this in four major genres–fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. By the end of the semester, students will have narrowed the field down to one or two genres, turning in their best work, in each genre, for a final portfolio evaluation. The balance of the grade is based on a journal/writer's notebook, which requires daily work, and on class participation. The mix is about a third each: works, journal, and participation. Class format is "workshop," essentially group critique in student work as well as published work-classic and current. All students will have at least two of their works edited and critiqued by the rest of the class. There may be an occasional quiz, and there are exams only rarely. However, there is a list to "expectations," terminology and techniques, that must be met to get the best credit for the course. English 240 is Writing Intensive. It does not meet the Gen Ed Arts requirement. It is pre-requisite for all advanced English 322 courses. Pre-requisite for Engl 240 is English 101, and Engl 180(or 170 or 190) is strongly recommended . It's not a good first or second semester freshman course, though experienced writers have by-passed these pre-requisites on occasion by permission of the instructor, based on a review of the student's previous work. Accordingly, it is not recommended for high school honors students, though exceptions made be made: see instructor, as per above for freshmen.

English 241 - Beginning Journalism

This course will provide a basic introduction to the practice and principles of journalism, with an emphasis of newspaper production. We will discuss news, features, opinion and sports writing; journalistic ethics, copy-editing, layout and other related topics. Students will write regularly, and will be encouraged to contribute to The Torch . Prerequisite: English 101.

English 243 - Professional Writing

This is a course in business and technical writing. You will be required to do a lot of writing, learn to be better critics of other people's writing, improve presentation and communication skills, and learn to plan, research, and write with efficiency and effectiveness. The goals of the course are as follows:

  • Improve your processes for project planning and development
  • Improve your technical communicating skills
  • Improve your command of style and grammar
  • Improve your presentation skills
  • Improve your teamwork and collaborative skills
  • Improve your research skills
  • Improve your computer skills for communicating and designing text and graphics
Prerequisites: ENGL 101, two or three writing intensive courses would be useful.

English 280 - British Survey I

In this survey of English literature from its beginnings to the early eighteenth century, students will be introduced to the writings of a variety of authors working in a variety of genres: sonnet, dramatic comedy, epic poem, essay, novel, and others. In order to impose some structure on a rather diverse body of writings, we will trace several broad themes across these works while attending to, so far as is possible in a course of this type, the historical milieux in which these texts were written and read or performed. A reading journal, three papers, a midterm and final. Writing Intensive.

English 280 - British Survey I
M. Dixon

In this course, we will look at the development of English literature from its beginnings in the Middle Ages to the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century. We will read and discuss representative literary texts and ask a series of important questions: how do these texts grow out of their historical and cultural contexts? How do they build upon, speak to one another? How do they define and redefine the roles of writer and reader? What does a growing literary canon have in constructing what it means to be a British subject, a self, a man, a woman? We will explore as well the way genres–epic and romance, tragedy and comedy, prose fiction-emerge, change, disappear, in response to a changing culture and readership. You should come out of this course with a foundational knowledge of important writers, dates, literary styles, genres, and critical terms that you can build on in more advanced courses. The course will include some periods and a comprehensive final; two or three formal papers and several informal responses to the reading. Writing Intensive. English 200.

English 290 - Early American Literature I - the American Gothic in Poetry, Fiction & Film

Toni Morrison writes in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, that "Romance, an exploration of anxiety imported from the shadows of European culture, made possible the sometimes safe and other times risky embrace of quite specific, understandably human, fears: Americans' fear of being outcast, of failing, of powerlessness; their fear of boundarylessness, of Nature unbridled and crouched for attack; their fear of the absence of so-called civilization; their fear of loneliness, of aggression both external and internal. In short, the terror of freedom-the thing they coveted most" (37). Morrison's comments serve practically as a definition of the American Gothic. Through an examination of the American Gothic, its origins and its contemporary manifestations, we will explore the difficult, bloody, and painful birth of American literature as well as its continued fascination with the terror of what Melville called the "power of blackness," Included in the course are works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James, Raymond Carver, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Jamaica Kincaid, Charles Chestnutt, Kate Chopin, William Faulkner, Anne Rice, Don DeLillo, and many others. We'll also consider contemporary expressions of the Gothic in such films as Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, Alien, and Blue Velvet. Writing and reading intensive, the course requires two long essays, a midterm and final, and in-class presentations, and is definitely not for the squeamish.

English 305 - Medieval Literature: Love, Sacred and Profane
M. Dixon

Was romantic love invented in the Middle Ages? This course will explore the ways that medieval texts-from chivalric romances, to the bawdy comedy fabliaux, to sacred lyrics to the Virgin-imagine the human experience of love in all its rich diversity. An important focus of this exploration will be constructions of gender in medieval literature and culture. Major texts for the course include the Lais of Marie de France, Chaucer's Toilus and Criseyde, Dante's Vita Nuova, and Mallory's Morte dArthur. The visual arts, drama (including films), and music will help us put literary texts in context. This will be a discussion class, with several informal and formal writing assignments, a group presentation, and a final exam. Writing Intensive. Pre-requisite: English 200, 280, or 290.

English 310 - 20th Century British Literature

During the first decade of the last century, the Western world was reeling from a series of profound declarations: Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead; Freud announced that human beings are driven by irrational, unconscious motivations; and Einstein explained that time itself is relative. In the wake of these extraordinary pronouncements, Ezra Pound instructed his literary contemporaries to "make it new", and they did. In the years just before and after the First World War, a generation of new writers began experimenting with fictional modes, delving into psychology, playing with perspective, and altering the most basic of fictional elements: time. We will read the representative work of these British Modernists, focusing on the fiction of Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Ford Maddox Ford and Katherine Mansfield, and the poetry of W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot. Students will write two major analytical essays, as well as a series of shorter response papers, and will pass a midterm and final exam.

English 315 - The Modern American Novel

The United States gave birth to modernism. The responses of American writers to the "modern" and modernism were powerful and influential. American writers embraced modernism, for it seemed to them emblematic of America and its sensibilities–its drive for change, its concern with the endlessly repeatable patterns of the sky-scrapers and the urban grid, and its romanticism. Ever new, dynamic, arresting, the modern American novel represents one of the greatest literary experiments of all time. To understand the transformative spirit of the experiment we must understand the many faces of modernism, as well as the rise and decline of postmodernism. And we must understand the multicultural nature of the nation, the diversity of experience, and the international flavor of our ideas and beliefs. In this course we will trace the origins of this great literary experiment in the history of the novel in America and in the trauma of modernism as we read texts by the like of Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welch, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Maxine Hong Kingston, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Hoffman, Louise Erdrich among others. Reading and writing intensive, this course will require a series of short essays, a midterm, a research project, and an oral component.

English 319A - Women in Literature II: British

In the last two centuries, the enforced silence of women in the preceding millennium has been broken, sometimes indignantly and sometimes joyously, by a chorus of important women writers. These women begin to give not only a feminine perspective on the "universal" (often mostly male) experience of humanity, but also their versions of specifically feminine experience. Many of the themes we will explore are continuations and expansions of those in Women in Literature I, but this course is not dependent on that one. We will be looking at such common themes as the domestication of woman into the private sphere, the stereotyping of women as either madonna or whore, the education of women, the repression and degradation of women's writing, and the creation of the feminine self. In exploring these themes, we will, I hope, recognize the roots of many of our own ideas about gender, both positive and negative. We will read a broad selection of British, Irish, and Commonwealth writers, beginning with Jane Austen and including authors such as Brontes, Barrett Browning, C. Rosetti, George Eliot, Woolf, Mansfield, Boland, and Byatt. Graded work will include three short papers, a longer paper (12 pages), and a final examination or project. Writing Intensive. Counts toward the Women's Studies minor.

English 322 - Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction

There is really only one way to become a superior fiction writer: Write, then read, then go write some more. In this class, we will do plenty of both. Students will continue developing the skills and techniques introduced in the Beginning Creative Writing through readings, discussion, workshopping, journal-keeping, and lots of writing. Each student will produce three short stories and will do a major revision of one of those pieces. Our goal will be for each student to write at least one story suitable for submission to a literary journal.

English 322 - Screenwriting
K. Dixon

This is an advance creative writing course: it is Writing Intensive and its prerequisite is English 240, or in rare cases, by permission of instructor. THDN 240 (Playwriting) is strongly recommended, but not required. All students will develop their own scripts, and have a completed screenplay of some length (not necessarily the standard 110 minute feature) by the end of the course. In addition, to learn dramatic form, students will write several shorter dramatic works–a 3- page play, a 10- minute play, and something commercial—an ad or public service announcement, to gain experience in those commercial genres and formats. Part of the course will be the study of differences between narrative or dramatic works, and their film version, Angels in America, Smoke Signals, The Shape of Things: how is a book or a play adapted to the screen. All students are expected to buy at least one screenplay ($15) or one TV script ($10)—of their own choosing, two books, including Syd Field's Screenwriting and Gary Garrison's Perfect 10 (on writing the 10-minute play). There may be pop quizzes, there are no exams. Grade will be based more than half on a portfolio of work, with consideration of class participation, on about a 60-40 ratio.

English 322 - Advance Creative Writing: Poetry

If poems are, as Jorie Graham writes, "records of true risks taken by the soul of the speaker" then the intent of this advanced writing course in poetry is to create the conditions for taking such risks. The course will be composed of equal parts reading and writing poetry to introduce students to developments in contemporary poetry and to help them develop further their craft. Students will also explore different forms of poetry such as the sonnet, villanelle, and sestina, along with free verse and prose poems. Regular writing workshops, a poet's notebook, diverse reading assignments, and a final manuscript. Prerequisite: English 240 or instructor's permission.

English 327 - Advanced Rhetoric and Grammar

The object of this course is to extend your understanding of:

  • Rhetorical strategies for reading and writing
  • The purpose of grammar use in the composing process
  • The manner in which language changes as a result of social, political, and cultural influences
  • Ways Americans use/are using the English language to promote change and progress through perspectives of American rhetoric
Advanced Rhetoric and Grammar offers students the background necessary to teach the composing process and rhetorical strategies of writing in secondary schools. Prerequisites: ENGL 101, ENGL 180, or three writing intensive courses.

English 380 - Stories That Matter: Issues of 20th Century

Literature is sometimes a catalyst for social change, sometimes a commentary on social conditions. Among the topics that we may explore are World War I amd its impact on the 1920's, the transformation of the U.S. from an agrarian to an urban society, the Great Depression, immigration and assimilation, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Authors which may be discussed include Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Miller, Theodore Dteiser, John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair and Tim O'Brien. Genres will include novels, short fiction, journalism, memoirs, and films. Writing Intensive.

English 401 - Senior Seminar: Mapping Paradise Lost

Although in the first part of this course students will examine in considerable detail Paradise Lost and some of the best literary criticism it has inspired, the focus of the seminar will remain on the writing of a twenty-five page senior thesis on an author or work or theme of the student's choice. Students will prepare for this task by extensive reading in primary and secondary materials relevant to their topics, compiling annotated bibliographies, drafting tentative outlines, and completing other assigned stages in the writing process. Throughout the semester students will assist each other by participating in writing groups and group conferences with the instructor; of course, the composition of a successful thesis will ultimately depend upon the pluck and hard work of each thesis writer. Additional course requirements include a formal oral presentation based on the thesis to select English department faculty and a thesis defense in class at the end of the semester.

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