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1182 Fall 2017-18 Course Descriptions

We have listed the numbers and titles of many of the English courses for the Fall 2017-18 semester below.

In addition, information about the undergraduate catalogue for English courses can be found in MyCourseGuide (NetID log-in required). Non-UW students can contact the Undergraduate Advisor for information about courses.

100: Introduction to College Composition
TA Taught courses
Times & Places Vary

English 100 is an introduction to college composition that begins to prepare students for the demands of writing in the university and for a variety of contexts beyond the classroom. Students will compose several shorter and longer essays totaling 25-30 pages of revised writing, develop critical reading and thinking skills and information literacy, and practice oral communication.



120: Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature
Mary Trotter
MoWe 12:05-12:55 Humanities 3650


English/Theatre and Drama 120 is an introductory course offered in two formats: a 3-credit option and a 4-credit Comm-B (writing-intensive) option. In both formats we read plays, attend performances, and think, talk, and write about plays and performances. 

This semester we will read about one play per week along with supplemental materials, covering a wide range of historical periods, cultural traditions, aesthetic theories and dramatic genres. You will also attend and write about at least one live performance. Playwrights will most likely include: Beckett, Brecht, Chikamatsu, Glaspell, Hwang, Moliere, Parks, Ruhl, Shakespeare, Tzara, Sophocles, Wilde, and Wilson.

Course objectives include: 

• To think about plays and performance in terms of the questions they pose about our identities and our world 

• To analyze selected dramatic texts as shaped by and shaping specific cultural, dramatic, and theatrical conditions 

• To investigate elements of performance in both theory and practice 

• To articulate informed responses to text and performance in both oral and written forms 



140: Environment and Literature (Comm B)
Topic: The Wild, Threatened, & Toxic: Environmental Literature in 20th and 21st-Century America
Lynn Keller
MoWe 9:55-10:45am Soc Sci 5208

This lecture/discussion course will explore how North American writers from 20th and 21st centuries have represented nature or wilderness, humankind’s relation to the rest of the natural world, and human-induced environmental transformation. Course texts will allow us to consider the consequences of some common ways of thinking about the natural environment and, where those consequences seem damaging, invite us to consider possible alternatives. The course will have three interconnected parts. In the first, titled “Land Ethics” we will read works by writers who, while criticizing some familiar ways of understanding the human relation to nature, also propose some constructive alternatives. The second unit, “Human and Nonhuman Animals,” will examine several ways in which nonhuman animals have been represented, and human-animal relations understood, in American literature. The last work in that unit, a novel that explores the impact of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) on the health of animals, humans, and the environment, provides a transition into the final unit on “Environmental Toxicity.” In that final unit we will consider both fictional and non-fictional representations of several kinds of environmental toxicity produced by modern industrialized society. Reading both fictional and nonfictional works throughout the semester will allow us to evaluate the strengths and limitations of both kinds of writing and to consider the role of the imagination in responding to environmental problems.

This 4-credit course enables students to satisfy their Communications B requirement while fulfilling one of their literature requirements. Substantial class time in section meetings (twice a week) will be devoted to learning the conventions of writing about literature and, more generally, of writing persuasive prose. Lectures and discussion sections will emphasize the development of close reading skills while also stressing the importance of extra-literary contexts to meaningful literary interpretation.



141-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Topic - The Posthuman
Ella Mershon
TuTh 1:20-2:10pm Humanities 2650


Challenging the humanist view of the autonomous, rational human being, posthumanism advances a view of the human as entangled in a web of mutual interdependences. Viewing the world as a technological and ecological continuum, the (post)human becomes but one “lifeform” among many. The course will be organized around central posthuman figures/topics—Caliban & the Subhuman; Pygmalion & the Fem-Bot; Prometheus & Artificial Life; the Pet & Animality; the Cyborg & Cybernetics; the Alien & First Contact—and will explore such topics as monstrosity, hybridity, and race; artifice, desire, and sexuality; bioengineering and bioethics; human-animal relationships; and the alien challenge to human modes of seeing, knowing, and communicating.

Readings might include: Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Browning’s “Caliban Upon Setebos,” Margaret Atwood’s Hag Seed, Ovid’s Pygmalion tale, Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini's Daughter,” Villier’s The Future Eve; Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and H. G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau; Virginia Woolf’s Flush, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and Jack London’s White Fang; E. M. Forester’s The Machine Stops, Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Octavia Butler’s Lilth’s Brood and Ursalin K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.



162: Shakespeare
Joshua Calhoun
TuTh 9:55-10:45am Humanities 2650

This entry-level Shakespeare course explores eight of the Bard’s most popular works and their relation to other works of English and American literature. The course is designed for a broad, interdisciplinary audience—for students who want to figure out how to read and enjoy Shakespeare. Assessments will include very short writing assignments and a midterm and final exam.


167.002: British and American Writers
Topic: The Pursuit of Happiness and the American Dream
Anja Jovic-Humphrey
We 6:00-9:00pm 4281 H. C. White

Poetic terms - such as the pursuit of happiness and dreams of a better society - have often been used to paint an imaginative picture of American exceptionalism. The Declaration of Independence, for example, evokes citizens’ right to happiness: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In 1931, writer James Truslow Adams explicitly defined the idea behind “the American Dream”: “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” In 1963, Martin Luther King asked for racial justice in his famous “I have a dream” speech.

This course will serve as an introduction to the nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature while examining different facets of and perspectives on the American dream. We will see that, for some writers, the American dream is directly connected to upward mobility and material success. For others, however, the American dream is more akin to inner peace, creativity, and solidarity. We will also consider multiple meanings that the American dream acquires when we examine it from different perspectives – those of people of color, immigrants, minorities, women, etc. We will see in which ways the American dream changes its contours depending on its dreamers.

Students will get acquainted with different literary genres: autobiography, poetry, play, novel, and short story. Writers included in the course: Emerson, Melville, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Whitman, James, Chopin, Fitzgerald, Hughes, O'Neill, A. Miller, Morrison, Adichie.

167.003: British and American Writers
Topic: Life Forms: Literary and Biological Perspectives (FIG 25)
Theresa Kelley
MoWe 8:00-9:15am Humanities 2637


Near the end of the eighteenth century, as revolutions and claims about human rights were repeated in colonial America and Britain, the Caribbean and elsewhere, the concerns reflected in the topic of this course began to take shape, in documents, images, in the very heart of debates of the time. What does it mean to be human, who is inhuman or nonhuman, what forces are arrayed against humanity, what is the nature of monstrosity and how do otherworldly, ghostly presences haunt human life? What obligations do we have, do characters and poets have, to other creatures? The literary texts selected for this course, all written from the last years to the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, work out their own, distinctive presentation of these questions. The course website will offer you vignettes of images and texts that reflect the larger historical pressures that the authors of these works understood and then shaped to their own fictional and creative concerns. Our focus in the course will be on the analytic skills you will need to read and write critically. In this course, you’ll develop those skills by reading literature, but the same skills will serve you well throughout your undergraduate and post-graduate careers, even if you don’t go on to study literature more intensively (although I hope you will). The other courses in this FIG will contribute to our analyses by providing both historical and scientific insight into our understanding of “life forms.”


Main FIG seminar: English 167: Life Forms Linked course one: History of Science 212. Bodies, Disease, and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine. A survey of different conceptions of how the body as a site of sickness has been understood from Antiquity to contemporary medicine. Includes consideration of the origins and evolution of public health, the changing social role of healers, and the emergence of the modern "standardized" body in health and illness.

Linked course two: Anthropology 105, Principles of Biological Anthropology. This course examines the genetic basis of morphological, physiological and behavioral variations within and between human populations, and their origins and evolution.



168: Modern Literature
Jeffrey Steele
TuTh 12:05-12:55pm Humanities 3650

From the beginning of the 20th century, writers have wrestled with the problem of stabilizing identity in an ambiguous and disorienting world. Faced with colonial violence, war, torture, lynching, murder, the threat of nuclear holocaust, environmental catastrophe, and terrorism, the eight authors in this course attempt to define patterns of existence that can give life direction and meaning. A pervasive threat, confronted by nearly all of them, is that of trauma generating personal and collective amnesia. The effort to recover the lost and forgotten aspects of the self lead characters from the wilds of Africa (Conrad) to the Canadian wilderness (Atwood), from camping in Michigan (Hemingway) to the ghostly presences of a haunted home (Robinson), from a journey into racial history (Morrison) to the collective memory of cultural genocide (Silko), from the search for order in an ambiguous world (Pynchon) to the numbing effects of modern technology (DeLillo). Journeying into the hearts of darkness, these writers define existence in a time of war. Each, in his or own way, examines the homecomings of characters who are faced with the difficult task of locating personal memories in specific terrains–a process that we might term the politics of memory. Facing catastrophe without and chaos within, many characters in this course begin quest-like journeys to what they hope will be places of remembrance and healing. The elusive goal of these quests is that moment of pattern recognition when the different pieces of life’s puzzle fall into place. Such stability is achieved by a few characters; but many more find themselves on the outside or at the edge, looking into rooms they cannot enter or into the horror of a now-remembered abyss–experiences that permanently change their lives.

173.002: Ethnic & Multicultural Literature
Topic: Performing Race in America: Black and White Onstage and in the Present Tense
Jennifer Plants
MoWe 2:25-3:15pm Humanities 3650


From A Raisin in the Sun to Hamilton, this class will look at how live theatrical performances challenge and inform our perceptions of whiteness and blackness, and ultimately the social concept of "race."

We will study playwrights, stand-up comedians, politicians, musicians, filmmakers, and ordinary people who all use the language of theatre to tell a story--focusing on those who write about and/or "perform" African-American life and culture. What happens when a contemporary African-American playwright stages a text about race from the 19th century? What is "color-conscious" casting? How is Beyoncé like Shakespeare? Examples of writers and artists studied in past semesters include: Anna Deavere-Smith, Lorraine Hansberry, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Spike Lee, Key and Peele, Suzan-Lori Parks, President Obama, and Public Enemy. Guest speakers, attendance at local performance events and a final performance-based/creative project will be integral parts of this course.



175: Literature & the Other Disciplines
Topic: Small, Gigantic, and Hot (FIG)
Monique Allewaert
TuTh 1:00-2:15pm Van Vleck B231

What are the effects of attending to the small-sized and the outsized? How have investigations into particles, parts, and bodies smaller and larger than the human scale impacted science, aesthetic practice, theology, and politics? In what ways does thinking about the miniscule or the magestically large change the way you engage the world you inhabit? To address these questions, we will study a number of mostly but not exclusively American works from the seventeenth and eighteenth century scientific revolution and Enlightenment, a period when technologies like the microscope and the telescope made it more possible than ever before for human beings to investigate organic and inorganic forms that exceeded their powers of perception. Over the course of the term, we will also think about how these early investigations of the small, the large, and the conceptualization of systems that hold these scales together remains relevant to us in the twenty-first century.

We will pursue our investigation across three related units, each of which will move from seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century works to twentieth- and twenty-first century novels, films, and other art works. Our first unit focuses on the small. We will be particularly interested in the ways that investigations of the very small impact the way art is produced, conceived, and experienced. Our second unit turns to the related problem of the very large, focusing particularly on how the capacity to perceive and conceptualize the large inflects aesthetics. In the final unit of the class we hold together the small scale and the large scale as we study electricity, thermodynamics, postmodernity, and climate change.


177: Literature and Popular Culture
Topic: Literary Bollywood: Film and Fiction in India
Aparna Dharwadker
Th 2:50-5:00pm Helen C. White 4281


The Indian cinema industry has been a popular culture phenomenon since the arrival of talking films in 1931, with a vast audience in the subcontinent, and a loyal following in unexpected venues like Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. More recently, the invention of “Bollywood” as a concept has turned popular Indian (mainly Hindi) cinema into a fully global brand, associated with youthful romance, glitzy international settings, extravagant music-and-dance numbers, stunning costumes, and extravagant displays of wealth. Consumed on a large scale by the 20-million strong Indian diaspora as well as viewers around the world, Bollywood films appear oddly at variance with India’s very real profile as a developing nation with high levels of poverty and illiteracy, critical problems of overpopulation, and glaring social inequalities.

The purpose of this course is to provide a more complex view of film as a popular-cultural medium in twentieth- and twenty-first century India, and to explore its specific connections to literature (mainly novels and short stories by major modern writers).

Course Materials
Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Parineeta (novella, 1914; Pengiun, 2005).
Pradeep Sarkar, dir., “Parineeta” (film, 2005).
Rabindranath Tagore, Ghare baire (The Home and the World; novel, 1916).
Satyajit Ray, dir., “Ghare baire” (The Home and the World; film, 1984).
Munshi Premchand “Shatranj ke khiladi” (The Chess Players; short story, 1924).
Satyajit Ray, dir., “Shatranj ke khiladi” (The Chess Players; film, 1977).
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Pather Panchali (Song of the Road; novel, 1929).
Satyajit Ray, dir., “Pather Panchali” (Song of the Road; film, 1955).
R. K. Narayan, The Guide (novel, 1958; Penguin, 2006).
Vijay Anand, dir., “Guide” (film, 1965).
Mannu Bhandari, “Yahi sach hai” (This is the Truth; short story, 1960).
Basu Chatterjee, dir., “Rajanigandha” (Tube Lilies; film based on Bhandari’s story, 1974).
For more information contact Professor Dharwadker at 


181: First Year Honors Seminar
Topic: Dirty Books
Joshua Calhoun
TuTh 1:00-2:15pm Helen C. White 7117
Prereq: Open to freshman enrolled in an Honors program

English 201 is a small, topic-driven writing course that fulfills part B of the University’s Communication requirement. Sections of 201 offer hands-on practice with writing and revision, building on skills developed in earlier writing courses and providing new opportunities for students to grow as writers. Though topics vary by section and semester, this class consistently provides experience writing in multiple genres and for diverse audiences.

201: Intermediate Composition
TA Taught courses
Times & Places Vary


English 201 is a small, topic-driven writing course that fulfills part B of the University’s Communication requirement. Sections of 201 offer hands-on practice with writing and revision, building on skills developed in earlier writing courses and providing new opportunities for students to grow as writers. Though topics vary by section and semester, this class consistently provides experience writing in multiple genres and for diverse audiences.


204: Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacy
Topic: Writing and Money
Kate Vieira
MoWe 2:25-3:15pm Humanities 1111

We often think of writing as a fundamentally artistic and expressive enterprise, separate from the workaday world of economic transactions. But writing also has a more mundane, more worldly, more financial side. In fact, writing, writers, and the systems that depend on them have long been implicated in commercial exchange. This course examines how.

Specifically, we will tease out the relationship of writing and money as it has been experienced across diverse time periods and places, including ancient Mesopotamia, colonial Latin America, medieval England, contemporary China, 20th century Wisconsin, transitioning Slovakia, and a future dystopic New York City, among others. In doing so, we will see how the writing of accountants, priests, farmers, students, poker players, artists, and teachers has been implicated in global economic trends. Over the course of the semester, students will track their own writing’s relationship to money, incorporating their findings into an auto-ethnographic term paper.



207: Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction & Poetry Workshop
TA Taught courses
Times & Places Vary
Prereqs: Open only to freshmen and sophomores
Satisfies a Comm B Requirement


In this course, students are taught the fundamental elements of craft in both fiction (plot, point of view, dialogue, and setting, etc.) and poetry (the image, the line, sound and meter, etc.). This class is taught as a workshop, which means class discussion will focus on both craft (published stories, poems, and essays) and, perhaps more importantly, the fiction and poetry written by each student. That is, the student writing becomes the text, and the instructor leads a sympathetic, but critical, discussion of the particular work at hand. Students should expect to read and comment on two or three published works per week as well as the work of their peers. To enable a collegial and productive class setting, all sections of 207 are capped at eighteen students.



241: Literature and Culture 1
Lisa Cooper
MoWe 8:50-9:40am Humanities 2650


What is a person, a home, a nation, a world? What we now call "English literature" begins with these questions, imagining a cosmos filled with gods and heroes, liars and thieves, angels and demons, dragons and dungeons, whores and witches, drunken stupor and religious ecstasy. Authors crafted answers to these questions using technologies of writing from parchment to the printing press, and genres old and new, from epic and romance to drama and the sonnet. Emphasis will be on developing the skills of close reading, critical analysis, and writing that are of use for majors and non-majors alike, and on thinking about what it means to participate in a community (or several communities) of readers.



242: Literature and Culture II
Topic: Literature in Perspective
Mario Ortiz-Robles
TuTh 8:50-9:40am Humanities 2650

At around the turn of the nineteenth century, fiction took upon itself the task of portraying the inner life of characters as a social phenomenon and began to develop for this purpose a number of formal devices that highlighted the problem of perspective. In this course we will analyze these perspectival devices in some detail and explore the aesthetic, cultural, and political implications of representing different points of view in literature. We will read works by Austen, Melville, Dickens, Stevenson, Woolf, Faulkner, Hitchcock, Pynchon, Kincaid, and Coetzee. Supplementary historical and critical readings will help us contextualize the topics to be covered, which will include: How does fiction represent social reality? How does it represent our perception of this reality? What is it like to be aware of oneself as a thinking, feeling, perceptive being? How are others made aware of our true selves? How well do we really know ourselves? In reading and writing about literary perspective, we will also aim to learn something about what it means to see the world through someone else's eyes.




245.001: Seminar in the Major
Topic: Communication Breakdown: Literature, Media & Technology in the Middle Ages
Martin Foys
TuTh 9:30-10:45am Helen C. White 4208


Notes: small class size, intimate seminar-style instruction pre-reqs can be waived with appropriate background study/interest fulfills pre-1800 requirement for English major We live in the age of information media, and this course will introduce you to its hidden past. When we hear the word "medieval," we don't normally think "technology." And when we hear the word "media," we definitely don't think "medieval." We will begin with a study of contemporary media theory and history --how we use technology to communicate and record information, and where we imagine media comes from -- printing presses, computers, phones, and so on. After this we will go off the grid to study the prehistory of media in the Middle Ages. We'll look at how medieval writers imagined Twitter 600 years before it was invented, how Viking runes reveal an entire network of information that survived for centuries, how church bells spoke to entire villages at once, and how medieval monks believed in cyberspace - among many, many other things. All medieval materials will be read in modern translation, and most will be available digitally for download. Graded work: Participation, papers, exam, presentations and an individual final media projects.



245.002: Seminar in the Major
Topic: Representing Animals
Mario Ortiz-Robles
TuTh 2:30-3:45pm Van Vleck B231

How does literature, and the arts more generally, help us understand animals and our relation to them? In this seminar, we will address this question by exploring two types of representation: representation as depiction (the attempt to render animals by means or words, images, or sounds) and representation as a legal or political act (the attempt to speak or act on behalf of animals). From the traditional use of animals in sacrifice and ritual, hunting and fishing, transport and labor, the development of biological forms of knowledge over the last two centuries has permitted the technological exploitation of the animal at an unprecedented scale. Animals have become objects of human manipulation in factory farms and pharmaceutical laboratories, but have also become the subject of a broad range of cultural representations, including zoos, circuses, natural history museums, Broadway musicals, television shows, and animal films. Pairing literary representations of animals with philosophical and historical accounts of our relation to animals, this seminar will allow us to consider the aesthetic, intellectual, ethical, and political implications of our inevitable anthropocentrism.


307: Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction & Poetry Workshop
TA Taught Courses
Times & Places Vary
Prereqs: Junior standing or completion of one of the following: English 207 taken Fall 2014 or later; or English 203 taken prior to Fall 2014
Satisfies a Comm B requirement
Satisfies a workshop requirement for the emphasis in creative writing

This class is similar to English 207 (see above) but with greater emphasis on craft (narrative control, poetic form) and the writing process. Like 207, this class is taught as a workshop, which means class discussion will focus on both craft (published stories, poems, and essays) and, perhaps more importantly, the fiction and poetry written by each student. That is, the student writing becomes the text, and the instructor leads a sympathetic, but critical, discussion of the particular work at hand. Students should expect to read and comment on two or three published works per week as well as the work of their peers. To enable a collegial and productive class setting, all sections of 307 are capped at 16 students.


314: Structure of English
Anja Wanner
TuTh 11:00-11:50am Humanities 1641


[English Language and Linguistics] (Mixed Grad/Undergrad) In this mixed grad/undergrad course we will discuss the fundamentals of the syntactic structure of English sentences. Our approach is that grammar is not something scary "out there" -- it's part of every speaker's intuitive knowledge of language and we aim at making this knowledge visible through linguistic analysis. This course will provide you with basic tools of sentence analysis and will enable you to describe and analyze English sentences on your own. You will learn to classify words (nouns, verbs, determiners, adverbs etc.) and phrases (Noun Phrases, Verb Phrases etc.) and to give visual representations of the structure of clauses (so-called "tree diagrams"). You will learn about functions in the clause (subjects, objects, predicates, etc.) and about syntactic operations that target specific functions (e.g., passivization, question formation, focalization). One of the main points will be to develop an understanding of the relationship between word order, structure, and meaning in English. In a group project of your choice you will have the opportunity to explore a common myth about language, such as the belief that babies acquire language by imitation or that English spelling is "kattastroffik". The methods of analysis you acquire in this class will be applicable in a variety of ways in your study of literature, creative writing, English education, English as a second language, and further studies in Linguistics. Assessments for this class include two in-class exams, two homework assignments, and an in-class presentation in which you compare the syntactic characteristics from two texts from different genres (e.g., an op-ed and a scientific article on the same subject).



315: English Phonology
Eric Raimy
MoWeFr 11:00-11:50am Van Hise 394


[English Language and Linguistics] (Mixed Grad/Undergrad) This course offers an introduction to the sound system of English, including phonetics and elementary phonology. Topics include articulatory phonetic descriptions of consonants and vowels, classical phonemic theory, the nature of phonological processes, linguistic change and the acquisition of phonological systems. By the end of the course, students should be able to describe and transcribe speech sounds of English, recognize and describe phonemic and phono tactic patterns and account for basic phonological processes.

Note: English 315 (or consent of the instructor) is a prerequisite for English 709 (Advanced English Phonology)


316: English Language Variation in the U.S. Thomas Purnell MoWeFr 1:20-2:10pm Helen C White 4208


[English Language and Linguistics] (Mixed Grad/Undergrad) This course offers an overview of English language variation in the United States from a current sociolinguistic perspective. Social, regional, ethnic, gender, and stylistic variation are examined, along with models for describing, explaining, and applying sociolinguistic knowledge. Students are exposed to a wide range of data on language variation focused on vernacular varieties of American English in general. English 316 is designed to introduce students to the variation found in American English. The course introduces students to the linguistic, historic and social bases of American English variation along with the descriptive parameters of the observed variation.

Class Structure and Assignments. In an effort to reveal stereotypes about speakers of dialect and relate stereotypes that are prevalent in society (based on media and what people say about others), the class is centered on how US dialects are represented in movies and comparing those representations with audio recordings of actual speakers. We begin each topic section watching relevant movie clips and making observations about the language depicted in the clips. Then we compare those observations to what sociolinguists know about language in the domain we are exploring. You will write a research paper that addresses the question of how standard or nonstandard any one speaker of American English can be by transcribing a recording of an American English speaker, recorded as part of the Dictionary of American English audio recordings. Students transcribing speakers from a specific geographic region form groups for in and out of class discussions. All writing assignments are expected to be consistent with UW-Madison English Department common core values for writing, the expectations of the course is that all written work.


408: Creative Writing: Fiction Workshop
Instructors, Times & Places Vary
Prereqs: Completion of one of the following with a 3.0 or higher: English 207 or 307 taken Fall 2014 or later; or English 203 taken prior to Fall 2014
Students who do not meet the prerequisite may submit a writing sample to the program director on Monday of the last week of classes.


This class helps students apply lessons from published fiction (both classic and contemporary) to their own work. Class typically begins with a lecture concerning some aspect of craft, and is followed by “workshop.” This entails a discussion of story shape, word choice, character development etc. using the creative work of the student as the text. Classes are small (15), and students are expected to read the work of their peers carefully and participate during class discussions.



409: Creative Writing: Poetry Workshop
Sean Bishop
Tu 2:30-4:25pm Helen C. White 7105

In this intermediate poetry workshop, we won't begin with the traditional question, “What is poetry?" or "What makes a poem a poem?” Instead we'll ask, “What’s poetry for? What’s its purpose?” In defiance of W. H. Auden's proclamation that “poetry makes nothing happen,” we will explore what poetry does and has done (or what people have believed it to do) since its independent origins in cultures throughout the world. We will write our own poems that attempt to perform some of poetry’s functions (the poem as magical spell or prayer, the poem as manifesto, the poem as promise, as revenge, as witness or documentary, etc.), and at all times we will keep in mind the notion of “intent.” We will ask at every corner--for published poems and for the poems of our classmates--“What do we think this poem is trying to do? And how can we help it succeed?” For some of the best poems, we may not be able to find a complete and convincing answer. But we will always become better readers and writers by asking.

This class meets once a week for two hours. Students will write a poem every week, in response to a prompt based on one of poetry's perceived functions. Each student will also submit four original poems of their own devising to be workshopped/critiqued throughout the semester, and will read and comment on the poems of six fellow students each week. There will be no required texts; all required readings will be provided in a course pack.

416: English in Society
Richard Young
TuTh 9:30-10:45am Humanities 2637


(English Language and Linguistics; Mixed grad/undergrad) The English language is both an object of study in its own right and also a tool that people use to communicate information and to influence the behavior and opinions of others. Although it has been studied for centuries, but what we know about the English language is strongly influenced by writing and written language and, because writing and reading are most often done in isolation, many linguistic theories have ignored the social life of language. Yes, language has a social life and, obviously, social interaction does not happen in isolation; it involves people doing things and influencing each other by what they do. To combine the English language and social interaction in a single thought means asking: How does social interaction happen through English? And how does our knowledge of the English language change when we consider it to be primarily a means of social interaction? These are the two questions that we will wrestle with over and over again in this course. If you are interested in language and if you are interested in social relationships, this course will help you develop those interests.


Young, R. F. (2008). Language and interaction: An advanced resource book. London & New

York: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-38553-4

A packet of 11 readings


420: Topics-English Lang & Linguis
Topics: Pragmatics
Richard Young
TuTh 2:30-3:45pm Humanities 2637


(English Language and Linguistics; Mixed grad/undergrad) This is an introduction to pragmatics for undergraduates in the English department, students pursuing the M.A. in Applied English Linguistics, the Ph.D. in English Language and Linguistics, the Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition, and interested students from other departments.

Pragmatics is the study of the relationship between the meaning of an utterance and the context in which the utterance is produced. We normally think of people using language to produce utterances, though the act of production involves words and grammar but also vocal prosody, gesture, gaze, and bodily stance. The context of production is also much grander than the time and place of utterance and it includes the physical, spatial, temporal, social, interactional, institutional, political, and historical circumstances in which a person produces an utterance. By ‘utterance’ and ‘context’ we name systems of interconnection among very many features, and the study of the relationship between utterance and context is not to be undertaken lightly. Nonetheless it is a study that for centuries has been of great interest to philosophers, linguists, semioticians, and psychologists. And even if you don’t want to focus on pragmatics as a field of academic study, it’s worth considering a few questions that we will ask and try to answer in this course:

  • I know the kind of actions I can perform with my body and with tools I use, but what kind of actions can I perform with my words?
  • Sometimes, I am in conversation with somebody and, although we both know exactly the meaning of every word, I still don’t get what the other person is driving at. What am I missing?
  • I know some people who are forever saying please and thank you, just like my mother taught me when I was a child. And then there are some other people I know who rarely say please or thank you, and I know my mother would say they are not being polite, but nobody else seems to bother. Why is that?
  • Why did the defense attorney object when the prosecutor asked the defendant when he had stopped abusing his daughter?
  • Say “It’s cold in here” and mean “It’s warm in here”. Can you do it? — And what are you doing as you do it? And is there only one way of doing it? That last question was asked by a philosopher. Asking and answering questions like these is not just what we should do as students and scholars; it is also a matter of practical communication—especially communication among people from different social and cultural backgrounds. If you decide to take this course, I hope it will not only be one more step on the road to an academic qualification, but it should also be a means to make us all better communicators.

Required materials

Archer, D., Aijmer, K., & Wichmann, A. (2012). Pragmatics: An advanced resource book for students. Routledge.

Thirty-four supplementary readings are available for download from Box.


426: Chaucer's Courtly Poetry
Lisa Cooper
MoWe 2:30-3:45pm Humanities 1221


This course is an introduction to Geoffrey Chaucer, the most famous and influential English poet of the Middle Ages, and to Middle English, the language in which he wrote. Starting with some of his shortest and (mostly) earliest poems, we will trace Chaucer’s development as a poet through the forms of complaint and dream vision before ending our course with an extended engagement with his Troilus and Criseyde, a masterful historical romance set against the background of the Trojan War. Along the way, we will consider such topics as the import of the emergence of the English vernacular as a language for poetry and other discourses; the changing meaning of “authorship” within scribal (that is, manuscript) culture and an age of (predominantly) literary anonymity; the nature of court culture and the phenomenon known as “courtly love”; and, last but not least, Chaucer’s wry, self-conscious manipulation of the established genres of complaint, vision, allegory, confession, satire, and romance.



455: Figure in American Lit
Topic: Melville
Monique Allewaert
TuTh 9:30-10:45am Van Vleck B223


In this seminar, we will read a significant portion of Herman Melville’s oeuvre, including novels, short stories, and poetry. Part of our goal is simply to enjoy these works. To this end, we will read closely, stopping to try to make sense of strange and complex sentences and ideas, considering the effects of Melville’s style, and tracking the visions of the human being and the world that emerge across Melville’s writing. If one of our goals is to enjoy reading the work of a major – and majorly innovative – American writer, another of our goals is to familiarize ourselves with key problems the recur in Melville’s writing, including colonialism and racism; the effects of the industrial revolution; the expression of masculinity; the Civil War; narrative style and structure. To this end, most of the Melville works we’ll study are paired with at least one critical essay that explores these problems and also increases our understanding and appreciation of his writing.


456: Topic in 19th-Century American Literature
Topic: Writing the City: 19th Century New York
Jeffrey Steele
MoWeFr 12:05-12:55pm Helen C. White 4208
Prereq: 6 credits of introductory literature

In the 19th century, New York became the cultural and commercial capital of the nation. The goal of this course is to analyze the forms of literary perception that emerged in the country’s first great metropolis. As writers adapted themselves to a context that transcended any individual act of perception, they were forced to address the question: How does one ‘write’ the city? The course is organized around five topics and a series of questions: 1) THE VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE CITY (Dickens, Willis, Child, Fuller, Fern): How do antebellum reform writers uncover hidden and invisible structures of power in urban environments? 2) THE URBAN GOTHIC AND SENSATIONALISM (Poe, Foster, Lippard): Hod does the exploration of the city’s recesses and criminal underclass change the perception of urban space? 3) MODES OF RELATIONSHIP (Melville, Whitman): How do economic position, social class, and sexual orientation affect patterns of relationship? 4) GENDER ROLES: MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CITY (Blake, Howells): What are the different roles and social networks available to men and women in the decades after the Civil War? 5) TENEMENT LIFE (Riis, Crane, Cahan): How do members of different ethnic groups survive life on the Lower East Side?

473: Postcolonial or World Literature
Topic: African Literature
Tejumola Olaniyan
MoWe 8:00-9:15am Helen C. White 4281


The course is a lively introduction to the major writers and diverse literary traditions of the continent. We will select texts from different genres—prose fiction, poetry, drama—and regions, and study the historical and cultural contexts of the writing, publication, and reception or consumption of the literature. We will also pay attention to the different styles and techniques with which the writers express their ideas, and explore in detail some of the most interesting of those composite ideas and themes: cultural identity and cultural nationalism, colonialism and cultural imperialism; the place of European languages in “African” literature; the post-independent nation-state; and gender, sexuality and African cultural traditions. Some of writers we would read include Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nadine Gordimer, Ngugi wa Thiong’O, Abdella Taia, and Chimamanda Adichie.


516: English Grammar in Use
Anja Wanner
TuTh 1:00-2:15pm Education L196


[English Language and Linguistics] (Mixed Grad/Undergrad) In this class we examine the role of grammar in constituting genres, mostly in written language. You will learn to analyze texts by situational parameters (such as the function of the text, medium, and intended audience) and to give a functional analysis of patterns of language variation. For example, modern academic writing makes use of long noun phrases, while conversations show the use of pronouns. Emphasis will be put on the notion of "complexity". What is complexity in language, how do we measure it, how does it change over time? You will be introduced to working with linguistic corpora (electronic collections of texts and conversations). The end-of-semester project will be a poster presentation -- you will learn to create an effective research poster and to present your project to an audience. Graduate students will also submit a paper version of the poster. Other assessments include a series of homework assignments and two exams.


520: Old English
Martin Foys
TuTh 1:00-2:15pm Education L151


Notes: small class size, intimate seminar-style instruction pre-reqs can be waived with appropriate background study/interest fulfills pre-1800 requirement for English major Old English is the earliest form of English; it is also fascinating -- exotic, yet at the same time the backbone of the language we use today. From over 1,000 years ago, it is the language of heroes, monsters, kings, scholars, saints, and some very special sinners. Studying Old English gives you a foundational understanding of how modern English still works today, valuable knowledge for any student.

No background in languages or linguistics is required to take this class, though if you've studied another language, that can be helpful. In the first half of the class, we will cover basic pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary, while doing short translation exercises. In the second half of the semester, we will put the skills you've learned to work, working on reading Old English texts and poems in the original -- a rare opportunity. Because this is a language class, no papers will be required. Instead, there will be regular translation exercises, quizzes, exams, and a final translation project.


577: Postcolonial Theatre
Aparna Dharwadker
TuTh 11:00-12:15pm Helen C. White 4208


Course Description: The formal end of European colonialism in various parts of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean has initiated a new phase in literary-cultural production that is now widely recognized as both chronologically and qualitatively “postcolonial.” For more than three decades, however, the field of postcolonial studies has been dominated by the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and theory, deflecting attention away from the genres of drama, theatre, and performance. The main objective of this course, therefore, is to consider post-independence urban drama and theatre in such locations as India, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and the Caribbean as specifically postcolonial cultural formations that “perform” (rather than merely textualize) the tensions definitive of postcolonialism. The primary materials for the course will focus on such leading postcolonial playwrights as Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Femi Osofisan, Robert Serumaga, Ama Ata Aidoo, Mustapha Matura, and Girish Karnad.

For students unfamiliar with postcolonial studies, the class will provide an introduction to major theoretical issues and problems while also covering a range of significant authors. For students already familiar with postcolonial issues and interested in theatre, it will offer new perspectives on genre, language, textuality, intertextuality, sociopolitical contexts, performance, and reception

Tentative Reading List
Wole Soyinka, A Dance of the Forests (1960)
Femi Osofisan, Morountodun (1979)
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, The Trial of Dedan Kimathi (1976)
Robert Serumaga, Majangwa (1974)
Derek Walcott, Dream on Monkey Mountain (1967)
Mustapha Matura, The Coup: A Play of Revolutionary Dreams (1991)
Ama Ata Aidoo, The Dilemma of a Ghost (1964)
Aime Cesaire, A Tempest (1969)
Utpal Dutt, Mahavidroha (The Great Rebellion, Bengali, 1973/1985)
Girish Karnad, The Dreams of Tipu Sultan (1997)
For more information contact Professor Dharwadker at