English Department Course Offerings Spring 2014
ENGL 208: American Literature II, Civil War to the Present
MW 12:00 – 1:15 p.m.
Dr. Kathryn West
This course surveys American literature from the Civil War to the present, organizing readings into three distinct literary movements: Realism/Naturalism (and Supernaturalism); Modernism; and Contemporary (Postmodernism & Multiculturalism). Our approach will combine close reading, literary analysis, literary history, and cultural history. We will move between culture and literature in order to examine how American culture has shaped its literature, and vice versa, as well as how both have shaped who we are today. My approach is to be representative and inclusive in my selection of authors and genres. Therefore, we will study not only the relatively small and homogeneous group of authors traditionally valued by those who have wielded economic power--and along the way we will talk about how things like economics and political power impact what gets published and read and taught--but also we will read literature from peoples traditionally marginalized in this country: Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, women of all races, the poor . . . . I suspect you will discover emotionally powerful and socially engaging texts have been produced by both the powerful and acclaimed and the oppressed and suppressed.
ENGL 330: Film Adaptation
MW 4:30-5:45 p.m.
Dr. Jennifer Barker
What does literature have to do with film? When discussing adaptations, people tend to use language and concepts we normally associate with human relationships: fidelity, betrayal, obsession, authenticity. The inherently comparative and intertextual nature of adaptation lends itself to such concepts (how faithful was the movie to the original book?), and in many ways the process of any adaptation is always an act of transformation—of figuring out how to retell the same, or a similar, narrative in a new way. Yet the task of adapting a written narrative into film also leads to deeper questions of media specificity, point of view and the nature of storytelling. We will take as our primary focus 20th century British literature, with the notable exception of two icons of the Victorian era that continue to be obsessively adapted: Sherlock Holmes and Alice (of Wonderland). We will read and screen versions of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man. Each novel and film combination will help us decode specific literary and filmic styles and visions as they are influenced by cultural and aesthetic challenges. These texts, in conjunction with theories of adaptation, will allow us to trace the effects of historical context, social mores, aesthetic theories and artistic collaboration on the transformation of literature into film.
ENGL 333: Topics in Modern British Literature, Vampire Literature
TR 9:25-10:40 a.m.
Dr. John Gatton
Vampires are very much alive and (relatively) well today, populating print media, television, the stage, and cinema, and regularly unencumbered by their traditional opera capes, aristocratic titles, aversions to sunlight and mirrors, preference for dank crypts, and batty alter-egos. “Vampire Literature” will initially focus on the ancestors of pop culture’s undead and the origins of the physical traits, nocturnal pursuits, diverse attire, and rich lore of these earlier bloodsuckers. Later, more recent manifestations of vampires will appear. We will particularly trace the evolution of the Vampire in literature by British and Irish writers, as well as in unique contributions from Continental and American authors. Readings, from the early eighteenth century forward, will include journalistic accounts of vampirism in Eastern Europe; a range of fiction, poetry, and drama; and historical and critical studies. Our discussions will explore such recurring themes as gender and sexualities, class structure, disease, and superstition vs religion.
ENGL 340: Introduction to Criticism and Theory
MW 12:00-1:15 p.m.
Dr. Charles Hatten
Critics and philosophers have been debating and analyzing literature for centuries and have developed a number of fascinating ways of understanding and interpreting literary and cultural texts. This rich critical conversation still goes on today and can generate heated controversy that affects both how we view literature and even how we understand society itself. Studying the critical tradition is important because understanding the major critical schools and becoming able to confidently take part in the critical conversation is an essential part of being a thoughtful and well-rounded reader of texts. This course will serve as an introduction to the critical tradition, examining both traditional and contemporary approaches to criticism; methods examined will include feminist, new critical, psychoanalytic, and Marxist approaches.
ENGL 341: Rosenblatt Fellows: Memoir
April 7 to 11, MTWRF 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Roger Rosenblatt is an internationally known journalist, author, and memoirist (known especially for best-sellers Kayak Morning and Making Toast). A long-time columnist for Time, he has also had a distinguished career as a teacher, including serving as the Edward R. Murrow professor at Harvard in 2005. In 2013 he delivered the Guarnaschelli lecture at Bellarmine and visited several classes. This spring students will have the opportunity to work with him in a special one-credit hour, one-week course on memoir. No texts will be required. Students must have sophomore standing or higher, or permission of the English department chair. If the time for this course conflicts with a semester-long English course, permission will be granted to attend "Memoir" for the week of April 7-10; students should use an Authorization Form found on the Registrar's Office website to obtain this permission.
ENGL 402: Modern Linguistics
MW 3:00-4:15 p.m.
You are a skilled practitioner of an incredibly complex and incredibly powerful ancient art - the production and comprehension of language - and yet you may never have examined the source of your powers. Linguistics is the study of language itself: how it works and how we use it. The class investigates and examines sounds, the formation and meaning of words, sentences, utterances, conversations and other speech situations, dialects, registers, language acquisition, and the history and development of English. Special topics may include regional, gender, and age differences in speech patterns, social functions of language, slang, artificial languages, and differences between spoken and written language. We will engage in an ongoing effort to stalk and trap live language in the wild and to discover the theories and principles at work and at play in our own language patterns as we display them daily.
ENGL 422: Literatures of Slavery and Abolition
TR 12:15-1:30 p.m.
Dr. Jon Blandford
In the years and decades leading up to the Civil War, the battle over slavery was waged in the arena of a bourgeoning popular print culture. Newspapers, pamphlets, novels, and poems made arguments for and against the American South’s so-called “peculiar institution,” appealing to the emotions, intellects, and prejudices of a deeply divided nation. This course invites students to reflect on how this push for social and political change in turn changed American literature. We’ll examine new genres that emerged out of debates over slavery, including African-American autobiography, Barbary captivity narrative, and plantation fiction. We’ll also investigate how existing genres were transformed by this conflict, most famously in the case of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s bestselling sentimental novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In addition to reading and discussing texts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we’ll consider how contemporary authors such as Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed have used fictional works to re-envision the history of slavery and abolition. Lastly, students will engage in a semester-long project in which they analyze other media—including films and comic books—that offer alternative perspectives on this history and its fascinating body of literature.
ENGL 424: Advanced Creative Writing
R 3:00-5:30 p.m.
Professor Frederick Smock
Prerequisite: any 300-level creative writing class
In English 424, students work on creative writing projects in any genre. The class essentially functions as a writers group – students share their work, and the work is discussed by their colleagues. Students who are planning to go onto graduate study in creative writing find this a useful class for preparing their application portfolio; and students from this class have gone on to MFA programs at Columbia University, MIT, Rutgers, Vanderbilt, Vermont College, Roehampton University (London), and others. A bonus for the spring 2014 iteration of this class is a week with the visiting scholar/writer Roger Rosenblatt in April. If participating, be sure to register for the 1-hour course listed under “Rosenblatt Fellows: Memoir” (ENGL 341).
THEA 246/ENG 433: The American Musical
TR 1:40-2:55 p.m.
Professor Carlos Chavarria
This course is a general survey of the history and development of the American Musical, concentrating on the examination of its structure as well as the reading, analysis, and discussion of several musicals. While learning about the development of the American musical starting in the 1800s and moving toward the present, students will have the opportunity to attend several musical productions around town as well as watch recordings of live professional productions.
ENGL 450: Integrative Seminar
MW 1:30 – 2:45 p.m.
Dr. Kathryn West
In your time as an English major, you’ve probably come across such terms as metafiction and meta-discourse; in some respects this will be a “meta-course.” In other words, as the capstone course for English majors (although open to others with an interest), it will ask you not just to study, read, discuss, and write about texts, but will also ask you to consider what it means to study literature, to work with words and ideas. We’ll look at some of the history of English and literary studies and discuss the nature of different methodological approaches. At its broadest, our theme is “How do I define literature, and what is my relationship to it?”
Following a thematic focus to organize our work around the idea of “classics and the canonical, canon-busters and experimentals,” we’ll focus on how that has played out primarily in the genre of the Novel, and we’ll discuss some Theories of the Novel. Rather than being organized according to a particular literary era, mode, or genre, our readings come from a series of questions/categories: What’s a classic you feel you should have read, but haven’t?: Gustave Flaubert’s nineteenth-century classic, Madame Bovary. Of course, you may have read it, but it also fits another of our categories, a “classic” that changed the way we think about how a genre maybe written, what it can do, what it can concern itself with. What’s it like to reread a classic?: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s much-taught The Great Gatsby. A story told through images?: Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. What happens when a world-renowned, extremely influential author decides to try to write a sensational novel for money?: William Faulkner’s Sanctuary. Just how far can one push the form of the novel? Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. How are contemporary Third World authors adopting and adapting the novel for their cultures and realities?: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things or Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breakers or Julia Alvarez’ In the Time of the Butterflies. In past years, we’ve read in Scott McCloud’s 1993 Understanding Comics to engage his ideas about how the visual and the written word act and interact, and to consider the ever-expanding notion of just what are appropriate and informative “texts” for study—we can do that, or choose another exploration of genre boundaries and highbrow vs. lowbrow. Other links between our texts include a desire to promote and/or critique certain value systems; an interest in the meanings and effects of nationalism; and of course some of the standards of literature: love, death, and figuring out one’s place in the universe. Our theoretical explorations this semester will highlight Narrative Theory, Postcolonialism, Gender Studies, and Trauma Studies (others as time allows).
Each student will devise a project suited to his or her interests and goals. Think of this course as a chance to try some things you haven’t, to stretch, to examine where your head and your heart are. Just why did you major in English, anyway?