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English Department Course Offerings

ENGL 201: World of Texts

TR 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Kathryn West
“English” is an unusually varied discipline, taking as its object of study almost every kind of text that human beings produce. Given that diverse range, a sense of fundamental organizing principles and practices is essential—and that is what this course is designed to explore as you begin your work in the major. We focus on the literacies (note the plural) one must develop in order to connect meaningfully, interestingly, and enjoyably with that world of texts. And that means exploring the essential nature of the discipline we call English—seeing it not primarily as a mere collection of “approved” texts but as a way of thinking about the nature of text in general, and individual texts in particular. The processes of interpretation can be quite joyous—varied, capacious, and often surprising, whether being done all alone between you and the text, or in discussion with others interested in that same text.
And no doubt that is what reading is: rewriting the text of the work within the text of our lives.
– French writer and literary theorist Roland Barthes
(Think about it: until a mind comes in contact with it, a book is made up of meaningless lines and curves on some paper that’s been bound together.) The most important issue our course addresses is just what it means to read truly well, with the fullest possible understanding and engagement. In other words, we’re exploring the multi-dimensional relationship—between world, and text, and the reading self. Your self in particular.

ENGL 207: American Literature: Beginnings to 1865

TR 9:25-10:40 a.m.
Dr. Jon Blandford
This course surveys American literature from its beginnings in the Native American traditions and the writings of the explorers through the creation of American myths in the texts of the Puritans and the Early Republic, in Transcendentalism, and in the flowering of fiction in the American Renaissance. It ends with attention to the writings that come out of the debates over race, slavery, and abolition, and to the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Approaches combine close reading, literary and cultural history, and a variety of methodological lenses (such as gender, class, race, and form). We’ll also work from two closely related core assumptions: first off, that literature does not exist in a vacuum, and that it shapes and is shaped by the culture of which it is a part. To borrow a concept from the literary critic Jane Tompkins, we might say that literature performs “cultural work”—i.e., it is capable of both reinforcing and challenging widely held beliefs and values, of functioning as an instrument of change and as a reaffirmation of the status quo. Secondly, we’ll resist the temptation to think of American Literature as a unified field that proceeds in a linear trajectory from one author and movement to the next. Rather, we’ll think of literature as a site of struggle, an arena of representations within which important questions circulating in the culture at large get worked out and contested with particular force. Among these questions are what it means to be an American, what it means to write something that might be called an American Literature, and what even counts as literature in the first place. By the end of the semester you will have gained both a broad knowledge of this period and a new set of approaches for reading and thinking about literary texts.

ENGL 209: British Literature Survey I

MWF 10-10:50 a.m.
Dr. John Gatton
Please contact Dr. Gatton for more information about the class (

FILM 270: Introduction to Film

MW 12-1:15 p.m. or TR 1:40-2:55 p.m.
Dr. Jennifer Barker
This course is an introduction to the medium of film: the grammar of its aesthetics, its genres and styles, the modes of its production, and some of the social contexts and ideologies that underlie its construction. We will discuss the origins of film production at the turn of the 20th century, the essentials of formal analysis of film as an art, and examine a number of film styles and genres. Throughout the course we will examine the narrative and formal styles of Hollywood cinema and its various alternatives (independent cinema, new waves, global cinema, documentary and experimental films). Towards these ends, we will be viewing films from a variety of national, cultural and historical contexts, filmed by directors who embody a range of perspectives. Finally, we will explore the progression of technological and digital innovation that continues to transform the medium of film in the 21st century. This course fulfills credit for ENGL 200 (Literature requirement).

ENGL 312: Creative Writing: Poetry

TR 3:05-4:20 p.m.
Professor Frederick Smock
Please contact Professor Smock for more information about the class (

ENGL 350: Caribbean Literature (Contemporary International Literature)

TR 9:25-10:40 a.m.
Dr. Annette Harris Powell
This course offers an introduction to the literature of the English, French, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and the conditions arising from colonialism, decolonization, and movement – forced migration, involuntary migration, rural to urban, and island to metropole journeys. Caribbean writers often employ innovative uses of creole language, World religions, and African diasporic folk traditions such as calypso, Carnival, or mythology to reconfigure the Caribbean space. For instance, in an attempt to revise traditional paradigms, several contemporary writers deploy the vampire (she-demon) figure as a trope for female mobility, and sexual and cultural empowerment. We will consider how, in the midst of “rootlessness” and decolonization, these texts manipulate the vernacular to create new ways of shaping what it means to be Caribbean, and how various forms of movement contribute to the production of new identities that potentially destabilize ideas around gender, sexuality, and nation. Our readings will include prominent contemporary texts such as The Pagoda, Brown Girl in the Ring, The Dragon Can’t Dance, Abeng, Out on Mainstreet, and Krik?Krak!, as well as classic films including Sugar Cane Alley and The Harder They Come. We will also listen to recordings by legendary calypsonians David Rudder and The Mighty Sparrow.

ENGL 370: Expressionism and Noir

MW 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Dr. Jennifer Barker
Expressionism was a modernist movement in the early twentieth century that attempted to visually represent subjective perception and emotion. It was very influential in 1920s German film, and its stylized landscapes and moody drama shaped 1940s American film noir. This course will explore the concepts of expressionism and noir as they developed in films from the 1920s through the 1960s. We will watch classics of the genres such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, M, The Killers, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., The Third Man, and Kiss Me Deadly, as well as films outside the genre, such as The Scarlet Empress, Spellbound, Joy House, and Harakiri. Throughout the course we will focus on the psychology, philosophy and aesthetics of expressionism and noir as they manifest in these films. We will also explore narrative structure, character type and visual style as expressive of the deviance, horror, ambition and existential crises that shaped mid-century culture.

ENGL 412: Shakespeare

MWF 12-12:50 p.m.
Dr. John Gatton
Please contact Dr. Gatton for more information about the class (

ENG 432: Age of Sherlock Holmes

TR 12:15-1:30 p.m.
Dr. Charles Hatten
What was typical of the age that gave rise to Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional detective? What were the emerging social and intellectual issues and the new definitions that were arising of women’s roles, social class, and art? And what social preoccupations gave rise to the Holmes character, perhaps the most famous of all characters in British literature? These and other fascinating questions will be subject of this course, which will read the late Victorian context of Sherlock Holmes and also read some of the Holmes stories themselves.

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