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Course Descriptions 2018-2019

Course Categories:

Courses Primarily for Undergraduates

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Coming to Terms

Course Description: This seminar will introduce you to some of terms--and through these terms, to some of the materials, methods, theories, and arguments--that have become central to literary study today. By coming to know these terms, we will begin to come to terms with literary study in other, broader ways--to think about what the study of texts might have to do with reading, writing, and thinking in twenty-first century American culture.

The seminar is organized around the following terms: writing, author, culture, canon, gender, performance. Some of these terms are of course familiar. Initially, some will seem impossibly broad, but our approach will be particular, through particular literary texts and critical essays. Throughout the course we will also return to two important terms that aren’t a part of this list: literature (what is it? who or what controls its meaning? why study it?) and readers (who are we? what is our relation to the text and its meaning[s]? what does “reading” entail? what is the purpose of reading? what gets read and who decides?).

Teaching method: Mostly discussion.

Evaluation method: Mandatory attendance and active participation. Shorter papers, some of them revised, and one longer final paper. No exams.

Texts Include: Mostly fiction and poetry, including some of the following: Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; Emily Dickinson’s poetry; Elizabeth Bishop, Geography III; Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; Henry Blake Fuller, Bertram Cope’s Year; Critical Terms for Literary Study (eds. Lentricchia and McLaughlin; second edition).

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Ideas of Justice

Course Description: This course will introduce you to literary studies with a focus on  ideas of justice. Library works will include the classical tradition, the biblical tradition, and Shakespeare who inherited both and reworked them in the early modern period. The trial of Socrates, the trial of Jesus, biblical prophecy, tragedy in Shakespeare, and modern works by Melville, Kafka, and the play, “Inherit the Wind” will be included. Reading closely, we will heed how literature offers elaborations and complications of theories of justice, as they shape the public and intimate lives of people. We will also put literature in dialogue with strands of political thought, showing how literature both reflects and shapes ideas of justice.

Teaching method: Seminar

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: American Appetites: Food Writing and National Identity

Course Description: This seminar will deliciously discuss its central question- how authors cook up national identity in literature- by exploring food culture from early America to the present. Foodways, or the eating habits and culinary practices of a people, region, or historical period, are a powerful lens through which to explore eaters’ national and cultural identities and reveal social inequities. How does what you eat reveal who you are in American life? Beginning with early American Indian cuisine and Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, we will investigate how the “nation” was contested through depictions of food in literature. What kinds of food and eating habits were depicted as “savage”? How “civilized” is the sentimental myth of the First Thanksgiving, memorialized in Lydia Maria Child’s popular poem, “Over the River and Through the Wood”? Travelling through the 19th century, we will examine how foodways define gender, race, and citizenship in the American republic. How can studying nineteenth-century foodways help us to understand who does (and who doesn’t) belong to the nation? Finally, we will arrive in the 20th- and 21st-century to focus on how contemporary writers of color take up foodways to deconstruct dominant national narratives. What can our current foodie moment teach us about how eaters perceive of their national identities today?

Teaching method: Discussion.

Evaluation method: Close-reading posts; 2 short essays (3-5 pages) and one longer essay (5-7); participation and attendance.

Texts Include: Readings may include Mary Rowlandson, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Diana Abu-Jaber, Birds of Paradise; Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents; and selections from works by Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, Lydia Maria Child, as well as from contemporary cookbooks and food memoirs such as The Sioux Chef and The Cooking Gene.

Texts will be available at: Norris bookstore.

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

Instructor Bio: Meaghan Fritz’s research and teaching interests concern nineteenth-century American literature and print culture, women’s and gender studies, and legal studies. Professor Fritz has taught courses in the Northwestern English Department and the Northwestern University Writing Program, where she received a teaching award. Her pedagogy is distinctly interdisciplinary, placing historical, cultural, and political artifacts alongside literature to encourage students to think of reading and writing as part of an ongoing and historical conversation. She is also a self-proclaimed foodie, and enjoys teaching courses focusing on food, gender, and national identity.

English 311 – Studies in Poetry: Contemporary Poetry Communities (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: How do contemporary poets write about ideas of community formation, and how is their work sustained, promoted, and nourished by the communities to which they belong? What kinds of social relationships and activist “social engagements” does poetry hope to perform or to bring into being?  These are questions we will ask through our studies of a wide variety of U.S., Caribbean, and Latin American poets, from 1989 to the present. We will learn to describe the forms and rhythms of particular works by major and emerging poets, such as Rosa Alcalá, Daniel Borzutzky, Fred Moten, Allison Hedge Coke, and Claudia Rankine. We will also emphasize the study of organizations and journals in creating poetic community. This course is organized in conjunction with two major events at Northwestern: the digital reissue of the poetry magazines Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas (1991-2013), and XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics (1997-2015), and two 1-day conferences devoted to their legacies. The class will therefore include the opportunity to attend readings and conference workshops, to meet with a wide variety of contemporary poets, translators, and editors associated with the magazines, including Roberto Tejada, Kristin Dykstra, and Mark Nowak, and to work on digital exhibitions appraising their work and its legacies. Students can expect a mixture of creative and critical assignments, emphasizing both close reading skills and research into the literature and politics of the very recent past and present.

Teaching Method: Discussion

Evaluation Method: A mixture of creative and critical assignments, emphasizing both close reading skills and research into the literature and politics of the very recent past and present.

Texts may include: The anthology American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement (2018), eds. Michael Dowdy and Claudia Rankine, back issues of Mandorla and XCP, and a course reader with criticism by Édouard Glissant, Nathaniel Mackey, Maria Damon, Jahan Ramazani, Harryette Mullen, and others.

Note: This course is combined with Comp Lit 313-0-20.

English 312 – Studies in Drama: The Drama of Homosexuality (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course DescriptionOur focus will be the homosexuality in drama, and the drama of homosexuality, in Anglo-American theatre and culture, from Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe through Angels in America. Thus, in one sense, the course functions as a version of a traditional "survey" course, treating "gay" male characters, authors, themes, and issues in important Anglo-American plays from the Renaissance to the present. But the syllabus is not bound by a survey course's promise of coverage and progressive chronology, and we will also be thinking, via theory, about homosexuality's "drama"--that is, the connections in this culture (at least at certain moments, at least in certain contexts) between male homosexuality and the very category of "the dramatic." The course will therefore examine the historical emergence of "homosexual" and "gay" as categories and will analyze the connection between these categories and theatrically related terms like "flamboyance," "the closet," "outing," “gender trouble," "drag," "playing," "camp," "acts," "identities," "identification," and "performativity." We will also be interested in the identificatory connections between gay men and particular dramatic genres like opera and the musical.

Teaching Method: a mixture of lecture and discussion

Evaluation Method: based on attendance and discussion; essays.  This course is cross-listed in Gender Studies and English.

Texts include: Plays: The Two Noble Kinsmen, Philaster, Edward II, The Man of Mode, Sodom, The Importance of Being Earnest, Patience, A Streetcar Named Desire, Angels in America. Films: Tea and Sympathy, The Boys in the Band. Theory: Butler, Dryden, Edelman, Foucault, Halperin, Koestenbaum, Miller, Montaigne, Sedgwick, Sontag, others.

English 313 – Studies in Fiction: Unreliable Narrators (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: How can a rewarding relationship be based on manipulation and suspicion? Many of the swerves, shocking revelations, and anti-heroes in television and film have their precedents in the novelistic techniques of Charles Dickens and Vladimir Nabokov. (For example, consider the ways The Walking Dead or Grey’s Anatomy manipulate viewers by limiting information about who lives and who dies at the end of episodes, or how limited omniscience is essentially the point of Momento or Fight Club.) In both visual media and the novel, suspicion can directly fuel aesthetic engagement—after all, a cautious reader is a close reader. In this class, we will examine what conniving, naive, shrewd, or deranged narrative voices ask of readers in texts from Henry James, Herman Melville, Nabokov, Jenny Holzer, and Danzy Senna. One goal of this class will be to address the historical contexts of marginalization in the social sphere—in terms of gender, race, sexuality, age, and disability—to ask how suspicious reading affects our social life.

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Essays, Canvas posts, class discussion.

Texts include: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; Herman Melville, “Benito Cereno”; short stories from Vladimir Nabokov, Toni Morrison, and Jorge Luis Borges; Jenny Holzer, Truisms and Inflammatory Essays; Danzy Senna, New People; Sesshu Foster, Atomik Aztex.

English 335 – Milton (Pre 1830)

Course Description: We will study John Milton’s poetry and prose in context, with sustained attention to the complexities of his art, the crisis of his times, the subtlety of his thought, and the extent of his influence. Milton’s defenses of political, personal, and religious liberty, his self-presentation, and his grappling with key ethical questions involving free will, gender definitions, crime, authority, rebellion and redemption will be among the many concerns that arise as we explore his work in the context of the raging political and theological controversies of his time.

Teaching Method: Class discussion and lecture.

Evaluation Method: Papers, class presentation, class participation.

Texts Include: Paradise Lost by John Milton.

English 339 – Special Topics in Shakespeare: Other Shakespeares: Postcolonial Adaptations in Literature and Film (Pre 1830/TTC)

Course Description: What does Mustafa Sa’eed, the Sudanese protagonist of Tayeb Salih’s revision of Othello, mean when he claims, “I am no Othello...Othello is a lie”? Why does Caliban 'clap back' to Prospero with “Uhuru,” the Swahili cry for freedom, in Aimé Cesairé’s Caribbean adaptation of The Tempest? In this course, we will explore how multicultural authors, filmmakers, and artists talk back to Shakespeare through reinterpretations and appropriations of his work. We will explore Salih’s Season of Migration to the North, Cesairé’s Une Tempête, Derek Walcott’s A Branch of the Blue Nile, and Welcome Msomi’s uMabatha alongside their Shakespearean counterparts: Othello, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, and Macbeth. Using post-colonial and critical race theories to structure and guide our exploration of Shakespearean afterlives, we will consider how authors of Sudanese, Caribbean, and South Asian descent revive and revise Shakespeare to assert their own national identities, dismantle colonial logics, and forward strategic political visions. Testing the limits and possibilities of adaptation and appropriation, this course pursues a fundamental question: when does Shakespeare stop being Shakespeare and become something else?

Teaching Method: Seminar discussions and occasional short lectures.

Evaluation Method: Brief oral presentation, two shorter essays, and one long essay.

Texts Include: Shakespeare, Othello, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, and Macbeth; Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North; Aime Cesaire, Une Tempête; Derek Walcott, A Branch of the Blue Nile; Welcome Msomi, uMabatha; and Vishal Bhardwaj, Maqbool.

Texts will be available at: Norris

English 353 – Studies in Romantic Literature: Frankenstein Redux (Pre 1830)

Course Description: In the summer of 1818 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein: The New Prometheus .  Itwas a hit in its own time.  But it faded into relative obscurity – at least in the academy. Frankenstein would rarely if ever be found on Romantic lit syllabi until the mid 1970s when feminist theorists resuscitated Frankenstein and many other texts written by women in the nineteenth century.   Soon Frankenstein was on many syllabi.  By 2018, ten out of fifteen students in a Northwestern first-year seminar on the novel had read Frankenstein in high school.

In this class we will study this trajectory. We will start by studying the novel as paradigmatically “Romantic,” a direct engagement with John Milton’s Paradise Lost and of course the Prometheus myth. We will then focus on the evolution of Frankenstein, from a novel about “Mary Shelley’s Monstrous Eve” as seen through the lense of feminist criticism to, as one recent critic put it, “the first novel about the weather.”  The title of a very recent study, Frankenstein: The First 200 Years, nods to the novel’s staying power, and its ability to attract new audiences.  As we read and analyze the criticism over time, as well as other primary works that are contemporary with or pay homage to Frankenstein, together we will theorize about why this is so. 

Writing assignments will build incrementally toward a final research paper.  Because of the range and sheer magnitude of critical approaches available to them, in doing their research and writing their papers students will be asked to articulate their own “Frankenstein.”

 

Texts include: All students will need to have a copy of the 1818 edition Frankenstein.  (There was also an 1831 edition.)  As long as it is an 1818 edition, any published edition will do, used or new, borrowed or owned.  Frankenstein is also available electronically.  Almost all other required readings will be available electronically through our Canvas site.

English 359 – Studies in Victorian Literature: Thomas Hardy and the Poetics of Evolution (Post 1830)

Course Description:  The concept of evolution enthralled Victorian writers, who understood and probed that concept in a variety of ways, many of them more poetic and philosophical than scientific.  What is the nature of instinct?  What is sex?  Are children fated to be like their parents?  What is the relationship between scientific and poetic conceptions of fate?  Is character written in stone or alterable?  What is the morality of “surviving”?  All these questions animate the brilliant novels of Thomas Hardy, and as well continue to dominate our contemporary thinking about change, fate, and character.  We will look at two of Hardy’s greatest novels through the lens of evolutionary thought, both Victorian and contemporary.  We will also consider the ways in which psychoanalytic and linguistic theories of the mind—also founded on the model of archaeological levels—offer alternatives to evolutionary theories.

Teaching Method(s):  discussion and some formal presentations.

Evaluation Method(s): three papers, plus contribution to class discussion, including brief seminar reports.

Texts include:  Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (Penguin) ISBN 978-0141439785;  Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (Penguin) ISBN 78-0141439594; Darwin, The Origin of Species (Penguin) ISBN 978-0140439120; essays by Herbert Spencer, Jean Laplanche, Erich Auerbach, Richard Dawkins, David Buss, Mark Ridley.

Texts will be available at:  Norris Bookstore, though students are encouraged to acquire their texts independently and beforehand.  Please note that it is ESSENTIAL to acquire the specific editions listed or to have a digital version of the novels, so we can all “be on the same page.” Essays will be available on Canvas.

English 366 – Studies in African American Literature: Black Paris: African American Writers in the City of Lights (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: Performer and activist Josephine Baker famously declared, “I have two loves: my country and Paris.” In this seminar we will examine the works of African American writers such as James Baldwin and Langston Hughes who flocked to Paris at the height of 20th-century literary modernism seeking inspiration, relief from racial prejudice and sexual policing, economic and creative support, and greater artistic freedom. Our inquiries will center on the sometimes-dueling allegiances many African American artists felt to the U.S. and their adopted home of Paris. How did visiting Paris free some artists from the racism, social alienation, and restrictive literary traditions associated with writing “American literature”? How did expatriating empower others to reflect anew on American life, politics, and literary forms? Was it possible for authors to escape their American-ness abroad? Did Paris live up to the hype? We will debate national and canonical boundaries, questioning what defines African American literature and authorship in this particularly transnational literary movement.

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Close-reading posts; 2 short essays (5-7 pages); participation and attendance.

Texts include: In addition to Baker, we will explore the works of novelists, poets, artists, and musicians, ranging from James Baldwin to Chester Himes, Louis Armstrong to Billie Holiday, and Gwendolyn Bennett to Langston Hughes. I will occasionally assign critical or theoretical works in addition to our primary literary texts. 

Texts will be available at: Norris bookstore

Instructor Bio: Meaghan Fritz’s research and teaching interests concern nineteenth-century American literature and print culture, women’s and gender studies, and legal studies. Professor Fritz has taught courses in the Northwestern English Department and the Northwestern University Writing Program, where she received a teaching award. Her pedagogy is distinctly interdisciplinary, placing historical, cultural, and political artifacts alongside literature to encourage students to think of reading and writing as part of an ongoing and historical conversation. She is also a self-proclaimed foodie, and enjoys teaching courses focusing on food, gender, and national identity.

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: Queer Modernisms (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: What was queer life like when terms such as “homosexuality,” “gay,” and “lesbian” were new, and few people used them or knew what they meant? What possibilities did queer people imagine for how their lives could turn out, with no firmly established vocabularies or role models available? To investigate the sexual and gendered contours of this period, in this course we will explore how authors in the early twentieth century tackled these and related questions in literature, grappling with the political and social challenges and possibilities of the time. The seminar is organized around key sites of literary production – London, New York, and Paris – and the writers who resided in them, thus taking part in new cross-cultural experiments and innovations in literature, art, and film during a period of political and social unrest not unlike our own.

Teaching Method: Seminar Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Participation, short reading responses, in-class presentation, and a final paper.

Texts include: Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Nella Larsen’s Passing, and Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood. Also a selection of poetry, short stories, and other writing by authors including E. M. Forster, Mina Loy, Marcel Proust, Federico García Lorca, and the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

Texts will be available at: Beck’s Bookstore or through Canvas.

Instructor Bio: Todd Nordgren specializes in British and American modernist literature and culture, queer and feminist theories, life writing, and genre studies. At Northwestern, he has designed and taught courses on poetry and poetics, modernist fiction, and life writing in minority communities. His recent work includes a forthcoming chapter in the Routledge Companion to Queer Theory and Modernism on the intersections of autobiography and celebrity culture in the early 20th century.

His current book project, “Taking Form: Writing Queer Lives in the Early Twentieth Century,” examines how modernist literature inaugurated a new optimism about expectations of what a queer life could entail. “Taking Form" explores the period between Oscar Wilde’s trials for “gross indecency” in 1895 and the formation of large-scale gay and lesbian movements after World War II, highlighting how authors challenged, eluded, and exceeded the sexual constraints and codes of the school story, the marriage plot, the imperial romance, and autobiography to make writing about queer life possible in an era of increasing medical and legal categorization.

English 369 – Studies in African Literature: Africa and Race (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: This course uses interdisciplinary and intersectional methods to study the representations of race in African literatures from different linguistic and racial backgrounds. The role of translation (inter-lingual and cultural) in the depiction of race will be central to our discussions. We will read texts originally written in Arabic, English, French, and Portuguese and indigenous African languages to examine how writers come to terms with the idea of race. Who is an African and who is not? Is race biological or socially constructed? How are non-black races (e.g. Arabs, white, Indians etc.) represented in African writing? How is the “black” in Africa different or similar to “black” in other parts of the world? How do “black aesthetics” and “black arts” in Africa differ from similar concepts in black-diaspora cultures? How does racism intersect with other forms of oppression in African societies? How are internal racisms represented in African contexts? How are representations of race in canonical writing (e.g., Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice) treated in African translations and allusions to those texts? Performing both distant and close readings of African writers, we will read primary texts in terms of the techniques individual artists use to treat race matters.  Theory texts will include excerpts from well-known works on the black race by Hegel, Descartes, Kant, Fanon, Memmi as well as newer African and African-diaspora engagements with these texts by such scholars as Charles Mills, Emmanuel Eze, Achille Mbembe, Toni Morrison, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Stuart Hall.

Teaching Method: Interactive lectures, debates, role-play, one-on-one meetings, and small group discussions.

Evaluation Method: Two 6-page papers, weekly Canvas postings, regular self-evaluation, peer critiques, class participation, take-home exam, pop quizzes (ungraded), and 1-minute papers (ungraded).

Readings (May change)

Note: This course is combined with Comp Lit 304-0-20.

English 372 – American Poetry: Historicizing American Poetry (Post 1830)

Course Description: Nineteenth-century American poetry has frequently been reduced to the study of two poets--Whitman and Dickinson--who stand apart from the rest by virtue of their eccentricity and extraordinary ambition. This selective account of poetic inheritance has produced the unusual circumstance of a canon that needs to be opened not only to culturally marginal but also to culturally dominant poets and poetic forms.  This course integrates the study of Whitman and Dickinson with the study of a vastly expanded canon of American poetry. The course also reads theoretical and critical texts that raise questions about canonization and the formation of literary historical narratives. In its attention to the historical and cultural contexts that poetry variously inscribes and defers, the course repeatedly returns to the oscillation that that word always-already enacts in relation to the texts that lie within it.

Teaching Method: Mostly discussion.

Evaluation Method: Mandatory attendance and active, informed participation.  No exams, but possible quizzes.

Texts Include: Poets may include Joel Barlow, Phillis Wheatley, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, Lydia Huntley Sigourney, William Cullen Bryant, William Wordsworth, Edgar Allan Poe, Sarah Helen Whitman, Sarah Margaret Fuller.

English 385 – Topics in Combined Studies: Revolution (Post 1830)

Course Description: How have revolutions shaped the modern world? How have artists, writers, historians, and musicians participated in, memorialized, and critiqued revolutionary movements? This course will take a comparative approach to the study of the modern revolution, beginning with the Mexican and Russian revolutions of the early twentieth century, then moving back in time to the American, Haitian, and French revolutions. Drawing from a variety of humanities disciplines, we will seek to understand how revolutionary movements begin, the contingencies of revolutionary action, and what happens when revolutions become institutionalized into state apparatuses. Texts will include Mariano Azuela’s Los de abajo (The Underdogs) (1915), Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (1920s), Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906), C.L.R. James’s Black Jacobins (1938), and selections from Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Washington Irving, and The Federalist Papers.

This small-enrollment, discussion-based seminar will travel to Mexico City the week before fall quarter begins (Sept 10-15) to visit a variety of sites associated with the Mexican Revolution. Course enrollment is by application only.

Teaching Method: Discussion

Evaluation Method: Three essays and an exit interview.

Texts:

Note: This course is combined with Humanities 310-6-20.

English 385 – Topics in Combined Studies: Theories of Comedy (Post 1830)

Course Description: Since its origin in Greek civic festivals, comedy (essentially a performative form) has been at the center of philosophical debate. In this course, we will survey major variants of comic theory from the Western tradition and examine instances of comedy, farce, humor, laughter, satire, parody, jesting, and jokes in their historical contexts. We will also consider what constitutes the butt of comedy and how twentieth-century theories of democracy and twenty-first-century theories of inclusivity—from the standpoints of gender, ethnicity, race, and disability—respond to the long history of laughter and the concept of resolvability.

Teaching Method: Seminar.

Evaluation Method: Short papers, midterm exam, analytical close readings.

Texts may include: Magda Romanska and Alan Ackerman, Reader in Comedy (Bloomsbury, 2016).  Other texts on Canvas.

Texts will be available at: Norris Bookstore, Canvas.

English 388 – Studies in Literature & Religion: Radical Spirits (Post 1830)

Course Description: Recent scholarship on the history of abolitionism has placed renewed emphasis on the importance of religious communities within the early antislavery movement of the eighteenth century. Together, we will explore how the concerns of these religious traditions carry forward into the larger national projects of American abolitionism in the nineteenth century. How does renewed attention to this early period help us bring into focus the contributions of radical Black abolitionists? How do the shifting concerns of these various communities and coalitions compete or collaborate? To answer these questions, we will read from a broad selection of early antislavery writing, while also looking toward Octavia Butler’s genre defying novel, Kindred (1979), as a lifeline to the present. We will explore abolition as a religiously inflected literary genre and will investigate how antislavery work inspired new forms of communication and literary style. Together we will read novels, poems, pamphlets, sermons, and personal narratives, paying attention to these emergent abolitionist forms.

Teaching Method: Discussion, collaborative group work.

Evaluation Method: Participation and preparation; two essays (5-7 pages); and a final collaborative project with in-class presentation.   

Texts include: Readings will move between novels, poems, speeches, journals, and narratives. Voices include: Anthony Benezet, Octavia Butler, Paul Cuffee, Ottobah Cugoano, Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Forten Grimké, Lemuel Haynes, Benjamin Lay, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, David Walker, Phyllis Wheatley, John Greenleaf Whittier, and John Woolman.

Note: This course fulfills the Area V (Ethics and Values) and Area VI (Literature & Fine Arts) distribution requirements.

Instructor Bio: Ean High’s research and writing join ongoing efforts to revitalize critical knowledge of religious life and expression in the study of American literature. His work has been supported by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Libraries of Haverford College. His commitment to the classroom has been recognized by a teaching award from the Northwestern English Department.

English 397 – Research Seminar: Literature After the Internet

Course Description: Literature is dead! Long live literature! Since the emergence of the World Wide Web in the 1990s critics, writers, and just about everyone has freaked out at one time or another about the fates of literature, print, and literacy in the digital age. Turning the volume down on both technophobic and technophilic reactions to this situation, we will start from literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s radically pluralistic vision of the novel in order to think about literature itself as an expansive and elastic category of mediated aesthetic expression uniquely responsive to digital technologies. More concretely, this research seminar is designed to do two things: to introduce students to key issues and developments in literary form and culture catalyzed by the rise of the web; and to teach students research skills in the service of drafting and crafting a self-designed research paper of approximately 12–15 pages. Possible texts include: short stories by William Gibson and Kristen Roupenian, novels by Allie Brosh and Dennis Cooper, and electronic literature by William Poundstone, Frances Stark, John Cayley, Thomson and Craighead, and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.

Required Texts: Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half ISBN: 978-0224095372; Dennis Cooper, The Sluts ISBN: 978-0786716746.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Bad Romance

Course Description: What kind of statement does Lady Gaga make when she proclaims, “I want your ugly. I want your disease…You and me could write a bad romance”? What constitutes “bad romance” today, and has the concept changed over time? In this course, we will track representations of ill-fated unions through stage plays, short stories, poems, and novels. Moving between questions of genre, gender, desire, and violence, we will interrogate the intimacies that bond and the tensions that break renowned pairings like Catherine and Heathcliff, Othello and Desdemona, and Elio and Oliver of Call Me by Your Name. We will take an intersectional approach to issues of racial, gender, sexual, and socioeconomic difference, applying various critical approaches to interrogate the prescriptive codes that mark certain liaisons as illicit and others as permissible. As we develop our skills in close reading, interpretation, argumentation, and revision, we will consider “badness” in all of its cultural registers--querying the qualities that define “bad” genres, plotlines, or characters. Honing the skills required for advanced work in the humanities, we will engage critical race, feminist, and queer theories to determine what is distinctive and continuous in representations of bad romance and craft our own extended analyses of diverse genres. 

Teaching Method: Seminar discussions and occasional short lectures.

Evaluation Method: Brief oral presentation, two shorter essays, and one long essay.

Texts Include: Selections from Ovid, The Metamorphoses; William Shakespeare, Othello and the Sonnets; John Milton, Paradise Lost; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; Andrè Aciman, Call Me by Your Name; George Meredith, “Modern Love”; and poems by Slyvia Plath, Sappo, and Philip Larkin.

Texts will be available at: Norris

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Contemporary Experiments in Racial Form

Course Description: This quarter, we will examine contemporary Ethnic American literature whose formal experimentation challenges conventional understandings of racial, ethnic, and cultural representation. Rather than situating questions of aesthetics “beyond” race, these texts insist that racial politics and aesthetic evaluation are inextricable from one another, especially in a contemporary United States marked by the gap between promises extended by acts of legal enfranchisement in the Civil Rights era and enduring structures of racial difference and inequality. We will think about these tensions through “postrace aesthetics,” a set of stylistic innovations that literary critic Ramón Saldívar has characterized as deploying: 1) a critical dialogue with postmodernism; 2) genre-mixing; 3) speculative realism; and 4) twenty-first-century American racial thematics. We will build on Saldívar’s list and develop our own interpretive tools for identifying how particular genres, forms, and aesthetic strategies can revise how racial issues are represented and understood in contemporary American literature. In addition, we will explore keywords such as—“identity,” “authenticity,” “representation,” “transnationalism,” “genre,” “form,” “aesthetics,” and “racial formation”—that have been important in the field of Ethnic Studies.

Teaching method: Seminar

Evaluation method: Regular short writing assignments, final paper, class presentation, active participation.

Texts Include:

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Psychoanalytic Theory, Gender, and Literature

Course Description: This course serves as an introduction to several schools of psychoanalytic literary theory. It puts literature, gender, and psychoanalysis into dialogue by focusing, among other things, on the question—and art—of interpretation. Taking as our primary interest the scope and force of fantasy, aesthetics and meaning, sexuality, gender, and the unconscious, we’ll study some of Freud’s most intriguing essays on these topics while considering how similar questions and issues arise in fascinating works by Victorian and modern writers also weighing the limits of subjectivity and meaning.

Teaching method: Seminar-style discussion, focusing intensively on passages and background arguments.

Evaluation method: Weekly discussion posts on Canvas, one response paper, final essay, and in-class participation.

Texts Include: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (ISBN 9780141439761); Henry James, Turn of the Screw (ISBN 0312597061); Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer (ISBN 0486275469); Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room (ISBN 0140185704); Katherine Mansfield, Selected Stories (ISBN 0393925331); and H. D, Tribute to Freud (ISBN 0811220044). Please follow the editions assigned; comparable pagination will greatly advance our discussions. Various essays by Freud, Klein, and Lacan will circulate as pdfs on Canvas.

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

English 308 – The Craft of Environmental Non-fiction

Course Description: This course approaches environmental nonfiction as a literary craft.  Examining environmental essays, pieces of scientific journalism, memoirs, travelogues, op-eds, and speculative portrayals of the environmental future, we will identify the literary techniques writers use to portray the microscopic, the global, the invisible, the extinct, the beautiful, and the uncertain.  In lieu of traditional papers or exams, students will produce their own environmental nonfiction, allowing us to explore environmental nonfiction not only as readers but also as practitioners.  Student writing will be workshopped each week to encourage students to hone their voices and expand their narrative strategies.    

Teaching Method(s): Seminar discussion and peer workshop.

Evaluation Method(s): Two creative nonfiction essays, one essay revision.

Texts may include: Lauret Savoy. Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape.  ISBN 9781619028258; Helen Macdonald. H is for Hawk. ISBN 9780802124739; Rachel Carson. Silent Spring. ISBN  978-0618249060

English 312 – Studies in Drama: State of the Nation Plays (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: In post-1945 British theatre, successive generations of playwrights have written "state of the nation" plays to register national preoccupations and political realities. Essentially litmus tests of social feeling, these plays reflect on the slow dismantling of empire, demographic shifts, strained or nascent institutions, and political regime change in brilliant exposés of national character. More recently, this genre has also been used to register the project of cultural pluralism (and its discontents) and Britain's place in the world. Because the plays are staged, they provide outstanding ways to examine narrative and metaphor's reception in a constantly changing political landscape.

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Analytical close readings, in-class presentation, final research paper.

Texts include: TBA

English 312 – Studies in Drama: Weimar in America (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: This course follows artists in theatre, dance and film who began their careers during the heady days of experimentation in 1920s Germany and later continued their work in the United States. Whereas some artists emigrated in search of economic opportunity, others sought refuge from Hitler’s Germany, but all found their practice invariably altered by the American scene. Subsequent artists then revisited the lives and works of their predecessors who brought Weimar to America. Artists studied include Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Fritz Lang, Ernst Lubitsch, Valeska Gert, and Hanya Holm. This course fulfills the Dance Studies requirement for Dance majors and minors, the History/Literature/Criticism requirement for Theatre majors, and the Transnational and Textual Circulation (TTC) requirement for English majors. Open registration through English [and German]; no permission number required.

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: TBA

Texts include: TBA

Note: This course fulfills the Dance Studies requirement for Dance majors and minors, the History/Literature/Criticism requirement for Theatre majors, and the Transnational and Textual Circulation (TTC) requirement for English majors. Open registration through English [and German]; no permission number required.

English 313 – Studies in Fiction: Postcolonial Noir (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: This course looks at crime fiction in colonial and postcolonial contexts, beginning with reading Conan Doyle's stories in their colonial contexts, and then working through several case studies including Anglophone stories set in British India, Francophone novels that portray the Algerian War of Independence and Civil War, and contemporary Egyptian novels and graphic novels that explore the “Arab Spring." In doing so, we will explore the genre’s narrative conventions as keys to understanding the relationships between coloniality, literary interpretation, and political authority. We will also track the social histories of the crime fiction genre as it registers the affective reactions to metropolitan heterogeneity, political oppression and violence, and revolution.

English 313 – Studies in Fiction: Love and Danger in the Classic Novel

Course Description: Love is the field in which we put our very identity, autonomy and independence at risk.  And yet romantic and erotic desire are the very motors not only of social relations but of narratives and fiction.  In great novels, we as readers hang as much on the outcome of romantic entanglements as we do on the solution of crimes.  How do our desires and the characters’ desires entwine in the phenomenon we call “narrative desire?”  And what are the dangers of identifying with the characters and outcomes of a supremely “plotted” world?  We will look at four classic novels in which the dangers of desire are figured, variously, as class snobbery, identity theft, sexual violence, betrayal, and vampirism! 

Evaluation Method:  Three papers (3, 5, 7 pages), class participation.

Texts Include: 

English 324 – Studies in Medieval Literature: Speculative Fictions: Allegory from Rome to Star Trek (Pre 1830)

Course Description: When your high-school English teacher praised “rounded” literary characters at the expense of “flat” ones, he or she was prising the novelistic over the allegorical, representing the latter as at best a sign of authorial laziness and at worst a vehicle for the heavy-handed transmission of doctrine. This course will approach allegory differently, considering it as a tool for thought. After an introductory unit that examines a number of competing definitions of allegory, we will read (and view) a variety of speculative fictions, pairing the medieval with the modern in order to highlight commonalities as well as differences. In order to explore the conventions of allegorical battle, we will thus read Prudentius’ fifth-century Psychomachia, which recounts a series of gruesome battles between personified Virtues and Vices, in conjunction with selected episodes from Joss Whedon’s teen-focused television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Within the category of allegorical journey, we will consider early episodes of Star Trek alongside the fourteenth-century “best-seller” Piers Plowman, and the medieval morality play Everyman alongside the classic 1957 western The 3:10 to Yuma. In engaging with these works, we will ask ourselves how their personifications are “good to think with.” What kinds of work do they do that mimetic characters do not? In what ways are they more or less “real” than the fictive persons and authorial personae with whom they interact? Finally, is personification itself a relatively homogenous category, or can we distinguish important subtypes? What different reading practices might these subtypes allow or encourage?

Teaching methods: Mostly discussion, some lecture.

Evaluation methods: Papers and short written assignments, oral presentation, regular and substantive contributions to class discussion.

Texts will include: Piers Plowman: The A Version, ed Míceál Vaugham, ISBN 1421401401, a course reader available at Quartet Copies.

English 331 – Renaissance Poetry: Love in the Age of Shakespeare (Pre 1830)

Course Description: Fantasy, confusion, seduction, despair: these burning topics flourished in the famous love poetry of the English Renaissance. Why did people serving in the court of Queen Elizabeth become obsessed with writing sonnets about frustrated desire? How did poets link tortuous love with other experiences–– the torment of writer’s block, disappointments of ambition, anguish of religious doubt, or simple fear of not being in control?  How did love and sex become hopelessly entangled with politics, religion, race, nationalism, and gender? When did love poetry cement the status quo, and when was eros an unruly force that seemed to unravel the very fabric of the self or the community? We’ll tackle these questions by reading amazing poems by Shakespeare, Sidney, Donne, Marvell, Wroth, as well as some recently discovered “new” voices. We will dive into topics such as  early modern religion, politics, colonialism, science, same-sex desire, medical theory, portraits, gender theory, and the natural world; and perhaps include a trip to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 

Teaching Method(s): discussion, student reports.

Evaluation Method(s): papers, student experiments with poems.

Texts include: All readings will be on Blackboard except for this book: Shakespeare,  Complete Sonnets and Poems: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) ISBN-10: 0199535795    ISBN-13: 978-0199535798.

Texts will be available at: Amazon.

English 339 – Special Topics in Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Tragedies (Pre 1830)

Course Description: This course will examine the dynamics of Shakespearean tragedy in four plays: Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Coriolanus. What specific ideas and questions impelled Shakespeare’s exploration of evil in Othello, King Lear and Macbeth?  How does Coriolanus differ from these earlier plays?  What specific physical, psychological, and intellectual challenges do Shakespeare’s tragic characters confront as they negotiate cultures and a cosmos that often militate against the idea of individuality?  Finally, why do Shakespeare’s plays continue to resonate so powerfully with modern audiences, and how do modern adaptations of Shakespearean tragedy reflect the relationship between literature and culture?

Teaching Method: Seminar with discussion and some lectures.

Evaluation Method: Grades will be based on several critical response papers (10%), one midterm essay (25%), one research assignment (30%), and participation (25%).

Texts include: McEachern, Claire (editor), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). Shakespeare, William, Four Great Tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.  Ed. Sylvan Barnet (New York: Signet, 1998), and Coriolanus, eds. Sylvan Barnet & Reuben Brower.  (New York: Signet, 1998).

English 339 – Special Topics in Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Sex (Pre 1830)

Course Description: What was Shakespeare’s sex?  We will read intensively a set of plays and other texts by and about William Shakespeare in order to think about sex, sexuality, gender, and desire in his time and ours.  How can we “translate” the foreign-yet-familiar languages and intensities of human interaction and emotion we read in Shakespeare into our own understanding?  What acts, affections, emotions, and identities counted as “sex” in Shakespeare’s time?  How can we begin to understand the “sex” of a writer one of whose central skills was continually to cross-voice himself as a variety of women (and sometimes women as young men)?  What intersections do the plays and poems propose between sex, gender, race, and other important categories of analysis?  What do the texts say about sexual consent?  Alongside our close reading, discussion, and writing about Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Venus and Adonis, Othello the Moor of Venice, and Twelfth Night, Or What You Will, we will sample biographies (Shakespeare in Love) and feminist and queer criticism and theory that attempt to answer the question of Shakespeare’s sex.

English 353 – Studies in Romantic Literature: Poetics of Stone (Pre 1830)

Course Description: What happens when we learn to see the world in deep time? What has changed, in our ideas about human life, when we acquire a sense of our “finitude” in contrast with the vastness of geological timespans? What new forms of worldly attention are demanded by a “poetics of stone”? Today, in a moment of intense ecological concern, these questions have special force. But in hindsight, we can see clearly that such questions have long preoccupied poets, scientists, and philosophers of the past. Behind literature’s greener shades, the overlooked figure of inanimate stone looms surprisingly large. In the Romantic era, around the same time that key texts by architects of the modern study of geology James Hutton and Charles Lyell were being published (1780s-1830s), the Revolutionary Age at the close of the 18th century put the cosmic notion of “revolution” to new use — and great poets were busy giving new resonance to the strange processes of slow inhuman transformation, like petrification, erosion, fossilization, and sedimentation. This course examines the fertile ground where philosophy, science, and poetry met, at the turn of the 18th century and onward; towards the end of the class, we compare the Romantic era’s use of geological forms with 20th- and 21st-century poets who have adapted and updated this poetic tradition.

Teaching Method: Brief introductory lectures, seminar-style discussion, group exercises, possible field trip.

Evaluation Method: Attendance & Participation; Short Assignments/Presentation; Midterm Paper & Final Paper/Project.

Texts include:

English 357 – 19th Century British Fiction: Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (Post 1830)

Course Description: In this course, which might be titled “The Golden Age of British Popular Fiction,” we will read representative works by major British novelists of the nineteenth century other than Dickens, focusing on their analysis of modern social and psychological conditions and on the artistic innovations that these themes generated.  Of particular interest will be the ways these writers use the vehicle of popular fiction to explore issues of gender roles and sex relations in a period of rapid cultural change that was fraught with self-contradiction.  Sometimes such issues give rise in these novels to scalding satire that contemporary readers found shocking and distasteful; sometimes to a mood of paralyzing depressiveness; sometimes to subtly hilarious comedy; but in all its different modulations, the preoccupation with volatile issues of sex is rarely absent here, and this is where the special accent of the course will fall.

Evaluation Method: Assigned work in the course includes class presentations, quizzes, and a term paper.

Texts Include: Readings include some of the most original (and most entertaining) novels of the times: W. M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1847-48); Charlotte Brontë, Villette (1853); Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters (1864-66); and Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (1895).

English 363-1 – 20th Century Fiction: Modern British Fiction & the First World War (Post 1830)

Course Description: This course explores recurring motifs in Edwardian (1901-10) fiction and beyond, providing a clear introduction to British modernism and to the “setting” of the First World War (1914-18). We’ll study the cultural and literary shift from naturalism to post-impressionism, as well as other formal changes in British fiction that writers tied to the immediate aftermath of the war and its catastrophic effects. We’ll also trace comparable arguments and shifts in painting and aesthetics, and examine related social and cultural preoccupations, among them: changing conceptions of privacy, psychology, and gender; and widespread concerns about rural change, urban decay, national cohesion, military conflict, and the ends of imperialism.

Teaching Methods: seminar-style discussion, focusing intensively on passages and background arguments.

Evaluation Methods: Weekly canvas posts, one short analytical paper, final essay, and in-class participation.

Texts may include (available at Norris Center Bookstore and in order of use): Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (ISBN 0141441585); E. M. Forster, Howards End (ISBN 0486424545); James Joyce, Dubliners (ISBN 978-0143107453); Katherine Mansfield, Selected Stories (ISBN 0393925331); D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love (ISBN 0486424588); Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (ISBN 0156628708); and selected poetry in George Walter (ed.), The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (ISBN 9780141181905). Please follow the editions assigned; comparable pagination will greatly advance our discussions.

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: Roadside Oddities: American Novels of the 1950s (Post 1830)

Course Description: How odd was Lolita? How odd was the world that produced it? To answer these questions, we will look at salient figures from postwar American fiction and their relationship to some of the stranger, most pervasive myths and narratives of the 1950s: the rise of the teenager, the contested space of middlebrow culture, the encroachment of suburbia, and the celebration of the outsider and its concomitant critique of the conformist. The reading list will range from the well-known and the celebrated to works that are just as intriguing but a bit more obscure, so we'll read from Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, but also his less well-known Pnin, as well as James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, John Updike's Rabbit, Run, Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, and Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. We will also look at media that reflect, contest, or complicate these narratives: movies by Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk, and others, exploitation and health films, rockabilly and country songs, sitcoms, and Mad Men.

Teaching Methods: Discussion.

Evaluation Methods: An individual research paper and a collaborative wiki.

Texts include: Lolita, Pnin, Giovanni’s Room, The Moviegoer, The Dud Avocado, The Haunting of Hill House.

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: Modernism at Sea (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: The great age of modernist literary experimentation—roughly 1900-1939—also corresponded with the most intense period of transoceanic travel in all of world history. How did seafaring writers, artists, and filmmakers imagine their transits around the world in this new age of industrialization and intensifying modernity? How did World War I and World War II alter these forms of mobility? In what ways did the globe look different to men and women, workers and elites, sailors and passengers, or migrants from the European and African diasporas? We will read and watch important works by literary and cinematic greats such as Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Fernando Pessoa, B. Traven, Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Orson Welles. We’ll also “recover” lots of brilliant, forgotten works of the maritime imagination: radical newspapers made by striking dockers; Japanese and Welsh fiction by Takiji Kobayashi and James Hanley; Argentine, French, and Chilean poetry; and films by Jacob von Sternberg and John Ford. These writers and artists all observed a key phase in the making of the “globalized world.” What parts of that process delighted them? What horrified them? What of their world still determines our own? What do we learn by seeing what they saw?

Note: This course is combined with Comp Lit 302-0-20.

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: Joyce's Ulysses: Poetics & Politics of the Everyday (Post 1830)

Course Description: An encyclopedic epic that tracks three Dubliners' crisscrossing adventures on 16 June 1904, James Joyce's landmark Ulysses captures a day in the life of a semicolonial city in a wealth of analytic--in his word, vivisective--detail. Proposing that Ulysses has much to teach us about how to read our own everyday worlds, we'll study the book's eighteen episodes alongside sources, annotations, and commentaries. In thinking about Ulysses' fictional Dublin, we'll consider such matters as Joyce's transmutation of Homer's Odyssey and his own actual Dublin into a modern epic quest; Ireland's long colonial history and its struggle to throw off British rule; characters' conflicting dreams of a subject or sovereign Ireland; home, exile, and homecoming; psychoanalytic theory of the unconscious and "the psychopathology of everyday life" (Freud); scapegoat dynamics in theory and everyday practice; bodies, food, peristalsis, hunger, sex; desire, the gaze, gender, gesture, dress and social power; performance--studied and unconscious--and theatricality; the pain and mourning of loss; the power of love; the scalpel of wit; the social life and political bite of jokes, comedy, humor; the socio-economic sex/gender system, including marriage and prostitution, as key to political authority in light of Joyce's reported remark that women's emancipation is "the greatest revolution of our time in the most important relationship there is"; intersubjective dynamics, human and animal, dead and alive; history, time, memory, monuments; the powers and pleasures of language; the play of inner and spoken voices amid the chameleonesque narrative styles--interior monologue, dialogue, colloquy, reported speech, telling silences, omniscient authority, poetry, news, advertising, jokes, parody, obfuscation, song, music, play script, letters, catechism, allusion, citation, noises, soundscapes from the cat's mrkgnao to a screeching tram; Joyce's worldly, inventive English; and so on. We'll approach this challenging, maddening, amazing, exhilarating, funny, deeply rewarding book in ways playful and critical, jocoserious and analytic, and engage it with serious purpose and imaginative freedom in search of treasure and revelation.

Teaching Method: Lecture and discussion.

Evaluation Method: Attendance, preparation, participation (20%); Canvas discussions (25%); class presentation (15%); option of course papers and projects or a final exam (40%).

Texts include: 1) Joyce, Ulysses (Modern Library, 1961 text). Please use this edition even if you already own another. 2) Don Gifford with Robert J. Seidman, Ulysses Annotated (California, 1989). 3) Homer, The Odyssey, Fitzgerald translation or another.

Recommended: 4) Joyce, Dubliners. 5) R. Ellmann, James Joyce (rev. ed., 1982). 6) Joyce, Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing, ed. K. Barry (Oxford, 1991). 7) Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study (NY: Vintage, 1952).

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: The Jazz Age: Love and Art in the 1920s (Post 1830)

Course Description: In “Echoes of the Jazz Age,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that “it was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire. “ During the cultural crisis of Modernism, when a variety of intellectual revolutions and the unprecedented carnage of the Great War suggested that Western civilization was either a sham or doomed, writers and other artists created new literary forms. Their aesthetic innovation often depicted art and love (or sex) as parallel (or contradictory) ways to create meaning the wasteland of Modernity.  In this class, we will read and discuss canonical, lesser-known, and popular texts of ‘20s in order to explore how these revolutionary writers saw love and art in their own time and, maybe, in the future.

Teaching Method: Lecture & Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Participation in class discussion; short one-page responses to each text; plus a variety of options for critical papers, ranging from several short argumentative essays to one long research paper.

Texts include: Eliot’s The Waste Land, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and In Our Time, Boyle’s Plagued by the Nightingale and The First Lover and Other Stories, Fauset’s Plum Bun, and Dos Passo’s Manhattan Transfer, as well as Herriman’s Krazy Kat and Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

English 371 – American Novel: Major Authors: James Baldwin (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: This course description will be available at a later date.

English 371 – American Novel: Race and Politics in Major Novels of Faulkner (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: This course will involve the close reading of Faulkner's four great tragic novels of race and identity: The Sound and The Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light In August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). Until very recently, these works have been considered central to the canon of modernist fiction and read as meditations on the tortured consciousness of the artist (TSATF, AILD, AA!) or the dilemma of the outsider adrift in an alienating world (LIA). Saturating Faulkner's novels are images of the anguished history of race relations in the American South from the 19th century to the Great Migration and Great Depression. Yet the tragic legacy of slavery, Faulkner's abiding subject, has been understood by critics as a figure for more abstract and universal moral predicaments. Our investigation seeks to localize Faulkner's representation of history, particularly his vision of slavery and the effects of the color line, as a specifically American crisis, embodied in the remarkable chorus of narrative voices and visions that constitute his fictive world.

Teaching Method: Lecture and discussion.

Evaluation Method: During the quarter, you will write two take-home close reading examinations of two pages each, as well as a final paper of 8-10 pages on a topic of your choice that you have discussed with me. All written exercises are due over email in the form of Microsoft Word attachments. One quarter of your grade will be based on your participation in class discussion. Anyone who misses a class will require the professor's permission to continue in the course. No late papers will be accepted. Conflicts with deadlines must be discussed with the professor and any extensions must be approved in advance.

English 375 – Topics in Asian American Literature: Memory + Identity in Asian American Literature (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: How do writers represent inaccessible stories, ones lost in the passage of history? How is this question doubly fraught for Asian American authors who contend with obstacles stemming from diaspora, linguistic difference, and minoritization? In this class, we will explore how comics, novels, and poetry function as receptacles of minority histories and memories, as meditations on the process of assembling and collecting narratives, and as the imagining of alternative histories and futures.

Teaching Method: Seminar

Evaluation Method: Regular reading responses, two short essays; one longer essay; class presentation; active class participation.

Texts may include:

Texts will be available at: Primary texts will be available at the Norris Bookstore and on reserve in the library. Other texts will be available online and in a course packet.

Note: This course is co-listed with Asian American Studies 376-0-20.

English 378 – Studies in American Literature: Confederate Monuments and Union Memory (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: It may seem from today’s headlines that memorializing the Civil War has only recently become an explosive challenge for American identity. In fact, however, the problems of remembering the Civil War—obscuring slavery as a cause, overly glorifying the antebellum South, or smoothing over postwar difficulties—have been present in the American imagination since the last shot was fired. This course will analyze literature that confronts both the necessity and the shortfalls of American memory, exploring texts that struggle to remember (or forget) the Civil War. Why, for instance, is the Civil War such a glaring absence in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn? Is this absence a willful forgetfulness of the war’s horror, or is it a complex confrontation with the problems of national memory? And in what ways do these problems comment upon American conceptions of race? Why, for example, did Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind skew the cultural memory of Civil-War-era whiteness more than any other text of the twentieth century? By studying these works and more, students will learn that (mis)remembering the Civil War is a problem that extends beyond the conspicuous statues of Confederate figures. Indeed, remembering this national trauma is a challenge that has been—and will likely continue to be—with us in ways both headline-grabbing and subtle.

Teaching Method: Seminar discussion and some lecture.

Evaluation Methods: Two papers, class participation, and one presentation.

Texts may include: Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind; Toni Morrison, Beloved; Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Texts will be available at: Norris Campus Bookstore or through the Canvas website.

Instructor Bio: Seth Swanner (Ph.D. Northwestern University) specializes in early modern English literature, environmental criticism, seventeenth-century theories of governance, and book history. His recent work includes a forthcoming article analyzing the shifts in formal posture across several editions of George Herbert's The Temple (Studies in Philology, 2018). As an instructor at Northwestern in 2016, he received the student-nominated Graduate Teaching Excellence Award. He has taught courses on an array of topics, including Shakespearean adaptation, the environments of horror literature, and the politics of form.

His current book project, "Quartering the Wind: Early Modern Nature at the Fringe of Politics," explores the seditious political values that undermined seventeenth-century arguments for what was "natural" in human governance. By analyzing literary treatments of early modern ruptures in the “natural” order of things—including the Gunpowder Plot, the 1625 plague, and the English Civil War—he discovers political visions of the natural world that seemed to legitimize subversive political categories like treason, tyranny, and rebellion.

English 378 – Studies in American Literature: Female Dissent: Women’s Literary Protest in the 19th Century & Today (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: In 1830 Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act and infuriated women revolted. Diplomat Nancy Ward (Cherokee) made at least two moving speeches, activist Catharine Beecher organized the first national women’s petition campaign, and writers such as Lydia Maria Child penned novels and short stories advocating for the protection of Native peoples. This course examines the vast genre of protest literature written and spoken by women during the tumultuous nineteenth century. Exploring activist works by notable women writers such as Sojourner Truth and Harriet Beecher Stowe, we will ask: How are histories of protest, literature, and women’s political voices interconnected in the nineteenth century? How have women’s protest strategies changed between the nineteenth century and today? What is the current role of literature in political and social activism? How can we view contemporary movements such as #noDAPL, the opioid epidemic, prison abolition, and #metoo as descendants of nineteenth-century protest movements?

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Close-reading postings; participation and attendance. We will not only be examining the genre and characteristics of women’s protest literature, but learning to write it ourselves. This course will require 3 short writing assignments (3-5 pages) ranging from more traditional close-readings of literary texts, to an archival research and writing component, to an op-ed on a current issue of your choice.

Texts include: Authors for this course will include writings by women activists such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Lydia Maria Child, Susan B. Anthony, and others.

Texts will be available at: Norris bookstore.

Instructor Bio: Meaghan Fritz’s research and teaching interests concern nineteenth-century American literature and print culture, women’s and gender studies, and legal studies. Professor Fritz has taught courses in the Northwestern English Department and the Northwestern University Writing Program, where she received a teaching award. Her pedagogy is distinctly interdisciplinary, placing historical, cultural, and political artifacts alongside literature to encourage students to think of reading and writing as part of an ongoing and historical conversation. She is also a self-proclaimed foodie, and enjoys teaching courses focusing on food, gender, and national identity.

English 385 – Topics in Combined Studies: GIFs, Selfies, Memes: New Networked Genres (Post 1830)

Course Description: This course examines the aesthetics and culture of always-on computing. More specifically, it surveys the varieties of audio/visual discourse native to and sustained by always-on computing—the technologies, habits, forms, and cultures emerging alongside smartphones, social media, and pervasive wireless networks in the mid-2000s. Topics may include animated GIFs, memes, selfies, supercuts, podcasts, vaporwave, ASMR videos, memes, etc. While "sharing" and "connection" typically rule discussions of what networks do or enable, our aim will be to analyze how web-based genres promote a variety of affects, e.g. boredom, anxiety, ambivalence, and cuteness but also new idiomatic expressions of LULZ, facepalming, dead, A E S T H E T I C, etc. We will proceed by pairing readings in new media studies alongside artworks.

Readings by Berlant, Ngai, Scheible, Jodi Dean, Aria Dean, Massumi, Milner, Phillips, Richmond, and others. Artworks to be analyzed may include GIF works by Faith Holland and Lorna Mills; selfie projects by Vivian Fu and Mary Bond; supercuts by Benjamin Grosser and Elisa Giardina Papa; and much else. Evaluation will include analytical essays as well as experimental digital projects.

English 386 – Studies in Literature and Film: Celebrity Culture

Course Description: In 2007 Stephen King opined “I think there ought to be some serious discussion by smart people, really smart people, about whether or not proliferation of things like The Smoking Gun and TMZ and YouTube and the whole celebrity culture is healthy…I mean, I know people who can tell you who won the last four seasons on American Idol and they don't know who their f------ Congressmen are.” This course will ask students to take up King’s call, discussing seriously the origins of celebrity culture in America and its recent proliferation in a variety of media in the 20th and 21st centuries. To this end, we will read novels and watch films about the pursuit of fame and watch films that address the often dire consequences of intense media scrutiny and expectations for celebrity lives, exploring how American ideals of self-reliance, self-making, financial success, and physical beauty drive and direct our complex desires for particular celebrities and celebrity culture in general. Recognizing that the divisions between celebrity culture, politics, and other media forms have long been blurred, this course will also prompt students to delve into the dark sides of American culture, asking questions about our obsessions with crime, corruption, and Hollywood glamour.

Teaching Method: Seminar discussion.

Evaluation Method: Participation, short writing assignments, weekly reality TV journal, presentation and final paper.

Texts include: James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work; Willa Cather, Song of the Lark; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Jacqueline Susan, The Valley of the Dolls. We will also watch and analyze a range of films on celebrity culture, possibly including The Aviator, dir. Martin Scorsese; I’m Not There; dir. Todd Haynes; Sunset Boulevard, dir. Billy Wilder; and Drop Dead Gorgeous; dir. Michael Patrick Jann.

Texts will be available at: Beck's or through Canvas.

Instructor Bio: Todd Nordgren specializes in British and American modernist literature and culture, queer and feminist theories, life writing, and genre studies. At Northwestern, he has designed and taught courses on poetry and poetics, modernist fiction, and life writing in minority communities. His recent work includes a forthcoming chapter in the Routledge Companion to Queer Theory and Modernism on the intersections of autobiography and celebrity culture in the early 20th century.

His current book project, “Taking Form: Writing Queer Lives in the Early Twentieth Century,” examines how modernist literature inaugurated a new optimism about expectations of what a queer life could entail. “Taking Form" explores the period between Oscar Wilde’s trials for “gross indecency” in 1895 and the formation of large-scale gay and lesbian movements after World War II, highlighting how authors challenged, eluded, and exceeded the sexual constraints and codes of the school story, the marriage plot, the imperial romance, and autobiography to make writing about queer life possible in an era of increasing medical and legal categorization.

English 388 – Studies in Literature and Religion: Science Fiction and Social Justice

Course Description: This course will examine major utopian and dystopian texts and films in relation to social justice issues in the twentieth century and beyond, while following the stories of artists, organizers, and communities that have used speculative world-building to imagine livable, sustainable futures. We will focus on how feminist, anarchist, LGBTQ, and Afrofuturist art and activism have contributed to a substantial critical discourse on the intersections of science, technology, ecology, war, race, gender, sexuality, health, and ability. This course will further examine how artists and activists have understood religion as both impediment and partner to social justice work, while alternatively embracing, subverting, and defying religious authority. We will also attend to how religious myths and imagery are sampled and remixed by science fiction authors to plot an alternative course for world history. Counts towards the Religion, Law & Politics (RPL) and Religion, Sexuality & Gender (RSG) religious studies major concentration.

Teaching Method: Discussion, presentations, readings, writing assignments.

Evaluation Method: Attendance, participation, writing assignments.

Texts include:

Note: This course is combined with Religious Studies 379.

English 397 – Research Seminar: Middlemarch

Course Description: Virginia Woolf famously called George Eliot’s 1872 novel Middlemarch “the magnificent book which for all its imperfections is one of the few English novels for grown-up people.” In Middlemarch, as Woolf suggests, Eliot wishes to create complexity in order to develop readers’ sympathy and to quell their self-satisfaction. Both in scale and in depth, Middlemarch achieves this complexity: it is, in some sense, the biography of a town as a whole, investigating deeply into the psyches of its many and varied inhabitants and asking us to recognize ourselves and our towns. Unsurprisingly, this complexity rewards not only the reading but the examination, making it an ideal source text for literary research. In this course, we will not only explore Middlemarch through a quarter-long series of rich discussions, but also use Eliot’s wide-ranging novel as an entry point to various ways of researching the novel, specifically and as a genre, as well as literature more broadly. How do we pose questions about such an object, and how begin to investigate the answers? With Middlemarch as a lens, we will engage with and seek to activate a variety of scholarly approaches and literary-historical categories, including (but, never, limited to) Marxism, feminism, historicism, post-colonialism, ecocriticism, realism, liberalism, and narrative.

Teaching Method: Seminar-style discussion.

Evaluation Method: Class participation, class presentation, short response papers, final research paper.

Texts include: George Eliot, Middlemarch (Penguin 2003); Canvas course reader.

English 397 – Research Seminar: Shakespeare's Books

Course Description: In the film “Shakespeare in Love,” Shakespeare’s manuscript is the star of the show, but with one possible exception, Shakespeare’s texts survive only in printed books.  In this seminar, we will read, research, interpret, and write about those earliest versions, in order to consider how the publication, circulation, and reading of Shakespeare’s books in his own time matter for a reading of his texts in ours.  What is a book for Shakespeare and his readers?  Do plays count as books, and when?  Who read Shakespeare, in what forms, and how?  What are the differences between texts printed around 1600 and Shakespeare texts as they appear in our modern editions?  These historical and cultural questions will lead to big-picture questions, for example: How many Hamlets and Othellos are there?  How do our answers to that question change the plays?  How do our understandings of current questions about, for example, race, gender, and sexuality change when we read Othello or the Sonnets in their earliest formats?  We will use digital research resources to help us access and understand “Shakespeare’s books,” and we will also work with rare materials in Northwestern Special Collections and Chicago’s Newberry Library, including some versions of books Shakespeare read and used in his writing.  Together we will learn to turn the questions raised by our reading into substantial research papers, moving from topic, to annotated bibliography, prospectus, rough draft, and final version.

Earlier course-experience with Shakespeare, or Renaissance or medieval writing, will be especially helpful for our work in this course.

Likely primary texts include: Hamlet, Henry V, Othello, Shakespeares Sonnets (1609) and Poems (1640), Sir Thomas More, The Tempest; a range of critical, historical, and theoretical essays.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Medieval Pop Culture

Course Description: The earliest reference to the legend of Robin Hood occurs in the fourteenth-century religious poem Piers Plowman. There, a character named Sloth confesses to a character named Repentance that, instead of memorizing the Lord’s Prayer and other basics of the Christian faith as instructed by his parish priest, he has learned by heart numerous “rhymes of Robin Hood and Randolf Earl of Chester.” Taking Sloth’s comment as its starting point, this course will investigate a series of works that people in the Middle Ages read (or listened to) for fun, rather than out of a sense of obligation. In addition to reading “rhymes of Robin Hood” and other outlaw tales, we will look at animal stories featuring the trickster-hero Reynard the Fox, scurrilous fabliaux in which adulterous couples are celebrated rather than punished, and romances focused on knightly adventures rather than the quest for the Holy Grail. As we seek to come to grips with these stories, we will draw on a wide range of intellectual tools, from scholarly articles to modern analogues. In what ways, for instance, do the mid-twentieth-century Coyote-Road Runner cartoons shed light on the antics of Reynard the Fox? An important goal of this course is to develop the skills in writing and textual analysis that you will need for more advanced English courses.

Teaching method: Mostly discussion, some workshopping.

Evaluation method: Class participation; several short papers, with some opportunity for revision; oral presentation.

Texts Include: A course reader available at Quartet Copies.

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Knotted, Not Plotted

Course Description: With open-world videogames, hypertext internet novels, and structurally intricate films like Inception, it may seem as if we are living in an age of unprecedented narrative experimentation. As students in this course will discover, however, there has been a long history of structural weirdness in literature. While the colloquial understanding of a narrative is “a story with a beginning, middle, and an end,” there have always been narratives attempting to disrupt, upend, or discard that formula. What, for instance, is Laurence Sterne saying about Enlightenment science by beginning his eighteenth-century novel not with the protagonist’s birth but with his microscopic voyage as a sperm? And what are the gender implications of Jen Bervin’s Nets, which gets its title and poetic form by cutting sections of Shakespeare’s Sonnets? By analyzing structurally unconventional texts like these, students will explore the radical political and cultural meanings behind forms that are flipped, chopped, spliced, or tangled.

Teaching method: Seminar discussion.

Evaluation method: Class participations, papers, and one presentation.

Texts Include: 

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

Instructor Bio: Seth Swanner (Ph.D. Northwestern University) specializes in early modern English literature, environmental criticism, seventeenth-century theories of governance, and book history. His recent work includes a forthcoming article analyzing the shifts in formal posture across several editions of George Herbert's The Temple (Studies in Philology, 2018). As an instructor at Northwestern in 2016, he received the student-nominated Graduate Teaching Excellence Award. He has taught courses on an array of topics, including Shakespearean adaptation, the environments of horror literature, and the politics of form.

His current book project, "Quartering the Wind: Early Modern Nature at the Fringe of Politics," explores the seditious political values that undermined seventeenth-century arguments for what was "natural" in human governance. By analyzing literary treatments of early modern ruptures in the “natural” order of things—including the Gunpowder Plot, the 1625 plague, and the English Civil War—he discovers political visions of the natural world that seemed to legitimize subversive political categories like treason, tyranny, and rebellion.

English 300 – Seminar in Reading & Interpretation: Race and Representation

Course Description: In 2014, the novelist Chang-rae Lee queried, “Isn’t all immigrant fiction essentially dystopian fiction?” Extending Lee’s provocation that we might better grasp the alienation of immigration through a deeper engagement with the tropes of science fiction, this class foregrounds how racial representation and literary representation are inextricable from one another. This quarter, we will survey contemporary Ethnic American literature by African American, Latinx, Asian American, and Native American authors whose formal experimentation challenges conventional understandings of racial, ethnic, and cultural representation through their narrative world-building. We’ll explore the sprawling highways of Los Angeles and the skyscrapers of noir New York to examine the asymmetrical distribution of space in cities; we’ll talk to “aliens”—both human beings ineligible for citizenship as well as otherworldly creatures—to learn about radical difference; and we’ll examine interracial coalitions that imagine shared speculative futures. In the process, we’ll familiarize ourselves with critical approaches to reading such as Marxism, deconstruction, biopolitics, feminism, and posthumanism, with particular attention to how these intellectual traditions can be enriched through an engagement with critical race theory. Authors include: Colson Whitehead, Karen Tei Yamashita, Louise Erdrich, Octavia Butler, Justin Torres, Ted Chiang, Cristina Henriquez, and others.

Teaching method: Seminar discussion.

Evaluation method: Regular short writing assignments, midterm paper, final paper, class presentation, active participation.

Texts Include: 

Texts will be available at: Primary texts will be available at the Norris Bookstore and on reserve in the library. Other texts will be available online and in a course packet available at Quartet.

Notes: English 300 is an English Literature major and minor requirement. First class mandatory. No P/N registration. This course does NOT fulfill the WCAS Area VI distribution requirement. This course may not be repeated for major or minor credit.

 

English 302 – The History of the English Language (Pre 1830/TTC)

Course Description: Have you noticed that, unlike many other languages, English often has two different names for the same animal? These double names can be traced back to 1066, when the French-speaking Normans, led by William the Bastard, conquered England and installed their countrymen in positions of power. In the aftermath of this victory, William the Bastard became William the Conqueror and cows and pigs and sheep became beef and pork and mutton – at least when they were served up to the Normans at their banquets. Like many other words associated with aristocratic life, these terms all derive from French. In this course we will investigate this and many other milestones in the history of the English language, focusing on the period from the early middle ages through the eighteenth century. We will pay particular attention to the relationships among “high” and “low” forms of language, including efforts to elevate the status of English and the dynamics of self-consciously “low” registers of language such as slang and obscenity. In addition to offering an introduction to the linguistic, literary, and social history of England, this course will help you to develop a more sensitive understanding of modern English that you can bring to other classes and to life in general.

Teaching Methods: Mostly discussion, some lecture.

Evaluation Methods: Midterm and final examinations, paper, short written exercises, oral presentation.

Texts may include: David Crystal, The Stories of English, ISBN 1585677191; Tore Janson, The History of Languages, ISBN0199604290; a course reader available at Quartet Copies.

English 307 – Advanced Creative Writing: Writing the Unspeakable

Course Description: As writers of fiction, we try to delve deep into uncomfortable emotions: desire, loss, belonging, madness, personal and historical trauma. We start with our own raw experiences, but all too often find them hard to formulate, and end up self-censoring or resorting to clichés and conventional narrative strategies. How then do we create works of insight, clarity, and narrative power? In this class, we will learn from contemporary writers who have successfully engaged this difficult terrain. Since writing the unspeakable depends on creating innovative forms--and reinventing existing ones--we will focus intensively on the narrative structure of these published pieces. Reading like writers, we will also take them apart to examine craft issues like point-of-view, time management, characterization, and dialogue. Five short, craft-based writing assignments will approach the unspeakable in different ways, and spark ideas/forms for your final project, a full-length short story. A draft of this will be workshopped in class, and you will also provide critical feedback for one other student’s story. The final grade will be based on a writing portfolio consisting of the short assignments and a second draft of your full-length story. This is an intensive class aimed at creating a community of engaged, thoughtful writers, and class participation is essential.

Teaching Methods: Class discussion, workshop.

Evaluation Methods: TBA.

Texts include: Short stories, novellas and novel excerpts by Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Paul Harding, Ian McEwen, Junot Diaz, Michael Cunningham, Haruki Murakami, Rohinton Mistry, Doris Lessing, Sam Shepard, David Means, Dinaw Mengestu.

English 309 – Advanced Creative Cross-Genre Writing: Reading and Writing Science

Course Description: The World Book Encyclopedia can take the complex descriptions of the Nobel Prize Committee and transform remarkably technical descriptions of accomplishments in Chemistry, Physics, Economics, and Medicine into language that a high school student can understand.  It’s important that professionals in these areas do know how to communicate with lay readers, because those readers might be patients, clients, and professionals in other areas of scientific expertise who need guidance, narrative, and transformation.  In short, we search for complexity that is not complicated.  We must all provide a kind of translation that brings our knowledge to a wider audience.  Through literature that is spans from ancient Greece to contemporary work—in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, we will consider all the modes of rhetoric science writers must master: description, exposition, argumentation, summary, definition, process analysis, and perhaps, above all, narration, for finding the story is critical for understanding. Readings may include works by Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Oliver Sacks, Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson, Stephen Jay Gould, Edward O. Wilson, Joy Williams, Eula Biss, Jane Hirshfield, Andrea Barrett and Jim Shepard.  STEM students are especially welcome to take this course.

English 312 – Studies in Drama: Feminisms and the American Stage (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: American actresses, playwrights, dancers and choreographers did not always participate in the organized feminist movements of the 20th century. Yet their representations of gender and sexuality challenged preexisting images of women onstage and offstage. This course follows changing representations of women in theatrical performance from the late 19th century through the early 21st century. Of particular interest are domesticity as setting and problematic, solo performance, all-female ensembles, dream ballets and anti-realist breaks in the action, and works that fuse dance, music, and theatre. Readings, lectures, discussions, and video viewings are supplemented by attendance at live theatre. 

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: TBA

Texts include: TBA

Note: This course fulfills the Dance Studies requirement for Dance majors and minors, the History/Literature/Criticism requirement for Theatre majors, and the Identities Communities and Social Practices (ICSP) requirement for English majors. Open registration through English and Gender and Sexuality Studies; no permission number required.

English 313 – Studies in Fiction: American Fiction in the 1950s (Post 1830)

Course Description: This course reads deeply within the American 1950s, a decade which saw the publication of major books, from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) to Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat (1957). Focusing on the writings of James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Patricia Highsmith, we will investigate the ways their writing takes up adolescence, race, self-discovery, fear, sexuality, and personal courage in the mid twentieth century. We will also explore the relationships between these writers and their public celebrity: Brooks, for example, won the Pulitzer prize for poetry in 1950 for Annie Allen and Capote’s novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) was an overnight sensation, causing a stir of speculation around whom the story’s heroine might have been modeled. How do the concerns of these authors ignore, redirect, and/or bear witness to the major public issues of the day? What does it mean to be a critical, cult, or commercial success in the 1950s? To answer these questions, we will read pulp novels, best-sellers, poems, a picture book, and a few short stories, in addition to viewing at least two films.

Teaching Method: Discussion, collaborative group work.

Evaluation Method: Two short, exploratory essays (1-2 pages); a close reading essay (4-5 pages); and one longer essay (7-8 pages). Preparation and participation, reading quizzes, one in-class presentation.

Texts include

Readings will include James Baldwin, Go Tell it on the Mountain; Gwendolyn Brooks, Annie Allen and Bronzeville Boys and Girls; Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s; and Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt.

Texts will be available at: Norris campus bookstore.

Instructor Bio: Ean High’s research and writing join ongoing efforts to revitalize critical knowledge of religious life and expression in the study of American literature. His work has been supported by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Libraries of Haverford College. His commitment to the classroom has been recognized by a teaching award from the Northwestern English Department.

English 333 – Spenser (Pre 1830)

Course DescriptionUnlike his rough contemporaries William Shakespeare and John Milton, Edmund Spenser does not enjoy a reputation for sexiness. Milton called him “sage and serious Spenser,” a characterization that persists today in academia, where Spenser is often invoked as a representative of those dreaded DWMs—Dead White Males—who populate the stuffy, if hallowed, halls of the English canon. This course will attempt to challenge that (mis)representation of Spenser’s literary legacy. Conceptually, that aim will entail focusing on the radicalism of Spenser's gender politics, the experimentality of his literary form, and the subversiveness of (some of!) his political agenda. Methodologically, this course will focus on the creation and curation of a digital archive of Spenserian texts, commentary, explication, illustrations—a digital "Spenserworlds" site whose content will be determined by class consensus and whose life will extend beyond the quarter and beyond the institution. Prior experience with early modern texts will be helpful but is not required; particularly helpful will be English Literary Traditions (210-1) or Introduction to Shakespeare. No special technological experience is required.

Teaching MethodLecture, discussion, small group work.

Evaluation MethodClass participation; short papers (2-3 pages); individual and group projects in digital content production and curation.

Texts includeEdmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, ed. A.C. Hamilton, 2nd ed., ISBN 1405832819; shorter readings posted on Canvas.

English 338 – Studies in Renaissance Literature: Religious Controversies (Pre 1830)

Course Description: Some of the most compelling poets of early modern England were also religious thinkers. John Donne was an Anglican priest, who preached to thousands as the Dean of St Paul’s in London. George Herbert was a parish priest in a small village who wrote about the duties of his office. John Milton engaged in high-risk political efforts to transform England into the new Promised Land. This course will focus on the religious controversies that prevailed in early modern England and the ways these thinkers responded to them in their remarkable poetry. The controversies issued in new definitions of what the Good is, how power should be apportioned, and how signs have meaning. The specific arguments can seem odd in our more secular era: Why was so much blood shed over the meaning of the wafer and the wine in the Mass? Why did anyone care what the priest wore? Why were there fights over where the altar was placed in the church? But our goal will be to understand what was at stake in these and related questions as they are engaged in the very different styles of Donne, Milton and Herbert.

Teaching Method: Discussion

English 338 – Studies in Renaissance Literature: The Birds and the Bees (Pre 1830)

Course Description: Renaissance literature often represented the natural world as a place where humans might express their sexualities or even assume alternate genders. But it was not just humans who caressed, cross-dressed, or undressed in the natural environs of early modern poetry and drama; nature itself could be read as fundamentally sexual, often radically so. In this course, students will learn the essential skills of ecocriticism in order to explore both how humans’ “natural” sexualities were refracted through their environment and how nature’s own eroticism could reflect, subvert, or exceed human patterns of gender and sexuality. What, for instance, was John Donne thinking when he expressed his desire through the flea, an animal that Renaissance zoologists didn’t even think reproduced sexually? Why was the sea getting handsy with Leander as he swam through it in Christopher Marlowe’s most famous poem? And were queen bees actually king bees, Renaissance entomologists wondered, or were queen bees just cross-dressing with that sword-like stinger? Throughout this course, we will explore questions like these in order to understand the political and environmental stakes of Renaissance England’s multiple formulations of desirous nature—animal, vegetable, and mineral alike.

Teaching Method: Seminar Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Two papers, Canvas posts, and class participation.

Texts include: Shakespeare, Macbeth, The Tempest, and “Phoenix and the Turtle”; Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, A King and No King; Margaret Cavendish, Paper Bodies: A Margaret Cavendish Reader, John Donne, Major Works; Christopher Marlowe, “Hero and Leander”; Philip Sidney, The Old Arcadia.

Texts will be available at: Norris Campus Bookstore or through the Canvas site.

Instructor Bio: Seth Swanner (Ph.D. Northwestern University) specializes in early modern English literature, environmental criticism, seventeenth-century theories of governance, and book history. His recent work includes a forthcoming article analyzing the shifts in formal posture across several editions of George Herbert's The Temple (Studies in Philology, 2018). As an instructor at Northwestern in 2016, he received the student-nominated Graduate Teaching Excellence Award. He has taught courses on an array of topics, including Shakespearean adaptation, the environments of horror literature, and the politics of form.

His current book project, "Quartering the Wind: Early Modern Nature at the Fringe of Politics," explores the seditious political values that undermined seventeenth-century arguments for what was "natural" in human governance. By analyzing literary treatments of early modern ruptures in the “natural” order of things—including the Gunpowder Plot, the 1625 plague, and the English Civil War—he discovers political visions of the natural world that seemed to legitimize subversive political categories like treason, tyranny, and rebellion.

English 359 – Studies in Victorian Literature: The Brontës: Testimony, Critique, and Detachment (Post 1830)

Course Description: The Brontë sisters were a source of intense fascination to their Victorian admirers and occasional detractors. Because of their talent and premature deaths, that fascination has grown into a full-scale mythology that celebrates their genius and apparent isolation on the Yorkshire moors. Like all myths, this one contains an element of truth, but it’s hampered readers wanting a deeper understanding of their artistic strengths and intellectual perspectives. In this course, we will not ignore the mythology, but we’ll try to set it aside to study how several remarkable novels and poems by Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë established a powerful critique of Victorian society, including its almost unbridled support for industrialization, its intensive focus on domesticity and marriage (and related laws), and its judgments against single women. We’ll also trace the formal development of their fiction, including its debt to Romanticism, its preoccupation with narrative voice, its commitment to partial detachment, and its movement toward a distinctly “modern” narrative, full of intriguing philosophical riddles.

Teaching Methods: seminar-style discussion, focusing intensively on passages and background arguments.

Evaluation Methods: Weekly discussion posts on Canvas, one response paper, final essay, and in-class participation.

Texts may include (available at Norris Center Bookstore and in order of use): Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (ISBN 9780140434743); Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (ISBN 9780141439556); Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (ISBN 9780141441146); and Villette (ISBN 9780375758508). Please follow the editions assigned; comparable pagination will greatly advance our discussions.

English 365 – Studies in Postcolonial Literature: Postcolonial Posthumanisms (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: The course will read creative and theoretical texts from the global South to explore the intersections of posthumanism and postcolonialism in non-western cultures. We’ll examine theoretical work by Fanon, Memmi, and Mbembe as well as novels, poetry, and dramas by a variety of writers from the global south.  Why are posthuman tropes so prevalent in postcolonial texts? Is the “post” in “postcolonial” the “post” in “posthumanism”? Why is there need to recuperate the human in posthumanism of the global south? In what ways does the human and the post-human intersect in postcolonial societies? What is the relationship between the posthuman and Anthropocene and environmental issues in postcolonial cultures?  As we grapple with these questions, we will read, discuss, and write about literary texts to consider the different ways the human and the non-human are constituted against the background of colonial legacies. We will put the texts in the cultural and political contexts within which  they are created, read, and circulated. Readings will include short pieces on the major debates in postcolonial studies (eg., the language question, postcolonialism and postmodernism, and gender/sexuality themes) in relationship with the use of posthuman tropes in literary texts.

Teaching Method: Interactive lectures, debates, role-play, one-on-one meetings, and small group discussions.

Evaluation Method: Two 6-page papers, weekly Canvas postings, regular self-evaluation, peer critiques, class participation, take-home exam, pop quizzes (ungraded), and 1-minute papers (ungraded).

Texts include

Note: This course is combined with COMP LIT 390

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: Global Novel (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description:  The course will study the treads in the 20th- and 21st-century global novel, paying attention to its features, its historical developments, and its socio-political contexts.  We will discuss the various methods of reading novels from diverse backgrounds and how they interact with forces of globalization. How does a novel become global? How does the local relate to the global in the novels, if at all? How do readers from different parts of the world respond to the novels?  What is the role of prizes, translation, and publishing networks in making a novel global? Performing distant and close readings of works will consider novels by Zadie Smith, Joseph Conrad, Jean Rhys, Roberto Bolaño, Chinua Achebe, Gabriel García Márquez, V.S. Naipaul, David Dabydeen, Han Kang, Amitav Ghosh, Alejandro Zambra, and Chimamanda Adichie, among other writers, as "global" texts and discuss their interventions in solving problems of global scale (e.g., imperialism, abuse of human rights, environmental disasters, etc.) We will also read short theoretical works on the global and transnational circulation of cultures.

Teaching Method: Interactive lectures, debates, role-play, one-on-one meetings, and small group discussions.

Evaluation Method: Two 6-page papers, weekly Canvas postings, regular self-evaluation, peer critiques, class participation, take-home exam, pop quizzes (ungraded), and 1-minute papers (ungraded). See the grade scale below.

Readings (May change)

Note: This course is combined with Comp Lit 301.

 

English 368 – Studies in 20th Century Literature: Modernism at Sea (Post 1830)

Course Description:  The great age of modernist literary experimentation?roughly 1900-1939?also corresponded with the most intense period of transoceanic travel in all of world history. How did seafaring writers, artists, and filmmakers imagine their transits around the world in this new age of industrialization and intensifying modernity? How did World War I and World War II alter these forms of mobility? In what ways did the globe look different to men and women, workers and elites, sailors and passengers, or migrants from the European and African diasporas? We will read and watch important works by literary and cinematic greats such as Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Fernando Pessoa, B. Traven, Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Orson Welles. We'll also "recover" lots of brilliant, forgotten works of the maritime imagination: radical newspapers made by striking dockers; Japanese and Welsh fiction by Takiji Kobayashi and James Hanley; Argentine, French, and Chilean poetry; and films by Jacob von Sternberg and John Ford. These writers and artists all observed a key phase in the making of the "globalized world." What parts of that process delighted them? What horrified them? What of their world still determines our own? What do we learn by seeing what they saw?

Note: This course is combined with Comp Lit 303.

 

English 370 – American Literature Before 1914: Visionary Women & the American Colonies (Pre 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: This course explores major touchstones of women’s lives and writing in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, paying particular attention to women’s disobedience and radical expression. How, why, and with what success did visionary women challenge the structures of power in the early Americas? To answer these questions, we will consider poems, novels, journals, and other manuscript writings, tracing women’s mark on religion, literature, and revolutionary politics in the American colonies. There will be a significant archival component in this course and students will have the opportunity to pursue original research in small writing groups.

Teaching Method: Discussion, collaborative group work.

Evaluation Method: Participation and preparation; two essays (5-7 pages); and a final collaborative archival project with in-class presentation.

Texts include: Anne Bradstreet, The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America; Mary Dyer, “Petition to the Massachusetts General Court”; Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”; Judith Sargent Murray, “On the Equality of the Sexes”; Lucy Terry Prince, “Bars Fight”; Mercy Otis Warren, “Observations on the New Constitution”; and Phyllis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

Texts will be available at: Norris campus bookstore.

Instructor Bio: Ean High’s research and writing join ongoing efforts to revitalize critical knowledge of religious life and expression in the study of American literature. His work has been supported by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Libraries of Haverford College. His commitment to the classroom has been recognized by a teaching award from the Northwestern English Department.

English 371 – American Novel: Big Books (Post 1830)

Course Description: One could search through the annals of American literature without being able to find two bigger books than Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Moby-Dick.  In the first place, , of course, both books are long, and part of this class will consider the specific pleasures and challenges of reading big books.  How do we gauge, and thereby engage with, narratives of disproportionate scale and encyclopedic ambition? How do we lose--or find--our place in colossal fictional worlds?

But Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Moby-Dick have also both been big in another sense: they are hugely influential and profoundly consequential novels.  Indeed, one cannot really understand American literary, cultural, and political history if one is not familiar with them.  Stowe’s novel was a watershed text for both sides in the Civil War.  Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said to her, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”  Stowe’s novel sold 300,000 copies in the first year—an unprecedented number—and her story became the basis for countless stage adaptations, spin-offs, parodies, editorials, refutations, and re-writes. (Check out some of them here: <http://utc.iath.virginia.edu>)  The reputation of Melville’s novel took longer to take shape—its early readers enjoyed the material about whaling, but didn’t quite know what to make of the story of Ahab’s obsession with the White Whale.  But over the course of the twentieth century these views reversed themselves, and Ahab’s maniacal quest has come to be widely recognized as a work of unparalleled resonance and ambition.  Our work will be, like Ahab, to take on these Leviathans better to understand them and the worlds they shaped—including, by no means incidentally, our own. 

Teaching Method: Mostly Discussion.  Possible student oral presentations.

Evaluation method:  It is essential to keep up with the reading in this course, and there may be occasional quizzes to gauge compliance.  Regular, short writing assignments.  A longer paper (5-7 pages) on each novel.

Texts may include:

English 371 – American Novel: Major Authors: Toni Morrison (Post 1830/ICSP)

This course description will be available at a later date.

English 377 – Special Topics in Latina/o Literature: Border Literature and Film (Post 1830/TTC)

Course Description: The US-Mexico border has been the site of intense cultural conflict since the mid-nineteenth century. It marks both the connection and the division between two nations, and many of our most fraught conversations concern whether the border should be a bridge or a wall. As an entry point into these conversations, this course will survey literature and film centering on the US-Mexico border. Students will become familiar with the history of the border, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and extending through NAFTA and up to the current political climate. Together we will consider how the border has become such a potent site for contemporary mythmaking, a flashpoint for anxieties about race, labor, gender, and sexuality. How are borders made? How have writers and filmmakers depicted the cultural anxieties and potentials created by the border? How has the militarization of the border affected Latinx individual and communities? Texts will include Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands / La Frontera, Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez, Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek, Valerie Martinez’s Each and Her, and Roberto Bolaños’s 2666. Films may include Touch of Evil (1958), Born in East LA (1987), Lone Star (1996), Señorita Extraviada (2003), and Sleep Dealer (2008).

Teaching Methods: Discussion.

Evaluation Methods: Three essays and an exit interview.

Required Texts:

ENG 378 – Studies in American Literature: The Chicago Way: Urban Spaces and American Values (Post 1830)

Urbanologist Yi Fu Tuan writes, "What begins as undifferentiated space becomes place when we get to know it better and endow it with values." In The Untouchables, Sean Connery tells Kevin Costner, "You want to get Capone? Here's how you get Capone. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue. That's the Chicago way." In this class, we will examine "the Chicago way" from many different angles in order to interrogate the values with which various artists have endowed Chicago. We will read in a broad range of media: journalism, poetry, song, fiction, film, and sequential art to see how a sense of Chicago as a place works over time. We will pay close attention to depictions of the construction of American identity, and to the role of the artist and intellectual in the city.

Teaching Method: Discussion, brief lectures, guest speakers, and an optional urban tour.

Evaluation Method: Class participation; brief written responses to each text; several options for papers of various lengths.

Texts Include: Nelson Algren's Chicago: City on the Make and The Neon Wilderness; Richard Wright's Native Son; Stuart Dybek's The Coast of Chicago; journalism by Ben Hecht, Mike Royko and others; short fiction by Sandra Cisneros, James T. Farrell and others; poetry by Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, Tony Fitzpatrick and others; the films The Untouchables, The Blues Brothers, Call Northside 777, and Barbershop; the graphic novel 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call.

Note: Texts will be available at Comix Revolution, 606 Davis Street.

English 378 – Studies in American Literature: American Women Auteurs (Post 1830/ICSP)

Course Description: This course challenges students to engage in the intense close reading of fictional and cinematic texts created or brought to expressive life by American women artists (writers and actresses) working between the nineteenth-century fin de siècle and the beginning of World War II.  Our Canvas archive features eight films starring Bette Davis, arguably the greatest film actress of Hollywood's classic period.

We will talk during the quarter about terminology for the analysis of cinema, particularly the four so-called central principles through which to read and interpret filmic texts: cinematography; mise en scene; sound; and editing. We will read films through the methods of psychoanalysis, historicism, feminism, critical analysis of sexuality, gender, and race and in consideration of the studio system, star culture, and modes of spectatorship. This syllabus marks an early experiment toward thinking about Davis's films as literary works.

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Participation, Close Reading Exams, Final paper.

Texts include: Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs, (1896); Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1900); Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905); Willa Cather, Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940); Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928); Nella Larsen, Passing (1929).

English 385 – Topics in Combined Studies: Medical Humanities: The Other Side of “Pro-Choice”: Representing Reproduction, Gender, and Medicine (Post 1830)

Course Description: Debates surrounding reproductive justice endlessly parse the meanings and consequences of abortion. Much less attention has been paid to the rhetoric, politics, and ideologies surrounding the other choice in the pro-choice dyad: participation in acts of reproduction, particularly pregnancy and childbirth. Students will be challenged to consider the gendered rhetoric surrounding ideas such as the biological clock, the pregnancy glow, and drug-free natural childbirth. We will investigate the way reproducing bodies are represented culturally, using media coverage of issues like Serena Williams’ 2017 Australian Open win, Beyonce’s baby bump “reveals,” as well as the homebirth movement, transgender pregnancies, “breast-feeding Nazis,” parental leave policies, and the CDC’s 2016 recommendation that women of reproductive age refrain from drinking alcohol unless they are using contraception. Such case studies will help us ask about how these discourses affect not only feminist ideas and activism, but medical care and the medical system. Students will be encouraged to apply critical thinking to some of the most fundamental and long-standing assumptions of our public culture. Two central questions will guide the course: What assumptions are made about reproductive bodies? What are the social consequences of these assumptions?

Teaching Method: Seminar-style discussion.

Evaluation Method: Class participation, weekly short response and analysis papers (alternating), final research paper.

Texts include: Selections from Henderson and Solomon, Labor Day; Julia Kristeva, “Stabat Mater”; Hera Cook, “Doing the History of Reproductive Sexuality”; Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts; Pamela Erens, Eleven Hours; Elisa Albert, After Birth

English 388 – Studies in Literature and Religion: Christian-Muslim Encounters (Post 1830)

"My grandmother puts her feet in the sink of the bathroom at Sears," writes the poet Mohja Kahf, "to wash them in the ritual washing for prayer." Kahf's ensuing description of "respectable Sears matrons [who] shake their heads and frown ... a clash of civilizations brewing in the Sears bathroom" offers a productive springboard for considering contemporary zones of AngloIslamic interaction -- a theme that the hit Showtime series, Shameless, develops in a different direction through its depiction of the romantic liaison between a married Muslim business owner and his Irish-Catholic employee. In this course, we will take literary representations of Christian-Muslim encounters as our focus, tracing the long and involved prehistories of interfaith conflict and coalition and considering their abiding relevance today. We will situate complex narratives of warfare, religious 63 Return to Calendar conversion, and amorous desire against the historical backdrops of the Crusades and the sixteenthcentury development of international commerce, investigating how medieval and Renaissance writers incorporate social, political and theological exchanges between Christians and Muslims into popular poems like The Canterbury Tales and canonical plays like Othello. Putting earlier formulations of religious, racial, cultural, sexual, and gender difference in frank conversation with more recent treatments of Christian-Muslim interaction (like Diana Abu-Jaber's "Lamb Two Ways"), we will reflect on the discontinuities as well as powerful through lines between 'then' and 'now.'

Teaching Method: Seminar discussions and occasional short lectures.

Evaluation Method: Participation, occasional reading quizzes, oral presentation, and two essays.

Texts Include: Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Man of Law's Tale"; The Sultan of Babylon; Mandeville's Travels (selections); William Lithgow, The Totall Discourse (selections); William Shakespeare, Othello; Robert Daborne, A Christian Turned Turk; Diana Abu-Jaber, "Lamb Two Ways"; Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran; Mohja Kahf, E-mails from Scheherazad; and excepts from the Showtime series Shameless.

Note: This course fulfills the Area V (Ethics and Values) and Area VI (Literature & Fine Arts) distribution requirements.

English 397 – Research Seminar: Medievalism

Course Description: The Middle Ages ended 500 years ago, yet we still live in a world profoundly shaped by medieval inventions. Among these are universities, the Catholic Church, trial by jury, parliamentary government, trade fairs, international banking, herbal medicine, Gothic architecture, and romantic love. “Medievalism” is the scholarly field that studies the influence, reception, and reinvention of this medieval legacy from the Renaissance to the present. There are medievalisms of the Left (Christian socialism, the Arts & Crafts movement) and of the Right (crusading, ethnic nationalism). In literature, medievalism had its most profound impact in the Romantic and Victorian periods, which were fascinated by chivalry, courtly love, and the tales of King Arthur. The fantasy genre—from Tolkien to Harry Potter, from “Dungeons and Dragons” to The Game of Thrones—is steeped in medieval legend. There is a “gothic” medievalism of torture chambers and haunted convents, as well as a postmodern medievalism. In this seminar we will sample a few of these many medievalisms as we discuss novels, poems, and critical essays, exploring their varied aesthetics and ideological commitments. Oral and written exercises will teach the skills involved in writing a research paper: developing a topic, consulting with librarians, preparing an annotated bibliography, writing critical abstracts, evaluating print and online resources, outlining a project, giving oral presentations, documenting sources, drafting, editing, and revising. Your work will culminate in the submission of a polished 15-page paper.

Teaching Method: Discussion, oral presentations, writing workshops.

Texts include: Wayne Booth, The Craft of Research; Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Blessed Damozel” and other poems; Alfred Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King; J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring; Italo Calvino, The Castle of Crossed Destinies; Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose; and a course reader available at Quartet Copies.

English 471 – Studies in American Literature: Black Women Auteurs

Course Description: This course will focus primarily on the autobiographical and fi ctional narratives of 19th-century African American women, with works of visual culture constituting our concluding objects of study.

Texts will be chosen among the following:

English 202 – Introduction to Creative Reading & Writing

Course Description: This course will introduce students to the major elements and tools of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction writing. Through exercises and projects, you’ll practice using these tools to produce original, exciting works of literary art. Along the way, you’ll sharpen your ability to track these elements both in published texts and in the work of your classmates, and further develop how you measure aesthetic value. You’ll be encouraged to see yourself as an active member of a community of artists, and to establish a regular discipline as a working writer. Writing and reading will be due in nearly every class, and peer workshop will play an important role in learning to see your work more objectively.

Teaching Methods: Discussion.

Evaluation Methods: Evaluation of a final portfolio.

Texts include: A course reader.

Note: This course is open to first-year students admitted in Fall 2017.

English 206 – Reading & Writing Poetry

[Prerequisite to English Major in Writing]

Course Description: An introduction to the major forms of poetry in English from the dual perspective of the poet-critic. Creative work will be assigned in the form of poems and revisions; analytic writing will be assigned in the form of critiques of other class members’ poems. A scansion exercise will be given early on. All of these exercises, creative and expository, as well as the required readings from the anthology, are designed to help students increase their understanding of poetry rapidly and profoundly; the more wholehearted students’ participation, the more they will learn from the course. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. No P/N registration. Attendance of first class is mandatory. Freshmen are NOT permitted to enroll until winter quarter. Seniors require department permission. Prerequisite for the writing major and sequence-based minor. Literature Majors are also welcome. Teaching Method: Discussion; one-half to two-thirds of the classes will be devoted to discussion of readings and principles, the other classes to discussion of student poems.

Evaluation Method: Evidence given in written work and class participation of students’ understanding of poetry; improvement will count for a great deal in estimating achievement.

Texts include: An anthology, a critical guide, a 206 Reader prepared by the instructor, and the work of other students.

Note: This course may also be counted toward the English Literature major.

English 206 – Reading & Writing Poetry

[Prerequisite to English Major in Writing]

Course Description: An introduction to the major forms of poetry in English from the dual perspective of the poet-critic. Creative work will be assigned in the form of poems and revisions; analytic writing will be assigned in the form of critiques of other class members’ poems. A scansion exercise will be given early on. All of these exercises, creative and expository, as well as the required readings from the anthology, are designed to help students increase their understanding of poetry rapidly and profoundly; the more wholehearted students’ participation, the more they will learn from the course. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. No P/N registration. Attendance of first class is mandatory. Freshmen are NOT permitted to enroll until winter quarter. Seniors require department permission. Prerequisite for the writing major and sequence-based minor. Literature Majors are also welcome. Teaching Method: Discussion; one-half to two-thirds of the classes will be devoted to discussion of readings and principles, the other classes to discussion of student poems.

Evaluation Method: Evidence given in written work and class participation of students’ understanding of poetry; improvement will count for a great deal in estimating achievement.

Texts include: An anthology, a critical guide, a 206 Reader prepared by the instructor, and the work of other students.

Note: This course may also be counted toward the English Literature major.

Instructor Bio: Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal and Exiled from the Throne of Night: Selected Translations of Luis Cernuda. He is currently editing of a volume of essays by contemporary Latinx poets on poetry, Latino Poetics (University of New Mexico Press).

With over a decade of practical experience and training, Quesada serves as faculty at Northwestern University, The School of the Art Institute, Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches Latinx literatures, literary translation, editing, and poetry writing.

Quesada is the founder of the Latinx Writers Caucus, which meets annually at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference and serves to connect and advocate Latinx and Latin American poets and writers from around the world.

Revelations, a chapbook of poetry and translations, is forthcoming in November from Sibling Rivalry Press.

English 207 – Reading & Writing Fiction

[Prerequisite to English Major in Writing]

Course Description: A reading and writing course in short fiction. Students will read widely in traditional as well as experimental short stories, seeing how writers of different culture and temperament use conventions such as plot, character, and techniques of voice and distance to shape their art. Students will also receive intensive practice in the craft of the short story, writing at least one story, along with revisions, short exercises, and a critical study of at least one work of fiction, concentrating on technique.

Prerequisites: English 206. No P/N registration. Attendance of first class is mandatory. Course especially recommended for prospective Writing Majors. Literature Majors also welcome. Teaching Method: Discussion of readings and principles; workshop of student drafts. Evaluation Method: Evidence given in written work and class participation of students’ growing understanding of fiction; improvement will count for a great deal in estimating achievement.

Texts include: Selected short stories, essays on craft, and the work of the other students.

English 208 – Reading & Writing Creative Non Fiction

[Prerequisite to English Major in Writing]

Course Description: An introduction to some of the many possible voices, styles, and structures of the creative essay. Students will read from the full aesthetic breadth of the essay, including memoir, meditation, lyric essay, and literary journalism. Discussions will address how the essay creates an artistic space distinct from the worlds of poetry and fiction, and how truth and fact function within creative nonfiction. Students will be asked to analyze the readings closely, and to write six short essays based on imitations of the style, structure, syntax, and narrative devices found in the readings. Students can also expect to do some brief writing exercises and at least one revision.

Prerequisites: English 206. No P/N registration. Attendance of first class is mandatory. Course especially recommended for prospective Writing Majors. Literature Majors also welcome.

Teaching Method: Discussion; one-half to two-thirds of the classes will be devoted to discussion of readings and principles, the other classes to discussion of student work.

English 210-1 – British Literary Traditions Part 1

Course Description: This course offers an introduction to the early English literary canon, extending from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century. In addition to gaining a general familiarity with some of the most influential texts of English literature, we will be especially interested in discovering how literary texts construct, engage in, and transform political discourse. What kinds of political interventions are literary texts capable of making? What are the political implications of particular rhetorical strategies and generic choices? How do literary texts encode or allegorize particular political questions? How, at a particular historical moment, does it become possible to ignore or overlook the political projects embedded in these texts? In readings of Chaucer, More, Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton, Behn, and Swift, among others, we will consider how important it is to understand these texts from a political perspective, and wonder why this perspective is so often ignored in favor of psychologizing and subjectivizing readings.

Teaching Method: Two lectures per week, plus a required discussion section.

Evaluation Method: Regular reading quizzes (15%); class participation (25%); midterm exam (20%); final exam (20%); final paper (20%).

Texts include: Beowulf; Mystery Plays; Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; More, Utopia; Sidney, Defense of Poesy; Shakespeare, Tempest and selected sonnets; Milton, Paradise Lost; Behn, Oroonoko; Swift, Gulliver’s Travels.

Note: English 210-1 is an English Literature major and minor requirement; it is also designed for nonmajors and counts as an Area VI WCAS distribution requirement.

English 210-2 – British Literary Traditions Part 2

This course surveys exemplary and outstanding English literature by major authors from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries, putting literary texts in conversation with such historical developments as the French revolution, the industrial revolution, the rise of nationalism and imperialism, new print and transportation technologies, rapidly increasing literacy rates, and a wealth of related cultural arguments.

Teaching Methods: Lectures paired with seminar-style discussions, all focusing intensively on passages and background arguments.

Evaluation Methods: 2 short analyses, final paper, periodic quizzes, and participation.

Texts include:  The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors (8th ed., Vol. B: ISBN 0393928314); Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (Penguin; ISBN 0141439661); George Eliot, The Lifted Veil (Oxford; ISBN 0199555052); Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (HBJ; ISBN 0156628708). Please follow the editions assigned; comparable pagination will greatly advance our discussions.

Note: English 210-2 is an English Literature major and minor requirement; it is also designed for nonmajors and counts as an Area VI WCAS distribution requirement.

English 213 – Introduction to Fiction

In this course we will look at five classic works of fiction, all of which explore in one way or another the problem of the divided self. Whether in the guise of monster, rival, uncanny double, or repressed desire, the fantasy of an "other" self lies at the heart of some of our most archetypal narratives, and some of our deepest ethical, psychological and political dilemmas.

Teaching Methods: 2 lectures, 1 required discussion-section per week.

Evaluation Methods: Midterm paper (15%); midterm exam (15%); final paper (25 or 30%); final exam (25 or 30%); quizzes and class participation (15%).

Texts include:

Please note that it is ESSENTIAL to acquire the specific editions listed OR to have a digital version of the texts, so we can all “be on the same page.”

English 234 – Introduction to Shakespeare

Course Description: We'll read a range of Shakespeare's plays: comedies, histories, tragedies, and tragicomedies, from early in his career to his final works. The course will introduce the plays by introducing them back into the context of the theatre, literary world, and culture in which Shakespeare originally wrote them.  We will think about Shakespeare’s contexts and how they matter: a theatre on the outskirts of ever-expanding Renaissance London; a financially successful acting company in which he played the simultaneous and often overlapping roles of writer, actor, and co-owner; a world of reading and writing in which words, plots, and texts were constantly being re-circulated into new plays; the rich possibilities of the English language around 1600.  We will centrally consider the ways in which these theatrical, literary, and cultural questions register within the plays themselves.  What do words, plays, stories do—how do they work—in Shakespeare’s plays?  Who or what is an audience or an actor in these plays?  How do Shakespeare's plays stage issues such as gender, race, religion, sexuality, social class, entertainment and the media -- and how does his approach to these issues continue to speak to our own era?

Teaching method: Lecture and discussion, required discussion section.

Evaluation method: Essays and exams.

Plays will include: A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, As You Like It, Hamlet Prince of Denmark, The Tempest, The Two Noble Kinsmen (by Shakespeare and his collaborator, John Fletcher).

 

English 270-1 – American Literary Traditions Part 1

Course Description: What spooks America?  From the Puritan “city upon a Hill,” to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, to Emerson’s American Adam, America was imagined as a New World paradise, a place to begin the world anew.  And yet, from the story of Pocahontas and John Smith, to the origins of the American Gothic in the Age of Reason, to Melville’s Moby Dick, American literature has been haunted by fantasies of terror, sin, violence, and apocalypse.  Why?  This course will seek to answer this question.  Focusing on a selection of imaginative writings, including origin stories, poems, novels, and a slave narrative, we shall seek to identify and understand the significance of the terrors—of the dark other, the body, nature, sex, mixture, blood violence, totalitarian power, and apocalypse—that haunt and spook the origins and development of American literature.  Students will be encouraged to draw connections between past American fantasies and fears and contemporary popular culture and politics, from classic American films like Hitchcock’s Psycho to the television series Game of Thrones, from American blues and jazz to the rap lyrics of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems,” from the Red Scare and the Cold War to the contemporary war on terror.

Teaching Method: Lecture and discussion; weekly discussion sections.

Evaluation Method: 2 papers; quizzes; final examination.

Texts include: The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Beginnings to 1820 (Volume A; 9th edition); Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Huntly; or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Writings; Edgar Allan Poe, Great Short Works; Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

Note: English 270-1 is an English Literature major and minor requirement; it is also designed for nonmajors and counts as an Area VI WCAS distribution requirement.

English 270-2 – American Literary Traditions Part 2

Course Description: This course is a survey of American literature from the aftermath of the Civil War to first decade of the twentieth century. The course will take as a cue how writers experimented with various styles and genres of literature to explore the idea, if not always the realities, of “America.” Our exploration of these writers and their texts will fold into the contexts of social histories about the U.S. and reunification, the rise of capital and the Gilded Age, imperialism, and immigration.

Teaching Methods: Two lectures per week, plus a required discussion section.

Evaluation Methods: Evaluation will be based on two short (3-page) essays, in which students will perform a close reading of a literary passage from one of the texts on the syllabus; a final examination, involving short answers and essays; and active participation in section and lecture. Attendance at all sections is required; anyone who misses more than one section meeting will fail the course unless both the T.A. and the professor give permission to continue.

Texts include: Rebecca Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron Mills”; Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Henry James, “Daisy Miller”; Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”; José Martí, “Our America”; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk; Selected poems by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Paul LaurenceDunbar, among others.

Note: English 270-2 is an English Literature major and minor requirement; it is also designed for nonmajors and counts as an Area VI WCAS distribution requirement.

English 273 – Intro to 20th Century American Literature

Course Description: When Henry Luce, the publisher of Time magazine, declared in 1941 that it was time to create “the first great American Century,” he meant to advocate for the spread of quintessential American values—freedom, democracy—throughout the globe. But the idea of the American Century has also been invoked to call attention to the United States’ perceived harmful influence in world affairs. This course surveys some of the most important works of modern American literature by examining the intense ambivalence of American writers—including Ernest Hemingway, Nella Larsen, Margaret Atwood, and Junot Díaz—about their place in the world. How have some writers sought to escape the perceived provincialism of their American identities? How have writers grappled with the legacy of American military interventions abroad? What are the United States’ ethical obligations to the world?

Teaching Method: Two lectures per week and a discussion section.

Evaluation Method: Quizzes, one short essay, one group project, and a final exam.

Texts include:

English 274 – Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Literatures

Course Description: Until fairly recently, it was uncontroversial to assert that Native Americans lacked a literary history—because oral literatures did not “count” as literature.  These assumptions—guiding canonical texts like James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans—ignored centuries of Native literary traditions, which appear in multiple genres and media.  This course challenges such assertions of literary absence by offering an introduction to Native American literatures, surveying key texts from pre-colonial epics to award winning novels published in the twentieth century.   We’ll ask how Native writers created and preserved pre-colonial media and how they transformed colonial educational programs like boarding schools to advocate on behalf of their people.  How have Native writers used their literary traditions to criticize colonialism and imagine futures for their people?  How does our view of American literature, broadly speaking, change when we account for the long histories and multiple media of Native literatures?

Teaching Method: Lecture.

Texts will include: Key autobiographies, nonfiction, short stories, novels, and multimedia texts such as video games and pictographs.  Selected reading list: The Popul Vuh; William Apess, Son of the Forest (1829); Zitkála-Šá (Gertrude Bonnin), “The School Days of An Indian Girl” (1900); Simon Ortiz, from Sand Creek (1981); Louise Erdrich, The Round House (2012); and Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (2017).

English 275 – Intro to Asian American Literature

Course Description: Asian American, Asian-American, Asian/American—what does the changing subject of Asian American literature tell us about the instability of the category itself? Asian American literature may be thought of as a literature of continual alienation from the nation/notion of America—in terms of land, citizenship, and cultural belonging. To trace the plastic relationship between “Asian” and “American,” this course explores how critical issues of identity, national formation, aesthetics, globalization, assimilation, and canonicity shape Asian American literature. Additionally, we will interrogate the constructed, pan-ethnic nature of “Asian America” as an imagined nation. In the process, we will familiarize ourselves with the richness and diversity of Asian American literature by considering a variety of genres, including short stories, novels, drama, poetry, and film.

Teaching Method: Lecture, Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Regular reading responses; two short essays; one long essay; active class participation; class presentation.

Texts (subject to change; please confirm final text list on Canvas before purchasing)

Note: This course is combined with Asian American Studies 275-0.

English 306 – Advanced Poetry Writing: Theory & Practice of Poetry Translation

Course Description: A combination of seminar and workshop. Together we will translate several short poems and study theoretical approaches to literary translation and practical accounts by literary translators.  We will approach language, poems, poetics, culture and theoretical issues and problems in relation to each other. Your written work will be due in different forms during the course.  In your final portfolio, you will present revised versions of your translations and a research paper on translation.

Prerequisite: A reading knowledge of a second language and experience reading literature in that language.  If you are uncertain about your qualifications, please e-mail the instructor at rgibbons@northwestern.edu to describe them.  Experience writing creatively is welcome, especially in poetry writing courses in the English Department.

Teaching Method: Discussion; group critique of draft translations; oral presentations by students.

Evaluation Method: Written work ("Canvas" responses to reading, draft translations, revised translations, and final papers) as well as class participation should demonstrate students’ growing understanding of translation as a practice and as a way of reading poetry and engaging with larger theoretical ideas about literature.

Texts include: Essays on translation by a number of critics, scholars and translators, in two published volumes and on the Course Management web site ("Canvas”).

Note: This course is combined with COMP_LIT 311-0 and COMP_LIT 414-0.  If the ENGLISH side of the course is full, you may register for the course under the co-listed department and receive the same credit toward your English major.

English 307 – Advanced Creative Writing: Fabulous Fictions

Course Description: Fabulous Fictions focuses on writing that departs from realism. Often the subject matter of such writing explores states of mind that are referred to as non-ordinary reality. A wide variety of genres and subgenres fall under this heading: fabulism, myth, fairy tales, fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction, horror, the grotesque, the supernatural, surrealism, etc. Obviously, in a mere quarter we could not hope to study each of these categories in the kind of detail that might be found in a literature class. The aim in 307 is to discern and employ writing techniques that overarch these various genres, to study the subject through doing—by writing your own fabulist stories. We will read examples of fabulism as writers read: to understand how these fictions are made—studying them from the inside out, so to speak. Many of these genres overlap. For instance, they are all rooted in the tale, a kind of story that goes back to primitive sources. They all speculate: they ask the question, What If? They all are stories that demand invention, which, along with the word transformation, will be a key term in the course. The invention might be a monster, a method of time travel, an alien world, etc., but with rare exceptions the story will demand an invention and that invention will often also be the central image of the story. So, in discussing how these stories work we will also be learning some of the most basic, primitive moves in storytelling. To get you going I will be bringing in exercises that employ fabulist techniques and hopefully will promote stories. These time-tested techniques will be your entrances—your rabbit holes and magic doorways—into the figurative. You will be asked to keep a dream journal, which will serve as basis for one of the exercises. Besides the exercises, two full-length stories will be required, as well as written critiques of one another’s work. Because we all serve to make up an audience for the writer, attendance is mandatory.

Prerequisites: Prerequisite English 206. No P/N registration. Attendance at first class is mandatory.

English 392 – The Situation of Writing

The present situation of writing requires that we create literature, as well as the contexts in which literature is shared, appreciated and understood. We are the inheritors, perpetuators and innovators of literary culture, and in this class we will position our inquiries on the present and future, even as we acknowledge the enduring humanistic values of writing. We will begin with a discussion of ideas gleaned from readings by Virginia Woolf, Martha Nussbaum, Lewis Hyde, Adrienne Rich, Ta Nehisi Coates and others. Then we will build on these ideas practically with an interview with another writer; a service learning assignment; and a creative work that reaches a new public, coordinates new media or engenders community. Many of our Thursdays will be enhanced by the "Return Engagements" series, featuring visits and readings from alumni of Northwestern's Writing Program who have gone on to forge careers in the literary arts. We will read their writing and open time for you to talk with them about continued education, publishing, agenting and editing. This course is designed especially for students who hope to forge careers as writers, and it will challenge all participants to think creatively about the space of literature in our changing society.

Note: ENGLISH 392 is a requirement for all senior creative writing majors. Other students may enroll with department consent.

English 393-1, -2, -3 – Theory & Practice of Poetry

This selective-enrollment, yearlong "Sequence" is designed to make students 64 Return to Calendar increasingly informed readers and self-sustaining apprentices of poetry. The Fall portion of the course begins with summer reading and intensive study in which poets learn to identify operative modes in poetry -- including description, rhetoric, story and song -- and begin connecting contemporary participants with root systems in the tradition. We support our studies with reading exercises and "imitation" assignments, in which students convert close reading into fodder for original writing. Students will write at least four papers and will write, workshop and revise four poems during the Fall term. They also will lead presentations on one chosen poet and one classmate during workshop. In the Winter term, students will continue to read and complete close reading assignments and will stretch their skills as they complete a week of "Daily Poems," thereby drawing on original energy and stamina to bring their work to the next level of accomplishment. Finally, in the Spring term, students will focus entirely on their own work, drafting, revising, workshopping and completing one long poem of at least 120 lines that combines autobiographical material with writing from research. Throughout the year, our close reading assignments hone skills in sensitive and critical thinking; our imitation poems challenge existing habits as they introduce new strategies; our Daily Poems exercise agility and confidence; and our workshops cultivate the openness and humility necessary to serious writing and lifelong learning. Through this intensive and nurturing Sequence, students become careful readers of each others -- work and complete a polished portfolio of original writing.

Note: No P/N registration. Attendance at first class mandatory. Admission by application only.

English 394-1, -2, -3 – Theory & Practice of Fiction

This course will allow you to explore how fiction works. We’ll be looking at, discussing, writing about, commenting on, and researching the elements of fiction, but mostly what we’ll be doing is writing buckets (you will be turning in a completed piece every other week during the Fall quarter), so we’ll be reading mostly to steal: we’ll figure out what works and we’ll use it for our own material. We’ll be engaged in the reading of a concise, funny book on the craft of fiction, and we’ll also be reading a wide and varied array of short stories. Again, though, this work is geared to do one simple thing: to find out what means and modes of expression you best respond to, and to figure out ways to approach this question: Given all the other potentially more awesome forms of entertainment out there, what is the role of sitting around scribbling things and reading other people’s scribblings? Why do it? Just so you know, what we’re doing in class closely replicates what all successful fiction writers do on a daily basis: reading the work of their peers and those of established and emerging authors with care, attention, and greed, and writing copious amounts to see what sticks. The more you do both of these activities, the better and more confident you’ll get.

Teaching Method: Lectures, discussion, small- and large-peer workshops.

Evaluation Method: This is a portfolio- and participation-based course. Grade based on timely delivery of all assigned work, with equal weight placed on your own stories and revisions and on your peer feedback.

Texts Include: TBA

Note: No P/N registration. Attendance at first class mandatory. Admission by application only

English 395-1, -2, -3 – Theory & Practice of Creative Nonfiction

An advanced year-long course in reading for writers, critical analysis of techniques of creative nonfiction, and intensive creative writing. Reading of primary works will concentrate on longer creative nonfiction works, and the creative project for the latter part of the sequence is a work of creative nonfiction of approximately 15,000 words. A guest non-fiction writer will visit in May as writer-in-residence.

Teaching Method: Discussion.

Evaluation Method: Based on creative and critical work; class presentations and participation.

Texts Include: Varies each quarter. Texts will be available at Norris Center Bookstore and Quartet Copies.

Note: No P/N registration. Attendance at first class mandatory. Admission by application only.

English 398-1, -2 – Honors Seminar

A two-quarter sequence for seniors pursuing honors in the English Literature major, consisting of a seminar in the fall quarter and an independent study with an honors adviser in the winter quarter.

Prerequisites: Seniors only. Permission of department required. Attendance at first class mandatory. No P/N registration.

English 399 – Independent Study

Open to Junior and Senior Majors and Senior Minors by application only; see the English Department website for more information. A 399 project should be focused on a clearly defined subject matter of genuine intellectual and academic substance, and one not normally covered in regular course work. Completed applications must be submitted to the DUS by the end of regular registration week in the preceding quarter.

Courses Primarily for Graduate Students

English 403 – Writers Studies in Literature

Course Description: This course aims to study the contexts and processes of creative writing.  Our readings will be multi-genre texts of many sorts that enact or think or imply something about how what we are writing develops out of—and develops in various ways—our social formation, our intellectual curiosity, our psychic processes, our emotional investments, our sense of language, our artistic possibilities, and much more.  Our course readings will greatly broaden our sense of how other writers have used their materials and abilities.  Some of our readings will also provide us with models of such use; we can use these to advance our own work and our own sense of what our work is.  And also, we’ll see in many of our readings how our complexity as individuals results in an enormous range of structures, stances, and processes of writing.  From our discussions of the course readings, we’ll draw methods and stances that will allow us to think about (and perhaps sketch) new possible projects and new ways of working on our present projects.

English 410 – Introduction to Graduate Study

No description available.

English 431 – Studies in 16th Century Literature: Experiments in Renaissance Poetry: Methods and Making Knowledge, with Help from Hester Pulter

Course Description: How might a remarkable, recently re-discovered manuscript of poems serve as the entry point for exploring Renaissance poetry? For grappling with crucial methodological issues in literary studies? How do current scholarly approaches inform narratives about intellectual production of the past? How do literary works materialize for readers within particular literary histories, intellectual frameworks, editorial practices, and modes of anthologizing? In this skills-based seminar, participants will read 17th-century poetry (by Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, Bradstreet, Herbert, and Phillips) and select key research areas to investigate (e.g., astronomy, alchemy, poetics, melancholy, religious debates, devotional writing, race, physiology, pastoral, elegy, complaint, women’s writing, political protest). As an entry into thinking about how to “make knowledge,” we will perform experiments on how the religious, elegiac, personal, and scientific poems of a little known writer named Hester Pulter offers an occasion for thinking about how poetry enters a canon (that is we will discuss methodological debates surrounding editing, digitalization and anthologization). Experiments might include: contextualizing a group of poems (by various authors) in an array of visual and textual materials of the period; transcribing and editing poems two ways; and/or creating competing ways to insert poems into existing (or imagined) anthologies. To prepare for these experiments, we will dive into  scholarship on editing, poetics, authorship, gender studies, media studies (manuscript, print and digital), and knowledge formation.

English 455 – Studies in Victorian Literature: George Eliot: Fiction, Ethics, and the Riddle of Fellow-Feeling

Course Description: This seminar examines Eliot’s most engaging and intellectually complex novels, poetry, and essays, focusing throughout on several knotty concerns in her work: fellow-feeling and anticommunitarian impulses; positivism and the demand for political reform; marriage and women’s social roles; aesthetics and the impersonal scope of the imagination; providentialism and the limits of tolerance and faith.

Teaching Methods: seminar-style discussion, focusing intensively on passages and background arguments.

Evaluation Methods: weekly response papers (one of them a literary analysis), class presentation, research-driven essay, and in-class participation.

Primary Texts (available at Norris Center Bookstore and in order of use): George Eliot, The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob (ISBN: 0199555052); The Mill on the Floss (ISBN: 9780141439624); Silas Marner (ISBN: 9780141439754); Romola (ISBN: 0140434704); Middlemarch (ISBN: 0141439548); Daniel Deronda (ISBN: 0140434275); Impressions of Theophrastus Such (ISBN: 9781505811810); and Selected Essays, Poems, and Other Writings (ed. Byatt and Warren; ISBN: 0140431489). Please follow the editions assigned; comparable pagination will greatly advance our discussions.

English 471 – Studies in American Literature: Founding Terrors

Course Description: This course will read against the accepted tradition of the American Revolution as an essentially rational, Lockean, and non-terroristic Revolution.  We will examine American Revolutionary writing as a rhetorical battlefield in which a multiplicity of voices and a plurality of forms—history, letters, notes, autobiography, novel, epic, lyric, pamphlet, and journalistic piece—struggled over the cultural and political formation of America and the American. 

We shall pay particular attention to the rhetorics of Revolution—the language, images, myths, and forms through which the American Revolution and the American republic were imagined and constituted in and through writing.  We shall focus in particular on sites of contest, contradiction, resistance, and taboo in Revolutionary writing: the representation of “citizens” and “others”; conflicts between reason and passion, liberty and slavery, civilization and savage, progress and blood; anxieties about nature, the body, gender, human psychology, race, and madness; the terrors of democracy, mob violence, slave insurrection, and political faction; and debates about the excesses of language, print, and representation itself.  We shall read relevant political and cultural theory—from Locke and Kant to Nancy Fraser, Gilroy, and the Frankfurt school—and consider various past and recent contests about the meaning of the American Revolution.

Evaluation Method: Book review/oral presentation on a major critical, historical, or theoretical work (3-4 pages); critical essay on a subject of the student’s choosing (10-12 pages); Canvas postings; class participation.

Readings Include: Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence and selections from Notes on the State of Virginia; Phillis Wheatley, Poems; Samson Occom, Selected Writings; Thomas Paine: Common Sense; Abigail and John Adams: Selected Letters; Benjamin Franklin Autobiography;  Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur: Letters from an American Farmer; Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay: The Federalist Papers; Charles Brockden Brown: Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker; Royall Tyler: The Algerine Captive; selected critical and theoretical essays.

English 481 – Studies in Literary Theory and Criticism: Queer Theory & Cinema

Course Description: “Queer theory” and “New Queer Cinema” were two neologisms born of the same early-1990s moment in Anglophone academia, artistry, and activism. Both saw themselves as extending but also complicating the intellectual, aesthetic, and ideological parameters of prior formations like “gay and lesbian studies” or “LGBT film.” These new and spreading discourses stoked each other’s productive advances. Scholars developed and illustrated new axioms through the medium of the movies, while filmmakers rooted their stories and images in changing notions of gender performativity, counter-historiography, and coalitional politics. Still, queer theory and queer cinema faced similar skepticisms: did their ornate language and conceptual novelty endow dissident sexualities with newfound political, cultural, and philosophical stature, or did they retreat too far from daily lives, mainstream tastes, and ongoing public emergencies? Did “queer” enable elastic identification and coalition among subjects with a wide range of sexual and gendered identities, or did the term reproduce the demographic and discursive hierarchies it claimed to deconstruct? Was the lack of fixed definitions, consensus ideals, or shared aesthetic practices a boon or a harm in sustaining a long-term movement of art, action, or thought?

This class will explore some decisive shifts as critical theory and narrative film reclaimed “queer” as a boundary-breaking paradigm, in the pivotal era of Gender Trouble, Epistemology of the Closet, Tongues Untied, and Paris Is Burning.  We will recover scholarly and cinematic trends that laid indispensable groundwork for these queer turns and will also track the subsequent careers of “queer” in the way we perform readings, perceive bodies, record histories, imagine psyches, form alliances, enter archives, and orient ourselves in space and time.  Diversities of race, class, and gender identity will constantly inflect our understandings of “queer” and even challenge the presumed primacy of sexuality as the key referent for that term.  Participants will develop skills of close-reading films as films and engage nimbly with the overarching claims but also the curious nuances, anomalies, and paradoxes in the scholarship we read.  (This seminar satisfies a core requirement toward the Graduate Certificate in Gender & Sexuality Studies.)

Teaching Method: Seminar-based discussions.

Evaluation Method: Mid-quarter essay (7-8 pages); final essay (15-20 pages); shorter writing assignments along the way, including reading and viewing responses; graded participation in seminar.


Texts include: Assigned scholarship will likely include work by Michele Aaron, Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, Scott Bravmann, Judith Butler, Cathy Cohen, Teresa de Lauretis, Lee Edelman, Elizabeth Freeman, Rosalind Galt, Jack Halberstam, Stuart Hall, David Halperin, Guy Hocquenghem, Cáel Keegan, Kara Keeling, Audre Lorde, Heather Love, José Esteban Muñoz, Jasbir Puar, B. Ruby Rich, Gayle Rubin, Vito Russo, Gayle Salomon, Karl Schoonover, Noah Tsika, Michael Warner, Patricia White, Robin Wood, and others.

Assigned films will likely include Mädchen in Uniform (1931), Laura (1944), Born in Flames (1983), Looking for Langston (1989), Tongues Untied (1989), Paris Is Burning (1990), Edward II (1991), The Sticky Fingers of Time (1997), Velvet Goldmine (1998), Brother to Brother (2004), Tropical Malady (2004), The Aggressives (2005), Shortbus (2006), The Ornithologist (2016), and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017).

Texts will be available at: All course readings and films will be available on Canvas.

Note: This course is combined with Gender Studies 490-0-24.

English 493 – Elements of Craft

Course DescriptionBy the end of his life, Yeats rarely revised his poems, except, he said, in favor of a “more passionate syntax.” In the hands of certain writers, such as Joan Didion, the shape of a sentence becomes an instrument for discovery and moral inquiry. For other writers—Hemingway and Henry James come most immediately to mind—their characteristic sentence-making reveals attitudes towards human relationships, experience, and consciousness. This course is dedicated to the pleasures and rewards of syntax, of sentence-making, as an essential, and often over-looked, element of craft in the development of a writer’s voice and originality.
Class time will be divided evenly between close and creative reading of weekly assigned texts and the writing workshop, in which students attend to the work-in-process of their peers (poetry, non-fiction, or fiction). As this is a graduate seminar vigorous participation in class discussion and workshop is assumed.

English 403 – Writers Studies in Literature

TBA

English 422 – Studies in Medieval Literature: The Theory and Practice of Allegory

Course Description: This class will aim to produce an account of personification allegory in and beyond the Middle Ages. To this end, we will read a number of influential early allegorical works, including Prudentius’ gruesome Psychomachia, Boethius’ stately Consolation of Philosophy, Chaucer’s comical Parliament of Fowles, and Langland’s politically volatile Piers Plowman. In general terms, how are the personifications in these texts “good to think with”? What kinds of work do they do that mimetic characters do not? More specifically, what ontological status do these texts accord their personifications? Are they more or less “real” than the fictive persons and authorial personae with whom they interact? Is personification itself a relatively homogenous category, or can we distinguish important subtypes? What different reading practices might these subtypes allow or encourage? In answering these questions, we will consider the wide range of metaphysical and epistemological systems current in the Middle Ages, from Augustine’s Platonism to Aquinas’ moderate realism to Ockham’s nominalism, along with a selection of theoretical texts dealing specifically with personification (de Man, Kantorowicz, Cicero, etc.). Taken together, these shared texts will provide a rich conceptual background for students’ final presentations and papers, which may consider either medieval or post-medieval allegorical works.

English 461 – Studies in Contemporary Literature: Modernism and Empire

This course description will be available at a later date.

English 481 – Studies in Literary Theory & Criticism: Ordinary Media

Course Description: This seminar examines the aesthetics and culture of always-on computing, the contemporary technological milieu defined by the popular emergence of smartphones, wireless networks, and social media since the mid-2000s. Departing from alarmist accounts in the popular press about smartphone and internet addiction (and other horribles), our point of entry onto this topic will be ordinariness, a concept variously articulated in ordinary language philosophy (Cavell), habit (Ravaisson, Chun), queer / affect theory (Sedgwick, Stewart, Ngai, Berlant), psychoanalysis (Freud, Ogden) and media theory (Cohen, Richmond). Depending on class interest we may also consider format theory (Sterne on the MP3, Gitelman on the PDF) and Foucault’s writings on techniques of the self and neoliberalism. Ordinariness has different meanings in all these works but we will remain attentive to it as way into thinking the dynamics of habitual experience in an age when the rapid development of new technologies and aesthetic genres force us daily into new “habits” of adjustment and attunement to the flux of networked life. Artists and writers to be discussed may include Frances Stark, Claudia Rankine, Tan Lin, David OReilly, Faith Holland, Thomson and Craighead, Martine Syms, Lorna Mills, and others.

English 496 – Poetry Creative Writing

Course Description: This course aims to further the development of a student’s craft in the writing of poetry with a focus on poems that seek to engage and document public histories which allow us to place the explorations of our own experiences within a larger historical context. Through reading several collections of poetry and essays on poetry and historical memory, we will explore the intersections and rifts between larger histories (the stuff of cultural or public memory) and smaller, often subjugated or lost histories, and personal histories—as well as the gaps in these histories, the willed forgetting and cultural amnesia often surrounding them. We will discuss and analyze the ways in which some poets have used history in their work as well as the particular formal strategies of their poems, conduct research for writing new poems, define strategies for using information gathered from our research, and produce portfolios of poems that engage public history and/or the intersections between public and personal history. Selected essays on poetry and history—as well as a few collections of poems—will serve as texts for the course.

English 498 – Non-Fiction Creative Writing

Course Description: The essay is one of the most loosely defined genres in contemporary literature. It is an open field of possibilities for writers, but the ambiguous boundaries can make finding a compass bearing difficult. This course is designed to inform and expand your creative practice as an essayist by clarifying and complicating your understanding of the essay as a genre. We will begin by reading some well-known essays on the essay alongside new work by contemporary writers. Our discussion of the question What is an essay? is intended to prime your exploration of this question in your own creative work. Your work, three original essays, will be the central project of this course. In these essays, you will be asked to refine your individual style on the page while you explore the possibilities of the essay as a genre. You may use these three essays to experiment with three different aesthetic territories, or you may stay within the aesthetic where you feel most at home as a writer. Your writing process will be guided by a series of workshops designed to make you more aware of the potential in your work. As you write, you will be asked to continue reading essays on the essay and to identify one that speaks to your ideology as a writer. Your presentations on these self-selected essays will inform our discussions throughout the course, and a lecture on the history of the essay delivered by a visiting writer will provide us with historical context.

English 412 – Studies in Drama: American Bodies in Motion

Course Description: Starting with the myriad of performances staged as part of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, this course surveys diverse genres of avant-garde and popular dance in US culture from the late 19th-century to the early 21st-century. In so doing, the course also surveys varied methods and theories for performance research. Readings are drawn from several disciplines and are supplemented by feature fi lms and documentaries. Taken together, the course materials sketch an intracultural and transnational historiography that complements, and perhaps complicates, new scholarship in adjacent fi elds. Graduate students with interests in American culture from any disciplinary perspective are welcome. 

English 422 – Studies in Medieval Literature: Heresy, Rebellion, and the Book

Course Description: From the fi fteenth-century glossators to twenty-first century critics, readers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales have sought to interpret and contain this constantly shifting text. The poem poses numerous interpretative puzzles—the “correct” order of the tales, the identity of their tellers, the objects of the poem’s irony, the politics of its author, and the demographics of its intended audience, to name a few—puzzles that have been “solved” in strikingly different ways at different historical moments. This course takes as its subject the Canterbury Tales and its reception history, exploring in detail both the poem and its multiple interpretative contexts. As we read the Tales, we will consider the narratives (and narrative conventions) that Chaucer transforms and the contemporary voices with whom he is in dialogue. We will investigate the ways in which the tales circulated both individually and as a collection (which tales were the most popular? how and by whom were they published? with which other texts did they travel?) and analyze the various paratexts that accompanied them (glosses, prologues, illustrations, and “spurious” links and tales). Along with the early publication context, we will explore recent Chaucer criticism and the scholarly history to which it responds (old and new historicist approaches, Marxist and exegetical analysis, psychoanalytic, feminist and queer theory readings, etc.) By the end of the course, students will be proficient in both Chaucer criticism and Chaucer’s Middle English.

Texts will include: the Riverside Chaucer, or The Canterbury Tales (ed. Jill Mann)

Texts will be available at Beck’s Book Store.

English 441 – Studies in 18th Century Literature: Enlightenment Sex: Violence, Coercion, and Consent

Course Description: This seminar will examine foundational liberal articulations of feminine sexual consent—as well as their historical, political, philosophical, and corporeal failings.  From the perspective of political theory, feminist legal studies, feminist and queer theory, and literary history, we will track the constitutive exclusion of feminine sexual consent from social contract theory over the long eighteenth century in Britain and its colonies (1660 – 1820).  Social contract theorists like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke base political power on consent, not force; but they exempt domestic power—the power of husbands over wives, fathers over children, masters over servants and slaves—from contractual reform.  The uneven development of liberal patriarchy is distilled in an ostensibly free woman’s agency:  she has the contractual power to agree to marry, but in so doing she ratifies her natural inferiority to her husband.  Become a wife or feme covert, she grants preemptive sexual consent irrespective of her desire.  Even more constitutively repressed by the liberal polis is the intimate violence endured by enslaved African women.  With these foundational occlusions, the seminar will consider pornographic constructions of women’s anatomy as performative figurations of feminine consent and pleasure; representations of sex work as potentially critical reflection on legally stipulated masculine conjugal right; sexual violence, rape law, and constraint (within and outside slavery); and women’s queer desire and resistance to marriage.  We will also analyze two contemporary cruxes in feminism, feminist legal theory, and the late liberal public sphere:  intersectional evaluations of racial difference and feminism; and the sex wars, dominance feminism, and, with resurgent debate over Title IX, critical claims for feminine weakness as a condition of disciplinary intervention.  A tentative, non-exhaustive list of texts, some of which will be chapters or excerpts, includes:  anonymous prostitute narratives; Mary Astell, Some Reflections on Marriage; Penelope Aubin, The Noble Slaves; Wendy Brown, States of Injury:  Power and Freedom in Late Modernity; John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure; Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Close Encounters of Three Kinds:  On Teaching Dominance Feminism and Intersectionality”; Daniel Defoe, Roxana; Eliza Haywood, Fantomina and/ or Love in Excess; Frances Ferguson, “Rape and the Rise of the Novel”; Janet Halley, “The Move to Affirmative Consent”; Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection; Annamarie Jagose, Orgasmology; Mary Hays, The Victim of Prejudice; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; Laura Kipnis, Unwanted Advances; John Locke, Two Treatises of Government; Catharine MacKinnon, “From Practice to Theory, or What is a White Woman Anyway?”; Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract; Samuel Richardson, Clarissa (abridged format); Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (Chapter 5); Wendy Warren, “‘The Cause of Her Grief’:  The Rape of a Slave in Early New England”; Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary or Maria.

English 461 – Studies in Contemporary Literature: Translation Problems

Course Description: This course gives students grounding in contemporary topics in translation studies by focusing on some of the problems embedded in its history and practice: translation’s employment in the contexts of war, displacement, and empire; its role in national canon formation and transnational literary circulation amid the hegemonic force of Anglicization; and the importance of translation problems—mistranslation, pseudo-translation, “bad translation,” and untranslatability—to current discussions of translation's politics and ethics. Alongside a corpus that includes important translation theorists, we will work through case studies of translation problems and problematic translations of literary texts into and out of Middle Eastern languages. The course serves, then, as both a history of literary transmission between the Middle East and Europe—from the nineteenth century translations of the Thousand and One Nights to the contemporary literature of the Syrian civil war—and an introduction to the historical, linguistic, and political problems embedded in that transmission.

English 495 – Cross-Genre Creative Writing

Course DescriptionIn this course, students will focus on workshopping their own creative writing. Students will be invited to write within their genre, and will examine the ways that genres overlap, influence and inform one another. Every student will submit original writing to each class, and the following week we will workshop those pieces. Students will develop the vocabulary and methods to provide thoughtful, constructive suggestions and critique for their peers. They will also learn to evaluate and integrate peer critique and instructor suggestions alongside their own goals and intentions. At least half of students’ workshopped pieces of will be revised for a final portfolio, ideally resulting in publishable work, and making up a portion of the MFA thesis.

Although this course is not a reading-intensive course, but a writing-intensive course, we will buttress each week with a few short readings and discussion of a craft element—for instance, image and imagery; voice and point of view; jump cut and juxtaposition; and ways of integrating research. A focused look at these elements will allow us to build a shared vocabulary for use in our workshop and beyond as the cohort moves through the program.

Notes

Northwestern graduate students in programs outside the English Department are welcome to apply for a space in English 495: MFA Cross-Genre Workshop with Professor Webster, scheduled on Tuesdays 2-4:50, spring 2019. This workshop will concentrate in poetry and creative nonfiction. Click here to fill out and submit the application.  Application Deadline: February 18, 2019.

If you are seeking to count this course as an elective in your own program, you must seek approval from your home department or program.

English 571 – Teaching Creative Writing

Course DescriptionIn this course, we will engage with a wide range of possible approaches to the instruction of creative writing. To begin, we will look at the history of Creative Writing programs and the models of teaching that have traditionally guided MFA programs. We will then move on to discuss theories of learning as they apply to fine-arts courses. We will take into consideration intersectional challenges (race, gender, class, disability, etc). And we will think about the differences between teaching undergraduates and graduate students.

In the second half of the course we will move into the practical work of designing creative writing courses that have a beginning, middle, and end, and also a clear set of achievable learning objectives. You will do the practical work of drafting syllabi, generating exercises, and selecting reading material for introductory courses in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.

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