Description: The course will survey major works in Old English and Middle English Literature. Old English Literature will include Beowulf, The Wife's Lament, and The Wanderer focusing especially on the concepts of kingship, the crisis of the transfer of power, the doomed heroic life, fame in the face of possible oblivion, and the rich poetic techniques that give this poetry its superior status among early surviving literatures. With Middle English literature we will look at Dante's Purgatorio (portions of it), Pearl Anonymous, Tristan and Iseult, Gawain and the Green Knight, Malory's Morte Darthur. In this half of the course, we'll examine the nature of the Intruder Hero, the medieval theory of knowledge, the nature of obsessive love, comedic love, and courtly love, and the ways in which men and women contested the inherited social and political roles that shaped their identities. We will consider the controversial depiction of gender roles, as well. If time allows, we will examine a Sundance Festival award winning film encoded with medieval themes. (Pearl Anonymous will be read in bilingual edition of Middle English and Modern English).
101 MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor John Boly
Thematic Title: Modern British Literature
Description: The course will apply a range of critical approaches (including but not limited to formalism, Marxism, structuralism, phenomenology, psychoanalytic criticism, and social constructivism) to canonical high modernist texts
Readings: Hardy, Conrad, Sassoon, Rosenberg, Owen, Yeats, Forster, Woolf, Joyce, Lawrence, Mansfield, T. S. Eliot, Beckett.
Assignments: Homework and quizzes, a midterm exam, and two essays.
4510 American Literature to 1798
Thematic Title: Comics as Literature
Description: Beginning with Batman and Superman, passing through R. Crumb, Harvey Pekar, and Maus, and moving into the contemporary era of Persepolis and Dykes to Watch Out For, this course will survey the history and reception of comics and graphic narrative since 1945. We will explore the history of the comics form from its origins to the present moment, watching as the medium shifts from a predominantly American, predominantly male fixation on the superhero towards an increasingly popular international art movement crossing gender, class and ethnic lines. In addition to studying comics as literary scholars, along the way we will also consider alternative modes of comics reception, including the great comic book panic of the 1950s, underground “hippie” counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, and Internet fandom today.
Readings: Texts will include superhero comics, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Alan Moore’s Watchmen, as well as Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and additional selected excerpts.
Assignments: Midterm, one paper, one final project, in-class presentations, weekly responses.
Description: One of the most prolific authors in the modern period – the author of the twentieth century, according to one admirer – Tolkien is also one of the most influential, controversial, and challenging. He inspired a craze for fantasy literature that persists today and that itself has influenced the movies, games, and images of pop culture. As often as readers praise his novels, however, critics (particularly scholars) vilify them for their plots, style, and characters. Further complicating this reception is the fact that as a writer Tolkien, who by trade was a medievalist and philologist at the University of Oxford, produced far more than his well-known books on Middle Earth. In an effort to get a broad understanding of Tolkien as a writer, we’ll read these blockbusters, but also some of his original poetry, several of his academic articles, and his translations of medieval poems. And with the assistance of the Raynor Archives, which house the original manuscripts of several of Tolkien’s fantasy works, we’ll consider what it meant to be a writer when Tolkien was, including the way he balanced teaching and writing, the importance of his writers’ group (the Inklings), and the process by which his sometimes illegible handwritten drafts found their way (changing in the process) to the finished products that shook the literary world.
Readings: The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings; “The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son"; translations of Pearl, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Sir Orfeo; “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”; “Chaucer as a Philologist: The Reeve’s Tale”; “On Fairy Stories”; “English and Welsh”
Assignments: Attendance and participation; the desire to read a lot; two papers and two exams; presence at several events sponsored by the Archives to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the publication of the Hobbit.
This single-author study will focus on Laguna Pueblo writer and photographer Leslie Marmon Silko (1948-), with an emphasis in not only introducing her oeuvre to students, but also to contextualize her work within the circles and contexts of U.S. / Mexico / Native borderlands, the resistance to neoliberalism in the Global South, 20th century indigenous women’s writings, Native American photography and film, Insider/Outsider anthropology, American Indian literatures, political writing and art, and the contribution Silko has made to world literature overall.
Readings: Her novels (Ceremony, Almanac of the Dead, and Gardens in the Dunes), selections from her poetry (Laguna Woman) but also her hybrid text Storyteller and her nonfiction production, including essays (Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit), memoir (The Turquoise Ledge), and narrative photography (Sacred Water). We will also use a critical reference book by Mary Snodgrass, Leslie Marmon Silko: A Literary Companion.
Assignments: Will consist of the creation of five page contextual research papers on elements and themes introduced by the work, comparative study of materials within and outside the course readings, short close reading responses, and a final fifteen-page research paper and in-class presentation.
Description: This course is an introduction to Shakespeare’s art and some of its major themes. The course will include representatives of Shakespeare’s four major dramatic genres, comedy, romance, history, and tragedy.
Readings: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, The Tempest, Richard II, Henry IV, Macbeth, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, and King Lear.
Assignments: Students will be expected to come prepared to discuss specific problems they discern in the plays, read passages aloud in class, and serve as discussion leaders on at least three occasions. Further assignments will include three analytic papers (5 pages each) and a final exam.
Description: This course will focus on changing notions of childhood, and changing conceptions of literature “for” children, from the eighteenth century through the present. Using archives and primary sources, we will examine early alphabet books, primers, fairy-tale collections and poetry, as well as classic children’s novels such as Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Burnett’s The Secret Garden, and Harry Potter. We will study how children’s texts reflect adult ideologies, but also how they make space for play and even rebellion.
Assignments: Will include response papers, one exam, two research-based project papers, and a group presentation.
4800 Studies in Literature and Culture: Playing God: Theatrical Expressions of Divinity
Description: Playwrights from Aeschylus to Tony Kushner have attempted to stage the divine in various manners and manifestations. This course will explore some of these attempts with an eye toward what they, as cultural products, reveal about the various contexts in which these plays were written and performed. Representative readings from classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and our own era will be considered, as will the always-complicated relationship between organized religion and the stage.
Readings: Aeschylus, Euripides, Christopher Marlowe, John Osborne, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Tony Kushner, John Patrick Shanley, and others.Assignments: We will study texts together and discuss them; this is not a lecture course. Students will submit a weekly brief of no more than one page, single-spaced reacting to the readings of the day. Students will also write a final paper of 7-10 pages.
4810 Race, Ethnicity, Identity in American Literature
Description: African American author James Baldwin claimed that in the United States, “our passion for categorization, life fitted neatly into pegs, has led to an unforeseen, paradoxical distress; . . . [to] confusion, a breakdown of meaning . . .” (Notes of Native Son, 1955). Part of our purpose this semester is to examine the categories that have been constructed surrounding “race,” “ethnicity,” and “identity” (both individual and collective) in order to consider the ways in which these concepts are both meaningful and meaningless. What, for example, is “ethnicity”? What is “race”? Who, exactly, is “ethnic” and by whose definition? How do other categories, such as “class” and “nation,” stand in relation to “race” and “ethnicity”? Most importantly, what constitutes “ethnic” or “race” writing in the United States? Is it determined simply by the identity of its author? Does it include stories that tell about specific cultural groups, regardless of by whom they are written? Or is it characterized by some particular literary styles or tropes? In this course, we will consider all of these issues. Through an investigation of 20th and 21st century fiction and drama, read in conjunction with contemporary and classic essays in ethnic and critical race theory, we will 1) examine how “race,” “ethnicity,” “class” and “nation” have been defined and depicted literarily in United States and 2) consider the aesthetic, social, political, and cultural consequences of these depictions in order to 3) explore the relationship between “American” and “ethnic/race” literature over the past century.
4860 Survey of Women's Literature
English 4860 is an upper-division course that focuses on key issues in the study of women and literature. It presupposes that you bring the skills of critical reading, analytical and argumentative writing, and research mastered in First Year English. Gender and the condition of women have emerged as key topics in contemporary thinking on global development and security. As is evident from the sub-heading of this course—“The Politics of Aesthetics”—our subject matter rewards an interdisciplinary approach to these issues. Therefore, bring to bear on our discussions, essays, and exams your experience with the full range of courses you have taken in literature, philosophy, theology, psychology, economics, politics, and statistics. Our readings include fiction and non-fiction, and trace crucial stages in the development of Anglo-American women’s writing in relation to feminism from the late eighteenth century to the present. Throughout, we will be concerned with how aesthetic features of texts (genre, rhetoric, plotting, characterization, allusion, point-of-iew, etc.) are interrelated with political issues (equality, autonomy, enfranchisement, economic opportunity, property rights, etc.). You will be expected to respond in discussion to the questions framed for each meeting, and to the related issues they imply; to master skills of literary analysis; to apply those skills to interpreting the relationship between aesthetics and politics in essays; to conduct and present research in collaboration with a group. By the end of this course, I would hope that you have a command of the course content and oral, writing, and research skills that would enable me to write a recommendation for you for professional employment or post-baccalaureate study.
Writing Assignments and Exams:
Essay 1: 1,000 words 20 pts. Choose one:
Respond to one of the critical essays in our edition of Rights of Woman, or Jane Eyre, using textual evidence to support your argument.
Essay 2: 1,500 words 2O pts.
Along the lines of our editions that supply critical, biographical, and historical materials as contexts for Rights of Woman, or Jane Eyre, e.g., create your own critical edition for The Wind Done Gone or Memoirs of a Geisha. Find the best example you can of one of each of the following: 1) a review of the novel; 2) biographical material on the author, such as an interview; 3) an article or essay on a significant issue relevant to the novel. Provide photocopies of these texts and write a 1,500 word introduction to your edition, explaining how the secondary materials you have chosen illuminate the novel.
Cumulative Final Exam 20 pts.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
Alice Randall, The Wind Done Gone
Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha