Course Title: Language, Traps, and Liberation
Course Description: “Denmark’s a prison,” Prince Hamlet once remarked, but Shakespeare’s play helps us see that its title character is trapped not only by his uncle, Denmark’s king, but also by his own mind and language. In this course, we will explore the ways in which language can serve as a vehicle of entrapment and liberation. We will read a range of poems, plays, and fiction by authors such as Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Ellison, Samuel Beckett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elizabeth Bishop, Kazuo Ishiguro, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Marilynne Robinson in order to probe the ways that language can serve as a rich, conflicted, and transformative medium. Because this course is designed to introduce and welcome students to the English major, it will prepare them to read critically, think expansively, and write vividly. To prepare them for work in their upper-division courses, this course will introduce students to the kinds of questions that have animated literary studies in the past few decades and teach them how to write effective, powerful critical analyses of poems, plays, and fiction.
Readings will likely include: short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and James Joyce: novels by Ralph Ellison, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Kazuo Ishiguro; plays by William Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, and Samuel Beckett; and poems by Elizabeth Bishop, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Plath, and Seamus Heaney.
Assignments: Two 5-7 page papers; weekly journals or participation in an online discussion forum; short presentation; 2 exams; active, informed participation.
Course 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.
Course Title: Shakespeare’s Major Plays
Course Description: We will read such representative plays as Hamlet, The Tempest, and King Lear, drawn from the four major genres: tragedy, history, romance, and comedy. Our class discussions will focus on the plays, their language, themes and dramatic techniques.
Readings: William Shakespeare, The Norton Shakespeare, 2nd edition (Norton)
Assignments: One or two oral presentations, one researched term paper (ca. 10pp.); midterm examination; comprehensive final examination; class participation; and regular attendance.
Readings : Authors may include Charles Brockden Brown, Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, Susanna Rowson, Hannah Foster, and Royall Tyler.
Assignments: Structured research assignments will lead to a culminating individual project; short essays and periodic short assignments on each major text; active participation; individual research presentation.
Course Title: Legal Fictions of the EnlightenmentCourse Description: From bigamy and robbery to treason and murder, eighteenth-century novelists obsessively depict illicit behavior. In this course, we consider the centrality of law and lawlessness to early fiction, while exploring the ways in which novels can help us understand the nature and consequences of illicit acts. Reading fiction alongside criminal biographies, treatises, and statutes, we examine questions concerning justice and judgment, crime and punishment, gender and marriage, testimony and evidence, and legal terror and popular violence. Our texts include the lively and checkered autobiography of Moll Flanders, a four-time bigamist and successful thief who claims to have repented of her crimes even as she proudly narrates them; a novel by the founder of modern feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft, recounting the struggles of a young woman whose husband confines her in a madhouse; and a subtle and complex work of historical fiction that interrogates the duty to obey unjust laws. The course should appeal to students with interests in ethics, politics, and social justice as well as to anyone who wishes to read stories of love, transgression, punishment, and revenge.
Note: This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for current majors as well as the 1700-1900 requirement for new majors.
Readings: Texts by Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Walter Scott; secondary readings by Martha Nussbaum, Douglas Hay, Michel Foucault, and others.
Requirements: Two essays; a final exam; lively participation; and short reading responses.
Course Title: British Literature of the Romantic Period, 1790-1837
Course Description: Race, class and gender have emerged during the past two decades as central to the study of the literature of the British Romantic period. This class examines the major Romantic texts in relation to a complex of issues‑‑authorial voice, imagery patterns, symbolism, structuring principles, and ideological configurations‑‑that can be read differently when one takes race, class, and gender into consideration. More specifically, we will examine the issues of slavery and abolition, the class anxieties caused by rapid industrialization and economic growth, and the use of the feminine as a representation in texts written by Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron, and Shelley.
Readings: The Age of Romanticism (Broadview, 2nd edition), Emma by Jane Austen, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Norton) and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
Requirements: One or two oral presentations, one researched term paper (ca. 10pp.); midterm examination; comprehensive final examination; class participation; and regular attendance.
Course Description: Robert Frost insight appeared in two forms: “It is like the stars coming out in the early evening. They have flashes of light. It is later in the dark...that you see forms, constellations.” For many readers, Frost’s poetry includes some of the most familiar poems of the twentieth century. The number of such popular Frost poems is quite small despite the fact that he wrote for well over 60 years. In this course, we will look for constellations among his work by focusing on Frost’s poetry as it appeared in the separate volumes he published from A Boy’s Will (1913), his first book, to In the Clearing (1962), his last one. Besides reading the poetry, we will also look at some of his essays and letters. As a context for Frost’s work, the course will also include Walt Whitman’s first edition of Leaves of Grass. We will also read poems of Emily Dickinson, William Cullen Bryant, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Edward Thomas. Written work for the course will include several brief reflections, two medium length papers along with a final essay exam.
Course Description:This course is both a survey of the canon of English and American children’s literature from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth century and an introduction to critical and theoretical approaches to the analysis of children’s literature. Combining selected classic works of fiction with literary-historical and critical texts, our reading will be guided by the following questions: How does children’s literature negotiate the divide between the desire to instruct and entertain juvenile readers? How do the texts respond to controversial social issues in Britain and the United States? How do the readings reflect and accommodate changing notions of children and of childhood? How does the relationship between words and images operate in illustrated texts? How do the texts construct gender, race, ethnicity, and class? How does children’s literature respond to children (both as readers and as fictional characters) as marginalized “others”? How does writing for children address the power differentials upon which this marginalization rests?
Readings: Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, The Westing Game, critical essays on children’s literature.
Assignments: Participants in the course should expect to complete two research papers of approximately 7-8 pages each, a midterm essay exam, a final essay exam, a reading journal, and an oral presentation, in addition to all assigned readings.
The course examines the construction and deployment of race and ethnicity in U.S. culture and society over the course of the last 100 years up until our present moment, in the era of globalization and neoliberalism. In particular, it examines the centrality of literature for understanding cultural and political negotiations around race and ethnicity. We will consider the role of literature in maintaining “common-sense” ideas about race and ethnicity and as an instrument for trying to over-turn conventional notions. We will work comparatively within and between sequences focused on a key word or concept from race and ethnic studies and featuring literary texts from authors identified with European American, African American, Asian American, Latino/a, Native American and Arab American literary traditions. Throughout, our challenge will be to understand racialization – a process that stigmatizes some forms of humanity for the profit, pleasure, comfort and privilege of others – as a complex factor that has deeply shaped the social fabric of our own location (Marquette and Milwaukee), the U.S. and the modern world. Especially toward the end of class, we will use the case of Milwaukee to think about the history and present of racial and ethnic differences at work on the level of both macro-institutions (such as law, economy, and government) and microstructures (such as everyday living and individual experience).
Readings: Critical race theory including texts by Howard Winant, bell hooks, George Lipsitz, David Roediger, Lisa Lowe and Roderick Ferguson. Literature including Richard Wright, Native Son, Sherman Alexie Flight, and Le Thi Diem Thuy, The Gangster We are All Looking For.
Assignments: Critical reflection papers, 2 short papers, one longer research essay, oral presentation.
Course description: In this course, we will explore literatures written in English since the 1960s in the so-called postcolonial world. The term "postcolonial" refers to the former colonies of Great Britain, whose empire once spanned a quarter of the globe. Readings will come from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Great Britain itself. We will be discussing a wide range of issues including decolonization and the emergence of neocolonialism, cultural imperialism and literary responses to it by authors from what is sometimes called the Third World, and the value of art in an age defined by a "War on Terror."This course fulfills the "Diverse Cultures" requirement for the University Core of Common Studies.