UNIVERSITY CORE LITERATURE COURSES (ENGL 1301-2931)
ENGL courses numbers 1301-2740 fulfill the University Core of Common Studies requirement in Literature/Performing Arts (LPA)
UCCS Learning Objectives for Literature and Performing Arts (LPA)
Upon completing these courses, students will be able to:
(1) Produce oral and written assessments of literary and cultural texts and/or performances using the language and concepts of the discipline of literary studies.
(2) Articulate how literary and cultural texts can transform one’s understanding of self, others, and communities.
(3) Apply the methodologies of literary criticism to representative works of literature.
Thematic Title: “The Government of the Tongue”: Authority and Morality in the Russian Literary Tradition
Course description: In 1986, Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney looked east to the Russian literary tradition and admired that this tradition demonstrated the existence of a “government of the tongue,” a kind of moral authority separate from the institutions of political power claimed by writers living through an era of revolution and totalitarianism. This course will explore three of the most important writers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who participated in the “government of the tongue” that inspired Heaney and countless other writers around the world: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Mikhail Bulgakov. Their works—The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, and The Master and Margarita—mix comedy with pathos to represent some universal themes, like love, death, faith, and the search for meaning in life, and they also offer some surprises, like the devil’s multiple trips to Russia (once to tell the story of Christ and Pontius Pilate to a group of atheists). We will focus on the evolution of a set of major themes, ideas, cultural contexts, and formal features that ended up exerting an important influence on the development of the novel in Western Europe and America in the past two centuries. This is a reading-intensive course. Students should be prepared to read 150-180 pages per week.
Assignments: Weekly D2L journals; 2 papers; 2 in-class essay exams; active, informed participation.
Thematic Title: Negotiating Authority
Course description: Linked with Honors Theology 1001:902, taught by Kirsten Guidero, this section of English 1302 explores literary negotiations with authority in England and the US from the Romantic period forward. In what sense is a literary text (or its author) a source of authority? What kinds of authority do readers have? How do literary texts represent and engage with authority, both cultural and political? How do understandings of authority, and of literature’s relation to it, shift from the Romantic period through the 19th century and into modernism and post-modernism?
Readings: Readings will include novels, poems, and essays.
Assignments: This course will also focus on the practice and conventions of writing, and students will write three essays and two exams.
Course description: This course will provide students with a broad experience of British writing between c. 1400 and c. 1780, including poetry, drama, and prose. As an historical survey, it considers the significance of cultural context and the construction of a national tradition to literary production and reading. Political, religious, economic, sexual, and scientific histories will inform our discussions of works. As an introduction to literary analysis, this course also teaches basic concepts of literary forms and genres. To understand and explain how a work conveys a theme or an impression, readers need to grasp versification, figures of speech, imagery, characterization, plotting devices, and the like.
Readings, lecture, discussion, essays, and exams are all meant to enable students to master these materials and skills. Assessed student work: participation (10 pts), 2 essays (20 pts each); 2 exams (15 pts each); final exam (2o pts).
Thematic Title: Imagination and Globalization
Course description: We often think of the term “globalization” as describing a set of economic forces bringing governments and industries throughout the world into tighter relationships. In this course, we want to expand that idea of globalization to examine how the increasing inter-connectedness of different people in different parts of the world refines the stories we tell about ourselves and others. How does globalization challenge traditional ideas rooted in particular places? What does globalization do to the ways societies imagine themselves? Do different areas of the world respond to globalization differently? How do migration and the movement of ideas transform cultures? We will examine 20th- and 21st-century fiction from numerous locations throughout the world, asking how the writers and cultures represented imagine themselves engaging with other areas on the globe.
Readings: Readings will include novels by Cristina Garcia, Junot Diaz, Mohsin Hamid, and Aravind Adiga. We will also examine short stories by writers from West Africa (Uwem Akpan, Chimamanda Adichie, EC Osondu, Chika Unigwe), South Asia (Jhumpa Lahiri, Bharati Mukherjee, Salman Rushdie), the Caribbean (Edwidge Danticat, Jean Rhys), and various diaspora communities in North America.
Assignments: Students will produce three argumentative papers and two shorter textual analyses. This course will also include two objective assessments in the form of quizzes.
Course Description: From ancient tales to modern novels, monsters and monstrous creations have played key roles in our literary imagination. What does the presence of these creatures tell us about ourselves and about the societies and minds in which they were brought to life? How do we define monstrosity, and how have those definitions changed over time? In this course, we will focus on writings about monsters and monstrous creations (both within and outside the self) from British authors spanning the period 1800-today in order to explore the social functions of extreme cases of difference, of fear and horror, and of the human mind's ability to conceive monsters, either in the form of a separate entity or a dangerous alter-ego.
Readings: Depictions of monsters, monstrous creations, and secret selves from Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Kazuo Ishiguro, and others.
Assignments: Weekly quizzes, midterm, paper, final exam.
Title: British Literature II: 1800 to the Present
Course Description: This course introduces you to some of the most influential and provocative works of British literature from the nineteenth century to the present. As we trace innovations in poetry, fiction, and drama, we examine the ways in which writers respond to explosive developments in the family, science, law, and politics. In particular, we consider the redefinition of gender roles, the impact of Darwinian evolution, the emergence of criminal anthropology, the consequences of world war, and the altered perception of time in the modern era, among other topics. Along the way, we work on honing your close reading and critical writing skills. The course ultimately aims to introduce you to the range and richness of British literature, while giving you a set of reading and writing skills that will serve you well in the years ahead.
Readings: Texts by authors such as William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Emily Brontë, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, and Kazuo Ishiguro.
Requirements: Two essays; a final exam; lively participation; and short writing assignments.
Course Description: Civil rights, relations of power, colonialism, capitalism, the supernatural, obsession for control in matters of religion, morality, sexuality are some of the issues explored by writers of this period as away of grappling with new freedoms and a new understanding of self and the world. This course will situate the development of literary forms and themes against the background of the rise of capitalism, the decline of the empire, the advent of experimental science, the development of the worker as a political movement, and certain unsettling questions that writers were asking of themselves at this time, e.g., do women NEED marriage to complete themselves; is marriage itself a form of enslavement; does a woman have the power—outside of marriage—to empower herself; or how much of our reality is purely interpretation? That is, do contextual clues of our environment—gender, nationality, our social environment, class, education—decidedly shape the way that “we understand and misunderstand each other?”
Readings: Such writers include William Blake, Jane Austen,William Wordsworth, A. Lord Tennyson, W. B.Yeats, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Stevie Smith, George Bernard Shaw, J. B. Priestly, Ian McEwan, etc.
Requirements: Quizzes, papers, midterm and final exams.
Thematic Title: Thrill and Dread in the American Century
Course Description: “To be modern,” Marshall Berman wrote, “is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.” This course traces the development of this tension between hope and disaster, between "thrill" and "dread," in American literature since the Civil War. In this course we will examine and interrogate this explosive sense of what it means to be “modern” with respect to themes of history and futurity, identity and difference, politics, community, war, empire, and the environment. From the private lives of individuals and families to the very public relationships that exist in and between diverse communities to the nation’s assent to global superpower status in the context of a nuclear-powered Cold War, we will find America in the post-Civil-War period understands itself as a place where anything can happen—in good ways, and in bad.
Readings: Norton Anthology C,D,E; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1958); Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (1993)
Assignments: Two shorter papers and one final paper, weekly forum posts, class participation
Thematic Title: Class in America
Course Description: The image of the United States as a classless open society, grounded in the possibility of social mobility, forms one of the most pervasive and enduring national ideas. Economic, political, and cultural equality, however, exists as an ideal rather than a lived social reality in the nation. Introducing select works of American literature published since the end of the Civil War, this course investigates the central theme of class in American literature. Among the questions this course will take up: What does class mean in the United States? Where does economic capital end and cultural capital begin? What types of narratives of social mobility are prevalent in American literary culture? How do literary texts reinforce or undermine stereotypes of different social classes? How is class made visible or invisible in literary representation? In what ways does class intersect with categories such as occupation, race, ethnicity, gender, place, and sexuality? How have definitions of class transformed over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first century? In order to place these literary representations of class in a wider historical and cultural context, readings will be supplemented and juxtaposed with other media including journalism, television, and film.
Readings (books, short stories, etc.): Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Mike Gold’s Jews Without Money, JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest EyeAssignments: One short paper, one longer paper, reading journals, class participation, opening class discussion/opening questions
Readings: Readings in the post-Civil War American tradition, including authors such as Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller.
Assignments: In-class discussion and lecture; three papers (one being the final exam) and an oral report required of everyone.
Course Description: This course, INTRODUCTION TO FICTION, is designed to engage you, the student, in a reading experience in which you participate in discovering the meaning and multiple meanings of the written word. In your study of this GLOBAL FICTION, you are invited to relate to the world in which you live, while you respond to the thoughts, ideas, and perspectives expressed by writers from America, Ireland, Spain, Russia, China, England, and beyond. You are invited to let your viewpoint wander through the multiple landscapes of imagination, while you give expression and understanding to the literature, which is basically a reflection of our humanity. The world of fiction incorporates a marvelous and enriching human journey with its quests and obstacles, its glamorous visions and its disastrous misfortunes, a journey that we all share.
Description: Flannery O’Connor wrote that “the main concern of the fiction writer is with mystery as it is incarnated in human life.” (Mystery and Manners)
This section of Introduction to Literature: Fiction will engage the breadth and depth of the mystery incarnated in human life through stories created by some of the most imaginative writers, particularly American writers. The readings, reflection, and discussion of stories of human mystery will lend an individual tone to what James Baldwin describes as the artist’s task: “...while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell.... (“Sonny’s Blues”).
Readings: Included will be stories by Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Alice Walker, Bernard Malamud, James Baldwin as well as several others.
Assignments: Writing assignments will include several brief papers, two medium length papers, and a final essay exam. Class will be primarily discussion format because “it takes a whole class to get at what stories are about.”
Thematic Subtitle: Fiction, Sex, Regulation
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
-- Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”
Fiction, like sex, transacts with the permissible and the impermissible. This course introduces students to concepts of fiction and methods of literary analysis through the study of short stories, novels, and experimental narratives about how acts of writing and affirmations of desire/love unsettle normal politics and contest regulatory ideas of what is legal, moral, rational and authoritative in the name of a good life that cannot be lived without change. We will examine the work of authors who rhetorically relate the powers of fiction - an institution by definition “not true” that may also be “more than true”- to those of sexual expression in efforts to revolutionize the terms of political and social contests around feminism, sexual normativity, American Indian/U.S. relations, racial histories, war and other “facts” of political modernity. Some questions that will guide our discussions include: When do expressions of sexuality become political? When does fiction about sex and sexuality become political? How is regulative power – authoritative rules that seek to control conduct – represented in fiction that thematizes sexual expression? How is sexuality represented in fiction that thematizes regulative power? How can we think of fiction as a cultural apparatus that sometimes challenges and sometimes strengthens regulative modes of power? Why do regulative apparatuses – the law, the state, organized religion – focus on controlling sexuality? When, how and for what purposes do people represent sexual expression as a challenge to regulative disciplines of conduct, identity, law and custom
Readings: Short stories, J.M. Coetzee Waiting for the Barbarians, Audre Lorde Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Jessica Hagedorn Dogeaters, Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two Spirit Literatures
Assignments: One short, one medium length, and one longer (8 page) paper, critical one-page reflections, possible reading quizzes and exams, summary and presentation of scholarly essay
Thematic Title: Mystery, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction
Course Description: This course will introduce you to the basics of how to read and interpret fiction by focusing on a variety of popular fictional genres: the mystery or detective novel, the woman’s romance, the horror story, and science fiction (SF). Specifically, we will be investigating four major schools of literary interpretation: formalism, historicism, ideological criticism, and psychological approaches to fiction. On a thematic level, we will look at how the detective genre produces and/or undermines notions of coherent, knowable identities and how the act of interpretive reading mimics the process of investigation and probe that characterizes the Detective himself.
Readings: Short stories and novels about Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, and Hannibal Lecter. Romance and Horror works will interrogate how our culture has constructed notions of seductive sameness and otherness, while the SF works we will read examine how fantasy formations operate in imagining the future.
Assignments: Two papers, a midterm, and a final are the requirements for this course.
Thematic Title: Introduction to Literature/Drama: “Performing Gender”
Course Description: There may be nothing more simultaneously obvious and mysterious about our identities than our gender. Gender seems to inhabit the space between biological fact and cultural truth, in that it both describes us and proscribes us. We seem born into gender – we are male or female before we are even really ourselves; yet we also seem to actively create our genders – the variety and profusion of signifiers we use to mark ourselves as male or female or otherwise suggest not only a complex reality behind a seemingly simple binary, but our own complicity in creating that reality.
Certainly drama, the literary genre most concerned with human representation, has since its beginnings been aware of the degree to which gender roles shape our conceptions of what it means to be human. Greek and Elizabethan drama reveled in exploiting the fluid possibilities of investigating, switching, or simply abandoning traditional gender roles, all while observing strict rules regarding the performance of those roles on stage. Modern drama has continued in even more complex, sometimes baffling ways the tradition of using the stage as a site to blur or etch the boundaries of gender. Plays, as mirrors and creators of culture, have showed us over the centuries how gender roles define us, in both liberating and constricting ways. In this class, we will investigate how the dangerously liminal space between those simple alternatives: male, or female? can – played for laughs, tears, or both – determine not only the loves, lives, and identities of individuals, but the very fate of empires.
Readings: Possible texts: Aristophanes, Lysistrata; Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra; Brecht, The Good Person of Szechwan; Beckett, Play, Ghost Trio; Churchill, Cloud 9; Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross; Sondheim/Levine, Into the Woods.
Thematic Title: “The play’s the thing…”
Description: …that catches our consciousness, drawing us to question not only the characters in the “world of the play” but ourselves as well. We will use the template of Aristotle’s Poetics to probe the secrets of 12 plays that span the great ages of theatre, from Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex to Shennkan’s The Kentucky Cycle. We will test Aristotle’s idea of “catharsis” — do we laugh? do we cry? — by attending, as a class, two productions: Almost, Maine, John Cariani’s touching and hilarious romantic comedy, performed at Marquette’s own Helfaer Theatre (including a tour of the theatre facility and a conversation with students involved in the production); and Hamlet, Shakespeare’s great tragedy, also performed at MU’s Helfaer. Having focused on Aristotle’s study of plot, we will also look at the importance of character development in modern drama: we will invite characters from August Wilson’s Fences to tell us their back stories and do a Keirsey analysis of the personalities in Ibsen’s classic, Hedda Gabbler. Our semester will include a class at MU's Haggerty Art Museum, where we will compare themes in dramatic and visual arts. Several opportunities for extra credit will include acting and interpreting characters and adapting plays for class presentation. Assessment is based on twelve five-minute quizzes; two exams; two critiques; a text/production comparison or final thematic analysis; and on class participation.
Thematic Title: Introduction to Literature: Poetry: Performing Poetry
Course Description: It’s too easy in our current culture to think of reading poetry as a silent, solitary act. The earliest poets of English created poems with the understanding that their works were to be read aloud to an audience that knew how to listen. As an introduction to poetry as a unique medium, this course will explore different varieties of English verse, from the narrative to the evocative, from medieval alliteration to modern free verse, from the popular Ballad to the learned Sonnet, and think about them all as performance pieces. In order to perform poems well, we will need to understand how the medium of poetry affects the message of the poem and so we will examine meter, rhyme, sound symbolism and other technical aspects of verse. Our goals for the class will be to make the act of reading poetry exciting even as we learn how to actively and critically understand the texts.
Assignments: To achieve those goals you will be writing critical analyses, offering oral presentations, and taking a shot at creating (and performing) your own poetry.
Course Description: Is film “truth 24 times per second” as Godard suggests or is Herzog right when he asserts that “Film is not the art of scholars, but illiterates?" Using a variety of thematic lenses, this survey covers a wide array of works in different genres, with special attention to how film editing, music and other techniques inform narrative. Films studied include American classics, lesser-known works, plus several international films, including an introduction to the French New Wave. Readings and in-class discussion will focus on critical approaches to film studies, in part through a comparative study of how works of fiction are translated into movies. Students will be challenged to consider the particular contributions film makes to our understanding of human nature.
Readings: Sikov:Film Studies: An Introduction, Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby, and Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire
Assignments: Four quizzes, two 5 - 7 page essays, 2 short writes, mid-term, final.