101 MWF 9:00-9:50 Professor Jacob Riyeff
Course Title: The Earliest English Poetry
Course Description: The acclaimed twentieth-century poet W.H. Auden noted once that, after hearing J.R.R. Tolkien recite a long passage of Beowulf, he knew that “this poetry…was going to be my dish.” Many people from the nineteenth-century through today have been moved and enticed by the charm of the earliest English poetry, but why?
Poetry from the Old English period (ca. 450-1100 CE) is filled with saintly kings, warrior saints, lonesome wanderers, dragons, demons, wisdom poetry, elves, and riddles—plenty to catch our attention and make us listen to a thousand-year-old past on its own merit. In visiting the early medieval past through Old English poetry, we find what the poet Geoffrey Hill has called a “strange likeness.” Some aspects of the world and the human that we find represented in this poetry are odd, baffling, frustrating, even disturbing. And yet, other aspects can seem familiar, inviting, a refuge from the modern world and its anxieties. In discerning which aspects strike us in these different ways, thinking about our own reactions to the surviving corpus of Old English poetry can help us not only to understand the distant past better but also ourselves and our contemporary world. In this class we will explore: a wide range of subgenres of Old English poetry, how poets used poetry to ruminate on a variety of themes and human problems, ideas of what poetry was for in the minds of the earliest English poets and audiences, Beowulf(!), and modern interest in Old English poetics. Various non-poetic texts and artifacts will help us situate all this in context. No experience with Old English or medieval history is necessary, and all texts will be in translation.
How and what Old English poetry as a genre specifically contributes to an understanding of literature more generally will be our “proximate goals” for this course. Our “final goals” will be to gain a keener understanding of the ways in which we can fathom and communicate with the past in productive and accurate ways on the one hand and how humans shape understanding through art on the other.
102 MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor Sherri Hoffman
103 MWF 8:00-8:50 Professor Sherri Hoffman
Course Title: Sports Literature
Course Description: This course is the study of sports as it is portrayed across genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, film, and drama. Additional readings will provide supportive contexts. We will explore how our relationship with sports represents, reframes, resists, or reinforces our cultural beliefs and values. Each text is an invitation to gain an understanding about what drives us to compete, challenges our limits, bonds teams, divides loyalties, and reveals our humanity.
Readings: Katherine Dunn, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Daniel James Brown, Gail Mazur, Robert Coover, D'Arcy McNickle, Philip Roth, Gay Talese, John Updike, May Swenson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Red Smith, Robert Frost, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Nancy Lemann, Ann Bauleke, James Welch, Jackie Robinson, James Baldwin, Sherwood Anderson, Jane Smiley, Nick Hornby, and others.
Assignments: Weekly reading, weekly short response posts, team presentations, four topic proposals, midterm review quiz, one short critical paper (4-6 pgs), and a final long critical paper (8-10 pgs).
104 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Tyler Farrell
Course Title: The British and Irish Stage
Course Description: This class will investigate the renowned world of British and Irish Drama from its infancy to the present day. We will examine some of the finest dramas from both sides of the Irish Sea beginning with the late 15th century morality play Everyman, and concluding with a relatively new (and oft challenging) Irish playwright. This class will involve readings and discussions of what are generally considered to be the finest plays (perhaps masterpieces) of major English and Irish dramatists from the last five centuries. Along with Everyman we will read and discuss the following authors and plays: Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, G.B. Shaw’s Saint Joan, Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Brian Friel’s Translations, Marian Carr’s Portia Coughlan, and Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman.
Assignments: Two critical papers, group presentation, weekly reading and writing assignments, quizzes, midterm and final exam.
105 TuTh 12:30-1:45 Professor Jenna Green Azab
Course Title: Storytelling in Contemporary Society
Course Description: What makes a story good? How are stories crafted? How do we use narrative to construct reality, ourselves, and our contexts? How do the stories we read and tell shape our culture, identity, and sense of purpose? We’ll use these questions as guiding points to critically read and rhetorically analyze contemporary stories across genre. We’ll consider the origins and elements of storytelling (plot, setting, structure, character) and study techniques of successful short fiction writers and poets. To explore how digital technologies have created new approaches to storytelling, we’ll analyze genres of film, social media, podcasts, video, and performance. Students will also reflect on connections between storytelling techniques and their own academic, professional, and/or personal goals.
Readings: Short fiction from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, T.C. Boyle, Raymond Carver, William Faulkner, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, Grace Paley, Shirley Jackson, Kristen Roupenian, and George Saunders; critical essays, and selections of digital storytelling through performance, social media, and film.
Assignments: Active participation in class discussions, weekly reading, writing and viewing assignments, two critical papers, group presentation, quizzes, midterm and final exam.
106 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Anna Scanlon
Course Title: Representations of Medicine in 19th and 20th Century Literature
Course Description: This course blends the study of medicine with the study of literature by focusing on texts from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. As our class engages with these texts, we’ll ask important questions about how scholars of both medicine and literature write about disease, what place illness and wellness have within narratives, and the ways in which texts focused on illness have or have not changed over time. By studying these texts, this class will engage with discourses about both literature and medicine and focus on the ways in which these discourses encourage or impede thoughts about how disease and medicine have — or have not — progressed in the twentieth century.
Readings: A Midwife’s Tale, Martha Ballard, The Diary of Alice James, Alice James, Miss Evers’ Boys, David Feldshuh, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, The Hours, Michael Cunningham
Assignments: One close reading paper, approximately 5 pages; one genre-focused paper, approximately 6 pages; one final research paper, 8 to 10 pages
107 TuTh 3:30-4:45 Professor Tyler Farrell
Course Title: 20th Century Poetry
Course Description: Through the lens of five twentieth century poets we will look at how poetry relates to, and is possibly defined by, influence and place. A poet’s muse can appear in a variety of forms – family, religion, background, upbringing, environs, famous or historic people, other poets, writers, publishers, artists, and friends. This class will look at how poets are formed, what part of the world they are from, who was included in their immediate circle of friends, and which influences were allowed entrance far enough to inform a particular poetic voice.
The five poets we will be concerned with most are: W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970), Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) and James Liddy (1934-2008). However, we will also look at poems by Walt Whitman, Hart Crance, Blake, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Philip Levine, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, John Berryman, Charles Baudelaire, Jack Spicer, George Oppen, Alice Notley, James Wright, Jim Chapson, and many others.
This class will focus on analysis, active discussion in small and large groups, and writing informed by deep consideration of primarily 20th century poetry and the surroundings in which poets wrote.
Assignments: Weekly reading assignments and short (1-2 page) reflections, group presentation, class discussions, two formal critical papers, midterm and final exam.