Courses Offered (Fall 2019)

Undergraduate Courses

First-Year English (UCCS Rhetoric Requirement)

1001 Foundations in Rhetoric

Various days and times, see Snapshot
English 1001, Foundations in Rhetoric

Students learn to:

  • Critically engage scholarly communication by identifying and analyzing the main rhetorical features of variously mediated texts used by scholars to express ideas in academic settings;
  • Pursue inquiry with rigor and responsibility by formulating feasible and meaningful research questions and revising them while conducting thorough, ethical inquiries using appropriate available resources;
  • Understand writing as a purpose-driven, audience-oriented, multimodal activity that involves writers in making continuous ethical and informed choices;
  • Develop writing by engaging in overlapping phases of invention, synthesis of ideas and information, and revision undertaken in response to others' feedback and self-critique;
  • Deliver writing by making full use of appropriate available media, genres, formats and styles;
  • Write with exigence by addressing issues of importance with the goal of increasing one's own and others' understanding as a foundation for future action of various kinds;
  • Develop an appropriate ethos by meeting academic audiences' expectations for credibility, consistency, and integrity.
  • For additional details, including unit-by-unit syllabi, contact either Dr. Rebecca Nowacek or Dr. Amelia Zurcher.

1002 Rhetoric and Composition 2

Various days and times, see Snapshot
English 1002, Rhetoric and Composition 2

Students learn to:

  • Critically engage public discourse by identifying and analyzing the main rhetorical features of variously mediated publicly circulating texts;
  • Pursue inquiry with rigor and responsibility by formulating feasible and meaningful research questions and revising them while conducting thorough, ethical inquiries using appropriate available resources;
  • Understand writing as a purpose-driven, audience-oriented, multimodal activity that involves writers in making continuous ethical and informed choices;
  • Develop writing by engaging in overlapping phases of invention, synthesis of ideas and information, and revision undertaken in response to others' feedback and self-critique;
  • Deliver writing by making full use of appropriate available media, genres, formats and styles;
  • Write with exigence by addressing issues of importance with the goal of increasing one's own and others' understanding as a foundation for future action of various kinds;
  • Develop an appropriate ethos by meeting—and exceeding—public audiences' expectations for credibility, consistency, and integrity.
  • For additional details, including unit-by-unit syllabi, contact either Dr. Rebecca Nowacek or Dr. Amelia Zurcher.


UCCS Literature and Performing Arts Requirements

Pre-2018 University Core Literature Courses (ENGL 2000 and 2010)

ENGL course numbers 2000 and 2010 fulfill the University Core of Common Studies requirement in Literature/Performing Arts (LPA) for students enrolled prior to Fall 2018.

1302H Honors English 2

901 MWF 1:00-1:50 Professor Sebastian Bitticks

Course Title: Creative Minds

Course Description: Popular portrayals of artistic genius abound. They circulate as films (Pollock (2000), Frieda (2002)) and novels (The Moon and Sixpence (Maugham), The Hours (Cunningham)), are as large as opera and intimate as one-person shows. Stories of creative excellence excite us, and are often better remembered than the excellence itself. But what is creative genius? Does such a thing even exist outside of the larger than life stories that spring up around it? In this class, we will range across artistic disciplines, encountering visual and performing arts, literature and popular writing, to explore the lives and work of artists and writers and the stories that surround them. We will read and see their work, but also the critical writing produced by and about them and the popular portrayals that have come to define them. We will look at art, see performances, listen to music, and read. Then we will write about and present what we’ve found. By demystifying the notion of creative genius, we will become closer to our shared, and open, heritage.

Marquette Core Curriculum: ESSV Courses

2020 Text, Social Systems, and Values

101 TuTh 8:00-9:15 Professor Sarah Wadsworth
104 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Sarah Wadsworth

Course Title: Rereading the American Past

Course Description: This course investigates ways in which writers have engaged with American history and comprehended its legacies of conflict and oppression from multiple vantage points. The course revolves around key sites of trauma in U.S. history, situated within broader global and national contexts. The course will be organized around a set of paired texts, with accounts written in the immediate aftermath of war, indigenous removal, internment, and slavery paired with rewritings of those histories by contemporary writers of color who use the techniques of fiction to construct a "usable past." Students will explore how histories are constituted and experienced through language, how literature registers and transmits communal values, and how acts of reading and writing can change how we think about the past and, in consequence, how we think and act in the present.

Readings: Readings will likely include Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition; James Welch, Fools Crow; Constance Fenimore Woolson, “Rodman the Keeper;” Toni Morrison’s Beloved; Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried; and Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony.

Assignments: Three papers (3-4 pages each), shorter reflection pieces, occasional quizzes, thoughtful participation in class discussions, final essay exam. 

102 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Thomas Simons
701 TuTh 5:30-6:45 Professor Thomas Simons

Course Title: Countercultures: Art, Community, and Resistance from the Beat Generation to the Grateful Dead 

Course Description: In The Making of a Counter Culture (1968), Theodore Roszak defines “the counter culture” as resisting “the final consolidation of a technocratic totalitarianism in which we shall find ourselves ingeniously adapted to an existence wholly estranged from everything that has ever made the life of man an interesting adventure.” The “emerging technocratic paradise” attempts to “denature the imagination by appropriating to itself the whole meaning of Reason, Reality, Progress, and Knowledge.” Starting from the emergence of the Beat Generation in the Eisenhower Era of the 1950s, and continuing through the decades of the traveling psychedelic circus of the Grateful Dead and the legion of Deadheads, our course will track the formation and efforts of countercultural communities to reclaim and renew the imagination by exploring the ways they challenge and re-envision reason, reality, progress, and knowledge.

Readings: Our texts will include fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, music, and film: selected poems of William Blake; Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) and The Dharma Bums (1958); The Portable Beat Reader; the music of Bob Dylan; Mike Nichol’s The Graduate (1962); Haskell Wexler, Medium Cool (1969); Dennis Hopper, Easy Rider (1969); The Grateful Dead Reader; Jerry Garcia, A Signpost to New Space (1972); Peter Richardson, No Simple Highway; and the music of the Dead.

2030 Global Literatures

101 MWF 10:00-10:50 Professor Paul Gagliardi
102 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Paul Gagliardi
103 MWF 1:00-1:50 Professor Paul Gagliardi

Course Title: Social Equality in the Global Musical

Course Description: This course examines musicals from various historical and cultural traditions from across the globe that address issues of equality and inequality. Throughout the semester, we will explore the development of the musical as a dramatic form as well as its generic elements, and how the musical is interpreted by playwrights from different countries. We will also consider how issues of equality and inequality -- including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class -- shape musical texts and, by extension, individual performances. In addition, we will consider how the problematic elements of musicals addressing social issues, including issues of representation, narrative complications, and commercial factors. We will also examine how to address the issues of these texts in our communities, and whether the musicals present viable solutions to social problems. 

Readings: Texts may include Showboat, Threepenny Opera, Kat and the Kings, Oh, What a Lovely War!, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 

Assignments: Mid-term, Performance Review, Final Exam, Short Writes, Participation 

104 TuTh 8:00-9:15 Professor Sherri Hoffman
105 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Sherri Hoffman

Course Title: International Sports Culture 

Course Description: Sports Literature is the study of literature that springs from the platform of international sports. The course explores Sports as game, expression of movement, athletic prowess, and national representation. As well, it engages issues of social structures, competition vs combat, international protest, culture clash, gender roles, diversity, and racial and ethnic values. Readings are diverse and will explore how our relationship with sports represents, reframes, resists, or reinforces cultural beliefs and values. Each text is an invitation to an understanding about what drives competition, challenges limitations, develops or divides loyalties, and reveals our humanity.Supporting materials for historical and cultural context include essays, video clips, and book excerpts. 

Readings: Three novels, several short stories and essays, excerpts of select books, and a documentary are selected for a broad international and intercultural representation. Authors represent a variety of race, gender, and culture. Several of the works will be in translation. Support materials for historical and cultural contexts include essays, video, literary theory, and secondary criticism. 

Assignments: Reading responses (written and oral), midterm exam, four short critical essays, and two critical papers


 107 MWF 3:00-3:50 Professor Tosin Gbogi

Course Title: Hip Hop and Social Change 

Course Description: This course examines the literary qualities of hip hop across different world contexts. Drawing insights from Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Stanley Fish, and Terry Eagleton, among others, this course will open with a series of questions such as: What is literature? What is a genre? How are ideas about literature and literariness shaped by “ideology,” audience reception, canonicity, temporality, and spatiality? And, more importantly, how does a popular musical genre such as hip hop qualify as a piece of (popular) literature? In this class, we will engage in a rigorous close reading of hip hop lyrical and filmic texts from different countries and continents (e.g. U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Jamaica, Brazil, Cuba, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, etc.), studying them comparatively within the larger framework of their rhetorical strategies, narrative structures, and reinvention of oral literary traditions.

Beyond questions of verbal artistic and literary inventiveness, this course will also explore the leitmotif of global hip hop productions, which Halifu Osumare systematizes through her theoretical formulation of “connective marginalities.” In this part of the course, we will consider how hip hop artists (and other hip hoppers) mobilize the symbolic force of hip hop to engage with marginalities that are connected to race, place, ethnicity, culture, language, gender and sexuality, and age. 

Readings: Our readings will include hip hop texts from different world contexts as well as theoretical and analytical essays. 

Assignments: Weekly close reading papers, two critical essays, engaging class participation, one review of a hip hop show, and final exam paper. 


Writing Courses

3210 Writing Practices and Processes

101 Tu 9:30-10:45 Professor Jenn Fishman

Course Title: Good & Bad Ideas About Writing
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Writing Practices and Processes requirement for ENGA and ENGW majors. Fulfills ENGL major Elective requirement.

Course Description:  For the last two decades, scientists have gathered annually on the Edge, an online publication, to discuss ideas that need to die: popular notions or widely held beliefs that, one way or another, hinder scientific pursuits. In a similar vein, this advanced rhetoric and composition will gather to discuss—and counter—bad ideas about writing. During the first third of the semester we will  read selections from the recently published open-access book Bad Ideas about Writing; we will also talk with contributing authors about the research and scholarship that informs their work. During the next third of the semester, students will respond by proposing and developing their own inquiry-based projects. Possibilities run the gamut from academic essays and documentary-style videos to lesson plans, policy statements, and creative work. During the final third of the semester, students will bring their projects to life by presenting, performing, or otherwise "enacting" their ideas, good, bad, and otherwise. 

Assignments: Regular reading, writing, peer work, and reflection; a multi-stage project individualized to meet students’ individual goals, needs, and interests.

3220 Writing for Workplaces

101 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Jenna Green Azab

Course Title: Writing for Workplaces
Fulfills English Major Requirement: ENGW writing elective requirement and ENGL major elective requirement.

Course Description: Professional communication is essential to the workplace, and this course helps you become an effective professional communicator. Professional communication is the presentation of workplace material in written and visual formats, and as communicators, you must write, design and speak across multiple audiences and for multiple purposes; professional fields require these skills. This class, in content and form, models these successful communication practices, and will help you learn effective strategies to communicate by working individually and collaboratively to complete course projects that are tailored to your personal and career goals.

The course covers the following principle topics:

  • Nature and importance of ethical, effective professional communication
  • Workplace research methods, including interviews, survey design, and usability testing
  • Planning, drafting, revising, and editing workplace documents, like proposals and reports
  • Elements of organization and document design
  • Design and delivery of documents and oral presentations
  • Style in multiple mediums and genres

Readings: Textbook to be determined with additional readings on D2L.

Assignments: You will create a professional career portfolio that will include deliverables such as a cover letter or personal statement, résumé, proposal, documentation/instructions, reports, memos, and reflections. All projects are individualized to meet students’ individual goals, needs, and interests.

3240 Introduction to Creative Writing

101 MW 2:00-3:15 Professor Angela Sorby

Course Title: Introduction to Creative Writing
Fulfills English Major Requirement: ENGW writing elective requirement and ENGL major elective requirement


Course Description: In this course, students will learn to read and write flash fiction, creative memoirs, and lyric poetry. The structure of the course allows for studio writing time, group workshops, and revision exercises. Class sessions can be intense but are always very supportive. The culminating project is a portfolio of finished pieces in three genres.

This course is part of the Discovery Tier "Individuals and Communities."

4220 Rhetorical Theories and Practices

101 MWF 10:00-10:50 Professor Cedric Burrows

Course Title: Theorizing the Rhetoric of Black Protest
Fulfills English Major Requirement: ENGW writing elective requirement and ENGL major elective requirement

Course Description: This course will examine the rhetorical strategies African Americans have used to fight for their civil and human rights in the United States. We will pay particular attention to three historical movements that have either received renewed attention in society (Anti-Lynching Movement and the Black Power Movement) and one contemporary movement (Black Lives Matter). To help ground our discussion, we will examine the movements with the following questions: 1) What historical factors led to the development of the particular social movement? 2) What rhetorical devices did African Americans use to respond to the historical moment? 3) How did the development of these rhetorical devices connect to the next social movement related to Black protest? These questions will help us to theorize the rhetorical strategies in each social movement that will culminate into a research paper theorizing the rhetorical strategies of African American protest.

Readings: Some of the authors we will read include Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Walter White, Robert F. Williams, Stokely Carmichael, and Sybrina Fulton.

Assignments: Three essays and one portfolio

4250 Creative Writing: Fiction

101 MW 2:00-3:15 Professor CJ Hribal
102 MW 3:30-4:45 Professor CJ Hribal

Course Title: Creative Writing: Fiction
Fulfills English Major Requirement: ENGW writing elective requirement and ENGL major elective requirement

Course Description: This course is part of the Discovery Tier "Cognition, Memory and Intelligence." This course gives students an opportunity both to exercise their narrative imagination and to harness it productively.  Some student work will be generated by assignment; some will be self-generated.  The emphasis in both cases will be on learning craft. The class will be organized as a workshop, with lectures as necessary.  Students will learn the mechanics of writing fiction by reading, discussing, and analyzing fiction from a technical, practitioner’s perspective, and by writing it themselves. Students will learn to describe and interpret fiction’s various styles, techniques, and effects through annotations and writing exercises focused on the specifics of craft: characterization, setting, voice, narrative structure, etc. Through writing fully-developed stories, and through workshopping and revising and reflecting on those stories, students will both refine and integrate those techniques while furthering their understanding of the creative process.     

Readings: On Writing Short Stories (Oxford, 2nd edition), Tom Bailey, ed. and student work generated during the semester. 

Assignments:  In addition to writing several exercises (2-4 pages each) covering the basics of craft, students will write at least one short story, approximately 8-15 pages.  They will also write three short annotations examining some aspect of narrative craft on stories from On Writing Short Stories.  A portfolio (15-20 pages) of their best creative work will be due at the end of the semester.

103 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Sherri Hoffman

Course Title: Creative Writing: Fiction
Fulfills English Major Requirement: ENGW writing elective requirement and ENGL major elective requirement

Course Description: This course is the study of writing fiction within the context of the culture it reflects and in which it is produced. Students will investigate how storytelling represents, reframes, resists, or reinforces cultural beliefs and values. Prompts about memory, place, music, or visual art will be used to initiate writing exercises. Workshop pieces may develop from class exercises or simply arise as new work. The workshop structure allows for an active student-led discussion and the development of language about how and why fiction works. Required reading includes short stories and essays that model application or discuss theories and elements of craft. Additional materials may include essays, video clips, and book excerpts.

Readings: Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin; Triggering Town (excerpts) by Richard Hugo; various fiction from Tobias Wolff, Dorothy Allison, James Baldwin, Steve Almond, Grace Paley, Richard Ford, Mary Gaitskill, Kate Braverman, Leonard Michaels, Stuart Dybek, Alice Walker, Denis Johnson, and others; craft essays by various authors. Workshops require the reading of student work.

Assignments: Over the course of the semester, students will write several critical micro-responses (250 words), workshop reviews (1 page each), a craft essay (4-6 pages), and a set of fiction for workshop (15-20 pages). A final portfolio, which includes 10-15 pages of the student’s best work and an artist statement, will be due at the end of the semester. 

4986 Writing Internship

The Writing Internship Course, English 4986, enables both English Literature majors and minors and Writing-Intensive majors and minors to earn three hours of academic credit (“S” or “U”) for "real-world” writing experience. Such internships may be paid or unpaid. For more information, visit our internships page.


Language Courses

4170 Studies in Language

101 MWF 10:00-10:50 Professor Steve Hartman Keiser

Course Title: Language in the City
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Language study

Course Description: Milwaukee”, “Gathering place by the water”, “The German Athens of America”, “Mawaukee”, “Cream City”—the many names reflect a few of the many cultures that have made Milwaukee their home. We will explore the languages of our city as a key component of its social geography, including the history and current status of

  • Native American languages such as Ojibwe, Menominee, and Potawatomi
  • Early immigrant languages such as German, Italian, and Polish
  • Recent immigrant languages such as Spanish, Hmong, and Arabic
  • Anglo- and African-American English
  • Deaf culture and ASL
  • Legislation related to language use

Among our guiding questions are:  What role does language play in the creation of social identity and social stereotypes? What role does language difference play in the creation of social advantage or disadvantage? 

Upper Division Literature Courses

3000 Critical Practices and Processes in Literary Studies

101 TuTh 12:30-1:45 Professor Amy Blair

Course Title: Magic and Literature
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Critical Practices and Processes

Course Description: This course serves as an introduction to the English major, using literary depictions of magic from William Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling as its organizing principle. We will consider the ways a wide range of authors have taken up magic from a variety of critical perspectives, from feminist and Marxist analysis to genre criticism to postcolonial theory and beyond, as well as consider the possibilities and limits of reading “magic” allegorically. What is the relationship between magic and religion on the one hand, and magic and science on the other? How do stories about magic suggest powerful critiques of Western technologies of power and ways of thinking? Conversely, how do they reinforce our positions as good subjects of democratic capitalism? Why are stories about magic, and fantasy more generally, still largely understood as belonging to children’s literature, even as related speculative genres like science fiction and superheroes have enjoyed a renaissance of “serious” critical attention? For that matter, why does our society persist in raising its children in such magical worlds, only to finally spit them out as adults into this one? This course will help students develop fluency with academic discourses and habits of literary criticism that will serve them in their upper-division courses at Marquette, as well as develop their skills as writers and thinkers in their own right.

Readings: Will include William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Disney’s Frozen, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Assignments: Two shorter papers, one final paper, weekly forum posts, class participation

4301 Medieval Literature and Chaucer

101 TuTh 3:30-4:45 Professor Elizaveta Strakhov

Course Title: Here Be Monsters
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Pre-1700 requirement 

Course Description: In this course we will be exploring the unknown and its monsters—or is the unknown and our monsters? From our very childhood when we beg our parents to shut the closet door at night, we have filled dark, empty spaces with the terrifying creatures of our imagination, as if to leave it empty would be worse. This course will explore the monster myths of medieval Europe: from that perhaps most famous of medieval monsters, Beowulf’s Grendel, to the first medieval European werewolf story, to Arthurian romance, to texts that use monstrosity in inventive ways to think through questions of gender. Working through medieval monster myths, we will consider a variety of questions: how did monsters allow medieval Europeans to construct socially accepted ideas of masculinity and femininity? How did they represent and deal with physical disability? How did they foster the condemnation of ethnic and religious difference? And, finally, can the uses to which monster myths were put in the medieval period shed any light on our contemporary social and political attitudes towards ethnic, religious, and sexual difference?  

Readings: Including but not limited to: Beowulf, Marie de France, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Mélusine, and The Book of Margery Kempe.

4331 Shakespeare

101 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor John Curran

Course Title: Shakespeare
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Pre-1700 requirement

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.

4422 British Literature of the Long 18th Century

MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor Melissa Ganz

Course Title: Legal Fictions of the Enlightenment
Fulfills English Major Requirement: 1700-1900 requirement for English majors and the Writing Intensive requirement for the Marquette Core Curriculum (MCC). In addition, it counts toward the minor in Law and Society.

Course 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 English fiction, while exploring the ways in which novels can help us understand the nature and consequences of illicit acts. Reading fiction alongside criminal biographies, statutes, and treatises, 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 for 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 brilliant work of historical fiction that interrogates the duty to obey unjust laws. We will also examine Austen’s treatment of marriage and inheritance in Pride and Prejudice and view the 2013 PBS/Masterpiece film adaptation of P.D. James’s continuation, Death Comes to Pemberley. The course should appeal to students with interests in law and ethics as well as to anyone with an appetite for stories of transgression, punishment, and revenge. 

Readings: Novels by authors such as Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, and Walter Scott; secondary readings by Martha Nussbaum, Douglas Hay, Michel Foucault, Jeremy Bentham, and others.

Assignments: Two papers; short reading responses; lively participation; and a final exam. 

4452 British Literature of the Romantic Period, 1790-1837

MW 2:00-3:15 Professor Brittany Pladek

Course Title: Romanticism and Nature 
Fulfills English Major Requirement: 1700-1900 requirement

Course Description: What do you think of when you hear the word “nature”? Whatever it is, chances are your ideas were influenced by Romanticism. The Romantic era saw an explosion of interest in the concept of “nature”—and momentous changes in what that idea meant. At the same time that poets like William Wordsworth were promoting an early version of ecotourism and philosophers like F.W.J Schelling were hymning Nature as a mystical metaphysics, the Industrial Revolution was spurring fears of human-caused climate change and British imperialism was upending the human and natural world on three continents. The questions raised by Romantic thinkers in reaction to these changes revolutionized the western world’s attitude towards “nature”: Do we have ethical obligations towards the natural world (and if so, what are they)? Are humans natural beings (and what does “natural” mean)? What are the pros and cons of aestheticizing nature? How do humans account for their effects on non-human life? In a very immediate way, today’s arguments about climate change, animal rights, and ecology are products of contradictions first brought to light by Romanticism. 

In this course, we will read nature writing from Romantic writers and their inheritors, from the nineteenth through the twenty-first century. As part of our own grappling with what “nature” means, we will make several visits to the Riverside Urban Ecology Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to conservation, sustainability, and promoting “urban nature” in Milwaukee. Students will then write public-facing essays about their experiences at the UEC.    

Note: This course satisfies the 1700-1900 requirement for English majors. 

Readings: Authors studied include Charlotte Smith; Dorothy and William Wordsworth; S.T. Coleridge; Phillis Wheatley; John Clare; Mary and P.B. Shelley; and others. 

Assignments: Several writing assignments, some traditional, some less so; lively participation.

4462 Gothic Literature

TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Jason Farr

Course Title: The Gothic: Horror Stories, Then and Now
Fulfills English Major Requirement: 1700-1900 requirement

Course Description: In this course, we will explore some of the most identifiable characteristics of what we know today as the gothic genre—typically dark, sometimes scary or campy, and often politically-inflected narratives that reveal as much about the human psyche as they do about the cultural and political contexts that produce them. With this in mind, we will read 18th- and 19th-century British gothic novels and view 20th- and 21st-century gothic films to attend to attributes of horror stories from the past that persist in our cultural imaginary today. We will examine, for example, how these novels and films depict the “monstrous other” and “the double” through what Freud terms “the uncanny,” and the way that gothic spaces—castles, monasteries, and abbeys, for instance—contribute to the terror or horror that these novels and films invoke. For example, by reading Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764) alongside a screening of Guillermo del Toro’s gothic fantasy film, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), or by viewing the film Get Out (2017) as we read Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, we will think and write about the way that recent films draw on longstanding literary traditions of parody, horror/terror, and political critique characteristic of the gothic.

4736 Fiction

TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Leah Flack

Course Title: Memory and Forgetting in Contemporary Historical Fiction
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Post-1900 requirement

Course Description: As part of the discovery tier “Memory, Cognition, and Intelligence,” this course will explore the urgent twenty-first century problem of historical memory and historical forgetting. An intensive study of fiction written in the past two decades will help students to understand the unique resources of fiction to self-consciously reflect on how we remember and the consequences of forgetting. 

In our inquiry, we will be guided by several questions:

  • What kind of histories can writers of fiction produce? 
  • Can historical fiction be true? How does historical fiction challenge how we understand truth?
  • What ethical questions arise when one constructs and reads a historical narrative? What are the ethical dimensions of how we imagine the past?
  • How can writers of fiction help us to think more expansively about the past, in ways that go beyond reading the past as a straightforward march toward a series of inevitable outcomes?
  • What are the consequences of forgetting the past?
  • What is the function of individual and collective ways of imagining the past?
  • Why is historical fiction important?

The spirit of this course will be one of inquiry and collaboration. Course assignments include participation in an online discussion forum, 2 papers, and active, informed participation. Course texts may include: Ian McEwan, Atonement; Laurent Binet, HHhH; Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers; Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant; the film Waltz with Bashir and the TV series The Man in the High Castle

4738 Poetry

101 MW 3:30-4:45 Professor Ron Bieganowski, S.J.

Course Title:  Robert Frost & other Poets
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Post-1900 requirement

Course Description: This course is part of the Discovery Tier "Individuals and Communities." For 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. Other poets broaden appreciation for American poetry within which Frost’s work takes its place: some of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, of Emily Dickinson, William Cullen Bryant, Amy Lowell, Edna St.Vincent Millay, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, T. S. Eliot. 

Readings: Poetry of Robert Frost; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass: The Original 1855 Edition; Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land. Prufrock and Other Poems.

Assignments: Written work for the course will include several brief reflections, a few short writes, two medium length papers along with a final essay exam. 

4810 Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies

101 MWF 2:00-2:50 Professor Tosin Gbogi

Course Title: Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies  

Course Description: Central to constructions of race and ethnicity are vexed questions of identity that pivot on difference, differentiation, sameness, and similarity. Although historically and socially constituted—and performatively produced in specific contexts—racial and ethnic identities are nevertheless “real” for those who “embody” them. Thus, the expression, mocking, or the suppression of these identities produce not only physical violent encounters but also symbolically oriented ones (such as microaggressions) that are a feature of everyday life. 

Focusing on selected literary texts produced by authors from a broad range of multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, and multinational  backgrounds (e.g. Native American, African American, European American, Caribbean American, Continental African (diasporic), and Arab American), we will explore in this course how issues of race and ethnicity within the U.S. intersect with racialization/racism, ethnicization/ethnocentrism, civil rights, colonialism/neocolonialism, war, genocide, and trauma, migration/immigration, language discrimination, religious discrimination, gender and sexuality, gentrification, and market/imperial globalism. Apart from individual assignments, we will work in groups, paying particular attention in the process to how literary production addresses racial and ethnic problems in selected sites within the U.S.  

Readings: May include Alice Walker’s The Color Purple or Meridian; Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love; Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents; and NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names. May also include selected poems from Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric; Niyi Osundare’s City Without People: The Katrina Poems; and Suheir Hammad’s Born Palestinian, Born Black.

Assignments: Weekly reading responses, two critical essays, one site-specific group project, engaging class participation, and final exam paper.            

4825 Native American / Indigenous Literature

101 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Samantha Majhor

Course Title: Native American Literature
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Post-1900 and Multicultural American Literature requirements

Course Description: This course introduces students to a variety of texts by Native American writers and makers. We will develop a sense of context and continuation in Native American literature by looking at both traditional and non-traditional texts across a span of centuries, but our focus will be on contemporary Native writing from the late 20th and early 21st century. This course takes a particular interest in major themes in Native writing: sovereignty, gender, human-nonhuman relationships, Indian law, and transnational indigeneity.

Readings: Our texts will include novels by Louise Erdrich, Tommy Orange, Linda Hogan along with a selection of poems, short stories, and objects.

4931 Topics in Literature

101 TuTh 3:30-4:45 Professor Jason Farr

Course Title: LGBTQ Narratives: Literature, Film, Theory
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Post-1900 requirement

Course Description: José Esteban Muñoz once wrote, “We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an identity that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future.” Here, Muñoz identifies queerness as an identity that is elusive—as something for which we continuously strive. He also suggests that queerness is the product of pasts that collapse upon our present moment, and that due to such fluid temporalities, we can use cultural production (such as film and literature) to imagine queer futures. How can film and literature in particular help us to imagine queerness in this way? How can the work of queer authors and directors reframe our understanding of queer identities, and how can we interpret these works to understand gender and sexual variability in more capacious ways? How can queer theory help us to critique and re-work widespread cultural assumptions that uphold the violence of ableism, heteronormativity, racism, sexism, and transphobia? In this class, we will address these and other related questions through analysis of films and literary texts that represent diverse LGBTQ identities as central to narrative form, rather than as peripheral and pathologized. We will view films such as Paris Is Burning, Before Night Falls, Tangerine, We Were Here, and Pariah. We will also read literature from the likes of Gloria Anzaldúa, James Baldwin, E.M. Forster, and Janet Mock. In our supplemental reading of queer theory, we will learn to think and write about LGBTQ identity, to conceptualize queer subject formation in film and literature, and to speculate about what queer thought can do for the future wellbeing of our society. 

104 TuTh 3:30-4:45 Professor Frances R. Aparicio
(Cross listed with FOLA 4931/104)

Course Title: Performing Latinidad: Interdisciplinary approaches to Latinx popular music and dance

Course Description: This seminar will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches to Latinx popular music and dance as performances of culture, ethnicities, race, class, gender and sexuality.  While musical traditions circulate hemispherically across Latin America, specific sounds and rhythms have been central sites for the construction of Latinx postcolonial identities in the United States.  Salsa, merengue, reggaeton in the Caribbean context and Corridos, cumbias and nortenas, in the Southwest, have become expressive cultures that articulate the postcolonial experiences of diverse ethnic communities in Latino USA who have had limited access to high forms of art and literacy.  The course will begin by introducing students to various theories about popular culture and music –concepts such as productive pleasure, listening as a critical act, and performance as the embodiment of resisting identities—that diverge from the aesthetic approaches to literary texts.  In addition, we will engage musical performances and texts in order to explore the potentials and limitations of the concept of Latinidad.  We will analyze musical genres and their circulations across regions, borders and communities, as well as specific performers –such as Celia Cruz, La Lupe, Selena, Jenni Rivera, Marc Anthony and Héctor Lavoe—who have embodied cultural politics in complicated ways.   In brief, the course will allow students to engage in listening rather than reading and to examine how social meanings emerge out of musical performances.  If popular music is a site where sounds and the body challenge the logocentric hegemony of reading in our production of knowledge, the course will expand students’ horizons of knowledge and critical analysis.  Course requirements include a class presentation, weekly written responses to the readings, and a final, original research paper.  Conducted in English but required listening skills in Spanish as well. 

4997 Capstone

TuTh 12:30-1:45 Professor Christine Krueger

Course Title: Reading Minds: Cognitive Literary Studies
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Capstone requirement

Course Description: The field of Cognitive Literary Studies (CLS) is a particularly useful approach for a Capstone course since it invites us to reflect in new ways on our responses as readers. We sometimes have difficulty explaining even to ourselves why certain texts elicit strong emotional or ethical responses. Emerging in the past decade, CLS proposes that discoveries from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and related disciplines could be relevant to explaining why we respond to literature as we do. Such cognitive activities as persuasion, empathy, awe, humor, condemnation, etc., may result from the intricate interaction of what we read with our biologically-based, culturally constructed mental makeup, much of which is pre-conscious. These claims have been taken up not only in literary criticism, but philosophy, theology, sociology and history. We’ll start by reading key foundational articles in CLS as well as some 18th- and 19th-century literary texts that contributed to modern theories of the mind. In the second half of the semester, each student will pursue a particular topic, author, or literary work, applying and evaluating CLS as an approach.  Students will propose texts for us to read and discuss relevant to their research and lead a ½ hour discussion. Topics may be taken from literature, or another related discipline. Topics might include: Can CLS make a contribution to Critical Race Theory? What does CLS tell us about James Joyce’s stream of consciousness narration? Does Jane Austen’s use of free indirect discourse influence theories of mind? What are the limitations of CLS for explaining historical responses? Is CLS relevant to scriptural interpretation? What are the connections between CLS and “self-fashioning” in Shakespeare? Can CLS apply to social justice advocacy in literature? We will also have guest speakers from other disciplines to talk about their uses of cognitive sciences. Over the course of the semester, students will produce three hypothesis statements and annotated bibliographies (30%), culminating in a 2500-3000 word research essay (30%). Each student will lead one class discussion (20%), write a reflective final essay (10%) and participate in class discussion (10%).

Graduate Seminars

6220 Studies in Shakespeare

MW 2:00-3:15 Professor John Curran

Course Title: Shakespeare and Greatness

Course Description: In this seminar we investigate the issue of greatness as it seems to be reflected in Shakespeare’s drama. The idea of individual human greatness has accounted for much of the attention Shakespeare’s characters have enjoyed, but more recently they have been deemed interesting to the extent he undermines or interrogates this concept. Does Shakespeare cast his characters as “great?” What is greatness? What theoretical, political, or theological implications does it carry? In considering these questions with regard to Shakespeare’s characters, we also consider his own greatness. What makes him stand apart in our minds from his fellow Renaissance dramatists? Does he capture greatness better than they? Or does he rise above them for complicating the idea in ways they cannot? We will concentrate on Shakespeare’s histories and tragedies, examining each play in tandem with an analogous selection from another dramatist. Selections will include plays by Marlowe, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Middleton, Chapman, Massinger, and Webster.

6820 Studies in Modern Critical Theory and Practice

101 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Amy Blair

Course Title: Monsters of Theory

Course Description: This course is a survey of important movements within theory and criticism, as well as an exploration of the history of both the university and the English department as institutions, ranging roughly from the Enlightenment to the present. We will explore major touchstones within literary theory (New Criticism, the Frankfurt School, cultural studies, structuralism and poststructuralism, feminism, critical race theory, postcoloniality, ecocriticism, the digital humanities, and disability studies, to name only a few), as well as consider the viability of theory as an ongoing intellectual project in an era of neoliberal austerity and revanchist political movements. In order to facilitate our investigation, we will repeatedly turn to Frankenstein as our central text to see how the multiplicity of theoretical and critical approaches transforms our readings of the novel.

Readings: The primary readings for the course will be derived from The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (3rd edition) and the Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (ed. by Johanna M. Smith, 3rd edition). Some additional readings and materials may be distributed via coursepack.

Assignments: In-class participation and presentations, D2L discussion posts, micro-essays, final project. In lieu of a final term paper, students will develop a professional portfolio across the semester, as befitting their status within the program and eventual scholarly and career goals.

6965 Practicum in Teaching Writing

101 MW 3:30-4:45 Professor Sebastian Bitticks

Course Description: Prepares doctoral students to teach in the Foundations in Rhetoric program. Students discuss pedagogical theory and practice, are paired with a faculty mentor, and design their own syllabi for the spring term.