Courses Offered (Spring 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 TuTh 12:30-1:45 Professor Melissa Ganz

Course Title: Crime and Punishment in English Fiction

Course Description:  From thieves and murderers to bigamists and terrorists, criminals have long figured prominently in English fiction.  In this course, we consider the centrality of crime and punishment to the novel tradition, while exploring the ways in which novels can help us understand the causes and consequences of illicit acts.  We pay particular attention to the implications of criminality for literary form, while sampling recurring debates about the effects of reading and writing about vice.  Along the way, we consider topics including the value and limits of transgression; the origins of the human capacity for evil; the role of gender, class, and nation in discussions of criminality; and the relationship between law and literature.  As an introductory literature class, this course places special emphasis on close reading and critical writing.  By the end of the course, my hope is that you will have gained a better understanding of perennial problems of criminal justice; a sense of the range and richness of modern fiction; and a set of reading and writing skills that will serve you well in the years ahead.

Readings:  Novels and stories by authors such as Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, and Margaret Atwood.

Assignments:  Two essays; a reading journal (“crime log”); a final exam; lively participation; short writing and other assignments.

2000 Literature, History and Culture

101 MWF 10:00-10:50 Professor John Boly

Course Title: Paths into Subtext: the forbidden world.

Course Description: Maybe not everyone, but probably most people older than three or four understand the gap between what you say – and what you think. Why do we habitually self-censor? For all sorts of reasons: social taboos, unforgivable thoughts, atavistic emotions, dangerous secrets, horrid desires. Even (shudder) politically incorrect beliefs. Together these inner impulses comprise the forbidden zone of a deeply repressed human universal, the subtext. Fortunately, what curses the rest of us inspires and impels the arts. Famed Russian director and film pioneer Constantin Stanislavski decreed to his actors, Always act subtext, never text! His principle of reversal became the guiding force behind many of the acting practices we find in twentieth century plays and films. Lee Strassberg’s method acting, Stella Adler’s emotional mechanics, and David Mamet’s practical aesthetics all share Stanislavsky’s basic conviction. An actor does not play the plain and evident sense of the words. Why bother? The audience already gets the obvious and literal meaning. Instead, an actor must show, without saying outright, the horrid motives, cruel intentions, selfish goals, and dreaded needs hiding beneath the words. Our main question for this course will be whether Stanislavski’s decree of tacit yet enacted reversals can be transposed from its dramatic and cinematic origins and mapped onto that quite different genre, poetry. Bizarre, yes, but it sort of makes sense. Actors can and routinely have given splendid performances of poems. Incredible readings by Bill Murray, Emma Thompson, Glen Close, and even that Hawking-turned-Shirlock-morphed Hamlet, Benjamin Cumberbatch (trained, incidentally, in that Stanislavsky snake pit known as the London Academy of Dramatic Art), come to mind. But even when no trained actor is about, when there is only the waiting poem on the silent page, can the verse itself prompt the rest of us to step onto the stage? Take those weary fuddy-duddies, like meter and rhythm, accent and pitch, chiasmus and zeugma, ellipsis and epistrophe, syntax and lineation, not to mention eight or nine different kinds of rhyme. Can they be given a new mission? Might these textbook standby’s shuffle off their gatekeeper’s scowl and then pied piper us down paths threading their way through the forbidden subtext? Could tone and imagery serve the role of Strassberg, Adler, or Mamet and coach us to become better actors ourselves? We will pose and pursue that one question with the help of poets ranging from Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson to Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, Natasha Trethewey, and Audre Lorde.

Assignments: Routine homework and quizzes, midterm, take-home final, and two of your impassioned critical essays.

102 MWF 1:00-1:50 Professor Max Patchet

Course Title: The Existential Novel

Course Description: Much of literature is directed towards asking existential questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of my existence? Why was I born at this time, at this place, and into this historical moment? Is connection possible, or am I doomed to an alienated, isolated existence? How do we live in a world that defies our attempts to understand it? This course looks at how authors from Fyodor Dostoevsky and Joseph Conrad to G. K. Chesterton and Douglas Adams wrote novels that sought to explore these and other existential questions. By looking at authors’ individual approaches to existential themes, this course will examine how existentialism offers a way to understand meaning, purpose, anxiety, contingency, freedom and finitude to challenge us to reexamine our assumptions about the world and our place in it.

Readings: Potential works will be Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Lived Underground”, William Barrett’s Irrational Man, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, and Douglas Adams The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Assignments: Regular reading assignments, two short papers, class participation, discussion forum posts, and a take-home final exam. 

103 MWF 2:00-2:50 Professor Danielle Clapham

Course Title: Millennials & The Lost Generation. 

Course Description: Restless. Young. Impulsive. The Lost Generation, a generation of writers and artists coming of age during and after World War I, were often described by such terms as the public struggled to define them and their experiences. In recent years, columnists, theorists, and political commentators have applied similar terms to millennials, debating whether they are the “lost generation” for the new millennium. This course takes up this defining question of the generation by placing millennial experience and contemporary politics and culture in conversation with the literature of the original Lost Generation from 1920s and 30s. The course will explore key themes in the literature of the Lost Generation and compare them to current culture using think pieces, social media, and other artifacts. We will explore questions around the influence of global conflict, experiences of feelings of disillusionment, issues of self-presentation, and new forms of identity politics to identify key parallels and divergences across these two generations. Using literature as the foundation of our study, we will examine the ways in which culture impacts both public and personal perception of a generation’s identity and interrogate the value society places on identifying generational patterns. 

104 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Ron Bieganowski, S.J.

105 TuTh 8:00-9:15 Professor Justice Hagan

Course Title:  Migration and Displacement

Course Description: When we think about migration, two groups usually come to mind; those seeking a prosperous future and new opportunities, and those seeking shelter from violent or untenable circumstances.  Both of these groups, it is often assumed, choose to migrate to their new homes and leave their places of origin willingly.  However, while many individuals and families have stories that reflect these familiar themes, others have histories that contrast greatly with them.  Not all individuals and families choose to leave their homes, and many are forced into circumstances of displacement, both internally and transnationally.  What are the institutions and powers behind this forced migration?  What are the experiences of displacement?  How can literature challenge the assumptions that place and belonging are beholden to the nation-state?  In this class, we will focus on texts from American and transnational writers that address these questions in an effort to study communities often marginalized by idealistic visions of migration.

Readings: Possible texts for this class include novels, short stories, comics, and essays, as well as films.  Potential authors and directors include Marjane Satrapi, G.B. Tran, Deanne Borshay Liem, Alex Rivera, and others.

Assignments: Reading, class participation, short essays, final research paper.

701 MW 5:30-8:00pm Professor Thomas Simons (1st session)

Course Title: American Noir: Crime in Literature and Film from 1934-1950

Course Description: This course will investigate the issue of crime in American novels and films from the 1930s to 1950. We will consider crime not simply as the breaking of a law but more abstractly as a transgression of societal codes, norms, and structures. We will also explore how the novels and films relate and respond to their historical and cultural moments. Finally, we will evolve a working definition of “noir” as an aesthetic mode and worldview and trace how the works studied exemplify, develop, or contest these concepts.

Novels and films (to be shown in class) will include Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past (1947), James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), Tay Garnett’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Edward Anderson’s Thieves Like Us (1937), Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948), Vera Caspary’s Laura (1943), Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944), Elizabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall (1947), Max Ophüls’ The Reckless Moment (1949), Cornell Woolrich’s I Married a Dead Man (1948), Mitchell Leisen’s No Man of Her Own (1950), Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock (1946), John Farrow’s The Big Clock (1948), Dorothy B. Hughes’s In a Lonely Place (1947), and Nicholas Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950).


Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s & 40s, Robert Polito ed. (New York: Library of America, 1997).

Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s, Sarah Weinman ed. (New York: Library of America, 2015).

Assignments: Active participation in class discussions, film journal, novel discussion forum, a midterm and final examination, and a course paper.



2010 Literature and Genre

101 MWF 9:00-9:50 Professor Tyler Farrell



ESSV New 2018 Core Requirements

2020 Text, Social Systems, and Values

101 TuTh 9:30-10:15 Professor Cedric Burrows

Course Title: I Am We: Memoirs of the Civil Rights Movement​

Course Description: This course will focus on narratives written by participants in the Black Freedom Movement (1955-1975). We will study how these participants used their narratives to give voice to those who are often overlooked in mainstream narratives about the era. The course will also investigate how the authors used their accounts to respond to common perceptions (and misperceptions) about the movement. In the process, we will explore the Civil Rights Movement as a grassroots movement occurring in several locations that created a national movement.

Readings: Readings will include: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It—JoAnn Gibson Robinson; March Trilogy—John Lewis; The Autobiography of Malcolm X—Malcolm X; Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community—Martin Luther King, Jr.; Revolutionary Suicide—Huey P. Newton

Assignments: Reading Responses; Quizzes; Presentation; Midterm; Final; Class Participation

2030 Global Literatures

101 MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor Paul Gagliardi
102 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Paul Gagliardi

Course Title: Global Literature: Literature of the City

Course Description: This course examines novels, poems, plays, and films from different historical and cultural backgrounds that explore the concept of the city. We will consider how the idea of the city has changed from the late-nineteenth century to the present day, as well as how major social and economic movements -- mass production, mechanization, colonialism -- have impacted cites and the people who live in them. In addition, we will also consider how the urban space influences both shared experiences and depersonalization. We will trace these relationships between the city and its people across class difference, gender, race, nationality, and other concepts. In addition, we will discuss if and how these texts propose solutions to economic and social inequality in the city, and if such ideas can be adopted by us for social change. 

Readings: Zadie Smith, White Teeth, Fydor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground, Nathanael West, Day of the Locust, Teju Cole, Open City


103 MWF 8:00-8:50 Professor Sherri Hoffman

Course Title: Global Literature – African Voices

Course Description: In the past, the global perspective of African literature has been largely shaped by colonialist or European-centric authors as indigenous voices have been suppressed, dismissed, or rendered inaccessible without translation. This course will embrace authors indigenous to the continent, tracing the development of African literature in its own diverse voices. The scope of work reveals rich cultural traditions against the influences of colonialism, revolution, wars, modernizing technologies, and the developing globalized institutions of a rapidly changing world.

Readings: Multi-genre—fiction, poetry, drama, film, and memoir—with works from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and others. Authors represent a broad variety of race, gender, and culture. Some of the works will be in translation

Assignments: Weekly reading responses, midterm exam, class presentation, two critical papers.


Writing Courses

3210 Writing Practices and Processes

101 MWF 10:00-10:50 Professor Jenna Green Azab
Course Title: Multi-Genre Workshop
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Writing Practices and Processes requirement for ENGA and ENGW majors. Fulfills ENGL major Elective requirement.

Course Description: This workshop-based course is designed to help you develop your habits and skills as a writer in a digital age. Writing now includes many forms of creation in multiple modes and genres. This course will introduce you to theories of rhetoric and writing, provide opportunities to experiment with new writing processes and practices, and help you create a portfolio of nonfiction writing in multiple genres.

We will analyze the ways writers compose texts by examining how meaning is constructed across genres through the use of text, images, sounds, and medium. The course is designed around the workshop method to allow frequent chances to write, revise, collaborate, and both give and receive feedback.


  • Ball, Cheryl E., Jennifer Sheppard and Kristin L. Arola Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. Bedford/St. Martins, 2018.
  • Williams, Joseph M. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. Pearson, 2017.
  • Your own writing and the reading and discussion of your classmates' writing

Assignments: Assignments include brief writing assignments, style exercises and active participation in peer review workshop, and a portfolio including 4 selections of revised, multi genre writing. Portfolios may be individualized to meet student goals, needs, and interests.

102 TuTh 8:00-9:15 Professor Elizabeth Angeli
Course Title: How Writing Works
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Fulfills ENGL major Elective requirement.

Course Description: How do writers communicate in your chosen career? What different processes do writers engage in to communicate effectively to various audience and across media? How can you bring your experience with academic writing into your chosen career?

In this class, we will answer these questions by researching how writing works in the multiple communities and in the multiple genres in which you participate: from school to the workplace to service, from writing reports to texting to creating a social media presence. By the end of the course, you will have a disciplinary writing portfolio that showcases your writing and research process and your ability to participate in a discipline through learning how to write in, for, and with that discipline. Students in pre-health, pre-law, education, and engineering especially will benefit from this course as we will delve into disciplinary writing and reading practices in your chosen profession.

Assignments: Projects are individualized to meet students’ individual goals, needs, and interests.

3220 Writing for Workplaces

101 TTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Elizabeth Angeli
Course Title: Writing for Workplaces
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Fulfills 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 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 you will 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 documentation and reports
  • Elements of organization and document design, including an introduction to InDesign
  • Design and delivery of documents and oral presentations

Readings: Johnson-Sheehan, Richard. Technical Communication Today. 6thed., Pearson/Longman, 2018.

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

3240 Introduction to Creative Writing

101 TTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Angela Sorby
Course Title: Introduction to Creative Writing
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Fulfills ENGL major Elective requirement.

Course Description: This course proceeds from the assumption that creativity can be learned and that it is broadly applicable to every life path. Students will read flash fiction, micro-essays, and lyric poetry. As they become skilled readers they will also produce and revise work in each of the three genres. The culminating course project is an online portfolio of curated and original writing.

4210 Writing, Literacy and Rhetoric Studies

101 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Cedric Burrows
Course Title: The Rhetoric of the Black Freedom Movement

Course Description: This course examines the rhetorical strategies African Americans have historically and currently use to resist, reform, and renew the ideals of American democracy and human rights. To frame our discussion, the course will study the historical periods that helped shape the rhetorical strategies. These periods range from the Abolition Movement and Reconstruction to the Civil Rights/Black Power Movements and the present. In the process, students will gain an understanding of the historical and cultural development of black America, most notably how African Americans shaped an identity that was created by both the community and the larger society, and how African Americans formed and fostered a culture that has sustained them from slavery to the twenty-first century. As well, students will learn how the historical and cultural development of African Americans informed their rhetorical strategies to members within and outside their communities.

Readings: Marable, Manning and Leith Mullings, editors. Let Nobody Turn Us Around: An African American Anthology. 2nd ed., Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2009.

Assignments: Several rhetorical analysis papers; midterm; final

4230 Writing Center Theory, Practice and Research

101 MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor Rebecca Nowacek
601 F 12:00-12:50 (Discussion) Professor Rebecca Nowacek
Course Title: Writing Center Theory, Research, and Practice

Course Description: Participants in this course will study the theoretical and practical aspects of peer tutoring of writing—a topic that may have relevance not only in the short term (for students looking to gain employment at Marquette’s Ott Memorial Writing Center and other campus programs that hire peer writing tutors) but also in the long term (for students looking to cultivate written and oral communication skills attractive to employers in a wide range of professions). Topics of inquiry include the complex processes involved in written, oral, and multi-modal composition; the exploration of the different genres and contexts of writing; the theory and practice of providing feedback on work in progress; and writing center scholarship more broadly. Observation, examination, and reflection upon our own experiences as writers and tutors is a central dimension of the course. Permission of the instructor after a process of application is required for registration. Please contact Dr. Rebecca Nowacek (Director of the Ott Memorial Writing Center) at

Readings: Texts will include scholarly sources made available through electronic reserve as well as original texts composed by current and previous participants in the course.

Assignments: Will likely include two reflective papers, a longer inquiry project, and 15 hours of participation in a “writing center internship” in Marquette’s Ott Memorial Writing Center.

4250 Creative Writing: Fiction

101 MWF 1:00-1:50 Professor Sherri Hoffman
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Fulfills ENGL major Elective requirement.

Course Description: The Seminar in Fiction is the study of the craft of fiction within the context of the culture in which it is produced. This course investigates how storytelling represents, reframes, resists, or reinforces cultural beliefs and values. The workshop structure allows for an active discussion of student work. Readings are a diverse selection of authors as examples of craft and the diversity of voice. Supporting craft materials include essays, video clips, and book excerpts, which invite the study of language and story reimagining our world.

Readings: Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin; Triggering Town by Richard Hugo; various fiction from Tobias Wolff, Dorothy Allison, James Baldwin, Anton Chekhov, Jhumpa Lahiri, Nina McConigley, Leonard Michaels, Breece D’J Pancake, Leo Tolstoy, Alice Walker, Denis Johnson, and others; additional craft essays by various authors.

Assignments: over the course of the semester, students will give a class presentation, write several short critical responses to short stories, write workshop reviews, and produce a portfolio of fiction (30-40 pages).

4260 Creative Writing: Poetry 

101 TuTh 12:30-1:45 Professor Angela Sorby

Course Description: This is a course – but it’s also a community.  Every week, we share each other’s work in an atmosphere of trust and support.  We also read the best poets publishing today, from Patricia Smith to Li-Young Lee.  And we always try to take at least one field trip ... destination TBA.  Poetry-writing is appropriate for anyone who wants to be more creative, from advanced practitioners to absolute beginners. 

4932 Topics in Writing

103 MWF 2:00-2:50 Professor Sebastian Bitticks
Course Title: Writing Creative Nonfiction
Fulfills English Major Requirement: Fulfills ENGL major Elective requirement.

Course Description: Maybe you’ve wanted to tour a city like Anthony Bourdain, but couldn’t convince a TV crew to follow you. Or maybe you’ve filled pages with thoughts and reflections, but can’t quite find the form to fit them. Maybe you’ve read Roxanne Gay or Rebecca Solnit and thought: yes, this is what we need more of. Creative nonfiction is for you. Covering travel and food writing, memoir/autobiography, New Journalism, personal essays and hybrids that blur the borders with poetry and fiction, CNF is literature’s eclectic, big-tent genre. In this class, we will learn the habits, methods and writing techniques to tell true stories well. We will go out into the world and deep into our memories, explore new literary forms to express unique experiences, and learn how to take an idea from a vague feeling in our guts to a polished piece of writing.

4954 Seminar in Creative Writing

101 MW 3:30-4:45 Professor C.J. Hribal
Course Title: Seminar in Creative Writing: Fiction & Poetry

Course Description: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” So says that great theorist of narrative craft, the filmmaker Mel Brooks. Of course, most of life (and most of the writing that tries to reflect the complexity of life) falls all along the spectrum between (and including) those two poles. Life is both tragic and comic. Or as the Yiddish proverb has it, “Man plans. God laughs.”

This workshop will give students an opportunity to develop poems and narratives that reflect that complexity. To paraphrase the Czech writer Milan Kundera, most people would rather believe a simple lie than a complex truth. This is a course in learning how to write complex truths by making stuff up. In this seminar, which will be run as a workshop, students will develop proficiency with those techniques (many of which they first encountered in ENGL 4250 or 4260) that will help them do that. They’ll also add additional techniques to their repertoire, examine poetry and narratives from technical (as well as critical) viewpoints and develop fluency in discussing poetry and fiction writing from the practitioner’s viewpoint, with the ultimate goal of writing better poems and better narratives.

Readings: The Story Behind The Story, Barrett and Turchi, eds., Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, Kim Addonizio, + student work

Assignments: In addition to a few writing exercises, students will produce 20-25 pages of prose fiction and/or poetry by semester’s end (and will do significant revision of those pages). They will also write and present a number of brief craft-oriented responses to the assigned readings and to the work of their peers.

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

4120 Exploring the English Language

101 MWF 9:00-9:50 Professor Hartman-Keiser

Course Title: The Anatomy of English

Course Description: In this course we will look closely at (and be wowed by) the structure of the sounds, words, and sentences of American English.  We will apply our analytical skills to develop a working model for representing the knowledge we each have as speakers of English—this will also require a certain amount of memorization of the terms needed to describe language structure.  We will consider how some of the conventions of standard edited English are or are not motivated by our model as we work to establish a basis for making informed decisions about style, usage, and grammar pedagogy.  Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Explain the evidence that:
    1. All languages are rule-governed.
    2. The rules of any particular language are acquired through everyday social interaction (and not through explicit instruction or attempts to learn a prestige language).
    3. Any stigma or prestige accorded a language is not predictable from the language itself, but rather from the social evaluation of its speakers.
  2. Analyze the structure of sounds, words, sentences, and conversations in English by describing the relationships between the units that compose them.
  3. Engage in productive conversations with people who have not had the opportunity to learn these course objectives (i.e., 1 and 2 above):
    1. Critique ideologies of (standard) language that shape public commentary on speaking and speakers.
    2. Critique prescriptive/evaluative statements about style, usage, and grammar pedagogy

Readings: Curzan and Adams. 2012. How English Works: a Linguistic Introduction (3rd ed.)

Assignments: Homework (daily), quizzes (weekly), two analysis papers, two exams.


Upper Division Literature Courses

3000 Critical Practices and Processes in Literary Studies

101 MWF 10:00-10:50 Professor Leah Flack

Course Title: Language, Traps, and Liberation

Course Description: “Denmark’s a prison,” Prince Hamlet once remarked, but anyone who has read Shakespeare’s play knows 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 poems, plays, and fiction by a diverse range of authors (including Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Ellison, Rankine, Ishiguro, Woolf). This course will help new English majors and interested non-majors to read critically, think expansively, and write vividly. In our work together, we will also examine the kinds of questions that have animated literary studies in the past few decades as you learn how to write effective, powerful critical analyses of poems, plays, and fiction.

Assignments: Will include three short papers, D2L discussions, a presentation, and thoughtful participation.

102 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Brittany Pladek
Course Title: Poetry and Poetics

Course Description: This course is for anyone who has ever struggled with poetry—with understanding it or liking it—as well as for anyone who already loves poetry and wants to deepen their appreciation. The course introduces you to the skills and methods of literary study through intimate work with a single medium. We’ll survey a variety of poetic forms while practicing the basics of poetic reading: focusing tightly on language, including how words look and sound; learning key figurative devices; and (often but not always) using rhyme and meter to analyze meaning. Learning how to interpret poetry will help you become a better reader of prose, since a poem’s condensed language teaches you to focus your attention simultaneously on a work’s broad and small movements. Moreover, since poetry was a major English literary form for hundreds of years, understanding how it works offers a unique insight into literary history. You will use what you learn here in other classes. Finally, reading poetry is a deeply joyful process. This class will encourage the delight that comes from engaging with poetic language in a focused way, and hopes that you’ll leave with at least one new favorite writer. To facilitate that goal, we’ll be reading a wide range of poets, from medieval to modern, and practicing listening to poetry together in class—by reading aloud ourselves, but also playing contemporary spoken-word poets and lyricists.

Readings: Anthology TBD, but likely poets will include Rafael Campo, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Claudia Rankine, John Keats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, W. H. Auden, and Derek Walcott.

Assignments: Several short papers, two exams, and lively participation.

4321 British Literature of the 16th Century

101 MWF 11:00-11:50 Professor John Curran

Course Description: This course examines some of the major writers and genres of this time of explosive change. We will see how authors dealt with and contributed to the social, religious, philosophical, and literary developments marking the Tudor century, with an emphasis on the late Elizabethan period. Grounding our consideration of these works and their context will be the idea of virtue; our authors share as their common concern an effort to probe this elusive concept. How do we define virtue? Who has it and how do they get it? In what ways is it relevant to human society and to the salvation of the individual? How does literature itself help or complicate our understanding of virtue? We will repeatedly pose such questions as we approach our texts in three phases, grouping them according to genre: lyric poetry (Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney), fictional narrative (More, Sidney, Spenser), and drama (Kyd, Marlowe, Shakespeare).

Assignments: Will include a short paper, a longer research paper, a class presentation, and a final exam.  

4482 US Literature from the Civil War to the Early 20th Century

101 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Amy Blair
Course Title: (Re) Writing the American Midwest, 1865-1914)

Course Description: In this course we will think about the imaginative construction of the Midwest during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will consider the ways that Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis were figured as urban spaces that were supported by and reached into the rural spaces (or “hinterlands”) of the “Great West,” and how the Midwest was imaginatively and literally constructed as a hub for goods, people, and culture between the coasts. We begin with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, during which Chicago laid its claim to twentieth-century significance.  We will read poetry, short fiction, and novels that consider the possibilities and dangers of the metropolis for women, immigrants, African Americans, Native Americans, and East-coasters. We will also read contemporaneous magazines and newspapers for cultural images of the Midwest. Along the way we will talk quite a bit about architecture, wheat, pigs, trains, rivers and shoes.

Readings: May include: Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; Sinclair, The Jungle; Ida B. Wells Barnett’s journalism, Cather, The Professor’s House; Zitkála-Sá, Impressions of an Indian Childhood; Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Norris, The Pit, poetry by Edgar Lee Masters, Alice Cary, Phoebe Cary, and Carl Sandburg, among others.

4611 Jane Austen

101 TuTh 8:00-9:15 Professor Al Rivero

4615 Text in Context

101 MWF 12:00-12:50 Professor Leah Flack

Course Title: James Joyce's Ulysses

Course Description: Students in this course will embark on one of the great adventures of their academic careers: reading James Joyce’s dazzling, gorgeous, messy novel, Ulysses. The board at the Modern Library (among others) calls it the best novel of the twentieth century, which is a fitting vindication for a novel that was once put on trial in New York (in the 1934 case THE UNITED STATES vs. ONE BOOK CALLED ‘ULYSSES’). Ulysses depicts the ordinary lives of Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus on a single day in Dublin in 1904 (June 16th, Bloomsday, a day celebrated around the world each year with readings, re-enactments, and revelry). Joyce began his novel during the First World War by remaking Homer’s epic of homecoming, the Odyssey, to celebrate the value of the everyday lives of ordinary men and women. We will read Ulysses alongside three precursor texts that will help us to better understand it: the Odyssey, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Our course environment will demand both serious intellectual engagement and a willingness to think in playful, creative ways. 

4715 Children's Literature

101 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Professor Sarah Wadsworth

Course Description: “I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's mind.” This quotation from Peter Pan by James M. Barrie captures an array of fundamental questions underlying all of children’s literature: How do children think? What do they remember? What do they understand? How do they learn? What amuses them? The ways writers have answered these questions vary from the seventeenth-century to the present, as this survey of British and North American children’s literature reveals. The course introduces students to canonical children’s literature from the seventeenth century to the present along with a variety of theoretical approaches that have aided scholars in interpreting how the language of children’s literature functions with respect to memory and other cognitive processes (emotion, nostalgia, empathy, creativity, the acquisition of knowledge) connecting the adult writer to the child reader. 

Combining classic works of fiction with literary-historical and critical texts, readings for the course will be guided by the following questions in conjunction with its focus on memory, cognition, and the adult perception of the child’s mind: 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? How do the texts 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 as marginalized “others”? How does writing for children address the power differentials upon which this marginalization rests?

4786 Women Writers

101 TuTh 3:30-4:45 Professor Christine Krueger

Course Title: “Mother Tongues”:  Women’s Stories of Migration

Course Description: As current migration experiences underscore, women may have distinctive reasons for leaving their homes and face unique challenges as migrants.  Those include the integral connections among language, identity and self-representation.  In the six works of fiction we’ll be reading--all written in English between 1931 and 2000--the politics of language foreground intersections of gender, race, and status in the experience of migration.  What assumptions about language, gender and identity are entailed by the phrase “mother tongue?” What goes into an author’s decision to write in English rather than her mother tongue?  What about US natives who emigrate?  Can they represent other cultures in English?  These, and many other questions, are raised by Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, Anchee Min’s Pearl of China, and Lan Samantha Chang’s Hunger (which trace and arc of migration from the US to China and back), as well as Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Michell Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (which trace networks among African countries, the Caribbean, Britain and the US). 

Assignments: Students will give two group research presentations (@ 15 pts.); write three hypothesis statements and annotated bibliographies (@ 10 pts.), and one final research paper (30 pts.).  Participation will count 10 pts. 

4820 Studies in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

101 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Jodi Melamed

4830 Africana Literature

101 TuTh 3:30-4:45 Professor Jodi Melamed

4997 Capstone


101 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Elizaveta Strakhov

Course Title: Capstone – History of the Book

Course Description: What is a book? Traditionally literary scholars answer this question by thinking about characters, plot, genre, etc. The discipline of the history of the book, however, answers this question rather differently. The history of the book looks at the book’s pages and their size, its cover (soft or hardbacked), the quality of its ink and illustrations, the tightness of its binding (how hard is it to crack open?), and all the other details that make the book a physical object before we start to ask ourselves questions about characters, plot, and genre. Because, often, we understand a book’s message, purpose, and the intent behind its composition far better when we take into account its status as, first and foremost, a physical object with a concrete history behind it. This research seminar will teach you the history and development of the book from the earliest origins of oral culture through our modern-day online reading culture, paying special attention to the origins and evolutions of the technologies of reading and writing. In addition to history, you will also learn the practical side of working with material literary objects: deciphering medieval and Renaissance handwriting, for example, and understanding the physical mechanisms of page-gathering and book-binding. In the process, we will be reading literary texts that thematize books, and libraries, as physical objects worthy of study and interpretation and/or that constitute landmark developments in the evolution of the book (like the the serialized novel or the graphic novel). We will also attend sessions as the MARVL lab, as well as the Haggerty Museum of Art and Raynor Library Special Collections, in order to experience texts as objects in a variety of beyond-the-classroom settings, both material and digital. For their capstone, each student will complete a research project tailored to his or her literary interests that will be centered on a physical item or items within Raynor Library Special Collections.

Readings: Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Mark Daniliewski’s House of Leaves, and the “Dear David” Twitter thread.

Graduate Seminars

6300 The Long 18th Century

101 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Professor Jason Farr

Course Title: Crip Lit: Theorizing Disability in the Past and Present” 

Course Description: Nearly 50 million Americans are currently experiencing some form of physical, cognitive, or sensory impairment, and that number will only go up. According to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor, people with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed as able-bodied people, and even those that do have jobs make far less money. Contributing to the stigma and oppression of variably-embodied and neurodivergent people are longstanding stereotypes that persist due to how impairment is portrayed in popular cultural forms. These stereotypical representations mark disabled people as ‘other’, further marginalizing an already alienated population. This cultural practice goes back centuries. However, disability is the rule, not the exception: it is something that all people will experience at some point in their lives. In this course, we will apply critical theory to visual and literary forms to critique assumptions about the myth of the “normal” body that upholds such ableist conditions. We will consider impairment in relation to race, gender, and sexuality. We will historicize disability in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for literary and historical perspective. And we will consider recent publications in, and new directions for, disability studies, including the global and intersectional turns that characterize recent scholarship. 

6700 Studies in 20th Century American Literature

101 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Professor Gerry Canavan

Course Title: Classics of Science Fiction

Course Description: This course engages the subfield of science fiction studies by looking at widely recognized classics in the genre from the postwar period in the United States, running roughly from 1945-1991. Some of these texts exist within the hybrid genre sometimes called “slipstream,” variously read by different audiences as both genre fiction and “serious literature”; others fall much more squarely within the oft-derided category of “pop culture.” We will study these texts alongside scholarship that theorizes both genre classification in general and science fiction in particular, and devote particular attention to how to teach and write about works that may not fit comfortably within the prestige economy of traditional literary studies. Limiting our focus to this historical era will also us to explore how periodization and canonization operate in literary studies, as well as explore how texts intended for consumption by mass-market audiences can help us index the hopes, anxieties, and social transformations of a given cultural moment.

Readings: The reading list is still quite fluid (and open to requests) but major texts will likely include Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike, as well as films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Blade Runner; the television series The Twilight Zone and Star Trek: The Next Generation; and short stories from Judith Merril, Isaac Asimov, Samuel R. Delany, J.G. Ballard, Joanna Russ, and James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon).

Assignments: Class participation; weekly forum posts; in-class presentations; sample course syllabi, lesson plans, and statement of teaching philosophy; seminar paper