(English 1975): Spring 2017

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CORE LITERATURE AND WRITING SEMINAR
CLAWS
ENGLISH 1975
Course Descriptions
Spring 2017
1975-001
MWF 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM
Robert Duggan
Apocalyptic Moments
Say “apocalypse” and people think of the end of the world, but the ancient Greeks knew it as
meaning a “revelation” or “uncovering.” From Kate Chopin’s short gem “The Story of an Hour”
to Alan Moore’s musings on time and eternity in the graphic novel Watchmen, we’ll uncover
great “a-ha!” moments of knowledge—both good and bad—and reveal their impact on both
characters and readers. We’ll time travel to experience the Greeks’ original tale of (not) seeing
and (not) believing, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Together, we’ll drift down the Congo River
towards “The horror! The horror!” in Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and watch how
Francis Ford Coppola reinterprets that tale in the film Apocalypse Now. From these literary
experiences, we’ll discuss not just the works themselves, but also the intertwined nature of
reading and writing to generate both informal and formal essays incorporating the writing
process from thesis to draft to final (not necessarily finished) product.
1975-002
MWF 9:30 AM - 10:20 AM
Jody Ross
Lit and Medicine
This seminar is designed for (but not limited to) students with an interest in science, health, and
medicine. Some of the texts were written by physicians, and others deal with the life-and-death
subjects of physical well-being and illness. Students will analyze a wide range of genres
including fiction, drama, poetry, and memoir. The works selected for the course encourage
students to look into the minds and hearts of others and into their own, as they encounter both
fictional characters (such as a woman dying of cancer) and real surgeons confronting their own
errors in the operating room. The works, which span more than a century and a multitude of
attitudes, will spark discussions about ethics, history, aesthetics, psychology, and literary
traditions. Most important, these works of fiction and non-fiction confront the uncertainty and
complexity of life as it is experienced by people who most value certainty: scientists.
1975-003
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 2
MWF 9:30 AM - 10:20 AM
Robert Duggan
Apocalyptic Moments
Say “apocalypse” and people think of the end of the world, but the ancient Greeks knew it as
meaning a “revelation” or “uncovering.” From Kate Chopin’s short gem “The Story of an Hour”
to Alan Moore’s musings on time and eternity in the graphic novel Watchmen, we’ll uncover
great “a-ha!” moments of knowledge—both good and bad—and reveal their impact on both
characters and readers. We’ll time travel to experience the Greeks’ original tale of (not) seeing
and (not) believing, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Together, we’ll drift down the Congo River
towards “The horror! The horror!” in Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and watch how
Francis Ford Coppola reinterprets that tale in the film Apocalypse Now. From these literary
experiences, we’ll discuss not just the works themselves, but also the intertwined nature of
reading and writing to generate both informal and formal essays incorporating the writing
process from thesis to draft to final (not necessarily finished) product.
1975-004
TR 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM
Joseph Drury
The Gothic
Why do we read stories that scare us, that make our skin crawl and our stomachs turn? Why in a
modern, disenchanted world do we take so much pleasure in stories of ghosts and monsters,
demons and vampires? Why have Gothic tropes—gloomy castles, howling winds, dark
passageways—proved so successful and durable in so many different kinds of writing and
performance? In this course students will learn the history of Gothic writing, how it emerged out
of British anti-Catholic feeling around the time of the French Revolution, and how it evolved
into a sophisticated form for addressing the unspoken fears and unconscious desires of readers in
periods of social upheaval and unrest. Readings may include Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, Jane
Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
1975-005
MWF 10:30 AM - 11:20 AM
Jody Ross
Lit and Medicine
This seminar is designed for (but not limited to) students with an interest in science, health, and
medicine. Some of the texts were written by physicians, and others deal with the life-and-death
subjects of physical well-being and illness. Students will analyze a wide range of genres
including fiction, drama, poetry, and memoir. The works selected for the course encourage
students to look into the minds and hearts of others and into their own, as they encounter both
fictional characters (such as a woman dying of cancer) and real surgeons confronting their own
errors in the operating room. The works, which span more than a century and a multitude of
attitudes, will spark discussions about ethics, history, aesthetics, psychology, and literary
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 3
traditions. Most important, these works of fiction and non-fiction confront the uncertainty and
complexity of life as it is experienced by people who most value certainty: scientists.
1975-006
TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM
Ellen Bonds
“Identity and Difference” will explore the ways that gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality
shape how authors write as well as how we read texts. By reading, discussing, and writing about
diverse literature from both women and men authors, students will learn how literary expression
can enhance our understanding as well as expand our perspectives of who we are and how we
relate to others.
Reading works of fiction, poetry, and drama by diverse authors such as Toni Morrison, Amy
Tan, August Wilson, and Sandra Cisneros, for example, students will consider some of the
following questions: What perspectives do we gain by considering how men write about male
experience, how they write about female experience; conversely how women authors write about
female and male experience? Is form and content influenced by race and gender and how so?
How do authors explore the intersections of race and gender/ethnicity and history to reveal the
forces that factor into the development of individual identity? In what ways do certain works
challenge or affirm conventional attitudes toward others of different gender, race, orientation,
and beliefs?
1975-007
MWF 10:30 AM - 11:20 AM
Jill Karn
The Marriage Plot Undone
In this course, we will read a series of novels, short stories, and plays that fall within the pattern
of the marriage plot, as well as those that show ways in which that “plot” comes undone.
Beginning with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we will consider how the marriage plot
becomes a vehicle for a heroine’s growth, and trace changes and expansions to the marriage plot
that allow for an expansion of consciousness for the female characters. We will study both the
novels and various film adaptations of these marriage plot stories. Some questions we’ll address:
To what extent does a marriage plot “trap” a heroine? Is she sometimes “plotted against”? What
happens when the female character resists the marriage plot? Must the heroine or the hero be
“won over” to this plot? How does romance become suspect in these stories, must it be rewritten
or reimagined? If all comedy ends in marriage, what do we do with a heroine who emerges at the
end of the story unmarried, and yet still very much alive? Is this a new form of tragedy, or is the
heroine afforded some measure of freedom having “escaped” the marriage plot? Authors will
most likely include Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and William
Shakespeare, among others.
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 4
1975-008
MWF 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Mary Anne Schofield
War Literature of the 20th Century
We will read literature (fiction, poetry, drama) of the First and Second World Wars: texts of
Modernism, Intermodernism, Postmodernism, and Realism that explore the use, for example, of
encrypted language in espionage fiction, of a projected post-war worldview written in the science
fiction texts before the actual events of the war, of the semiotics and experiments with the
language of telling a story that cannot be told. War literature, as Hannah Arendt observes,
“compresses the greatest opportunities into the smallest space and the shortest time, [and] that is
its fascination.” It is literature of both conscience and consciousness; it is literature oftentimes
written from the extreme edge of being, which will enable students, using their active reading of
the texts, to examine and challenge their own understanding of the uncertainty and complexity of
life.
1975-009
TR 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM
Megan Quigley
Modernity’s Transformations
Is it possible to transform your entire identity? These literary texts are all about characters trying
to figure out their identities in the 20th century and experiencing transformations (to varying
degrees). We will read a variety of genres—a play, a short story, poetry, novels and an essay—
and learn the fundamentals of literary analysis. We will also consider the ways in which these
changes are related to the transformation in the idea of a text at the beginning of the 20th century.
Why might literary experimentalism (revolutions in form, diction, even grammar) be connected
to new ideas about subjectivity? Readings will include works by Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot,
Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, and Ian McEwan.
At the same time, this writing intensive course aims to transform your writing skills and to
demystify the process of the analytical thesis-driven essay. You will learn to think through the
writing process and to develop your skills in argument and revision.
1975-010
MWF 12:30 PM - 1:20 PM
Jody Ross
Lit and Medicine
This seminar is designed for (but not limited to) students with an interest in science, health, and
medicine. Some of the texts were written by physicians, and others deal with the life-and-death
subjects of physical well-being and illness. Students will analyze a wide range of genres
including fiction, drama, poetry, and memoir. The works selected for the course encourage
students to look into the minds and hearts of others and into their own, as they encounter both
fictional characters (such as a woman dying of cancer) and real surgeons confronting their own
errors in the operating room. The works, which span more than a century and a multitude of
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 5
attitudes, will spark discussions about ethics, history, aesthetics, psychology, and literary
traditions. Most important, these works of fiction and non-fiction confront the uncertainty and
complexity of life as it is experienced by people who most value certainty: scientists.
1975-011
MWF 12:30 PM - 1:20 PM
Robert O’Neil
American Dream
The underlying theme of this course is to explore the American Dream and the relationship
between fact and fiction within a historical novel. Students will read three books: The Vintage
Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, The Corrections, and Libra. The course will
begin with the reading of short stories by authors such as Kate Braverman, Joyce Carol Oates,
Raymond Carver, Mary Gaitskill, Denis Johnson, and Richard Ford. The Corrections by
Jonathan Franzen will follow, and it investigates the ever-changing concept of the American
Dream. Have traditional family values been replaced by a consumer culture that stresses style
and appearance? If so, what are the consequences of this change and, more importantly, is
America itself in need of a ‘correction’? Finally, Libra explores a definitive moment in U.S.
history: the assassination of JFK. However, DeLillo approaches this historical moment through
the eyes of Lee Harvey Oswald. The relationship between fact and fiction in a historical novel
exposes students to a demanding reality; they need to pursue and develop their own truths about
America’s past. Throughout the semester, students will write three essays, which will vary in
length and demand.
1975-012
TR 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Ruth Anolik
The Uses of Horror and Terror Literature
Horror and terror entertainments are often dismissed as irrelevant escapism. Yet, a careful
examination of horror and terror fiction reveals that it actually hides and projects the deepest
fears – social and psychological – of the culture that generates it. In this course, we will examine
moments of horror and terror in literature from the time of the Renaissance. We will read the
most horrifying play of William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, which presents the twin figures
of the monstrous woman and the innocent victim of violent rape, as well as the evil, inhuman
African. Turning to a high moment of horror and terror, the eighteenth-century Gothic (which
was openly influenced by Shakespeare) we will read Ann Radcliffe’s terrifying Sicilian Romance
– a meditation on the dangers of marriage for women. We will read two nineteenth-century
English texts that reveal anxieties about the dangerous monstrosity of female sexuality. We will
move to nineteenth-century American culture to examine a variety of texts that express
particularly American anxieties regarding the horrors of slavery. We will then read two novels
that reflect anxieties of post-war America, Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, I Am Legend and
Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The last book will be Zone One (2011),
the apocalyptic zombie novel by one of America’s hottest new writers, Colson Whitehead. We
will consider what these texts reveal about the social and political anxieties of their, and our,
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 6
time, including concerns about the new roles of men and women, the changing dynamics of the
family, race, global tensions, the environment, and terrorism. Because we will be discussing the
ways literary horror mirrors social anxiety, we will also read short pieces that provide context
and background for the social, cultural and political issues that emerge in the texts we discuss.
We will also have the opportunity to apply our strategies and conclusions to contemporary
popular cultural artifacts, including television programs to be chosen by the students. At each
moment we will ask: what real social anxieties lurk within the fantastic text? What are the
cultural, social and psychological uses of such expressions? And why is our present cultural
moment witnessing such an explosion of apocalyptic (and zombie) horror?
1975-013
MW 1:30 PM - 2:45 PM
Gail Ciociola
The Rebel-Outsider in Literature
Against an alleged norm of what constitutes good social standing and personal success,
American literature evinces a startling number of “outsiders” to those ideals through iconoclastic
authors whose literary style or personal philosophy challenges the norms, and/or through
fictional and dramatic characters whose “difference” defines textual content. In this course,
students will examine writers like Edward Albee, Allen Ginsberg, and Patti Smith for their
artistic and private “otherness,” and consider works across multiple genres that feature rebels or
outsiders like those, for instance, in THE LARAMIE PROJECT (Moises Kaufman),
TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (Suzan Lori Parks), and MOTHER NIGHT (Kurt Vonnegut). As the
course also supports the development of thesis-driven writing, students will work toward
improving ideas, organization, and edit for college-level essays. Two short papers, one longer
one, and two tests are tentatively planned for grade assessment.
1975-014
TR 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Ellen Bonds
“Identity and Difference” will explore the ways that gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality
shape how authors write as well as how we read texts. By reading, discussing, and writing about
diverse literature from both women and men authors, students will learn how literary expression
can enhance our understanding as well as expand our perspectives of who we are and how we
relate to others.
Reading works of fiction, poetry, and drama by diverse authors such as Toni Morrison, Amy
Tan, August Wilson, and Sandra Cisneros, for example, students will consider some of the
following questions: What perspectives do we gain by considering how men write about male
experience, how they write about female experience; conversely how women authors write about
female and male experience? Is form and content influenced by race and gender and how so?
How do authors explore the intersections of race and gender/ethnicity and history to reveal the
forces that factor into the development of individual identity? In what ways do certain works
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 7
challenge or affirm conventional attitudes toward others of different gender, race, orientation,
and beliefs?
1975-015
MW 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
Gail Ciociola
The Rebel-Outsider in Contemporary American Literature
Against an alleged norm of what constitutes good social standing and personal success,
American literature evinces a startling number of “outsiders” to those ideals through iconoclastic
authors whose literary style or personal philosophy challenges the norms, and/or through
fictional and dramatic characters whose “difference” defines textual content. In this course,
students will examine writers like Edward Albee, Allen Ginsberg, and Patti Smith for their
artistic and private “otherness,” and consider works across multiple genres that feature rebels or
outsiders like those, for instance, in THE LARAMIE PROJECT (Moises Kaufman) ,
TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (Suzan Lori Parks), and MOTHER NIGHT (Kurt Vonnegut). As the
course also supports the development of thesis-driven writing, students will work toward
improving ideas, organization, and edit for college-level essays. Two short papers, one longer
one, and two tests are tentatively planned for grade assessment.
1975-016
TR 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM
Mary Ellen Fattori
“Portraying Disability in Literature”
As an art form, literature often creates, reflects, or questions cultural messages about what is
“normal” and “abnormal” in our lives. As a result, reading and writing about the experience of
disability in literature can help us better understand our responses to situations and events around
us that might be different from our own. Through close readings of fiction, drama, and poetry,
students will experience how writers have created literary characters exhibiting various forms of
disability throughout the centuries. These depictions include physical, mental, emotional, and
social disabilities of all types.
Traditionally, these literary inventions were often used metaphorically as diabolical symbols of
evil, or realistically as actual challenges to overcome, or even sentimentally as figures of pity and
pathos. Contemporary authors, however, are reconsidering how to utilize disability as literary
device, thereby requiring their readers to re-examine their own perception of what is means to be
“disabled.” This introspection often leads to the realization that such categorization frequently
undermines and marginalizes a vast proportion of society, calling for vast political or social
reforms.
One note - because this is a literature course rather than a sociology course, its primary focus will
remain on critically reading, interpreting, and writing about these works as literature. In addition,
a significant amount of class time will be devoted to the teaching of formal writing, especially the
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 8
thesis-driven critical essay, and improving presentation skills by delivering an end-of-the semester
paper presentation.
ENG 1975-017
MW 4:30 PM - 5:45 PM
Ellen Bonds
“Identity and Difference” will explore the ways that gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality
shape how authors write as well as how we read texts. By reading, discussing, and writing about
diverse literature from both women and men authors, students will learn how literary expression
can enhance our understanding as well as expand our perspectives of who we are and how we
relate to others.
Reading works of fiction, poetry, and drama by diverse authors such as Toni Morrison, Amy
Tan, August Wilson, and Sandra Cisneros, for example, students will consider some of the
following questions: What perspectives do we gain by considering how men write about male
experience, how they write about female experience; conversely how women authors write about
female and male experience? Is form and content influenced by race and gender and how so?
How do authors explore the intersections of race and gender/ethnicity and history to reveal the
forces that factor into the development of individual identity? In what ways do certain works
challenge or affirm conventional attitudes toward others of different gender, race, orientation,
and beliefs?
1975-018
MW 4:30 PM - 5:45 PM
Mary Ellen Fattori
“Portraying Disability in Literature”
As an art form, literature often creates, reflects, or questions cultural messages about what is
“normal” and “abnormal” in our lives. As a result, reading and writing about the experience of
disability in literature can help us better understand our responses to situations and events around
us that might be different from our own. Through close readings of fiction, drama, and poetry,
students will experience how writers have created literary characters exhibiting various forms of
disability throughout the centuries. These depictions include physical, mental, emotional, and
social disabilities of all types.
Traditionally, these literary inventions were often used metaphorically as diabolical symbols of
evil, or realistically as actual challenges to overcome, or even sentimentally as figures of pity and
pathos. Contemporary authors, however, are reconsidering how to utilize disability as literary
device, thereby requiring their readers to re-examine their own perception of what is means to be
“disabled.” This introspection often leads to the realization that such categorization frequently
undermines and marginalizes a vast proportion of society, calling for vast political or social
reforms.
Core Literature and Writing Seminars, English
Spring 2017 course descriptions / 9
One note - because this is a literature course rather than a sociology course, its primary focus will
remain on critically reading, interpreting, and writing about these works as literature. In addition,
a significant amount of class time will be devoted to the teaching of formal writing, especially the
thesis-driven critical essay, and improving presentation skills by delivering an end-of-the semester
paper presentation.
1975-100
MW 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM
Charles Cherry
Confronting Satan in American Literature: From Hawthorne to Hellboy
This seminar is interdisciplinary. We will spend the semester exploring the origins and evolution
of the concept of Satan as reflected in a variety of sources. What are some of the myths created
to explain evil? To what extent are conceptions of human nature embedded in economic,
political, and psychological theories related to Satan? How have some important writers
grappled with this problem in their lives and in their works? What does the study of this theme
teach us about ourselves?
You will be asked to engage, discuss, and write about a variety of works (fiction and nonfiction)
that directly or indirectly deal with the concept of Satan. While drawing on works from other
cultures, the particular emphasis will be on America and its changing sense of Satan and evil
from the 18th to 21st centuries.
Possible Authors*
Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Melville, Herman
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible
Morrison, Toni. Beloved
O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Short Stories
Old Testament, The Book of Job
Poe, Edgar Allan
Schindler’s List (film)
Silence of the Lambs (film)
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