Just as the final stretch of the Spring Semester beckons, the time for Fall 2019 Registration has begun (I’m a little behind in getting these up, my bad!)—and the English Department again has a bevy of course offerings at both the General Education and upper-division levels:
ENGL 123: Introduction to Creative Writing—Dr. Beth McDermott: What does it mean to be curious—“to wonder, to mull, and to muse”—and how does that habit pertain to creative writing? What if you could make a conscious decision to be curious in order to write more creatively? This course is designed for beginning students who are interested in learning the elements and techniques of various creative writing genres. In this class, we will focus our attention on writing fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Through creative exercises and critical responses, you will learn to write creatively in a workshop that requires members to draft and revise their work. You will examine creative writing models, experiment with key concepts of creative writing, and collaborate with peers to produce a final portfolio that features three polished creative pieces accompanied by a revision statement. Additional assignments include a commonplace book of influences, images, and quotations to scaffold the curiosity that drives your own creative work.
ENGL 200: Introduction to Literature Sections:
Section A: Literature of Contest and Conflict—Dr. Joanna Kourtidis: From the Latin, conflictus meaning “a contest,” the word conflict suggests that there are not only opposing forces but that there will be a winner—and therefore a loser. Yet, not all conflict ends with such clear-cut resolution. Broadly speaking, conflict often ends with many sides “losing” something. This is true of both internal and external conflicts, conflicts of race, gender, and identity, and conflicts between nations. How does literature give voice to conflicts? How can it spur conflicts? In what ways are conflicts beneficial to individuals, to groups of people, to society at large? And, in what ways are they harmful? How does literature suggest we mediate these conflicts within ourselves and of and between others? These are just some of the questions the course will explore as we look through many eras of literature, focusing on short story, poetry, and film.
Sections B & C: Literature of Social Change—Mr. David Masciotra: The aim of this course is to give you a basic understanding and appreciation for literature, narrative storytelling, drama, and character development. By gaining an appreciation for literary art and literary culture, I hope that you will also view the course as a survey of American culture with its rich philosophical, sociological, and historical dimensions. This course has the added appeal and aim of employing the methodology and artistry of literature as a crowbar to enter into questions of history, social change, mass movements for political reform, and how diverse individuals experience the impact of sociopolitical transformation. What insights can literary art provide into the alterations of law, public policy, cultural norms, and social mores in the United States?
Section D: Crime and Punishment—Dr. Karen Duys: This section’s focus on crime and punishment puts a critical literary dynamic at the heart of the class: truth and lies. Normally, we can set aside concerns about shaky truth if we know a story is just a story and not actually real, even when it concerns crime. Murder mysteries and legal thrillers are among our most popular entertainments! They can be challenging thought experiments and are really fun to work through, and since they are fiction—well, we don’t have to worry too much about consequences. When it comes to real crimes, however, we are less sanguine (or chill). Then the truth, and nothing but the truth, is the foundation of justice. And yet, when one’s freedom is at stake, the incentive to lie is HUGE. All this would not be a problem if we could comfortably say stories are stories and reality is reality and the two don’t intersect, but stories are often rooted in lived experience and legal briefs are full of life-saving lies. Moreover, memoirs are considered a literary genre, and they are supposed to be the truth…though sometimes the story takes over. And “true crime” is a special genre of its own that investigates a crime in story form, sticking to the truth.
Sections E, Z, and Z2: Weird Fiction—: In my sections of Intro to Lit this semester we’re going to be doing a kind of historical survey of a genre of literature that has been traced back ultimately to Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. “Weird Fiction” has garnered a fairly large number of definitions, but the following from weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft is somewhat standard:
The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space. (“Supernatural Horror in Literature”)
In this course we’ll read a number of examples of “classic” weird tales by Hawthorne, Poe, Lovecraft, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, and many others. After getting our feet wet a bit, we’ll move on to more recent and contemporary versions of the genre, including what has recently come to be called the “new weird” genre of fiction.
ENGL 317/ENGL 494: Writing in the Disciplines/Literary Stylistics—Dr. Anna Ioanes: ENGL 317/ENGL 494 is designed for students who want to write about wide-ranging issues in politics, the sciences, and the humanities and for students who want to prepare for their careers by developing field-specific writing skills. A Writing in the Disciplines course “helps student writers behave as apprentices in [their] discipline, be it civil engineering, sociology, or dance” (CCCC). Whatever your profession, you will need to write, and your writing will be most effective if it aligns with the genre conventions and disciplinary norms of your field. Whether reflecting on your experiences, reporting information, explaining your field to a broader audience, or arguing for a position or policy, you will use writing (along with other modes of communication) to participate in your academic discipline while in college and your professional discipline in the workplace. In class discussions, we will analyze writing about science, politics, and culture to understand discipline-specific genre conventions and rhetorical techniques. Additionally, students will teach themselves about writing in their own major or future career by designing and implementing a writing project for and about their field of study.
ENGL 355: British Literature 1785-1890: Romantic Poetry—Dr. Beth McDermott: The Romantic era changed poetry forever. What happened to create these changes? Percy Shelley blamed “the spirit of the age”: a collective spirit that united poets who brought new intensity to the poetic lyric during a time of revolution and reaction. This class will be an opportunity to survey an era of literature that continues to impact contemporary writing ranging from ecopoetry to slam. Through examination of poetry, criticism, and a fairly detailed account of the historical context that gave rise to Romantic literature, we will attempt to better understand if and why these writers still matter.
ENGL 360: Playtime on the London Stage: The 20th Century—Dr. Karen Duys: In this upper-division seminar students will do dramatic readings all semester long and keep an extensive journal/memoir that explores questions of theatricality. The course will start with a podcast on a performance of Peter Pan gone wildly awry and then move on to cover a number of classic works of 20th Century drama: Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, G Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion (with a full-fledged tutorial on accents!), Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party, Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman, Caryl Churchill, Top Girls, Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, and possibly others. The semester will conclude with awards where students decide the categories (best character, best play, best staging, etc.)! It’s a ton of fun!