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Undergraduate English Courses

Spring 2020 Courses

English 115 — American Experience (ALDU)

Lecture 1: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Leslie Leonard

In June of 2018, first lady Melania Trump, on a visit to immigration detention centers in Texas, sported a jacket bearing the words "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" Many responded with an alternate version of the message: "I Really Care, Don't U?" In recent years many fields, from Philosophy and English to Ethics and Women and Gender Studies, have turned towards an ethics of care and so it is fitting that care should be the focus for this course.

In this class students will read a variety of American literary texts written by an assortment of diverse authors in order to think about care as a productive political approach. Some questions this course seeks to answer are: How does care equip us to work towards a more just society? How have approaches to care changed over the course of American literary history? How does care inform our larger ethics of responsibility and community? Do we have an obligation to care for others and, if so, how do we determine whom we must care for? Furthermore, what does care look like – in a private domestic space, in a larger community, on a national scale, in legislation?

Using texts that range from Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville to Octavia Butler and Maxine Hong Kingston, this course provides a survey of diverse American literature in order to rethink our approach to one another.

English 115 — American Experience (ALDU)

Lecture 2: MWF 10:10-11:00
Instructor: Thakshala Tissera

An Environmental Perspective. How have American writers engaged with the natural environment and with non-human animals? Does literature influence our relationships with our surroundings and non-human beings? How do narratives of the natural environment and animals become implicated in the construction of national identities and discourses of belonging? What role does the literary imagination play in the current context of environmental concerns, rapid extinction and possible catastrophe? Does the speculative nature of literature help in imagining alternative futures? These are some of the questions that we will be exploring in this class through close reading of a variety of US literary texts drawn from different genres and time periods.

This course fulfills the General Education AL (Literature) and the U (US Diversity) requirements. Therefore, it will introduce students to the fundamentals of literary analysis and writing and talking about literature. The class will also emphasize critical thinking and reading skills.

English 116 — Native American Literature (ALDU)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Laura Furlan

This introductory course in Native American literature asks students to read and study a variety of work by American Indian and First Nations authors. We will discuss what makes a text "Indian," how and why a major boom in American Indian writing occurred in the late 1960s, how oral tradition is incorporated into contemporary writing, and how geographic place and tribal affiliation influence this work. We will also think about these texts as responses to settler colonialism and consider their representations of an Indigenous past and future. Authors may include N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, LeAnne Howe, Natalie Diaz, Tommy Pico, Billy Ray Belcourt, and Cherie Dimaline.

English 117 — Ethnic American Literature (ALDU)

Lecture 1: MWF 10:10-11:00
Instructor: Hazel Gedikli

American literature written by and about ethnic minorities, from the earliest immigrants through the cultural representations in modern American writing.

English 131 — Society & Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 1: MWF 11:15-12:05
Instructor: Bukem Reitmayer

 This course will explore the diverse and exciting ways that online literary magazines have shaped how global society and literature interact. We will be reading traditional and experimental styles of short stories, poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction from emerging and established voices, with a focus on how online literary magazines can provide a platform for underrepresented voices in the literary community at a local, national, and global level. Through a combination of lecture and discussion, students will be offered the tools with which to focus on interrelating themes of national, collective, and individual identity; diaspora and homeland; memory and myth; borders and border-crossings; exile, isolation, and otherness; literary and political strategies of resistance; bilingualism; multiplicity of identities; language and silence; gender and sexuality; class; traditions and superstitions; trauma and memory; religion and spirituality; representation; ableism; intercultural and generational conflict; and race and ethnicity. 

English 131 — Society & Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 2: MWF 10:10-11:00
Instructor: Kritika Pandey

What do we think about when we think about childhood? Maybe we think about plastic stethoscopes, dolls, toy cars, Santa Claus, crayons, one or more gods whom we confided into, and, in most cases, infinite and complete confusion about the world that we had found ourselves in. We have all been children at some point or another. However, childhood, like everything else, is deeply contextual. No two children transition into adulthood through the same set of experiences and with the same set of choices at their disposal. Some childhoods are happier, easier, more rewarding, and even longer than others. 

How do the societies that we live in shape us as children, and eventually, as adults? How do children respond to poverty, racism, sexism, climate change, authoritarianism, ablism, and communalism, among other institutions of violence, and what insights do they have to offer to the adults who are seemingly in charge of the world? In this course, we will explore the interiorities of fictional characters from around the globe who are transitioning from childhood to adulthood in the face of contemporary soicopolitical challenges. We will learn from these young people how, when it's not in our hands to change the world, we can still continue to inhabit it with dignity, empathy, and a certain innocent yet brave critique. 

English 132 — Gender, Sexuality, Literature & Culture (ALDG)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Catherine Elliott Tisdale

Women, Power, and the Body: Women make up half of the world's population and compose the largest designated minority group, but what exactly is a woman? How is the category constructed in various global contexts, and how does this construction impact the preservation or neglection of specific people's experiences, writings, and lives throughout history and in literature? This class aims to focus specifically on tracing women's voices in literature throughout history and examines issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality in texts from ancient Rome through to the modern-day. We will work through the assumptions that underlie popular and academic discussions about sexed bodies, gendered identities, and sexual desire, and we will explore how literature both challenges and unpacks understandings of gender and sexuality, and how silences—as well as exclamations—communicate meaning and resist dominant societal patriarchal power structures.

Ultimately, we will explore an array of representations of gender and sexuality in literature, we will read criticism that exposes the global consequences and burdens associated with gender assignation, and we will hear a cacophony of women's voices as they move through imaginative and/or realistic landscapes exploring these issues. The goal of this class is for you to question how literature can illuminate and deconstruct concepts of gender and sexuality, and to think, read, and write critically about those categories in literature, moving away from the notion that they are natural and fixed and toward the idea that they are interconnected but historically specific and shifting social constructions that require analysis and close study. Furthermore, you should emerge from this class asking questions such as: how do expectations of gender and sexuality differ across geographic, cultural, historical, racial, and sexual identities? How do these identities inform how we consider gender and sexuality today? 

English 132 — Gender, Sexuality, Literature & Culture (ALDG)

Lecture 2: MWF 10:10-11:00
Instructor: Ben Latini

This course will engage with masculinities in a contemporary global context. Students will read literary texts that represent a range of different masculinities that coexist or conflict with one another, and consider those masculinities in context with other gender identities and with sexualities. As we read and study these texts, we will ask questions about how gender dynamics and experiences of sexuality in different parts of the world are linked by economic, social, and political connections. We will also consider the various aesthetic techniques used by writers who seek to represent masculinities and will explore many different ways in which the experience of gender can be thought of and communicated. Close attention will be paid to the ways in which literature can illuminate the intersections of gender with other aspects of identity. The syllabus will not be limited to authors who identify as men; the literary perspectives on masculinities that are taken up in the course will come from writers of various gender identities and sexual identities.

English 132 — Gender, Sexuality, Literature & Culture (ALDG)

Lecture 3: MWF 11:15-12:05
Instructor: Dina Al Qassar

Queering the Self: Identity and Representation from Sappho to Rapinoe What do we mean when we speak of gender and sexuality? How are these essential parts of the self? What is the role of literature and popular culture play in constructing our understanding of gender, sexuality and selfhood, especially in relation to queer identities and selves?

This course will question and challenge our ideas of gender and sexuality by looking at various representations of queerness and queer bodies in literature and popular culture. We will be looking at how gender and sexuality are constructed, negotiated, and subverted both culturally and as a lived experience by examining coming of age stories and expressions of desire; desire in this context is not limited to the erotic but expanded to include the desire for belonging, community, and history. Some of the questions that will guide our thinking are: what does it mean to come of age? How is that experience shaped by queerness? Why is it important to have diverse experiences and bodies represented? What does it mean to realize one's gender and sexuality? What does embodiment mean and how does it relate to sexuality? How do gender and sexuality intersect and how are they shaped by the language and images we are given? We will be looking at a variety of texts and genres including but not limited to: poetry, memoirs, graphic novels, and films.

English 132 — Gender, Sexuality, Literature & Culture (ALDG)

Lecture 4: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: John Yargo

Are cannibals just another body desiring bodies? When is eating human flesh erotic? When does it disgust? Cannibalism has provoked every possible response in the written record, from admiration to contempt to boredom. We will track cannibalism from the present moment all the way back to early modern Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and across the different forms assumed by the cannibal: the anthropophagi, the zombie, the man-eating femme fatale. The rich archive of the cannibal will be central to how we think and discuss in this class about sexuality, culture, gender, class, and race. We will investigate how “cannibal talk” was mobilized to justify colonialism in the Americas, as well as the significance of more recent heavily-publicized incidents like Jeffrey Dahmer and the “man-eater of Rotenberg,” Armin Meiwes in the cultural imagination.

English 141 — Reading Poetry (AL)

Lecture 1: MWF 11:15-12:05
Instructor: Juliana Ward

What does Contemporary Poetry look like in the year 2020? Who writes it? Why are they writing it? Who are they writing for? What is it ‘about’?

This semester we will approach these questions and more by reading and discussing a diverse selection of contemporary living poets. Yes, actual living poets who are writing today! All the books we will read were published between 2016- 2020. These current literary voices will offer us meaningful ways to engage with important questions about identity, citizenship, history, origin, family, gender, sexuality, the body, love, loss, grief, joy, and all the other essential factors that affect our relationship to larger world around us. We will look at a variety of poetic forms ranging from the lyric to the long poem, from erasures to sonnets, in order to have a broader appreciation of poetic form and possibility. Our conversations will focus on close reading and responding critically to the poetic texts we read. As a class, we will work toward building a vocabulary for engaging with literary texts. We will work together to take a deeper look at the complexity of poetry, not as a puzzle to be solved, but as an exciting venue to expand our capacity for language and ideas.

English 150 — Writing and Society (SB, DU)

MWF 12:20 – 1:10
Instructor: Joshua Barsczewski

This course aims to introduce students to the field of "Writing Studies," an interdisciplinary area of study at the intersection of literacy studies, communication, digital studies, education, rhetoric, and linguistics that is interested in how written texts—everything from activist manifestos to Instagram captions, scientific articles to Supreme Court opinions, student writing to parents' grocery lists—reflect and impact social organization and change. The course invites students to explore Writing in society through a problem-posing approach, focusing attention on how Writing is understood, used, and learned. As a class, we will critically examine the following questions: How does a diversifying society redefine Writing as effective, creative, illegal, or failing? What are scholarly and popular understandings about what Writing is or can do in the world? What stories or myths about literacy circulate? How does Writing create problems in the world? And, how can Writing engage people to take social action in ways they might not have before?

English 200 — Intensive Literary Studies for the Major (English 200)

Lecture 1: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Nicholas Bromell

Cultivating Awareness: The Study of Literature as a Contemplative Practice. This course invites you to experience the study of literature as a contemplative practice, which means cultivating awareness through reading, thinking, and writing. Our guiding principle is that all literature is a call to awareness: of what we are, and of how we interact with others.

English 200 is the department’s introduction to advanced literary studies, so we will be studying the basic terms and concepts used in literary analysis today (genre, form, prosody, narrative, and the like). But we will also be asking ourselves: how might we make use of literature – of our engagement with literature -- to become more aware and compassionate persons? In other words, as we work with the fundamental techniques of reading and writing about works of literature (and art), how might we integrate these new skills with the cultivation of awareness in our everyday lives?


  • A collection of haiku (handout)
  • A collection of sonnets (handout)
  • Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek
  • Selected criticism (handout)


  • Active and mindful class participation
  • At least six short (1-2 page) “building block” papers in which you develop basic
  • skills in literary interpretation and writing
  • Some writing in the haiku and sonnet forms
  • Some writing of narrative (short story)
  • Two drafts of a final essay (7-10 pages)

English 200 — Intensive Literary Studies for the Major (English 200)

Lecture 2: TuTh 1:00-2:15
Instructor: Rachel Mordecai

Our focus in this course will be on developing the critical thinking, speaking and writing skills that are needed for success in the English major. You will become familiar with key literary conventions, literary terms, and critical approaches, as we read selections of contemporary American fiction, poetry, and drama. You will write a lot, in class and out of it, producing informal weekly reader-responses, and three papers of varying lengths. English majors only. Prerequisite: Gen. Ed. College Writing.

English 200 — Intensive Literary Studies for the Major (English 200)

Lecture 3: TuTh 8:30-9:45
Instructor: Katherine O’Callaghan
Lecture 4: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Katherine O’Callaghan

The Ghosts of Literature. Introduction to literary study, concentrating on close reading and analysis of texts, writing and revising critical essays, and discussion of the issues that underlie the study of literature. In this course we will explore short stories, novels, poetry and drama from various theoretical perspectives. Each text will be examined on its own terms, but some general themes will emerge as the course progresses. In particular, students of "The Ghosts of Literature" are asked to consider the myriad ways in which the idea of haunting might be applied to a literary text. Literary heritage, intertextual influence, remnants of lost languages, ghost stories, and themes of absence, loss, and returns will all recur throughout the semester. Reading will include works by James Joyce, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Bharati Mukherjee, Conor McPherson and Henry James. Prerequisite: ENGLWRIT 112 or equivalent. This course is open to English majors only.

English 204 — Intro to Asian American Literature (Anglophone/ethnic American or 200+ English elective) (DU, I)

Lecture 1: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Caroline Yang

This course will introduce students to literature and film by, for, and about Asian Americans. Students will learn a reading practice that consists of contextualizing the texts in their historical production as well as close-reading and critical thinking. Through reading, writing, discussions, and a final group video project, students will explore how Asian American literature shapes the construction of heterogeneous, diasporic, and transnational subjectivities that challenges the very notion of “Asian American” as a uniform identity and object of knowledge.

English 221 — Shakespeare (early British or 200+ English elective) (AL)

Lecture 1: MW 12:20-1:10 + discussion
Instructor: Adam Zucker

221 Disc 01AA — F 9:05-9:55 am
Instructor: Patricia Matthews
221 Disc 01AB — F 10:10-11:00 am
Instructor: Patricia Mattews
221 Disc 01AC — F 11:15-12:05 pm
Instructor: Sharanya Sridhar
221 Disc 01AD — F 12:20-1:10 pm
Instructor: Sharanya Sridhar
221 Disc 01AE — F 10:10-11:00 am
Instructor: Hayley Cotter
221 Disc 01AF — F 11:15-12:05 pm
Instructor: Hayley Cotter

A survey that covers Shakespeare's entire career, from early, sensationally bloody works like Titus Andronicus to the meditative late plays like Cymbeline and The Tempest. Along the way, we'll investigate the language, the structure, and the elaborate plotting of some of the most famous (and infamous) works ever written in English. Special focus given to Shakespeare's revealing explorations of the interplay between family, political hierarchies, and desire; his interest in distant settings and peoples; and, perhaps most importantly, his attempts to dramatize the struggle of individuals to make sense of the worlds in which they live. Through careful reading and discussion, we will work towards an understanding of why plays that seem so removed from our day-to-day concerns have remained powerfully relevant for four hundred years. Three essays, a mid-term and a final exam. Attendance at lecture and consistent participation in discussion sections required.

English 254 — Writing and Reading Imaginative Literature (200+ English elective)(creative writing specialization) (AL)

Lecture 1: MWF 11:15-12:05
Instructor: Jack Chelgren

Ugly Feelings: Writing, Politics, and Emotion. Let’s face it: we’re ruled by feelings. We’re ruled by other things, too, but the hypothesis of this class is that—for better or worse—we relate to the world based on how things make us feel, how we feel about them, and how we imagine and narrate feeling otherwise. To test this theory, we’ll explore what writing can do by studying the relationship between texts, emotion, and political struggle. We’ll pay special attention to what the scholar Sianne Ngai has called “ugly feelings”: emotions that deflate, depress, and stifle; that stop you in your tracks, make you delete your draft and not write any more. How do ugly feelings show up in canonical texts by William Shakespeare, Emily Brontë, Arthur Rimbaud, and James Baldwin? What about in more recent work like Octavia Butler’s science fiction novel Dawn; Kathy Acker’s lurid, sometimes revolting In Memoriam to Identity; Jillian Tamaki’s heartbreaking and hilarious graphic novel SuperMutant Magic Academy; and an array of contemporary poetry (John Ashbery, Amiri Baraka, Diane di Prima, Bernadette Mayer, Layli Long Soldier, Audre Lorde, Trisha Low, Jack Spicer, ALOK, etc.)? And how about in our own writing? What do feelings have to do with survival and resistance?

Assignments will include regular, intensive, sometimes difficult reading (five novels, one play, various poems and essays); weekly ungraded short writing assignments; two critical essays (4-6 pgs); and a portfolio of five or six creative works written throughout the semester in response to readings, lectures, and class discussions. Email Jack Chelgren ( with questions. (Gen. Ed. AL)

English 254 — Writing and Reading Imaginative Literature (200+ English elective)(creative writing specialization) (AL)

Lecture 2: TuTh 4:00-5:15
Instructor: James Pabarue

Literature As Action. Going beyond manifestos and stump speeches, "Literature as Action" will investigate what poets and writers can do—and have done, and are doing—to catalyze social, political, and moral change. We'll read poems and works of fiction that capture, buoy, and clarify the spirit of people-driven movements to produce radical new modes of thought. We'll tease apart how authors use form, pacing, metaphor, voice, repurposed language, sound and syntax to create art that's by turns haunting, activating, pointedly funny, nourishing, and irresistible—art that offers new ways of being.

In relation to our own writing, we'll be led by the words of literary ancestors and contemporaries, by current events, by our own honest thoughts and risk-taking contributions, and by a few guiding questions: What can we instigate? What are the possibilities of literature in a social space? What can writing do for, and in, "the world?"

This class will be an opportunity to experiment with your writing (genre-wise, scope-wise, style-wise, guise-wise); to build the language and sensitivities to consider a writer's intended project and give constructive feedback; to come up with an (ever-developing!) definition of what engaged writing looks like; and to investigate a few modes of off-the-page literary action: disruptive actions, collective art projects, radical anthologizing, and more.

Sample texts include: Look (Solmaz Sharif), Don't Call Us Dead (Danez Smith), Whereas (Layli Long Soldier), Bloodchild and Other Stories (Octavia Butler), plus selections by Mumia Abu Jamal, Sonia Sanchez, jayy dodd, Fatimah Asghar, and Audre Lorde. (Gen. Ed. AL)

English 254 — Writing and Reading Imaginative Literature (200+ English elective)(creative writing specialization) (AL)

Lecture 3: MWF 10:10-11:00 Instructor: Zachary King

A Stranger Comes to Town. It's been said that much of literature riffs on a single plot: a stranger comes to town. Our class will take this idea as an entry point to writing and reading imaginative literature. Who is the stranger in any given text, and who is the town? What does it mean to be an outsider or an insider? Are all stories actually about the disruption of some previous story?

In this cross-genre class, you'll write stories, poems, and a short essay or two. Class time will be divided between workshop days (when you'll share your creative pieces) and discussion days (focused on outside readings). As a community, or town, of beginning writers, we'll encounter strangers in the works of Marilynne Robinson, Joseph O'Neill, Roberto Bolaño, and Zadie Smith, among other authors and poets. We'll read like writers, meaning that we'll try to learn from our strangers—what moves them and how they work. If successful, we'll have crafted a space in which to better acquaint ourselves with our own inner stranger—that particularity of experience which draws us to writing in the first place—and in doing so, we'll become better writers. (Gen. Ed. AL)

English 254 — Writing and Reading Imaginative Literature (200+ English elective)(creative writing specialization) (AL)

Lecture 4: MWF 12:20-1:10
Instructor: Ell Davis

hybrid/hydra. Writers in this class will have opportunities to create and explore hybrid and genre-defying work. The hybrid is often thought of as the place where lyricism and narrative meet. We will explore that juncture through reading and writing long narrative poetry, lyrical fiction, and prose poetry. But, we will also engage more elusive hybrid forms—artists books, experimental translation, hypertext stories, graphic novels, audio installation, performance, and short film. (no art experience necessary.)

Throughout the semester, we will generate lots of new work and support each other through the process of revision. When someone cuts a head from the hydra, two more grow—so too we will see what new forms may manifest when we revise early and fearlessly. (this is a workshop in the beautiful and strange.) The class will culminate in the creation of a zine or another self-published project. (Gen. Ed. AL)

English 268 — American Literature and Culture before 1865 (course in American literature before 1865 or 200+ English elective)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Melba Jensen

This course studies the “imagined community” of the United States and the assembly an “American” literature. Readings include fiction, poetry, autobiography, oratory, journalism, and rhetoric written in North America between 1670 and 1865. The readings reflect tensions arising from the status of religious belief, urban vs. rural experience, the rise of industrial labor, and the enslavement of human beings who had “unalienable rights” to life and liberty. The course examines the economic challenges faced by writers like Edgar Poe, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Harriet B. Stowe, and the political challenges facing writers like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. The course also examines the historical forces that conferred canonical status on Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph W. Emerson, Henry D. Thoreau and delayed Emily Dickinson’s and Herman Melville’s recognition until the mid-twentieth century. The textbook for this course is a free e-book distributed in pdf, Kindle, and .mobi format. Students will need to bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to class to access their course readings.

English 269 — American Literature and Culture after 1865 (course in American literature after 1865 or 200+ English elective)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Gina Ocasion

The Art of Protest: American Literature and Culture After 1865. This course looks at relationships between protest, history, and popular culture in America through the narrative spaces of literature. In our contemporary moment, the visibility of protest and counter-protest, free speech and hate speech, and the mediums of Twitter and literature, are contentious spaces that invite us to interrogate how we as individuals create, align, and/or break with national narratives. This class will respond to the invitation this divisive political climate has constructed by turning to stories – tracing representations of resistance, protest, and resilience from the antebellum period to Trump's presidency. Our questions will consider the relationships between art and protest, diverse embodiments of protest and resistance, and the cultural and historical contexts that inform these movements. This project will, hopefully, lead us through a diverse and complex archive of American literature where we will reckon with the stories we have told about ourselves, each other, and the nation at stake.

As a survey course, our aim will be to read widely, think critically, and write ethically. We will develop an understanding and a language for how texts work on the level of form as we consider theme and content. We will also use writing, both informal and formal, to develop and deliver our critical responses to these texts as we think critically about race, gender, class and sexuality, not as fixed or stable entities, but instead as historically, socially, culturally, and individually imbued constructs. Authors include Sarah Winnemucca, Claudia Rankine, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thomas King, and Carlos Bulosan. Assignments will include three reading responses and a final project.

English 298-2 — Practicum: Leadership in English Studies

Mon 4:00-5:00
Instructor: David Fleming

This practicum, taken P/F usually for 2 credits, is for English majors at any level interested in joining and working on the department's Student Advisory Board (SAB). You must be able to meet Mondays from 4-5 pm. The SAB serves as a voice for undergraduate students in English and helps the department recruit, advise, and communicate with prospective and current English majors. Duties include some public speaking (talking to current majors, to new majors, to prospective majors, etc.), some peer advising, and some work helping organize departmental events. Each SAB member will also work, alone or collaboratively, on a special project of service to the department. This is a great way to become more involved in English, to develop leadership and teamwork skills, and to engage with others on projects that can make a difference! By application only: email David Fleming at if you're interested.

English 298H — Practicum: Teaching in the Writing Center (200+ English elective)

Lecture 1: Thurs 4:00-5:15
Instructor: Kyle Piscioniere

Practicum consists of four hours per week tutoring in the Writing Center and one-hour weekly meetings to discuss tutorials and supplementary readings, to write, and to work on committee projects. Students who have successfully completed English 329H Tutoring Writing: Theory & Practice are eligible to enroll in this course. This is a two-course series. Open only to students who registered in 329H Fall 2018.

English 300 — Junior Year Writing (Junior Year Writing or course in early British literature)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Jenny Adams

Topic: Legends of Arthur: The Once and Future King.

―But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seest – if indeed I go
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)–
To the island-valley of Avilion;

(Tennyson, ―The Passing of Arthur, ‖ ll. 424-7)

After his final battle with Mordred, the wounded King Arthur goes to Avalon. Still reeling from the loss of his lord,

Bedivere moans that Arthur has gone but then consoles himself with a single hope: ―He passes to be King among the dead, and after healing of his grievous wound, he comes again.‖

And indeed, Arthur did come again…and again…and again. Years after Tennyson wrote these lines, Twain brought Arthur back in his novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Donald Barthleme resurrected him in The King, and countless other poets, novelists, and movie makers have retold Arthur‘s story. Why does the legend of Arthur hold such a powerful grip on us? And how do our retellings of it reflect our own desires and fears? These are the questions that will motivate us during our course. Senior and Junior English majors only. Prerequisite: English 200 with a grade of C or better.

English 300 — Junior Year Writing (Junior Year Writing)

Lecture 3: TuTh 1:00-2:15
Instructor: Stephen Clingman

Topic: Spy vs Spy in Fiction Television and Film. This course will be a survey of spy fiction in novels, television and film across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Naturally, we will be exploring some of the “greats,” including John le Carré. But there will be space for other writers and other considerations as well, not least across different media. How does le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold translate to movie form? What of the classic television shows (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and some of the remarkable more recent ones (The Night Manager, The Americans, or Homeland)? In all this, there will be wider issues for us to consider. How does ‘duplicity’ feature in the late-modern world, and what are the structural links between that world and spy-writing? What were the historical resonances of some of the classic texts (the Cold War, specifically), and how is the spy novel now being rewritten from different perspectives? How does spy fiction intersect with racial and gender considerations? What are the overlaps between a popular genre and more serious writing? Perhaps most intriguingly, how does spying, and the reading of duplicity, overlap with the literary itself, not least in issues of decoding and interpretation? Authors will range from Ian Fleming, to John le Carré, to Graham Greene, David Henry Hwang, Stella Rimington, and possibly others. Class work will involve much discussion, and student projects culminating, in this junior-year writing class, in a longer piece of work at the end of the semester.

English 300 — Junior Year Writing (Junior Year Writing)

Lecture 4: TuTh 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Janis Greve

Topic: Picture this: Lives in Graphic Form Asking “What does it mean to capture a life by both drawing and writing?,” this course will examine the lively exchange between “written pictures and drawn words” in graphic memoirs from the 21st century. We will explore the diverse methods employed by comic creators when fashioning their personal memories, while engaging concepts of remembering, knowing, and identity, pushed in new directions through the graphic medium. We will also examine a wide breadth of social issues within the genre, including disability, gender, and ethnicity. Students in the course should be ready to try their hand at their own autobiographical comic; drawing ability is not required. Texts likely to include: One! Hundred! Demons! by Linda Barry, Dark Room: A Memoir in Black and White, by Lila Quintero Weaver, Quitter by Harvey Pekar, Blankets by Craig Thompson, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming, Cancer Vixen by Marisa Accocella, and more. Other assignments will include a presentation, a book review, and a 10-page research paper, with plenty of informal writing as well.

English 302 — Studies in Textuality and New Media (300+ English elective Digital Humanities +/- Games)

Lecture 1: TuTh 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Sarah Patterson

No course description at this time.

English 350H — Expository Writing/Honors (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Haivan Hoang

No course description at this time.

English 354 — Creative Writing: Intro to Fiction (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 1: MWF 11:15-12:05
Instructor: Ian Shaikh

We tell and hear stories every day: who we think we are, who others are, why we're doing what we're doing. Beneath these, other stories maybe built up, untold. Where do they accumulate? The dumpsters of our dreams? The fog of our mid-afternoon malaise?

In this writing workshop, you will access and communicate (through fiction) your stories that have 'built up.' We will think about the concept of Daring and how it connects to the stories we look for and long for (and try to write, ourselves) in terms of style, structure, form, and focus.

But in a less abstract sense: you will write, and share your writing. You'll grow as a writer not just by writing a lot and receiving written and spoken critiques (by kind and considerate readers), but also by becoming a more articulate critic of other writers' work.

We will also read and discuss, for fodder and for inspiration, Haruki Murakami, Djuna Barnes, Octavia Butler, and Walter Benjamin, among others...including random blog posts, clips of Studio Ghibli films, and whatever else I/we come up with to think about.

English 354 — Creative Writing: Intro to Poetry (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 2: MWF 1:25-2:15
Instructor: James Thomson

In this class we will be reading and talking about each other’s work, as well as the work of other poets. We will be generating lots of new writing. This might mean getting up, leaving it all behind, and going outside some days. BEING ACTIVE! Seeing what the world might, can, will do to us… if it can still do anything? etc.

A typical week will see us workshopping on Mondays and Wednesdays, while on Fridays we will be having discussions on assigned readings and/or doing group writing exercises related to generating new material. You will be expected to read your peers’ work ahead of time, to write to each other, and to come to class ready to discuss the work.

English 354 — Creative Writing (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 3: MonWed 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Rabia Saeed

In this course we will write before, after, and during class while exercising open and fearless experimentation. Structured in workshop style, we will explore questions such as: what are our possibilities? How can we bend our narratives? What is our unique, most authentic voice? While bouncing ideas of both form and content, we will listen to each other and our literary ancestors. By reading stories, poems and essays from all over the world—especially those that come from geographical and cultural spaces that are rarely represented in literature—we will focus on writers who lead genuinely bilingual lives. Who construct worlds in English when, often, they live their lives in other languages. Our purpose will be to let these styles, histories and inflections of other literary traditions seep into ours so that we are made all the more aware of what is
possible. How can we re-claim the language of our writing—English—and use it differently, more originally, to reflect the unique vantage points from which we see the world? This class is then an exercise; in continuous writing along our boundaries, around and beyond our boundaries —to discover ourselves as writers. 

English 355 — Creative Writing Fiction (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 2: TuTh 2:30-3:45
Instructor: John Hennessy

In this course students will write and workshop short stories. They will also read widely in modern and contemporary fiction and complete a series of assignments intended to address specific aspects of fiction writing. Admission by permission of professor.

Students should submit one complete story and a brief personal statement (list and briefly discuss your favorite writers and books) to Professor Hennessy's email address: Please include Spire ID #. DUE NOV 20. OPEN TO STUDENTS FROM ALL DEPARTMENTS.

English 356 — Creative Writing Poetry (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 1: TuTh 1:00-2:15
Instructor: John Hennessy

English 356 is a poetry workshop. In addition to writing their own poems, students will read widely in contemporary poetry.

Interested students should send a portfolio of up to 3 poems to John Hennessy at by November 20th. Students should (briefly) discuss their favorite poets, writers, books, poems, in a separate statement. Please include contact information. Submission deadline is November 20th. Registration after this date is possible, but priority will be given to students who meet the November 20th deadline. Students will be notified of their status by December 15th. Registration by instructor permission only. OPEN TO STUDENTS FROM ALL DEPARTMENTS.

English 356 — Creative Writing Poetry (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 2: Mon 11:15-1:45
Instructor: Martín Espada

This is an advanced poetry workshop. Students should participate actively, producing poems independently for review in class, engaging in writing exercises, and commenting on work submitted by others. This is a course designed to help the student define a distinct voice in the work and to reinforce the fundamental skills of writing poems. We address these objectives through a close reading of student poems, as well as writing exercises. The strengths of student writing receive as much attention as those areas in need of improvement. Registration by instructor permission only. Students should submit a portfolio of three poems in a Word document to Professor Espada at Students will be notified by the end of the semester of their status. Registration after this date is possible, but priority will be given to students who apply this semester for the fall. Prerequisite: English majors only. English 354 or equivalent with a B or better.

English 358 — The Romantic Poets (course in British literature after 1700 or 300+ English elective)

Lecture 1: Mon 4:00-6:30
Instructor: Adam Colman

This course explores the work of writers concerned with the imagination's place in the material world. These Romantic poets—working in the later eighteenth century and earlier nineteenth century—were navigating complex historical developments, and this course considers how poetry so often associated with the imagination conversed with its age's science and politics. We will think about what a Romantic emphasis on the imagination might contribute to our own media landscape (of podcasting, social media, and more), and we will read writers including Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Anna Seward, Percy Shelley, Charlotte Smith, and William Wordsworth.

English 359 — Victorian Imagination (course in British literature after 1700 or 300+ English elective)

Lecture 1: Mon/Wed 4:00-5:15
Instructor: Jill Franks

Legal definitions and popular conceptions of crime and criminal behavior underwent significant revision in nineteenth-century England, and the literature of the period registers major points of contention. We will read works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction prose that address the following questions: What kind of crimes did the Victorians like to imagine, to read about, and to punish vicariously through imaginative literature? What did criminality mean to them? What is narrative justice, and what formal and/or ideological functions does it serve?

Novels will include Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret; Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White; and Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist. Poets may include Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Swinburne, and Tennyson. Nonfiction prose by Victorian writers including Matthew Arnold, Frances Power Cobbe, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Caroline Norton, and William Thackeray will supplement our primary texts.

English 363 — Modern British Drama (course in British literature after 1700 or 300+ English elective)

Lecture 1: TuTh 4:00-5:15
Instructor: Heidi Holder

Politics and Form in Modern and Contemporary Irish and English Drama. Intensive study of major British and Irish dramatists from the 1890s to the present, with particular attention to political themes, experimentation in form, and representations of identity (national, political, professional, class, racial, gendered). Readings to be drawn from the following: Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, Cicely Hamilton, J.M. Synge, Noel Coward, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Joe Orton, Caryl Churchill, Marina Carr, Gary Mitchell, Tom Stoppard, Roy Williams, Sarah Kane, Jez Butterworth, Lucy Prebble, and Kwame Kwei-Armah.

Requirements: two essays (6-8 pages), and frequent short writing assignments.

English 365 — The Literature of Ireland AL (Anglophone or 300+ English elective) (AL)

Lecture 1: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Malcolm Sen

“If you have the words, there's always a chance that you will find the way", wrote Seamus Heaney. It seems that Irish writers have rarely been at a loss for words. Despite its size, Ireland has produced some of the most influential literary authors of the 20th century. This course gives you an opportunity to read a number of canonical Irish authors, such as W B Yeats and James Joyce, and also contemporary authors such as Sara Baume and Donal Ryan. We will pay attention to the social, historical and environmental conditions, which shape these narratives.

This is a General Education course and in it you will also learn to communicate your ideas persuasively and with precision. You will be guided to read literary texts through the lens of contemporary concerns such as environmental degradation and climate change. You will also gain a firm understanding of how literature reflects upon, critiques and sometimes 'predicts' political and environmental realities. (Gen.Ed. AL)

English 369 — Studies in Modern Fiction (Anglophone or 300+ English elective) (AL)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Stephen Clingman

This course will survey major trends in twentieth century fiction by taking as its theme the idea of “writing at the frontiers.” We’ll understand this in various ways, ranging from the frontiers of form in the work of some of the century’s foremost writers, to the literal frontiers that many of them have faced: of geography, culture, race, gender, politics, and—in the broadest sense—history. We’ll begin with the cultural phenomenon of modernism—that complex of literary, artistic and philosophical developments which defined a specific shift in modern intellectual consciousness between about 1880 and 1930. In exploring works by Conrad, Forster, and the transitional writer, Jean Rhys, we’ll see how they came to terms with some of these specific issues and registered them in their fiction. In going on to read writers such as Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, J. M. Coetzee, and Kamila Shamsie, we’ll see how these issues were sustained and transformed in the second half of the century and beyond. We’ll be reading novels in English set in a variety of countries and cultures in Europe, Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean, moving from the modern to the postmodern, the colonial to the postcolonial, the imperial to the most current. All the way through, traveling in both space and time, fiction will be our guide to some of the most significant developments across our world.

English 374 — 20th Century American Literature (course in American literature after 1865 or 300+ English elective)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Caroline Yang

W. E. B. Du Bois famously declared that the problem of the twentieth century was the problem of the color line. In this class, we will investigate how some American writers imagined and grappled with this "problem" through their fictional writings. Instead of presenting a simple solution to the problem of race, these writers complicated it by highlighting other markers of identity and difference such as class, gender, sexuality, religion, and ability. Through a historical approach to the writers’ fictional imaginings of the twentieth century, we will expand our knowledge of a recent "past" in order to enrich our understanding of our present moment.

English 376 — American Fiction (course in American literature after 1865 or 300+ English elective)

Lecture 1: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Dix McComas

“In my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to meet their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work,” wrote Flannery O’Connor. This course will examine—in fiction by Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, and Edward P. Jones—the manner in which “reality” often comes “at considerable cost” (O’Connor). We will track these “costs” by looking, first, at plot and character development—but also by listening for the disruption of polite literary language, courteous behavior, and well-oiled plausibility by authors whose fiction arises from their own particular points of origin in terms of race, class, gender, and religion.

English 378 — American Women Writers (Anglophone/ethnic American or course in American literature after 1865 or 300+ English elective)

Lecture 1: TuTh 10:00-11:15
Instructor: Gloria Biamonte

“What Moves at the Margin”: Reading Contemporary American Women Writers. ’The proper stuff of fiction’ does not exist,” wrote Virginia Woolf in 1925, “everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss.” The contemporary writers we will be reading in this course – a rather open-ended exploration of American women writers from the 1980s to the present – would agree with Woolf. In exploring a range of richly diverse, original, and, at times, radically experimental narratives, we will consider the writers’ attempts to respond to the social, economic and political events that shaped their lives. Though our focus will be on the novel, we will also be reading poetry, drama, and nonfiction. Close textual readings will help us to examine the subtleties of character interactions, the weaving together of multiple storylines, and the inventive narrative devices that each writer uses in creating their stories. Authors may include: Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Louise Erdrich, Jennifer Egan, Jesmyn Ward, Linda Hogan, Adrienne Rich, Ming Holden, Anna Deavers Smith, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. Books will be available at Amherst Books.

English 381 — Professional Writing and Technical Communication II (300+ English)(PWTC certificate)

Lecture 1: MonWed 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Janine Solberg

Extends the work of ENGL 380. Students will learn and apply principles of technical writing, information design, and page design. The objectives of this course are to increase students' organizational and graphical sophistication as writers and information designers. Students can expect to produce portfolio-quality content using industry-standard software (typically Adobe InDesign, MadCap Flare). Prerequisite: English 380. Junior or senior status and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.

English 382 — Professional Writing and Technical Communication III (300+ English)(PWTC certificate)

Lecture 1: TuTh 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Janine Solberg

ENGL 382 serves as the capstone course for the Professional Writing and Technical Communication Certificate. As such, the course has two aims: professionalization and specialization. Students will workshop their professional portfolios and learn about careers in technical writing and information technology from working professionals. The course will also provide students with directed opportunities to explore the theory and practice of particular kinds of writing and technology (e.g., report writing, grant proposals, speechwriting, voiceovers, integration with video and film, web site development). Each student will present a significant report on a topic related to technology, communication, and culture. Prereq.: ENGL 381 (which may be taken concurrently), junior or senior status and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits).

English 391C — Advanced Software for Professional Writers (300+ English)(PWTC certificate)(SPOW certificate)

Lecture 1: TuTh 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Thomas Pickering

This course offers a beginner-level introduction to web design. It is aimed at English and humanities majors, though students from any major are welcome in the course. This is a hands-on course that meets in a computer classroom. Students will learn to create a website using HTML (hypertext markup language) and CSS (cascading style sheets). You will come away from the course having created a professional web portfolio that you can use when applying for jobs or internships.

No prior experience with web design or coding is required. Students should be comfortable managing files (naming, uploading, downloading, creating folders) and using a web browser. (Note: This course appears in Spire as "Advanced Software," but that really just means that we're advancing beyond Microsoft Word.)

Prereq: Minimum 3.0 GPA and junior or senior standing. Non-majors or students who have not yet taken Engl 379 should contact the instructor to be added into the course.

This course counts toward the following specializations: PWTC, SPOW, NMDH, as well as the IT Minor.

Prerequisite: English 379. Junior or senior status and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. The Engl 380 pre-req may be waived with instructor permission, space permitting.

English 391C — Advanced Software for Professional Writers (300+ English)(PWTC certificate)(SPOW certificate)

Lecture 2: MW 4:00-5:15
Instructor: Elena Kalodner-Martin

This course offers a beginner-level introduction to web design. It is aimed at English and humanities majors, though students from any major are welcome in the course. This is a hands-on course that meets in a computer classroom. Students will learn to create a website using HTML (hypertext markup language) and CSS (cascading style sheets). You will come away from the course having created a professional web portfolio that you can use when applying for jobs or internships.

No prior experience with web design or coding is required. Students should be comfortable managing files (naming, uploading, downloading, creating folders) and using a web browser. (Note: This course appears in Spire as "Advanced Software," but that really just means that we're advancing beyond Microsoft Word.)

Prereq: Minimum 3.0 GPA and junior or senior standing. Non-majors or students who have not yet taken Engl 379 should contact the instructor to be added into the course.

This course counts toward the following specializations: PWTC, SPOW, NMDH, as well as the IT Minor.

Prerequisite: English 379. Junior or senior status and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. The Engl 380 pre-req may be waived with instructor permission, space permitting.

English 391GC — Video Games and Civic Action (300+ English elective)(Digital Humanities +/- Games)

Lecture 1: Mon 4:00-6:30
Instructor: TreaAndrea Russworm

By now we know that the way people form communities online and around digital media can have a direct impact on civic behavior and democracy, but can playing video games actually make you a better citizen or improve how you understand yourself? How do people use video games to build communities—both online and in person? What can video games teach us about the imaginative potential of the medium when it comes to representing past, present, and future societies? In this course we will study the many convergences among video game culture, self-awareness, and civic participation. The course begins with an historical exploration of how games were used in pre-modern societies and it ends by looking at the role of independent, mainstream, and virtual reality games today. As we explore how games have shaped both individuals and societies, we will always return to the practice of making arguments about the links between play, creativity, civic action, and activism. Our primary texts will be The State of Play: Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds, The Ambiguity of Play, and Writing the Mind. We will play video games (like Democracy and the Civilization series) and board or analog games (like Pandemic), and we will create digital media that reflects our engagement with the medium. No prior knowledge or experience with games or digital media is required. This class is an elective that is open to all students; it also satisfies requirements for the Digital Humanities +/- Games Specialization and it counts as a service learning or civic engagement course.

Special note: This course is a designated “Service-Learning” course, endorsed by the office of Civic Engagement and Service- Learning at UMass and it provides opportunities for students to engage in a community engaged project outside the classroom that is guided by appropriate input from a community partner and contributes to the public good. Students who want to participate in the service-learning component of the course must register for an additional “lab” worth an additional credit. The service-learning hours will reflect the time spent working with high school students in Springfield and time spent working on additional digital projects. We will also do some work establishing best practices for working with Springfield-area high school students. While this community engagement component of the course will help students better understand the meaningful role that video games play in culture at large, students who do not want the service learning designation will have different final projects.

English 391NM — Narrative Medicine: How Writing Can Heal (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)(SPOW)

Lecture 1: Thurs 4:00-6:30
Instructor: Marian MacCurdy

This interdisciplinary writing course investigates the cognitive and emotional benefits of writing for diverse populations including trauma survivors, patients, caregivers, teachers or those who hope to teach—anyone who is interested in the power of personal writing to effect change. Training in reflective writing supports clinical and/or pedagogical effectiveness among medical and educational professionals by enabling them to both listen to and respond to stories of conflict, illness, trauma, and transformation and to express their own histories in writing as well. Students will read, write, and discuss personal essays as well as texts that address the relationship between writing and resilience. We will focus on process—how to produce narratives that are both artistically and therapeutically effective. No prior experience with the medical humanities required.

English 412 — History of the English Language (400+ English or early British literature)

Lecture 1: MonWed 2:30-3:45 Instructor: Stephen Harris

Why do people in MA sound different than people in NY? Have people always spoken like this? HEL is a thrilling ride through the major changes in English phonology, morphology, syntax, spelling, and vocabulary from the 5th century to the 21st century. Among the topics we will consider are historical change and dialectic difference, literacy and morality, the emergence of vernaculars and the decline of Latin, and the current state of English. No previous knowledge of linguistics, Anglo Saxon, or Middle English is required.

English 450 — Advanced Expository Writing: The Long Essay (400+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)(SPOW)

Lecture 1: MonWed 2:30-3:45
Instructor: David Fleming

Although the word gets applied to any and all forms of student writing, the "essay" as a literary genre is often neglected in English Studies, especially when compared to the "Big Three" genres of fiction, poetry, and drama. As defined here, the essay includes many different kinds of nonfiction prose (memoir, profile, travel writing, personal essay, cultural criticism, etc.), usually written for a general audience, and distinct from both fiction and "academic" writing – even as the boundaries among these genres shift and blur. This course is meant to be a culminating step in the department's "expository writing" coursework, building on courses like English 350; but the only official prerequisite is College Writing. We'll read widely in the essay genre, learn composition techniques and strategies, share writing in peer response groups, and work essays through multiple drafts, attending not just to content and form but also to style. We'll begin with short, informal pieces, working up to longer, more complex projects, aiming for a publishable 5,000 word essay by the end.

English 468 — James Joyce (400+ English or Anglophone)

Lecture 1: TuTh 1:00-2:15
Instructor: Katherine O’Callaghan

From one hundred-letter thunderwords to falling giants and pirate queens, this course allows you to delve into the magical prose world of one of the world's most innovative writers. In "The Writings of James Joyce" we will discuss Joyce's short story collection Dubliners, his semi-autobiographical A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, his modernist epic Ulysses, as well as sections from his extraordinary masterpiece Finnegans Wake. The emphasis will be on a close textual examination of Joyce's prose, as well as historical, cultural, and political contextualizations. Joyce's musical content and inspirations will be a dominant theme of the course. His character, Stephen Dedalus, worries that his "souls frets in the shadow" of the English language, but we will discover how Joyce reinvents English for his own purposes. For English majors only.

English 491AC — The Major and Beyond: Career Exploration for English Majors

Lecture 1: Wed 11:30-12:45
Instructor: Janis Greve

Why wait any longer?! This course helps you pave the way to a valuable post-graduate experience--be it a program, internship, or job. You will practice important job search skills, learn to articulate the worth of your major, and leave the class with a better sense of your vocational direction. In addition to receiving individualized guidance in creating a cover letter and résumé of immediate use, other assignments are likely to include attendance at career events, interviews with professionals from fields of interest, a professional presentation, a short paper researching professions, and participation in a mock interview. Note: for an additional credit and some extra work, students can opt to have the course count toward an English elective. Please contact Prof. Greve if you are interested. Sophomores and Juniors. Seniors by permission of the instructor only.

English 491LC — Waking Up: Literature, Consciousness and Politics (400+ English)

Lecture 1: Thurs 4:00-6:30
Instructor: Nicholas Bromell

Every revolution begins with revelation. All political movements for justice have originated in the experience of awakening: people suddenly become aware that something is profoundly wrong, and they suddenly realize that their action can end this injustice. But what exactly triggers such awakening? And what enables us to sustain an awakened consciousness when sleeping complacently is so much easier?

Today in the United States, we face many challenges: the persistence of anti-black racism, the growth of wealth and income inequality, and the reality of climate change. What does it mean to awaken to the hard truth of these challenges? What does it mean to accept the need for change and to commit to making change happen?

These questions put us on a path that is at once spiritual and political, and so for guidance we will read and discuss a wider range of works than one might ordinarily encounter in an English course: narratives of enslavement, memoirs of Civil Rights activism, spiritual autobiography, dharma, novels, poems, philosophy, and documentaries.

If we want to awaken, and if we want to stay awake, we have much to learn from others’ stories of awakening.

Texts (this list has not been finalized so do not purchase yet):

  • Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”
  • Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Thoreau, Walden (selections)
  • Hesse, Siddhartha
  • Malcolm X, Autobiography
  • Solnit, The Faraway Nearby (or her essay “On Hope” combined with excerpts from Berlant, Cruel Optimism)
  • Selections from Eyes on the Prize and Voices of Freedom (oral histories of the Civil Rights movement)
  • Selections from What We Have Done (oral history of the Disabilities Rights Movement)
  • Selection from Kids These Days.
  • Buddhist dharma readings and talks.
  • The Port Huron Statement, the Combahee River Collective Statement, texts from BlackLivesMatter, and other manifestos past and present.
  • Selections from Dharma Rain: Sources of Buddhist Environmentalism, eds. Kenneth Kraft and Stephanie Kaza

English 491LM — Literature, Music, and the Rules of Engagement: Multi-Ethnic Musical Experiences in the US (400+ English elective or Anglophone)

Lecture 1: MonWed 2:30-3:45
Instructor: Mazen Naous

In this course, we will analyze 20th century novels, poems, and a play by African American, Native American, Mexican American, and Arab American writers, who draw on music, especially jazz and blues, to perform race, gender, class, and migration. In particular, we will consider the relationship between musical styles and historical events, and their impact on the characters’ identities and lived experiences. Some class time will be spent on listening to and critiquing musical pieces in terms of their influence on the forms, aesthetics, and politics of our texts: the rules of engagement. We will read works by Diana Abu-Jaber, James Baldwin, David Henderson, Américo Paredes, Sherman Alexie, August Wilson, and a selection of jazz and blues poems.

English 491Z — Poetry of the Political Imagination (400+ English elective or Anglophone)

Lecture 1: Tues 1:00-3:30
Instructor: Martín Espada

Juniors and Seniors, International Exchange or National Exchange plans, or Graduate students with TECS subplans only. Poetry of the political imagination is a matter of both vision and language. Any progressive social change must be imagined first; any oppressive social condition, before it can change, must be named in words that persuade. Poets of the political imagination go beyond protest to define an artistry of resistance. This course explores how best to combine poetry and politics, craft and commitment. Students read classic works ranging from the epigrams of Ernesto Cardenal, written against the dictator of Nicaragua, to Allen Ginsberg's Howl, the book that sparked an obscenity trial. They also read the farmworker poems of Diana García, born in a migrant labor camp; the emergency room sonnets of Dr. Rafael Campo; the prison poetry of political dissident Nazim Hikmet; and the feminist satire of Marge Piercy, among others. Students respond with papers, presentations or some combination. Class visits by authors complement the reading and discussion.

English 492D — Children’s literature (400+ English elective)

Lecture 1: MonWed 5:30-6:45
Instructor: Suzanne Daly

For whom is children’s literature written? The obvious answer – for children – is only partially true. Not only is childhood a culturally and historically contingent concept, but children’s literature has often been influenced less by children’s tastes than by adults’ desire to produce some effect or other upon child readers/listeners. Children’s literature has been variously tasked with teaching children about history, society, and the natural world; with inculcating good habits and good behavior; with imparting moral and religious values; and with instilling a love of learning. We will analyze influential chapter books, poems, and fairy tales written for children between 1860 and the present, along with works of literary criticism and theory, with these questions of audience and purpose in mind. Chapter books may include Elizabeth Acevedo, With the Fire on High (2019); Kwame Alexander, The Crossover (2015); Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden (1911); Louise Erdrich, The Birchbark House (2002); June Jordan, His Own Where (1971); China Miéville, Un Lun Dun (2007); Mabel L. Robinson, Bright Island (1938); Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (2004); Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae (1889); E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web (1952); Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (Susan Coolidge), What Katy Did (1872).

English 494CI — Codes, Cyphers, Hackers and Crackers (IE)

Lecture 1: MonWed 4:00-5:15
Instructor: Stephen Harris

This course is an Integrative Experience course. As such, it has two major aims. The first is a practical introduction to codes and ciphers. In order to break codes, we will examine the structures of the English language, as well as the distributive characteristics of words and phonemes. We will consider English as a closed system with a fixed rule set. Our second aim is to examine the relationship between a system and its component elements. Starting with the relationship between letters and cipher types, we will explore the relationship between users and networks, and the relationship between hackers (and crackers) and The System. How does the world of systems and networks compel us to think differently than does the world of westward expansion or discovery? Finally, we will learn simple coding and apply it first to crypts, then to literary texts. No knowledge of codes, ciphers, or computers is necessary, although welcome. Prerequisite: completion of English 200 and one course from following period distribution: British literature and culture before 1700, British literature and culture after 1700, American literature and culture before 1865, American literature and culture after 1865.

English 494DI — Dystopian Games, Comics, Media (Integrative Experience)( Digital Humanities +/- Games)

Lecture 1: Wed 4:00-6:30
Instructor: TreaAndrea Russworm

In this class, we will study video games, postmodern cultural theory, and comic books as we ask questions about the persistence of dystopian narratives in print and digital visual culture. For example, what do dystopian narratives in comics, video games, and new media productions have in common? What makes "dark," "moody," and outright apocalyptic narratives like The Walking Dead, Half-Life 2, Fallout 4, and Mass Effect popular in this current historical moment? Can postmodern cultural theory help us better understand some of the social and political ramifications of dystopian culture? Further, can the theory help explain how such stories envision the perils of the future in ways that inadvertently comment on our current times? Is it possible that the cautionary tales of dystopian narratives might, if heeded, make the world a better place? We will compare different game genres (including RPGs, first-person shooters, war games, third person action games) in order to make arguments about the types of anxieties, fears, and dreams that get articulated in each genre. Please note: This class will follow a team-based learning format, meaning all students will be asked to play a leading role in class discussions and will be required to work closely on digital projects and other assignments with members of a team. Gaming experience or access to a gaming system is not required. This is also a "General Education Integrative Experience" class and all students will receive credit as such. In the context of our major the General Education Integrative Experience means certain learning objectives will be emphasized: critical thinking and writing, persuasive communication, creative and analytical thinking, pluralistic perspective and team-building, and developing technological literacies. Open to senior English majors. Non-majors, Five College area students, and other students may contact the professor for permission to enroll.

English 494PI — Prose and Cons (Integrative Experience)

Lecture 1: TuTh 1:00-2:15
Instructor: Jenny Adams

What is medieval? Most people learn very little about the foggy period from 500 - 1500 that lies between the end of the Classical era and the start of the Renaissance. What we do learn usually consists of stereotypes. Such stereotypes include (in no particular order): jousting, chivalry, repression of women, religious fervor, medical ignorance, lice, Crusades, King Arthur, economic injustice, knights, ladies, and plague. How are these stereotypes produced and reinforced on-line? What is their relationship to historical "fact"? In each module we will take up texts, objects, and concepts that have constructed and reconstructed our ideas about the Middle Ages in order to learn about the ways objects and texts contribute to alternate (and often competing) views of the past. Satisfies the IE requirement for the English major.

English 497T — Teaching Writing in the 21st Century (400+ English elective)(theories of writing)

Instructor: Donna LeCourt

No course description at this time.

English 499D — Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing: Fiction, Poetry, and Literary Non-fiction – 2nd semester (400+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)

Lecture 1: Wed 4:00-6:30
Instructor: John Hennessy

499D is the second semester of Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing: Fiction, Poetry, and Literary Non-Fiction, a multi-genre, two-semester course in creative writing designed to help students complete a Capstone project within the genre of their choice. Both a class in contemporary literature and a writing workshop, Foundations and Departures will offer students a wide variety of reading assignments and writing exercises from across all three genres. At the end of the first semester students will submit a portfolio of original work; in the second semester students will finish drafting and revising their Capstone projects. Textbooks will include _The Art of the Story_, a fiction anthology, novels by a variety of writers, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Virginia Woolf, and Teju Cole, memoir by Helene Cooper, non-fiction by Joan Didion, poetry collections by Major Jackson, Denise Duhamel, and other contemporary poets.

Interested students should submit a personal statement: 1-2 pages, list and briefly discuss your reading preferences: favorite books, writers, poems, poets, etc.; also, tell me if you are a student in Commonwealth College—some priority will be given to ComColl students, but some of the most successful students in 499 in past years have come from outside Commonwealth College. Also include a writing sample—one complete story or essay, or 5-10 poems. Some combination of poetry and prose is also permitted.

SEND TO: by NOV 20.

UMass Amherst Continuing and Professional Education
Spring 2020 Online English Courses


CPE English 254: Writing and Reading Imaginative Literature
Instructor: Claudia Wilson
The Beautiful Ones: words, lines, & paragraphs.

What draws us to beauty? What makes various types of literature beautiful? What choices do writers make to create such beauty word by word, line by line, paragraph by paragraph?

When we do a close reading, we can begin to discover the choices that writers use to make their images feel almost gravitational. By reading their work perhaps we can discover what choices work for us. This only happens when we can do a close reading. We’ll unpack what reading like a writer means and then we’ll learn by doing. For some of us, we’ll be refining reading and engagement habits and for others, we’ll build them together and learn more about our process. Either way, our journeys will merge as we build and customize a framework that supports our enjoyment of experiencing texts. We’ll discuss the choices we see and then apply some of these techniques to ourselves by doing generative writing. We'll also do some reflection on what beauty means within U.S. society while primarily looking at works by people of color. 

Possible sample texts:
•    Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer
•    The short stories of Octavia Butler – Bloodchild and The Morning the Evening and the Night and David Sedaris
•    The essays of James Baldwin & ZZ Packer
•     The poetry of Lucille Clifton, Marilyn Nelson, and Toi Derricotte
•    Tommy Orange - There, There

Course Goals:
•    To think about our writing and reading processes and to discover what works for us and what does not.
•    To get into the pleasures of reading and letting the experience dissolve on our tongues and interact with our other senses.
•    To try (if possible) to name these moments of bliss.
•     To take risks in reading, writing, and sharing by doing generative writing and reading.
•    To begin an inquiry into the beauty and the imagination within U.S. society
•    To build an online presence that supports our work and reading.

CPE English 354 — Creative Writing

Instructor: Juliana Ward


In this class, we’ll make writing inspired by the ways you live with people. How can your conversations, jokes, arguments, loves, your gossip, texts, and daydreams become your writing? How can the flow of your days, alone and with others, become your forms, and your rituals?

Together we’ll read the work of different groups of poets, writers, artists, and friends who lived and worked as part of a community, and we’ll take inspiration from their writing practices: we’ll record conversations, walks, dreams, and thoughts, and we’ll use techniques like collage and erasure to transform them into your writings. Our main goal will be for you to develop habits and techniques inspired by your own lives, that always make you want to write.

Each week, you’ll write in response to readings and prompts, and give feedback on your peers’ work. For most prompts, you’re welcome to respond in any genre you choose – you can write poems, stories, plays, or anything else you’d like to try. You can stick with one genre throughout, or experiment with different ones.

I encourage you to get a small notebook for notes, ideas, observations, quotes, lines, drawings, dreams, etc., and to bring it with you wherever you go.