University of Massachusetts Amherst



Optional Courses

(These are three-credit, four-week seminar courses.)

**Each Category B course is the equivalent of a 200-level class

*** English Department requirements have recently changed. Some majors are under old requirements, some under new. Check with the English Department for your own status.

British Detective Fiction

Sally Bayley

This course will include a representative sampling of texts from the classical age of British detective fiction to present-day offerings. Students will conduct trans-historical comparisons of novels and be encouraged to make connections between the texts and events and attitudes in the world at large. Authors whose works will be read include: Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, A. A. Milne, Michael Innes, Julian Symons, P. D. James, Anne Perry, A. S. Byatt, Iain Pears, and Ian Rankin. A selection of recommended secondary texts and commentaries will also be provided.

Satisfies 300+ elective requirements for English majors (new requirements) or British literature 1700-1900 or upper-level elective requirement for English majors (old requirements)
This course does NOT satisfy a UMass Gen Ed requirement

British Perspectives on the American Revolution

Andrew Beaumont

The American War for Independence is often viewed as a war against tyranny. Certainly at the time many Americans viewed Britain as a nation governed by a tyrannical king advised by evil counselors. This course examines the validity of that view by looking at British government policy, the opposition's response, and public reaction to the colonies' struggle for independence. This course will examine the relationships among the Crown, Parliament, and the public sphere, as well as the historical debate over the importance of public opinion in the 1770s. Students will examine and discuss pamphlets, prints, newspapers, and parliamentary debates of the day. By the end of the course, students will be able to analyze how documents have been interpreted by historians, thus putting the subject into an historical context. Students should be able to gain a fresh perspective on the debates concerning the Anglo-American relationship at the time.

Satisfies an upper-level course requirement (level 200-400) for History majors
This course does NOT satisfy a UMass Gen Ed requirement

Oxford, The City as a Work of Art

Beverley Lyle

This course will examine the University of Oxford’s role as patron of British art, architecture, and design from the thirteenth century to the present day. Using the wealth of resources available in Oxford – university and college buildings, museums, galleries, and private collections, students will be introduced through lectures and guided tours to key themes in the history of art, architecture, and design – medieval and gothic, renaissance, classical and modern. Within these broader themes, a variety of topics will be covered, including the role of architecture in shaping the University’s identity, the art and craft of stained glass and sculpture and the University’s collections of paintings including those by Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites. Teaching will be through lectures and discussions, as students will be required to participate actively in analyses of the artifacts studied. Students will be encouraged to choose their own subjects for written work from the topics studied, under the direction of the tutor. No previous experience with art and architectural studies is expected or required but the course will also suit those with prior knowledge, as they will be introduced to new perspectives.

May count as an elective for Art History majors--please contact that department.
This class does NOT satisfy a UMass Gen Ed requirement

The Supernatural in Renaissance Drama

Tom MacFaul

Ghosts, witches, mages, fairies, devils, classical gods, and other strange creatures all made important appearances on the Shakespearean stage, demonstrating that Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists were profoundly engaged with changing attitudes to the supernatural. The Reformation unsettled patterns of orthodox Christian belief, and the humanist studies of the Renaissance gave new meanings to mythical beings. This course will explore a wide range of the period’s drama, setting in it the context of the time’s intellectual ferment. We will come to understand how central magical thinking is to the imaginative and theatrical achievement of some of the world’s greatest drama. Texts studied will include Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, several of Shakespeare’s most important plays, Ben Jonson’s The Devil is an Ass, and several Jacobean witchcraft plays.

Satisfies an upper-level elective requirement for English majors (old and new requirements).
Satisfies the Department of Theater Renaissance dramaturgy elective requirement for Theater majors, but must be confirmed with that department
This course does NOT satisfy a UMass Gen Ed requirement

Prose Fiction Writing Workshop

Clare Morgan

This course will focus on writing prose fiction, particularly shorter pieces like short stories or chapters in larger fictional works; it may also include some scriptwriting for television, radio or theatre. Working with the guidance of a published author, students may be asked to propose specific topics, plots or media formats they plan to write about and may be asked to submit a writing sample before the course begins.

Satisfies an upper-level elective requirement for English majors (old and new requirements)
This course does NOT satisfy a UMass Gen Ed requirement

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