The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Undergraduate

English Online Courses

The University Without Walls (UWW) at UMass Amherst offers online courses and degree programs. For students taking classes on campus, you will need to request an enrollment appointment on Spire before you can enroll in UWW courses. To learn more about UWW and the online degree programs they offer visit their website at https://www.umass.edu/online/about-uww.


English Summer Session 1 Courses

English 132 Women, Gender Sexuality & Culture (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)
Instructor: Leslie Leonard
This course looks to the speeches and publications of African American abolitionists as they toured England and Europe during the nineteenth-century. While some authors were forced to flee the United States after the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, others voluntarily toured abroad to garner international support for the end of enslavement. Questions this course will answer are: How was race constructed differently abroad, as opposed to the United States? How might African American authors' experiences abroad illuminate the United States' own issues? How did an international context affect the style, genre, and appeals that abolitionist authors employed to convince audiences? How did abolitionist authors negotiate race, gender, and sexuality in their appeals to white audiences? How might we consider freedom and unfreedom in both a global and historical context?

English 202 Later British Literature and Culture (British literature after 1700 or 200+ English elective)
Instructor: Kate Perillo
Rereading Britain After Brexit. On January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom officially exited the European Union. In the news over the past few years, we've heard countless debates about the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum and its implications for British, European, and global societies. In these discussions, many commentators -- those who support Brexit as well as those who do not -- (re)imagine British history for their own purposes and propose visions for the UK's future. 

How might studying British literature and history help us to contextualize the UK's recent vote to leave the European Union? In turn, how might present-day politics inform how and why we read Britain's past? While the "Kingdom of Great Britain" officially came into being as a political entity in 1707 with Acts of Union between England and Scotland, that event and the 2016 Brexit vote only mark two moments in a long history of social conflict and political contestation. In this course, we will ask: How has "Britain" been imagined as a collective identity at various points in time? How has that community been imagined in geographical, racial, imperial, and/or national terms? Who and what did those communities include or exclude -- and why? How have these shifting identities shaped and been shaped by Britain's relationship with the world, especially in the context of empire, colonialism, and the global economy? 

To explore the above questions, we will consider how works of literature since 1700 have (re)imagined "British" communities, paying special attention to how writers situate those imagined communities in time -- in other words, how they reimagine the past and/or speculate about the future from the vantage point of their present moments. We'll treat "history" not simply as a record of past events, but also as a mode of storytelling that plays an important role in community building and identity formation.

Required textbook: Samuel Selvon, The Lonely Londoners

English 221 Shakespeare (Gened: AL)(British literature before 1700 or 200+ English elective)
Instructor: Yunah Kae
Shakespeare and Politics: Reading Race and Gender. William Shakespeare composed his oeuvre more than four hundred years ago, yet his legacy still endures throughout our present culture. We may ask ourselves, how are Shakespeare's works still relevant to our current society? This course answers this question by way of developing a reading methodology which specifically bring to the fore the political stakes of Shakespearean drama and poetry. Two subjects of current political import—race and gender—comprise the focus of this course. Each week, we will discuss a different work: The Sonnets, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello, together with short, supplementary readings on gender and race criticism. We will spend the first part of the course discussing Shakespeare from feminist and queer perspectives, before moving onto considerations of race and "othering" in The Merchant of Venice and Othello.

Some questions we will consider include: How are "gender" and "race" understood in Shakespeare's works? Conversely, how do such understandings of gender and race help shape early modern dramatic narrative and lyric form? In what ways do the dramatist's conceptions of gender and race coincide with, or differ from, modern perceptions? And importantly, how can our readings of Shakespeare work to re-orient our present? By the end of this course, you will be able to think and write critically on the ways in which Shakespearean texts can help us make sense of modern gender and race as historically contingent, political, and narrative concepts

English 391AG Writing the Graphic Novel (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)
Instructor: Stefan Petrucha
This is not a course about artwork or superheroes. It is a nuts-and-bolts look at comics specifically from the writer's side that treats the graphic novel as an open medium capable of engaging any type of literary, educational and/or artistic effort.  We'll look at panel descriptions that inspire visuals, character-driven dialogue, the writer/artist relationship and more. Students will develop their own ideas from springboard to page breakdown to completed script. Instructor Stefan Petrucha has been writing comics (and novels) for over two decades for publishers from Marvel Comics to Dark Horse to HarperCollins. His work includes X-Files, Nancy Drew, Mickey Mouse, Beowulf, Power Rangers and a host of creator-owned projects. 

English 391NM Narrative Medicine: How Writing Can Heal (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)(SPOW)
Instructor: Cynthia Suopis
This interdisciplinary writing course explores the concept of Narrative Medicine, a rapidly growing approach to understanding health, healing, identity, trauma, illness, and purpose through the process of narrative in the form of writing, listening, deep reading of a text and questioning.  We are going to explore how Narrative Medicine is taught in Medical Schools to young doctors as a tool for diagnosing and treating a patient's illness.  We will also explore the power of Narrative as a tool for healing, resilience and understanding the human condition of health.  Students will engage in reflective and experiential writing practices that are designed to illustrate how writing can heal.  This course is not intended to be a substitute for medical or psychological interventions. This is a writing class that will focus on effective prose that allows the reader and writer to investigate a wide range of narrative techniques that can yield personal insight and reflective thinking.  Since we all share the human condition of 'health' this is a course that will allow us to share our health stories with each other in a safe environment. No prior experience with the medical humanities is required.  If you are a student who enjoys writing as a tool for self-understanding and joy, this is the class for you. 


English Summer Session 2 Courses

English 132 Women, Gender Sexuality & Culture (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)
Instructor: Hazel Gedikli
Literature treating the relationship between man and woman. Topics may include: the nature of love, the image of the hero and heroine, and definitions, past and present, of the masculine and feminine.  

English 354 Creative Writing (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)
Instructor: Sarah Coates
The In-between. What happens when visual art, performance, and writing collide? Where, as viewers or readers or watchers, are we transported? Think of this course as a boat on the river Styx. Let’s find creative limbo together. 

We’ll study the works of artists and writers like Laurie Anderson, Claudia Rankine, Ronaldo Wilson, Kara Walker, Ann Hamilton, Jenny Holzer, Xu Bing, and Taryn Simon as compasses, of sorts, in order to navigate our way through interdisciplinary waters. We’ll experiment with technology and the gift of working in an online class by weaving through visual and verbal modalities. We’ll think about the various intersections of text, visual art, performance, and sound. And, importantly, we’ll use the tools that already live around us to make and write. Especially now, during a time when most of us are stuck in doors, what domestic mundanities, old friends, or new routines can we transform to magic? And, lastly, we’ll think about what makes the combination, the slippage, or the subsumption of art and writing successful. Where/how/when does the resulting creation live? Who consumes it? 

English 391AJ Writing for a Living (300+English elective)
Instructor: Stefan Petrucha
Not a support group for the care and feeding of the artistic soul, this is a nuts-and-bolts examination of the strategies and skills needed to present your books, articles, ideas, and/or yourself in a compelling and competitive manner to potential buyers. In a unique process, students will experience the dynamic from both sides. After developing their own queries (essentially 1-2 page project proposals), the class will be broken up into groups and tasked with evaluating those queries for acceptance and rejection.

Along the way, we'll discuss art and commerce, quality and marketability, the current e-upheaval in publishing, literary agents, self-publishing and read some rejection letters for works that have since become classics, like Moby Dick. Students will come away with a solid, critiqued query and an understanding of the process from both the writer's and the publisher's perspective. Instructor Stefan Petrucha has written over twenty novels for adults and young adults for publishers including Penguin, HarperCollins and Walker Books.


Fall 2020 Semester

English 132 Gender, Sexuality, Literature and Culture (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)
Instructor: Sean Gordon
Love in the Anthropocene. Gender and sexuality are often overlooked in discussions of climate change. Yet many writers, filmmakers, and artists have offered imaginative ways to help us understand 1) how climate change exacerbates already existing inequalities of gender and sexuality, and 2) how gender and sexuality are crucial to posing viable solutions to climate change, making their work an indispensable resource for students from any major or background.

In this online course, students will participate in an introductory study of climate change literature and culture that will engage with the interconnected histories of environmental destruction and gendered violence; examine how race, gender, and sexual difference are produced under capitalism and alternative political and economic systems; and explore the frontlines of contemporary feminism, black and indigenous solidarity, transgender activism, and multi-species environmental justice. In naming the course "Love in the Anthropocene," I gesture toward some writers' and artists' promotion of "love" as a sorely needed ethical position for undoing the environmental degradation of the Anthropocene, or geological "Age of Man" — an age defined by nuclear proliferation, fossil-fueled global warming, and the ubiquity of plastic. But even "love" is not a neutral category, and its gendered meanings must also be questioned.

Students in the course will perform close reading and analysis of cutting-edge novels, poetry, manifestos, film, and art from around the globe; will learn how to identify how gender and sexuality are represented in climate change literature and culture; and will investigate how these modes compare with representations of gender and sexuality in climate change science, technology, philosophy, and politics. Through individual and collaborative assignments that take advantage of the online mode of instruction, and that encourage connections between the humanities with other disciplines, students will develop the fundamental skills required to pursue the English major or minor while fulfilling the Gen Ed requirement for Global Diversity.

Creative Writing 254: Reading and Writing Imaginative Literature  
Instructor: Michael Medeiros
Topic: The World Allured Me  What does the actual practice of being a writer entail, and why do we write in the first place? With the literary microcosm of western Massachusetts as a backdrop, this class will help each student develop a creative writing practice that works well for them while learning to be focused, critical readers of the writings of their classmates, themselves, and selected poets, novelists, and other creatives. You will learn about the different ways in which writers work, the communities they build to support the creative process, and the challenges of preserving our individual voices and expressing our interests while gaining a technical understanding of the craft.

This course satisfies UMass's General Education AL requirement. 

English 391AG Writing the Graphic Novel (300+ English elective)(creative writing specialization)
Instructor: Stefan Petrucha
This is not a course about artwork or superheroes. It is a nuts-and-bolts look at comics specifically from the writer's side that treats the graphic novel as an open medium capable of engaging any type of literary, educational and/or artistic effort.  We'll look at panel descriptions that inspire visuals, character-driven dialogue, the writer/artist relationship and more. Students will develop their own ideas from springboard to page breakdown to completed script. Instructor Stefan Petrucha has been writing comics (and novels) for over two decades for publishers from Marvel Comics to Dark Horse to HarperCollins. His work includes X-Files, Nancy Drew, Mickey Mouse, Beowulf, Power Rangers and a host of creator-owned projects. 

English 391AJ Writing for a Living (300+English elective)
Instructor: Stefan Petrucha
Not a support group for the care and feeding of the artistic soul, this is a nuts-and-bolts examination of the strategies and skills needed to present your books, articles, ideas, and/or yourself in a compelling and competitive manner to potential buyers. In a unique process, students will experience the dynamic from both sides. After developing their own queries (essentially 1-2 page project proposals), the class will be broken up into groups and tasked with evaluating those queries for acceptance and rejection.

Along the way, we'll discuss art and commerce, quality and marketability, the current e-upheaval in publishing, literary agents, self-publishing and read some rejection letters for works that have since become classics, like Moby Dick. Students will come away with a solid, critiqued query and an understanding of the process from both the writer's and the publisher's perspective. Instructor Stefan Petrucha has written over twenty novels for adults and young adults for publishers including Penguin, HarperCollins and Walker Books.