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Undergraduate English Courses

Fall 2023 Courses 

To see these options on SPIRE, see our Class Listings page.

To view our online course offerings, see our Online Courses page.

English 115 American Experience Honors (ALDU)

Lecture 1    MWF 9:05-9:55    Instructor: Tim Ong
This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and society with a wide historical scope and attention to diverse cultural experiences in the United States. Specifically, we will approach this study from an ecological perspective that is unique to the American experience, which is to say that this course argues that the study of the environment is necessarily also a study of society and history.

By focusing on American texts that engage with the natural world, the course explores the following questions: what do the words “environment” and “nature” mean in relation to the American experience? How does an understanding of the environment provide a context with which to understand American history, society, and culture? And how do literary representations of the environment broaden our idea of the American experience through their explorations of themes such as individualism, exceptionalism, conquest, expansion, militarism, and imperialism? These questions will inform our reading of short stories, poems, essays, historical texts, films, and other cultural artifacts to get a clearer picture of the American ecological imagination, if only to expand our vocabulary with which to articulate it alongside contemporary environmental urgencies in the Anthropocene. (Gen.Ed. AL, DU)

English 115 American Experience Honors (ALDU)

Lecture 2    MWF 10:10-11:00    Instructor: Alejandro Beas-Murillo
Americans Abroad: Flight and Return. The title of this course might bring to mind the wealthy barons, bachelors and intellectuals in Henry James’ and Edith Wharton’s novels, or the decadent and drunken expats fleeing the constraints of American life in the early 20th century. However, this class will not revolve around such figures; rather, we will study two distinct processes of transport located in two different historical periods, the 1950s and the first two decades of the 21st century: flight, or the need to escape the racist and misogynistic logic of the US, and return, or the diasporic impulse to encounter one’s—or one’s family’s/ancestors’—original land and/or people. Among some of the questions we will collectively answer, we find: What were the processes of home-making and identity re-mapping that Black folks like Langston Hughes or James Baldwin wrestled with and proposed during their trips to other countries? How did each of these authors, artists, and scholars engage with time, place, and memory in their flight and return narratives? What does it mean for the self to return to “the source” in contrast to its escape from the horrors and oppressions of the US nation-state? Can we still understand the US as part of a continent, or should we start approaching it as an archipelago of imperial influence? Together, we will critically think of ways in which these narratives of transport, travel, flight and return, might help us reframe our own engagements with the planet in a world plagued by climate catastrophes, war, and pandemics, but also filled with the freedom dreams of a more just, borderless, stateless world. (Gen.Ed. AL, DU)

English 115H American Experience Honors (ALDU)

Lecture 1    TuTh 11:30-12:45 pm        Instructor: Asha Nadkarni
Using the thematic of immigration to and migration within the United States, this course will explore "American experiences" from the early 20th century to the present. Course materials will include literature, films, visual art, and other media forms, with an eye to how each text gives representational shape to the experiences they depict. We will concentrate especially on how they negotiate issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. This course satisfies the DU and AL General Education Requirements.

English 117 Ethnic American Literature (ALDU)

Lecture 1    MWF 1:25-2:15    Instructor: Kevin Morris
Introduction to newer and older plays, poems, and fiction by writers who embody and represent the ethnic diversity of American identity. A class for anyone interested in stories about the struggle to forge just communities in an imperfect nation. (Gen.Ed. AL, DU)

English 131 Society and Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 1    TuTh 10:00-11:15    Instructor: Rowshan Chowdhury
Race, Identity and Culture.  Where did the master narratives, the standard stories we tell ourselves or our culture tells us, come from and how do they operate in erasing our history? What function does literature serve in mediating our relationship to other cultures and histories? How have the ideals of liberty, equality, and human rights taken multiple and contradictory shapes within the social, political, cultural, and economic contexts of various eras?

The course ENG 131: Society and Literature is designed to explore these questions, looking specifically at the transnational co-formations that shape American society. Through readings of novels, short stories, essays, poems, and films based on the entanglements of histories of the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Asia, we will address literature’s capacity to endorse, naturalize, dramatize, critique, subvert, or reimagine our relationship to the material world. In our reading and writing assignments, we will study the ways writers from various origins engaged with societal issues including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, gender, slavery,assimilation, capitalism, trade, imperialism, fetishization, colonization, and anti-colonial and  anti-slavery rebellions. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

English 131 Society and Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 2    MWF 11:15-12:05    Instructor: Nana Prempeh
Introduction to the multifaceted ways literature both shapes and is shaped by its social and historical contexts. Analyses of plays, poems, and fictional and non-fictional narratives drawn from around the globe and in different eras.  (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

English 131 Society and Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 3    MWF 1:25-2:15    Instructor: Thakshala Tissera
Society and Literature in the Anthropocene. How can reading literature, particularly fiction, help address the great and often overwhelming environmental concerns of our times?  Keeping this broad question in mind, throughout the semester, we will engage with literary representation as a means of examining and better  understanding the constantly shifting and increasingly chaotic multi-species world that we live in. 

It is common to think in terms of polarized dichotomies, i.e.: “society” and “civilization” vs. “wilderness”; or “nature” vs. “culture”. But the present geological age, unofficially labeled as the “Anthropocene,” indicates that humans are currently the most impactful geological agents on the planet. Climate Change and many of the species extinctions that mark this epoch are anthropogenic in origin. Therefore, it is no longer fruitful or accurate to think in terms of dichotomies. Instead, we must be open to imagining society as comprising messy multispecies entanglements.  

Reading three novels (including a graphic novel) and a number of critical texts, this class invites you to consider what living in a multispecies world that is faced with wide ecological changes might mean for both society as we know it and the ecosystems that we inhabit. 

This class will introduce students to the Environmental Humanities, Ecocriticism, and Human-Animal Studies. The course  fulfills the General Education Literature and Global Diversity requirements.   (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

English 131 Society and Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 4    MWF 10:10-11:00    Instructor: Mitia Nath
Fictions of Filth. This course looks at constructions of filth in literary and cultural texts, and aims to examine how these constructions interact with our social orders. We delve into essays, stories, and films to explore how our imaginations of filth are often steeped as much in our political and economic processes, as in our bodily sensations. Focusing on the entanglements between imaginations of filth on the one hand, and its material dimensions on the other, we inquire into the ways literary and cultural texts draw attention to the formations and circulations of filth in society. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG) 

English 131 Society and Literature (ALDG)

Lecture 5    MWF 10:10-11:00    Instructor Jeremy Geragotelis
Introduction to the multifaceted ways literature both shapes and is shaped by its social and historical contexts. Analyses of plays, poems, and fictional and non-fictional narratives drawn from around the globe and in different eras.  This class will look at works of literature that dream into the apocalypse, disaster, catastrophe, and the end of the world. We will focus our attention on what authors choose to have survive in their literary imaginary and what that might tell us, as contemporary readers, about cultural significations, the creation of meaning, and the fluid nature of morality. We will read texts such as Blindness (Saramago), The Drowned World (Ballard), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Miyazaki), Station Eleven (Mandel), and Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play (Washburn). We will supplement this reading by looking at film representations of the end of the world: Chernobyl (HBO), On the Beach (UA), and—most recently—The Last of Us (HBO). Our job as a class will be to unpack how hope behaves as a mechanism of literary momentum and how these various texts point us, as a present audience, toward action, activism, nihilism, and/or despair. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

English 131H Society and Literature Honors (ALDG)

Lecture 5    TuTh 11:30-12:45 pm        Instructor: Jenny Adams
This class takes up English literature from the moment of its birth to its iterations in the twenty-first century.  We will start with the Old English and Middle English poetry that helped usher in the idea of England, English, and Englishness.  We will then follow English across the Atlantic to the North American colonies, where authors used literature to sort out their own emerging identities as English-speaking Americans.  Finally, we will look at the global sweep of English, and the ways colonial and postcolonial writers use English language and literature to rewrite cultures, genres, and identities.

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

Lecture 1    MWF 11:15-12:05    Instructor: Jarrel De Matas
Introduction to literature through a lens of gender identity and sexuality.  Texts include fiction, plays, poems that deal with and inspire conversations about the public politics and personal experience of gender and sexuality, both in the past and present. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

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

Lecture 2    MWF 12:20-1:10    Instructor: Olivia Barry
Introduction to literature through a lens of gender identity and sexuality.  Texts include fiction, plays, poems that deal with and inspire conversations about the public politics and personal experience of gender and sexuality, both in the past and present. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

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

Lecture 2    MWF 10:10-11:00    Instructor: Sam Davis
In this class, we will explore five fundamental theoretical concepts in the Humanities and apply them to a handful of 20th-21st century literary texts written by authors of color. These fundamental concepts include scholarship on American Race, Gender, Disability, Class, and Culture itself. We will read core scholars such as Robert McRuer, Devon Carbado, Stuart Hall, Judith Butler, Jennifer Morgan, and Kevin Quashie. Each theoretical text will accompany a literary text to help students understand the concepts better, including James Baldwin’s The First Next Time, Lena Nsomeka-Gomes’s “When I Was A Little Girl,” Cameron Awkward-Rich’s Sympathetic Little Monster, as well as a film, Paris Is Burning, and one episode from the television series Pose

The goal of this class is to take complex theoretical concepts and simplify them. In this spirit, the final assignment of the class is to create a digital collection of TikTok videos in which each student takes a theoretical concept and boils it down for a general audience. These videos will be created on a weekly basis wherein each student tackles a particular concept and posts their video on the Moodle. These TikToks then serve as asynchronous weekly material that assists students in their understanding of these difficult concepts.  (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

English 140 Reading Fiction (AL)

Lecture 1    MWF 1:25-2:15    Instructor: Shashank Rao
The Space Between Worlds: Contemporary South Asian American Writing.  In this course, we will consider the state of South Asian America by examining recent works of literary fiction produced by some of its most exciting authors. We will explore the multifariousness of South Asian American identity, thinking through very live questions of diaspora, displacement, postcoloniality, gender and sexual identity in the 21st century. What does it mean to be an immigrant, or the child of immigrants? What is the relationship between empire, the nation-state, global capitalism, and the South Asian American experience? How does one negotiate–through a variety of literary and narrative forms–the desire to preserve a culture while remaining open to the possibility of transfiguration? Assigned texts may include work from Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Rajiv Mohabir, Neel Patel, V.V. Ganesanathan, Priya Guns, Sarah Thankam Matthews, Ayad Akhtar, and Bushra Rehman. Classwork will include discussion, writing exercises, essays, and student-led presentations.

English 144 World Literature in History (ALDG)

Lecture 1    TuTh 10:00-11:15 am    Instructor: Shwetha Chandrashekhar
This course surveys major theories and debates within postcolonial literary studies with an aim to unpack the economic, social, and psychological effects of colonization on the erstwhile colonies. We will examine the link between colonialism and racial capitalism by engaging with questions concerning slavery, migration, labor, and globalization.

We will focus on works of fiction from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. (Gen.Ed. AL, DG)

English 146 Living Writers (ALDU)(Creative writing elective)

Lecture 1    TuTh 4:00-5:15    Instructor: Danielle Bradley
This is an introductory course in the work of acclaimed contemporary writers who visit the class to interact with students. (Gen. Ed. AL, DU)

English 146 Living Writers (ALDU)(Creative writing elective)

Lecture 2    TuTh 4:00-5:15    Instructor: Samuel Le
This is an introductory course in the work of acclaimed contemporary writers who visit the class to interact with students. (Gen. Ed. AL, DU)

English 150 Writing and Society (DUSB)

Lecture 1    MWF 12:20-1:10    Instructor: Danielle Pappo
This course aims to heighten your awareness of writing as both practice and concept.“Writing Studies” is an interdisciplinary area of study at the intersection of literacy studies, communication, digital studies, education, and linguistics that is interested in how written texts public documents, technical and professional communication, social media, etc. 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. (Gen. Ed. SB, DU)

English 200 Introduction to literary Studies (Introduction to major)

Lecture 1    MonWed 4:00-5:25         Instructor: Joe Mason
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. Prerequisite: ENGLWRIT 112 or equivalent.  This course is open to English majors and minors only.

English 200 Introduction to literary Studies (Introduction to major)

Lecture 2    MW 2:30-3:45        Instructor: Gloria Biamonte
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. Prerequisite: ENGLWRIT 112 or equivalent.  This course is open to English majors and minors only.

English 200 Introduction Literary Studies (Introduction to major)

Lecture 3    TuTh 1:00-2:15 pm    Instructor: Ruth Jennison
This course will focus on developing skills in close reading and written argumentation. Most class sessions will center on discussion-based, in-depth textual analysis. We will explore the foundational terms of literary study, such as: form and content, narrative and narrative structure, poetry and prose, author, voice, context, discourse, and ideology. Students will have the opportunity to work across a variety of 20th and 21st century literary genres and forms. Our syllabus will include works by Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Frank O'Hara, Adrienne Rich, Amiri Baraka, and Sean Bonney. Prerequisite: ENGLWRIT 112 or equivalent.  This course is open to English majors only. This course satisfies the DU and AL General Education Requirements.

English 200 Introduction Literary Studies (Introduction to major)

Lecture 4    TuTh 2:30-3:45 pm        Instructor: Jimmy Worthy
Lecture 5    TuTh 11:30-12:45 pm        Instructor: Jimmy Worthy
This course will introduce students to intense literary analysis, or the practice of reading literature critically and actively. Through the study of different literary genres—the short story, speech, novel, drama, poetry, and literary criticism—and literary devices and terms, you will hone your critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. As this is also an introduction to the major class, you will be asked to think seriously about what it means to read, discuss, and write about literature as an informed English major as well as complete assignments designed to help you maximize your experience as an important part of the English Department at UMass.

English 202 Later British literature and culture (British lit after 1700 or 200 elective)

Lecture 1    TuTh 11:30-12:45    Instructor: TBA
The development of British literature from the Enlightenment of the 18th century through the Romaticism and Realism of the 19th century to the Modernism of the early 20th century; literary response to scientific and industrial changes, political revolution and the technical and social reordering of British society.  Open only to English majors, and those studying at the University on international or domestic exchange.

English 203 Bible, Myth, Literature and Society (200 elective)

Lecture 1    TuTh 10:00-11:15    Instructor: David Toomey
The course will explore several of the most studied and influential books of the Old and New Testaments -- from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) the books Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Ruth and Isaiah and (from the New Testament) the gospels Luke and John.  Most class meetings, following Luther’s doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone) will involve collective efforts to derive coherent close readings of particularly provocative or problematic passages.  Where necessary, following the historical-critical type of exegesis called Higher Criticism, we will appeal to secondary sources.  Required text: Coogan, Michael D. (Editor) and Marc Zvi Brettler (Editor). The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Fifth Edition. Oxford University Press, 2018 (an electronic version is available through UMass Amherst Libraries).

English 204 Introduction to Asian American literature (Anglophone/ethnic American or course in American literature after 1865 or 200+ elective)(Social Justice)(Literature as History)(I; DU)

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. (GenEd: I, DU)

English 205 Introduction to Post-Colonial Studies (Anglophone or 200 elective)(Environmental Humanities)(Social Justice)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    TuTh 1:00-2:15 pm        Instructor: Malcolm Sen
This course surveys literatures written in English from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.  In doing so it asks what unites the diverse literatures gathered under the rubric "postcolonial".  Is postcolonial simply a descriptive category, or does it suggest an oppositional or troubled stance towards colonialism and modernity?  To consider this question we will take up major issues and debates within postcolonial studies, namely: nationalism and nativism, subalternity, feminism, development, and globalization.  Throughout we will be concerned with questions of identity formation, representation, and literary form.

English 221 Shakespeare (British before 1700 or 200 elective elective) (AL)(Literature as History)(TELA)

Lecture 1    MW 12:20-1:10 + discussion        Instructor: Adam Zucker
A survey that covers Shakespeare's entire career, from early, sensationally bloody works like Titus Andronicus to the meditative late plays like The Winters Tale 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.  (GenEd: AL)

  • English 221, Discussion D01AA; Fri 10:10-11:00; TA: Grayson Chung
  • English 221, Discussion D01AB; Fri: 11:15-12:05 TA: Grayson Chung
  • English 221, Discussion D01AC; Fri: 1:25-2:15; TA: Cameron Cocking
  • English 221, Discussion D01AD; Fri: 1:25-2:15; TA: Sharanya Sridhar
  • English 221, Discussion D01AE; Fri: 10:10-11:00; TA: Cameron Cocking
  • English 221, Discussion D01AF; Fri: Fri 11:15-12:05; TA: Sharanya Sridhar

English 250 Intro to Writing, Rhetoric, Literacy Studies (SPOW)

Lecture 1    MW 2:30-3:45        Instructor: Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
This course introduces students to the broad field of writing, rhetoric, and literacy studies and serves as an entryway to the many courses in the English department focused on those topics. The course will investigate and invite participation in the diverse writing practices of contemporary life, including digital and multimodal writing, multilingual and translingual writing, and writing for social justice. We will study rhetorical theory as a set of tools for analyzing and engaging public discourse. And literacy studies will help us explore the language practices used by writers in schools and communities. From this multidisciplinary perspective, students will gain critical awareness of the role of writing, rhetoric, and literacy in everyday life; develop versatility as writers across a range of contexts; and learn about the many paths opened to them by such study and practice. The ultimate goal is to investigate and invite participation in the diverse writing practices that now characterize contemporary life

English 254 Intro to Creative Writing: Mixed Genre (AL)(200 English elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 1    MWF 10:10-11:00    Instructor: Scout Turkel
Writing on earth considers the relationship between cultivating the earth, and cultivating a writer's practice. This thematic workshop centers around the thing called "earth" — the globe, the soil, the place writing happens. We will develop an awareness of writing as a cultivation practice, one that adheres to and plays with nature’s rhythms. In this workshop, writing on earth will not always mean writing "about" the earth. Instead, we will see where the rituals of gardening and plant-life take us: love poems, flash fiction, memoirs, plays, dream descriptions. 

In addition to workshopping student writing in poetry, prose, and hybrid genres, we will read widely. During select weeks, we will visit the UMass Renaissance Center to examine rare botanical texts housed in the Center's extensive library, texts which will assist us in tracing the lineage of writing on earth throughout history. Voices who will guide us include CAConrad, Cody-Rose Clevidence, Aimé Césaire, Cecilia Vicuña, Lorine Niedecker, and many others. Participating writers will also experience the pace of writing alongside the earth during field-trips around campus, and to the Center's plots and meadows. Weather permitting, we will do a little gardening of our own. This workshop is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and often outside.

English 254 Intro to Creative Writing (200 English elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 2    MWF 11:15-12:05        Instructor: Rachel Tanaka
It is your own lush self
You hunger for
— Lucille Clifton, from “Eve’s Version”
Language and the Self. What is your story? Who do you want to listen? What does it mean to orient yourself in language and in the world? What does it mean to belong? In this course we will consider how language and place (place as country, state, town, grocery store, the body, etc.) have shaped us. We will turn to poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction pieces, and essays to learn how to play in, challenge, break open, and explore our multifaceted selves. Through generative writing exercises, workshops, and the reading and discussing of works by contemporary writers Chen Chen, Natalie Diaz, Jericho Brown, Franny Choi, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Viet Thang Nguyen, Krys Malcom Belc, Alexander Chee, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and more, we will learn how to use language to return to the self. We will use language to break through the margins we often feel pushed to. You will be asked at the end of the course, to put together a portfolio of the writing you create throughout the semester. As you arrive to write and read, bring your body, bring your earliest memory, bring your silence, your favorite song, your long flight, your mom’s cookbook, your discomfort, your humor, your joy, your future.

English 254 Intro to Creative Writing (200 English elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 3    MWF 12:20-1:10        Instructor: Oluwatoyin Okele
What makes writing bold, unusual, innovative, or just plain weird? Part book club and part generative workshop, this course will inspire us as both readers and writers to try something different, whether it’s writing in unfamiliar formats, reading work by marginalized authors, or experimenting with form and genre.

We’ll ask ourselves, how can we create new lenses with which to see our world and then translate our findings into our work? How can we play in the sandboxes of genre and archetypes? How can we craft distinct characters, speakers, narrators, and perspectives? How can we create something that no one else could write? 

Together, we’ll look at smaller details like diction and voice, big picture questions about form and character, and bigger picture questions about how the authors’ and our work fits into – or disrupts – the larger literary world.
Readings will include Octavia Butler, Danez Smith, Tiphanie Yanique, Natasha Trethewey, Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Yoko Tawada, Patricia Lockwood, and more. At the end of the course, students will have a portfolio paired with a writer's note serving as an introduction to what follows, a statement of who you are as a writer, or both.

English 254 Intro to Creative Writing (200 English elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 4    MWF 1:25-2:15        Instructor: Laurence Flynn
Generating Voice & Style. Poets & writers are often known for their signature “voice”—an amorphous, dynamic, and distinct alchemy to describe the way their sentences move on the page. How do writers craft voice? How do aesthetics, diction, and style create energy, character, and theme? How do we uncover our own web of voices through writing processes, habits, and experiences? The foundational spirits of this generative workshop are experimentation, play, and discovery. We will write with an eye toward developing our ways of speaking—as individuals, citizens, and writers—by reading international, contemporary, and classical poets & writers, including Samanta Schweblin, Ross Gay, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Martín Espada, Claire Keegan, Joy Harjo, Nikolai Gogol, George Saunders, Joy Williams, Amy Hempel, and others. Through reading and imitating these writers, we will see the intentional choices, moves, and intuitions that shape voice. We will generate stories upward from the sentence, and poems upward from the line. This organic approach will cultivate productive and interactive classroom experiences where we will often be surprised and excited by our work. By semester’s end, we will have each produced a collection of polished and revised stories, craft essays, and poems—imbued with our range of voices and styles.

English 257H Interactive Fiction honors (200 English elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 1    TuTh 11:30-12:45        Instructor: Daniel Sack
Subtitle: Performance, Play and Games Readers and spectators are always implicitly involved in the creation of an artwork as interpreters or as respondents. But what happens when that work explicitly invites one to collaborate in its fictional world? We live in an increasingly interactive environment, which requires a critical awareness of our relationships to new technologies and the people, places, and things with which they connect us. This course surveys a selection of art and entertainment from the last 50 years aimed at creating an interactive experience on the page, stage, gallery, or screen. We will witness the participation of others and will ourselves practice playing with (and in) the work. Together we will ask: What do we mean by participation or agency in a fictional world? How is it different from activity in the actual world? How might an increasingly interactive cultural landscape alter our understanding of narrative or storytelling, of subjectivity, and even free will? How might participation encourage empathy toward those with different perspectives or backgrounds? What are the political and social consequences of an increasingly participatory art? Open only to first year Commonwealth students only.  

English 268 American Literature and Culture before 1865  (American literature before 1865 or 200 elective) 

Lecture 1     TuTh 11:30-12:45 pm      Instructor: Hoang Phan
Beginning in the Age of Revolution and ending in the Age of Emancipation, this course will focus on the relationship between American literature and the broader social transformations of this period. Studying the formal and thematic innovations of a range of American writers, the course will explore the various ways these writers responded to the radical upheavals of their times. What are the differing narratives posed by literary works of these periods, on the issues of territorial expansion, slavery, and national union; citizenship and democracy; social order and revolution? Reading widely and deeply, we’ll study the writings of Charles Brockden Brown, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass; Herman Melville; and Walt Whitman, among others. Throughout our readings we’ll examine the ways in which the literature of this period contributed to the imagined community of the nation, as well as raised problems for the dominant narratives of the nation. This course is open to English majors only.  Prerequisite: ENGLWRIT 112 or equivalent.

English 269 American Literature and Culture after 1865 (American lit after 1865 or 200 elective) 

Lecture 1     TuTh 10:00-11:15          Instructor: Brenna Casey
This course explores the definition and evolution of a national literary tradition in the United States from the Civil War to the present. We will examine a variety of issues arising from the historical and cultural contexts of the 19th and 20th centuries, the formal study of literature, and the competing constructions of American identity. Students will consider canonical texts, as well as those less frequently recognized as central to the American literary tradition, in an effort to foster original insights i9nto the definition, content, and the shape of literature in the United States.

English 272 American Romanticism (Amer lit before 1865 or 200 elective)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    TuTh 1:00-2:15    Instructor: Brenna Casey
The cultural life of 19th-century America in selected poetry and prose by Hawthorne, Thoreau, Douglass, Cooper, Whitman, Poe, Melville, and Lincoln. Emphasis on the symbolic and ethical idealism of selected ante-bellum poetry and prose, and on the themes of Puritanism, Transcendentalism, Manifest Destiny, Jacksonian democracy, and slavery.

English 298H English 298 Practicum, Section 2 Leadership in English Studies

Lecture 1    Meeting pattern TBA    Instructor: Adam Zucker
Leadership in English Studies, is a practicum for English majors interested in working on the department’s Student Advisory Board (SAB). The course is usually taken P/F for 2 credits. The group meets one hour per week at a time and place to be determined. 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 public speaking, peer advising, and work helping organize departmental events. Each SAB member will also work 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 Prof. Adam Zucker at .

English 300 Junior Year Writing (Junior Year Writing)(SPOW)(Social Justice)

Lecture 1    TuTh 10:00-11:15    Instructor: Haivan Hoang 
Topic: Race and Rhetoric. This course explores how legacies of racism have impacted reading and writing practices in the United States. Literacy has been withheld from racially minoritized people through legislation, school-based exclusion or segregation, and culturally-biased assessment. Still, people of color have also read and written texts to combat racism and critically imagine a more just world. Our readings will explore this wider racialized history and then center Asian American texts. To deepen our analyses, you’ll learn about and apply a few key concepts from critical race theory (CRT) to help us understand how race and racism persist systemically or through institutional policies and practices. 

In this junior-year writing seminar for English majors, you’ll practice applying critical theory to textual analysis and also practice crafting and revising genres that are foundational to English studies: literary, personal creative nonfiction, and rhetorical. Each genre enables us to express critical perspectives about race and its impact on the human condition. More broadly, we’ll reflect on why analytical and imaginative writing in English studies matters in this world, and you’ll curate a digital portfolio that showcases your writing in this course and introduces who you are as a writer.

English 300 Junior Year Writing (Junior Year Writing)(Literature as History) (Social Justice)

Lecture 2    TuTh 1:00-2:15    Instructor: Mazen Naous 
Topic: Literatures of Conflict. In times of “conflict” we all have a vested interest in exploring this complex term: How do we define conflict and, more importantly, how do we perceive the outcome of conflict? Where do we locate ourselves in moments of conflict? Do we have control over our individual and collective identities? What role can language play in the formation of conflictual identities as expressed in literature and art? These are a few of the many questions that we will be asking throughout the semester. Our selection of texts is global in scope, and will probably include novels from Iraq, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and the United States (in relation to Algerian migration).

English 300 Junior Year Writing (Junior Year Writing) (literature as history)

Lecture 4    MWF 10:10-11:00        Instructor: Stephen Clingman
Topic: Spy vs Spy: Spying 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. We’ll explore some of the staples (James Bond) as well as the greats, including le Carré.  Other writers will include Kate Atkinson, David Henry Hwang, Kamila Shamsie, and Hisham Matar. Film will play a part (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Lives of Others) as will television series (The Americans). Overall, there will be important issues for us to consider. How does spy fiction work? How does it relate to nationalism, race, gender and sexuality? How does the “popular” relate to the “literary”? What are some of the differences between the classic Cold War texts and the ways spy fiction is written now? Why is spy fiction so obsessed with duplicity and betrayal, and what does that tell us about how we decode our world? How does spying, and the question of duplicity, overlap with the literary itself, not least in terms of decoding and interpretation? Class work will involve some lecturing, lots of 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)(literature as history)

Lecture 5    TuTh 2:30-3:45    Instructor: Jenny Adams
Topic Legends of Arthur.  In this course, we will think and write about Arthurian legend with a historical (and at times historiographic) eye toward the ways its creators have changed the legend and toward our collective self-interest in its ever-unfolding history. The goals of this approach are threefold: to sharpen your already good reading and analytical skills; to consider the historical currents that swirl through this legend; and to strengthen your abilities as a writer of literary criticism.  Medieval texts will include: The History of the Kings of Britain, The Knight of the Cart, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Malory's Le Morte Darthur. Modern works will include the movies: Camelot (1967), Excalibur (1981), A Knight's Tale (2001), and The Kid Who Would Be King (2019).

English 305 Poetry/Black Feminist Thought (Anglophone or 300 elective)

Lecture 1   MW 2:30-3:45   Instructor: Cameron Awkward Rich     
From Pauli Murray to Audre Lorde to the twenty-first-century practice of Alexis Pauline Gumbs, many of our most visionary black feminist theorists have also been poets. Taking seriously Lorde's insistence on poetry's thought- and world-building function, this course traces a history of black feminist theorizing that puts poetry and poetics at the center in order to ask after how and what poetry allows us to know. Possible authors include: Pauli Murray, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Dionne Brand, M. NourbeSe Philip, the Trans Day of Resilience project, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Hortense Spillers, Denise Ferreira da Silva, and Christina Sharpe. This is a theory class but will ask you to exercise your creative capacities.

English 313 Intro to Old English Poetry (early British lit or 300 elective)

Lecture 1    MWF 10:10-11:00    Instructor: Stephen Harris
Old English is a language spoken in Britain from the early 400s to the 1100s. In this course, you will learn to read it. It will give you a good grounding in English grammar as well as a solid sense of the origin of English vocabulary. Once you can read Old English, you are only steps away from reading Old Norse, the language of the Vikings, as well as Old Saxon and Old Frisian. As well as learning the Old English language, we will read Old English poetry, including "Caedmon's Hymn," "The Seafarer," "The Wanderer," "Dream of the Rood," "The Battle of Maldon," and the epic Judith, about a warrior maiden who leads her army to heroic conquest ("Sloh tha wundenlocc thone feondsceathan fagum mece ..."). It is like no other poetry in English. Reading it in the original language allows you to practice intense close reading, an essential component of a literary education. You will also be introduced to Norse and Celtic myths. Old English inspired J. R. R. Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It inspired Seamus Heaney's North as well as his Beowulf. And it was a profound influence on Jorge Luis Borges. We will examine runes and learn to make manuscripts. A working knowledge of English grammar is recommended.

English 317 (Dis)ability and Literature (300 elective)(social justice)

Lecture 1    TuTh 1:00-2:15    Instructor: Janis Greve
This course will delve into the thriving field of disability studies as it engages with literary texts and the arts. Reading and viewing from a range of genres, we will explore how texts portray disabilities across the human spectrum.  A primary goal will be to investigate how disabled and non-disabled writers alike communicate physical experiences that depart from the idealized human form of Western culture.  Paradoxically, an equally important goal will be to become less sure of what disability is, questioning our received notions. We will hope to develop insight into human physical variation and our accountability to one another, while cultivating the empathy and self-reflection we may need as potential caregivers and responsive, informed human beings.  This is a service-learning course, where students will partner with adults with cognitive differences to create a project.  The service-learning will be integrated into regular class hours.

English 319 Representing the Holocaust (300 elective)

Lecture 1    Tu 2:30-3:45 + disc    Instructor: Jonathan Skolnik
Major themes and critical issues concerning Holocaust representation and memory in a global context.  The course examines literature, film, memoirs, music, visual arts, memorials, museums, and video archives of survivor testimonies to explore narrative responses to racism and the destruction of European Jewry and others during World War II.  There are no prerequisites. 4 Credits. (Gen.Ed. DG AL).

  • 319 Disc 01AA; Th 1:00-2:15; Instructor: Anna-Claire Steffen
  • 319 Disc 01AB; Th 10:00-11:15; Instructor: Anna-Claire Steffen
  • 319 Disc 01AC; Th 1-2:15; Instructor: Nataliya Kostenko
  • 319 Disc 01AD; Th 10:00-11:15; Instructor: Nataliya Kostenko
  • 319 Disc 01AE; Th 11:30-12:45; Instructor: Jonathan Skolnik

English 329H Tutoring Writing: Theory and Practice (300 elective)(SPOW)(TELA)

Lecture 1    TuTh 1:00-2:15        Instructor: Anna Rita Napoleon
Prerequisite: Gen. Ed. College Writing 112 or 113 with a grade of "B" or better.  Students interested in the course should submit an application to by March 19: (1) a formal letter explaining why the student is interested and has potential to become a writing tutor; (2) an academic writing sample (attached as a word or pdf file) and (3) the name and email address of the student’s 112 instructor or another instructor who can speak to the student's qualifications.  While the preferred deadline was set for March 19, additional applicants may be considered if seats are available.  The strongest applications will be invited to an interview.

English 350H Expository Writing Honors (300 elective)(creative writing)(SPOW)

Lecture 1    MW 2:30-3:45        Instructor: John Hennessy
This course is designed for students who have a special interest in personal narratives, documentary forms, travel writing, and/or innovative approaches to feature writing. Students will read and write a variety of literary non-fiction forms, including memoir, documentary essays, and profiles, and the course will have a workshop component.  Texts will include works by Joan Didion, Helene Cooper, and others. Students will also be encouraged to try other forms of non-fiction, including travel writing, interviews, editorials, reviews, etc.)

English 355 Creative Writing Fiction (300 elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 1    MWF 11:15-12:05    Instructor: alex Terrell

the witching hour  What haunts you? What keeps you up at night? What obsesses your mind during the witching hour? And how do our own histories, lineages, and stories reflect that? As writers we must always hold our past and present on the tip of the pen, but how do we make room for our own histories and experiences? 

This course will guide you in crafting fiction by investigating your obsessions and the things that haunt you. We will look at how ghosts (familial and otherwise), spectres, haints, ghouls, and monsters may also be found in the most familiar places and faces. We will read spooky fiction, timely folklore, and stories that interrogate the “classic” canon. We will move beyond the definition of “haunting” to explore themes of home, memory, and the ghosts of those still living. All styles and genres of writing are welcome as we will simply use the idea of “haunting” as a framework to better understand what moves us to tell the stories we tell. 

This workshop is an invitation to explore the realms of strangeness and  how even the mundane lends itself to the bizarre. We’ll look at elements of craft such as form, pacing, worldbuilding, voice, suspense, tension, and setting, among others. Students in the workshop will be asked to write original works of fiction, engage in writing community membership, and provide careful, thoughtful critiques of each other’s work.

English 356 Creative Writing Poetry (300 elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 1    MWF 1:25-2:15    Instructor: Riley Jones
Poetry as Condition. In this course we will take seriously the question, ‘where does poetry come from?’ Think of this poetry workshop as a kind of exploratory lab, where the boundaries between ‘poetry’ and ‘life’ will be interrogated, played with, and transformed. We will read, write, and respond to poems, paying attention to the conditions which allowed for the poems to be uncovered as much as the form and content of the poems themselves. We will think about the citational, improvisational, and contextual qualities of poems, putting pressure on the concept of writing as a solo or discrete act. In this course, students will engage both individually and collaboratively in the work of discovering conditions that lead to poetry. In addition to generating poems, students will also frequently share work and respond to peers’ work. Central to our living and writing while engaging in this course will be experimentation, failure, and play. We will consider writing and reading as equally generative and inseparable projects. Together we’ll read work from Anne Boyer, Dionne Brand, Wanda Coleman, CAConrad, Dot Devota, Renee Gladman, Fanny Howe, Bob Kaufman, Bernadette Mayer, Chelsea Minnis, Chessy Normile, Alice Notley, Cecelia Vicuña, and John Wieners among others.

English 358 The Romantic Poets (British lit after 1700 or 300 elective)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    MW 4:00-5:15        Instructor: Suzanne Daly
Poetry of the Romantic period (1789-1832) including works by Anna L. Barbauld, Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Felicia Hemens, John Keats, Mary Robinson, Percy B. Shelley, Charlotte Smith, and William Wordsworth. Political, religious, and historical frames of critical reference will be brought to bear on our reading.

English 359 Victorian Imagination (British lit after 1700 or 300 elective)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    MW 2:30-3:45        Instructor: Suzanne Daly
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 and poetry 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? We will read fiction by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Elizabeth Gaskell, Oscar Wilde, and Sarah Waters. Poets may include Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Swinburne, and Tennyson.

English 362 Modern Novel 1945-Present (Anglophone or Amer lit after 1865 or 300 elective)(social justice)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    TuTh 10:00-11:15         Instructor: Mazen Naous
Topic: Contemporary Arab American Fiction. This course examines the significanceof contemporary Arab American fiction within a transnational American setting. We will begin by positioning Arab American fiction in relation to sociopolitical and cultural preoccupations in the US. We will investigate Arab American literature as a burgeoning literary tradition in its own right, and as a critical lens through which we can better gauge US cultures and politics. The selected novels will allow us to see the ways in which Arab Americans both contribute to and are influenced by the sociocultural and political landscapes of the US. Our novels employ a range of literary techniques, including playing with form, interpolating transliterated Arabic words into the texts, disrupting time, and complicating narrative point of view. We will engage the relationship between aesthetics and politics in these textual interventions and consider the effect of this relationship on the representations and receptions of Arab Americans. The course includes works by Zaina Arafat, Omar El Akkad, Laila Halaby, Laila Lalami, and Sahar Mustafah. Critical essays and cultural theory will guide our readings.

English 365 The Literature of Ireland (Anglophone or 300 Elective)(Environmental Humanties)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    TuTh 11:30-12:45    Instructor: Katherine O’Callaghan
Nineteenth-century background: the Irish Renaissance; such major figures as Yeats, Synge, Joyce and O'Casey; recent and contemporary writing.  (Gen.Ed. AL)

English 378 American Women Writers (American literature after 1865 or 300 elective)(literature as history)

Lecture 1        TuTh 11:30-12:45    Instructor: Sarah Patterson
Representations of Women in Literature: Depictions of Women's Rise and Fall. In this class, we will review American writers' concepts of womanhood with women's advocacy literature as a point of orientation. Students will pay special attention to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writers Margerett Fuller, Frances E. W. Harper, Pauline Hopkins, and Zitkala-sa. We will draw from a rich selection of fiction and non-fiction to explore shifting perceptions about women's societal successes and shortcomings. This class is especially suited for students who are interested in tracing a history of reformers' and missionaries' contributions to women's access to education, charity work, and a range of gender identities, including traditional and political identities. Primary readings studied in conjunction with cultural materials will uncover major junctures in evolving notions of woman-centered and feminist thought in American culture. 

English 379 Intro to Professional Writing (300 elective)(PWTC)(SPOW)

Lecture 1: TuTh 1:00-2:15    Instructor: David Toomey
Lecture 2: MW 4:00-5:15    Instructor: Nicole O'Connell
This course offers an overview of commonly encountered professional genres such as memos, reports, job materials, and grant proposals. Students gain practice writing in these genres, with an emphasis on clarity and concision. They develop more sophisticated research skills and gain experience in communicating specialized information to non-specialist readers. Finally, they are exposed to the range of professional writing careers as they explore writing on both theoretical and practical planes through consideration of audience, as well as wider professional, social, and cultural contexts. Prereq.: ENGLWP 112 or equivalent; junior or senior status with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits).

English 380 Professional Writing and Technical Communication 1 (PWTC)(SPOW)

Lecture 1    TuTh 11:30-12:45        Instructor: Janine Solberg
Introduces principles of technical writing, page design, and UX/usability. Students write and design a 20-25 page manual documenting a software program, usually Microsoft Word, suitable for use as a professional writing sample. Prereq.: ENGLWP 112 or equivalent; ENGL 379, which may be taken concurrently, with instructor approval (email; Junior or Senior status with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits)

English 389 The Major and Beyond (SPOW)(Digital Humanities)

Lecture 1    W 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 391D Writing & Emerging Technology (300 elective)(SPOW)(Digital Humanities)(Creative Writing)

Lecture 1    MW 1:00-2:15        Instructor: Janine Solberg
Our theme for this semester will be publishing technologies and book design. This course meets in a computer classroom, and students will gain hands-on experience with one or more tools commonly used in digital or print publishing. Students can expect to develop a solid working understanding of Adobe InDesign, an industry-standard software design program. This course (3 credits) may be a good fit for: 

  • students pursuing the PWTC Certificate
  • students pursuing CW, DH, or SPoW specializations*
  • creative writers interested in self-publishing
  • Jabberwocky staff (current or future)
  • students interested in publishing careers

*This course counts as an elective toward the SPoW letter of specialization and fulfills the technology requirement. It counts toward the DH specialization as an elective (production).

English 391NM Narrative Medicine: How Writing Can Heal (300 elective)(Creative Writing)(SPOW)

Lecture 1    Th 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 395A Poetry/Black Feminist Thought (Anglophone/ethnic American or 300 elective)

Lecture 1    MW 2:30-3:45        Instructor: Cameron Awkward-Rich
From Pauli Murray to Audre Lorde to the contemporary practice of Alexis Pauline Gumbs, many of our most visionary black feminist theorists have also been poets. Taking seriously Lorde's insistence on poetry's thought- and world-building function, this course traces a history of black feminist theorizing that puts poetry at the center in order to ask after how and what poetry allows us to know. Possible reading includes: poetry/theory by Pauli Murray, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Dionne Brand, fahima ife, the Trans Day of Resilience project, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs and criticism by Hortense Spillers, Kevin Quashie, Theri Alice Pickens, and Christina Sharpe. This is a theory class but will ask you to exercise your creative capacities.

English 398P Literary Programming, Editing and Publishing

Lecture 1    TuTh 10:00-11:15    Instructor: Syki Barbee
One credit. In this practicum students learn skills related to literary programming, editing, and publishing. Topics will include strategies for and approaches to running a successful reading series, managing and producing a literary journal, book publishing, and others. Students will have the opportunity to work on the English Dept. journal Jabberwocky and to intern for the MFA’s Visiting Writers Series. Students may also take the practicum to support their work on professional literary internships they have secured themselves.

English 494CI Codes, Ciphers, Hackers & Crackers (IE)(Digital Humanities)

Lecture 1    MWF 12:20-1:10    Instructor: Stephen Harris
English 494CI is an Integrative Experience course. It has two major aims. The first is a practical introduction to codes and ciphers. This will lead us to 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 letters and cipher types, we will explore relationships between users and networks, hackers (and crackers) and The System, and books and readers. How do systems and networks invite us to think differently about literature and language? No knowledge of codes or computers is necessary. 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 494EI Writing, Identity & English Studies (IE)

Lecture 1    TuTh 2:30-3:45    Instructor: David Fleming
Writing, Identity, and English Studies is a nonfiction writing course designed to satisfy the University’s Integrative Experience (IE) requirement. The IE is a campus-wide, upper-division course that asks students 1) to reflect on all their learning in college, from their major to their General Education courses to their electives and extracurricular experiences; 2) to further practice key “Gen Ed” objectives, such as oral communication, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary perspective-taking; and 3) to apply what they’ve learned at UMass Amherst to new situations, challenging questions, and real world problems. This course is a writing-intensive version of the IE, designed specifically for senior English majors. Over the course of the semester, you’ll use writing to look back on your work in college and ahead to your future, thinking about possibilities for yourself as a writer, scholar, citizen, employee, and human being. We’ll use an anthology of personal essays as prompt and model. At the end of the semester, you’ll collect your work in an e-portfolio, showcasing your knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and aspirations.

English 494SI Literature and Social Justice (IE)(Social Justice)

Lecture 1    TuTh 1:00-2:15    Instructor: Rachel Mordecai
"What is social justice?" might be the most pressing question of our contemporary moment, as humans confront multiple and overlapping ecological, political, economic and public-health crises, and come to very different ideas of what should be done. How do we know when we are pursuing social justice, and who is the "we" that knows? This class will explore that question through literature with a particular focus on movements for environmental justice: literary representations of people acting to protect their homelands, texts that have prompted or furthered such action, and reflections on and by people who have thought deeply and acted courageously in pursuit of environmental justice. This course fulfils the University’s Integrative Experience requirement, the goals of which are to allow students to draw upon the breadth of their college learning and apply research, communication, and critical-thinking skills to pressing contemporary questions. Together we will read, think, talk and write about how the literature of social justice might inform our approach to living justly alongside other beings.

English 499C Honors Thesis: Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing (400 elective)(creative writing)

Lecture 1    MW 4:00-5:15        Instructor: John Hennessy
Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing: Fiction, Poetry, and Literary Non-Fiction is  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 BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, an anthology of contemporary short stories, and non-fiction by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Helene Cooper, Studs Terkel, and Joan Didion.   

English 591N Topics/Indigenous Literature (Anglophone or 400+ elective)(creative writing)(literature as history)

Lecture 1    Mon 10:45-1:15    Instructor: Abigail Chabitnoy
What is it to be a writer of indigenous literature? What does such categorization suggest about a work and what does it fail to mention? Is indigenous literature an indicator of genre? Or simply an ascribed attribute of the writer? If the former, what devices, tropes, or themes does it share? If the latter, what prejudices do we bring to the work? This course examines contemporary Native American poetry, fiction, essays, and theories as both expressions and interrogations of indigenous identity and culture and as strategies for survivance within the larger American context. While we will focus on a broad diversity of contemporary writers and the literature they produce, we will also look at the historic, cultural, social, religious, aesthetic, and political contexts out of which contemporary Native Americans write. Additionally, we will discuss the significant issues facing indigenous people across the nation from colonization, stereotypes, and discrimination, to intergenerational trauma, to climate change and relocation and more as we learn to identify key differences as well as constellations of connections. Most importantly, we will think about how indigenous literature is defined and understood within broader topics and trends in contemporary literature, including how indigenous writers imagine themselves and how they imagine identity, self, place, nature, and nation. Through our readings, discussions, and assignments, you will develop your own decolonial lens as we examine the impacts of United States policy, land borders, and geographical inheritances on Indigenous cultures and even on the notion of text and categorization itself.