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Fall 2015 Course Descriptions

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060.100 (H,W) Intro Expository Writing - Staff                      (3 sections)

Introduction to "Expos" is designed to introduce less experienced writers to the elements of academic argument.  Students learn to recognize the paradigm of academic argument as they learn to read and summarize academic essays, and then they apply the paradigm in academic essays of their own. Classes are small, no more than 10 students, and are organized around three major writing assignments.  Each course guides students' practice through pre-writing, drafting, and revising, and includes discussions, workshops, and tutorials with the instructor.  In addition to its central focus on the elements of academic argument, each "Intro" course teaches students to avoid plagiarism and document sources correctly.  "Intro" courses do not specialize in a particular topic or theme and are available to freshmen only. (10 per section)

060.107.01 (H,W) Introduction to Literary Study - Thompson
                                                                                  TTh 10:30-11:45pm

This course serves as an introduction to the basic methods of and critical approaches to the study of literature.

060.107.02 (H,W) Introduction to Literary Study - Hickman     MW 3:00-4:15pm

This course serves as an introduction to the basic methods of and critical approaches to the study of literature.

060.108 (H,W) Time Travel - Rosenthal                            TTh 10:30-11:45pm

Why is time travel such a consistent and perplexing theme in literature and film over the last 150 years? Why is modernity so concerned with peeking backwards or forwards? This course will examine the history of time-travel fiction, from its beginning in utopian fiction through its box-office dominance in the 1980s, and into today. Writers will likely include Mark Twain, Edward Bellamy, Harold Steele Mackay, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick. Movies will include *The Terminator*, *Back to the Future*, and *Primer*.

060.114 (H,W) Expository Writing - Staff                       (24 sections)

"Expos" is designed to introduce more confident student writers to the elements of academic argument.  Students learn to apply the paradigm of academic argument in academic essays of their own.  Classes are capped at 15 students and organized around four major writing assignments.  Each course guides students’ practice through pre-writing, drafting, and revising, and includes discussions, workshops, and tutorials with the instructor.  In addition to its central focus on the elements of academic argument, each "Expos" course teaches students to document sources correctly and provides its own topic or theme to engage students' writing and thinking.  Please see the individual course descriptions listed under "Courses" to decide which sections of "Expos" will most interest you.  "Expos" courses are available to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and to seniors by special permission. (15 per section) Please note: Each course has a different topic. To check individual course descriptions, go to the EWP web site:

060.123 (H,W) Prophecy After Science - Miller                     M 4:00-7:00pm

This course explores the history of prophecy from ancient Greek and Judaic sources to current intimations of technological singularity and ecological doom. We will focus on the influence of prophecy on the rise of science (and vice-versa). Readings will include texts by William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Mary Shelley, and Philip K. Dick. Dean’s Teaching Fellowship course.

060.127 (H,W) Muslim Science Fiction - Hashem              TTh 9:00-10:15am

This course will explore the wondrous and mysterious world of Islamic Sci-Fi. Writers of Muslim Sci-Fi have asserted a long tradition of speculative fiction and fantasy dating back to the 13th century. We will look into this literary history, beginning with earlier texts like The Arabian Nights, al-Qizwini’s alien story Awaj bin Anfaq and Roquia Hussain’s Sultana's Dream all the way through to modern texts like G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen and Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon.  We will ask how this genre, as opposed to realism, might enable these writers to productively tackle themes of history, science, belief, and the politics of belonging and difference. We will pair our Muslim readings with more canonical science fiction works, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, and more recently, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, to think through the relationship of the SF writer to a particular cultural moment. We will also look at writers of afrofuturism and magical realism, like Octavia Butler and Gabriel García Márquez, to think about how other writers of color have employed fantasy and the fantastical, and to what ends.

060.149(H,W) Freshman Seminar: Work and Worth in American Literature - Tempesta                                                                         T 4:00-7:00pm

“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry,” Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed in his “Square Deal” speech of 1903. “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Hard work is at the heart of the American dream, but with unemployment rates at historic highs and the global economy proceeding at a rapid clip, Roosevelt’s words resurrect old questions in a new world: What work is worth doing? Who gets the chance to do it? And what happens when people find themselves doing work that isn’t worth doing? In this course we will consider the meaning and consequences of work, from the heroic to the tragic, through a selection of American literature from the last days of slavery to the present. This course will consider work in all its forms, from the plantation to the boardroom, to help us develop the tools to interpret the varieties and values of labor in modern society. Dean’s Teaching Fellowship course.

060.150 (H,W) Freshman Seminar: Milton and Liberty: Public and Private - Buckham                                                                           T 1:30-4:30pm

This course undertakes an in-depth study of what is arguably the greatest long poem in the English tradition, John Milton's Paradise Lost. The poem, first published in 1667, is Milton's take on the Judeo-Christian story of the Fall found in the Bible. Paradise Lost does not merely re-tell the biblical account, however. By expanding three chapters of Genesis into a twelve-book epic meant to rival its classical forbears—most importantly Virgil's Aeneid—​Milton's poem makes room for new readings of an old story. This course encourages students to find their own new readings of the Genesis story by considering the historical contexts of the poem's production as well as the conversations Paradise Lost continues to provoke to this day. In addition to reading and discussing the poem, students will become familiar with ongoing sites of critical debate, such as the representations of Satan and of Eve. To help negotiate these conversations, students will complete a guided research project that makes use of the materials available through the library's Department of Special Collections, housed in Brody Learning Commons. In addition to early editions of Paradise Lost, this treasure trove of rare books offers a wide variety of materials which may deepen an encounter with Milton's poem, from biblical illustrations to gardening manuals to marriage advice. Students will use the collection to ask questions such as: "How does Milton's representation of Satan differ from earlier traditions of imagining the devil?" and "Does Milton's approach to Eve reinforce or revise conventional ideas about women?" Sufficient class time will be dedicated to introducing students to Special Collections so as to facilitate their individual work over the course of the semester. Dean’s Teaching Fellowship course.

060.213 (H) The Novel and Globalization - Jackson       MWF 10:00-10:50am 

Novels have long been classified by the national origin of their author, and, for the most part, the great works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries take place primarily in one country. In the postcolonial era of the 1980s and 90s, many prominent writers explored the process of diasporic movement from one country to another. Recently, though, there has been a lot of talk about a new kind of “rootless” novel that jumps between many locales around the globe. This course reads some of the prime examples of this genre in relation to its immigrant predecessors, identifying its key formal and thematic attributes (such as perspectival and geographical range, multi-stranded plots, and an acute consciousness of linguistic and generic hybridization). We will discuss the trade-offs inherent in developing many places rather than one in terms of style and character development, as well as the political and even ethical implications of abandoning the concept of “home.” Primary works by Abdulrazak Gurnah, Caryl Phillips, David Mitchell, Taiye Selasi, Chimamanda Adichie, and Imraan Coovadia.

060.231 (H) Novels into Film - Staff                               MWF 9:00-9:50am

What does it take to turn a novel into film? How different are the demands and possibilities of these two forms? Why do some novels repeatedly attract filmmakers? And how should we evaluate films that adapt novels? Beginning with the novel Frankenstein and its various film progeny, we will look at a series of pairings between novels and films. These may include Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Dickens’ Great Expectations, Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons, Stoker’s Dracula and McEwan’s Atonement along with various critical readings about the genre of the novel and the medium of film. Course will be taught by incoming professor Mary Favret.

060.301 (H,W) Words and Images – Daniel                         W 1:30-3:50pm

From the picture-books of childhood to the Facebook pages and tumblrs of the present, visual literacy and textual literacy go together, with these distinct mediums alternately competing and reinforcing each other. Yet the academic study of literature tends to sideline or bracket visual images, insisting (often for very good reasons) upon an encounter with texts alone. This course reads works that combine media in order to pose and perhaps answer some basic questions: which aspects of our ingrained critical habits of reading and interpreting literature have to change in order to read images and texts together? How do these distinct representational media complicate or critique each other? How has this relationship changed over time? From Renaissance emblem books to graphic novels and beyond, this transhistorical course will assess the relationship between images and texts through a series of close encounters with works that combine image and text in ways that are alternately funny and scary, intuitive and experimental, old fashioned and cutting edge. Possible texts/authors include: Geoffrey Whitney & Andrea Alciati, “A Choice of Emblems”; William Blake, “Songs of Innocence” and “Songs of Experience”; Marshall Mcluhan & Quentin Fiore, “The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects”; W.G. Sebald, “The Rings of Saturn”; Claudia Rankine, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” and “Citizen”; Xu Bing, “The Book From the Ground”.

060.313 (H,W) Edmund Spenser – Daniel                            TTh 1:30-3:50pm

After a diagnostic introduction to his early poetry, this reading intensive seminar will concentrate upon Edmund Spenser’s masterpiece, The Faerie Queene (1590/1596), which we will read in its entirety. Over the course of its sprawling Six Books and its concluding Mutability Cantos, The Faerie Queene marshals an enormous cast of characters (knights, ladies, magicians, giants, and monsters) in order to allegorically represent the virtues of Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, Friendship, Justice and Courtesy. Through this framework, his text models the ethical regulation of the body, the aesthetic construction of gender, the politics of national myth-making, and the ongoing processes of colonial violence in which Spenser was himself complicit. But across its vast yet incomplete expanse, Spenser’s text is always centrally concerned with the task of reading. Accordingly, students should emerge from their encounter with this demanding but rewarding poem with a deeper understanding of the task of interpretation itself. As a group we will collectively traverse the surface of the text, and work together to construct a functional account of allegory’s effects. You will be asked to respond to the challenge of Spenser’s work in class discussion, weekly short responses, and three analytic papers.

060.316 (H,W) Mapping the Global Metropolis - Jackson         M 1:30-3:50pm

Cities have long taken on a central role in literature, but much of our reading about urban space is confined to a few Western hubs. And while the city has traditionally been a space for fictional characters to develop into national subjects, much of the most innovative contemporary writing sees the city as a character of its own. This course will address the representational challenges of globalization through fiction and genre-bending memoir about contemporary metropolises that act as its microcosm: Johannesburg, Lagos, Delhi, London, and New York. We will read primary works by Ivan Vladislavic, Chris Abani, Aravind Adiga, Zadie Smith, and Teju Cole, as well as supplementary excerpts from books including Capital, by Rana Dasgupta, Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums, Ato Quayson’s Oxford Street, Accra, and Loren Kruger’s Imagining the Edgy City. Finally, the course will include theoretical readings about globality and representation, such as Fredric Jameson’s essay on “Cognitive Mapping” and Arjun Appadurai’s seminal book Modernity at Large.

060.320 (H,W) Icons of Feminism - Staff                          MW 3:00-4:15pm

This course looks at four crucial figures who have haunted feminist thought and responses to feminism over the centuries. Sappho, known as the first female poet, remains an enigmatic icon of feminine desire and creativity; Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus and the heroine of Sophocles’s play Antigone, still inspires feminist analyses of women’s relationship to law, the state and civil society; and Joan of Arc, the militant maid of Orleans, troubles thinking about women and violence as well as women, religion and spirituality. The last figure is Mary Wollstonecraft, often cited as the first modern feminist. The course will examine literary works written about these iconic figures, as well as contemporary feminist writing about their influence and viability as models for the future of feminism. Course will be taught by incoming professor Mary Favret.

060.322 (H,W) Indian Ocean - Haley                                 TTh 9:00-9:15am

This course will explore the development of a cosmopolitan ethos in postwar fiction from the Indian Ocean region, with particular focus on South Africa, South Asia, and the Malay Archipelago. Authors will include Aravind Adiga, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Lloyd Fernando, Tan Twan Eng, and J.M. Coetzee. Dean’s Teaching Fellowship course.


060.336 (H,W) Victorian Modernity - Staff                    TTh 10:30-11:45am

This course will study the idea of modernity, a term that has been of continuing use in trying to understand ourselves and our society.  We will focus on the major works of prose and poetry that attempted to come to terms with modernity in Victorian Britain.  Texts are likely to include non-fiction prose by Mill, Arnold, Darwin, Nightingale, and Pater; Eliot’s novel Middlemarch; and poetry by Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Tennyson, Emily Bronte, Christina Rosetti, Hopkins, and Hardy. Course will be taught by incoming professor Andrew Miller.

060.342 (H,W) Yeats and His Ages - Mao                         Th 1:30-3:50pm

This past June marked the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats, perhaps the most naturally gifted poet ever to write in English. In recognition of this event, this course will consider the breadth of Yeats’s poetry, prose writing, and drama in the contexts of Irish history and folklore, decadence and modernism in the arts, the project of the Abbey Theatre, and poetic innovation in the twentieth century. “Ages,” in the title, recalls that more than most figures, Yeats reached across literary eras—and highlights as well this poet’s profound interest in the drama of growing older. Writers in addition to Yeats who will be studied may include Oscar Wilde, Helena Blavatsky, Douglas Hyde, Augusta Gregory, J. M. Synge, and T. S. Eliot.

060.351 (H,W) Theory of the Novel -Rosenthal                  T 1:30-3:50pm

We all know a novel when we see one, but it’s surprisingly hard to say just what one is. This seminar will introduce the theory of the novel by reading a number of novels along with the works of central thinkers about the novel. We will look at the connection of the rise of the novel form with historical and cultural changes and investigate key stylistic elements. Novelists will likely include Miguel de Cervantes, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, and Virginia Woolf.

060.362 (H,W) Art and the Arab Spring - Hashem              T 1:30-5:20pm

Much has been made of the political ramifications of the Arab Spring: the potential move towards democratic representation, the realization of minority and gender rights, the economic liberalization of markets, the jockeying by world powers to assert influence in the region, and the revitalization of dissident movements.  This course will turn its attention to the role of artistic representation in the Arab Spring in order to complicate these political discussions. We will explore widely, considering works of prose, poetry, film, music, performance art, and visual art, from photography to graffiti. We will think through how these mediums are used and to what end, whether as evidence of atrocities, as inspiration and mobilization of dissent, as satirical commentary, or to revitalize appreciation for artistic expression. We will also think about the impact of social media on distribution possibilities and implied audience and track how certain art forms invoke and are invoked by liberal or conservative discourses in complex ways.


060.365 (H,W) Literature and Moral Philosophy - Staff      W 1:30-3:50pm

Does literature have moral value?  How might we begin to answer such a question? This course will survey major attempts by both writers and philosophers to understand the relation between morality and literature, especially fiction.  Course will be taught by incoming professor Andrew Miller.

060.391 (H,W) Early American Literatures - Hickman        Th 2:30-4:50pm

This course is an introduction to literatures drawn from across the Americas, although primarily the British North American colonies that would eventually become the United States, from first contact in 1492 up through the American wars of independence.  Our readings are roughly organized according to chronology and genre.  We will think about the adapted and emergent generic forms through which “the New World” was ongoingly invented, including genres like the Indian captivity narrative and the slave narrative that arguably make their debut in world literary history in the Americas during this time frame.  We will conclude by attending to the rather late emergence of the novel in American literary history, reading four novels that appeared in the early US national period.  The objective of the course is simply to contextualize and analyze a wide array of texts, each of which richly rewards the engaged reader, in order to trace the origins of American literatures.  Course texts may include contact narratives (Columbus, Caminha, Smith, Hennepin); conquest narratives (Mather, Las Casas, Poma de Ayala); Indian captivity narratives (Cabeza de Vaca, Rowlandson, Staden); slave narratives (Gronniosaw, Jea, Cugoano); revolutionary polemics (Paine, Bolívar); and the earliest American novels: William Hill Brown, The Power of Sympathy; Hannah Webster Foster, The Coquette; Leonora Sansay, Secret History or, the Horrors of Santo Domingo; Charles Brockden Brown, Arthur Mervyn.   Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement.


363.264 (W) Capitalism and Gender - Westcott             TTh 1:30-2:20pm

This course explores a range of critical work relating capitalism to gender, sex, and sexuality: from theoretical accounts of witchcraft, marriage, and prostitution at the birth of capitalist social relations, to classic feminist debates around housework and reproduction, to contemporary thought on affect, finance, and the global dimensions of women’s labor. As a centerpiece to the course we will read sections from Capital, interrogating the place of gender in Marx’s text while developing a grasp of its arguments and influence.

300.371 (H) The Modernist Novel: James, Woolf, and Joyce - Ong
                                                                             MW 12-1:15pm

The purpose of this course is to survey works by three of the greatest, most relentless innovators of the twentieth century – Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce -- who explored and exploded narrative techniques for depicting what Woolf called the “luminous halo” of life.  Selected works include:  "The Beast in the Jungle," The Portrait of a Lady, Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses.

360.133 (H,W) Freshmen Seminar: Great Books at Hopkins - Staff
                                                                         TTh 10:30-11:45am

Students attend lectures by an interdepartmental group of Hopkins faculty and meet for discussion in smaller seminar groups; each of these seminars is led by one of the course faculty. In lectures, panels, multimedia presentations, and curatorial sessions among the University's rare book holdings, we will explore some of the greatest works of the literary and philosophical traditions in Europe and the Americas. Close reading and intensive writing instruction are hallmarks of this course; authors for Fall 2015 include Homer, Plato, Boccaccio, Shakespeare, Madame de Lafayette, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Joyce

214.125 Magic, Marvel, and Monstrosity in the Renaissance - Stephens
                                                                         TTh 1:30-2:45pm

Magic, Monstrosity,and Marvels or Wonders call into question what we see and experience: what is reality, what is illusion; what’s natural and what’s supernatural? What’s human and what’s more, or less, than human? During the Renaissance, ideas about the nature of reality were bound up with questions and issues very different from those of our time. With the exact sciences still being invented, the nature of the world was much less hard and fast for Renaissance people than it is for the modern educated person. The literary masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance provide vivid illustrations of the early modern sense of wonder. Foremost among these are the theatrical comedies which Italian authors revived in imitation of the ancients, and the romances, especially Ariosto’s Orlando furioso (1532) and Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1581). These and other works influenced ideas about magical and marvelous phenomena across Europe for centuries to come. Works will be read and discussed in English. Italian majors and graduate students (who should enroll in section 2) will attend a weekly supplemental discussion in Italian and compose their written work in Italian.

214.639 (W) The Sound of Poetry: Early Modern Approaches to Poetics, Rhetoric, and Music - Refini                                              M 1-3pm

Although naturally and historically intertwined, music and poetry tended to be described in the early modern period as competing rather than interacting. By looking at both literary and theoretical texts, the seminar aims to explore the ways in which this controversial relation is revealed by the interplay of poetics, rhetoric, and music theory. Reading materials will include classical sources (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Ps.-Longinus, Quintilian) and their early modern interpretations. Special attention will be given to Torquato Tasso, Giambattista Marino, and Giambattista Doni, whose works will be also discussed in the light of the contemporary development of musical genres (e.g. madrigals, opera). No musical skills required.

214.125 Freshman Seminar: Dangerous Liasons: Words and Music through the Ages - Refini                                                       W 1:30-4pm

The seminar explores challenging questions with which men have been dealing for centuries: how do music and words interact? Do words have a priority on music or vice versa? Does music need words to be understood and interpreted? Are words filled with meaning by music? By addressing literary and philosophical writings, as well as musical examples from different periods and contexts, students will be led through a critical reconsideration of the topic. A variety of materials will be discussed, including genres as different as medieval songs, early modern madrigals, Romantic Lieder, opera, the American musical, and contemporary pop music. No musical skills required; strong doses of curiosity most welcome.



060.611 (H) Early/Modern/Violence - Achinstein                   Th 1:00-4:00pm

This course looks at the intertwining of the categories of secular and religious in the English literature of violence in the early modern period.  Literary representations of, and meditations upon, violence will be considered in Spenser, Nashe, Marlowe, Milton and Behn.  Early modern thinkers will include humanists, theologians and philosophers (Augustine, Ficino, Calvin, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke).  We will consider such topics as:  How religion is (or is not) a ‘transhistorical’ category; how the Enlightenment’s critique of religion was founded on the experience of the ‘wars of religion’; the creation of religious Others; the connection between religion and the rise of the modern state; the war-peace distinction; the friend-enemy distinction; how the sacredness of human life is understood; the links between violence and humanitarianism (indeed, what is the human?); torture; ‘violence’ as a transhistorical category; the pairing of violence to justice.  There will be engagement with contemporary thought of Arendt, Derrida, Benjamin, Zizek, Anidjar, Asad, Tilly, Virilio, Schmidtt, Girard, Scarry, Taylor and others.

060.618 (H) Modernism and Authenticity - Mao                      T 1:00-4:00pm

Could modernism as we know it have emerged absent anxiety about what it means really to live, really to feel, really to think? We will explore this question through a range of texts—long and short, fictional and non-fictional, poetic and in prose—by authors such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, Gabriele D’Annunzio, W. B. Yeats, T. E. Hulme, E. M. Forster, Mina Loy, T. S. Eliot, F. T. Marinetti, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, William Carlos Williams, Nella Larsen, Wallace Thurman, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Lionel Trilling. Topics to be considered will include decadent imposture, the attenuation of experience, enchanted and disenchanted violence, and technology-driven alienation.

060.623 (H) Cross-Period Literary Study - Nealon                  W 1:00-4:00pm

This seminar will be an experiment in training graduate students to develop an awareness of scholarship outside their own historical period, so as to re-think contemporary questions of periodization and modernity, as well as genre and form. The course will be organized around literary-critical readings from recent scholarship from the classical period to the 21st century, and around visits from scholars, especially junior scholars, working in those periods.

060.649 (H) Movements and Manifestos of Modern Art - Thompson M   2-5pm

This course examines key theoretical texts in modern art.




Past Course Information:

View the archive of course offerings since 2009.

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