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Fall 2014 Course Descriptions

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060.100 (H,W) Intro Expository Writing - Staff                      (5 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 - Daniel    MW 1:30-2:45pm

In this course we will read and analyze a formally diverse selection of literature ranging from Renaissance sonnets to contemporary fiction. Assigned reading will include poetry, folk tales, literary criticism, short fiction, two novellas and a novel. Swinging between past and present, Britain and America, self-consciously literary language and seemingly casual vernacular, you will always be asked to consider essentially the same questions: How does literary form create the reader’s experience? How do texts mean? Over the course of the semester, students will write occasional short responses and three analytic essays. The short assignments call for focused responses to specific details of literary language. Building upon those skills, the longer essays will ask you to synthesize your observations of concrete details into ambitious, argument-driven interpretation.

060.107.02 (H,W) Introduction to Literary Study - Mao    TTh 10:30-11:45am

This course offers intensive training in the practice of literary criticism. Our main work will be to develop students’ skills in the close reading—and to some extent the historical and cultural contextualization—of poetry and prose fiction. We will also touch on the analysis of drama and non-fiction, even as we develop proficiency in articulating claims about the structural, aesthetic, affective, and intellectual dimensions of literary texts. In addition, the course will introduce students to some important schools and documents of literary theory of the past one hundred years.

060.111 (H,W) How Not to Be Afraid of Poetry - Achinstein   TTh 9-10:15am

What is poetry?  And why don’t we like it?  This course will explore what makes poetry turn ordinary language into something extraordinary, into shapes and sounds so that sometimes we find it difficult to understand and sometimes we find it gives us great delight.  This seminar will open up a range of poetry written in English, including some of the greatest writers of the English language.  This course is designed for the students without a strong background in reading poetry but who have the desire to gain it; the main emphasis is exploration of the world and words of poetry and developing an appreciation and analytical understanding of the ways poetry can express, advocate, record, and move.  Assignments will include reading poems, becoming an expert about a single poet, attending public poetry readings, creating poems, and writing short weekly assignments about poems.  You will be expected to be an active member in classroom discussion and activities.  Pre 1800 course.

060.113 (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:

060.116 (H,W) Reading Muslims in Global Fiction and Film-Hashem                                                                                     TTh 1:30-2:45pm

This course will explore representations of complex, fully-developed Muslim characters in fictions detailing experiences from the Balkans, the Indian Ocean, Britain, and the United States. These may include novels by Abdulrazak Gurnah, Orhan Pamuk, and Leila Aboulela, as well as films like A Separation (2011). In studying the way each text represents Muslims and their relationships to their faith, the class will analyze themes of belonging and identity politics, imagined relationships to geographies, and representations of individuality alongside rituals of belief. It will look at how race, socio-economic status, gender, and citizenship contribute to these representations, when and how these texts are read as political acts, and what contributions such fiction has made to aesthetics.

060.129 (H,W) Writing Africa Now - Jackson            TTh 10:30-11:45am

This course surveys post-2000 literary and cultural production from sub-Saharan Africa. Topics will include debates over genre and fiction’s relevance to African experience, legacies of canonical writing about independence, urban Africa as violent or “tragic” landscape, and problems of scale and geographical context. Readings by authors such as Adichie, Wainaina, Duiker, and Vladislavic, and students will be introduced to the main print and online arteries of African intellectual discussion. This class is for non-majors.

060.139 (H,W) Expository Writing: The Essay - Kain            MW 1:30-3:45pm

Since its invention in the 1500s, the essay has proven itself to be an unusually flexible form of thinking. Writers as different as Francis Bacon and Leo Tolstoy, Alice Walker and Stephen Jay Gould have adapted the essay form to manifold purposes, including personal essays, critical arguments, and scientific articles. This course aims to teach students how the essay can be shaped around any kind of subject and how this shaping uses the conventions of expository writing to achieve its effects. Classes are organized around four major writing assignments. Each course includes discussions, workshops, and tutorials with the instructor as it guides students’ practice through pre-writing, drafting, and revising. In addition, each course focuses on a particular kind of essay such as, for instance, the narrative essay, the philosophical essay, the essay about science and the natural world. “The Essay” is designed for students who already have experience with expository writing but is open to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. (Limit 12)

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

This course explores the idea of meaningful work, past and present. How do Americans decide which 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? Through representations of people at work in the writings of Douglass, Melville, Hurston, Steinbeck, Frost, and Springsteen, and with the help of select critical materials, we will engage contemporary discussions of labor and vocation. Dean's Prize Freshman Seminar

060.176 (H,W) The Russian Novel: Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky – Cameron                                                                                        F 1:30-3:50pm

"If there is no God, how can I be a captain?" We'll examine this and other religious, philosophical, and historical questions in Tolstoy's and Dostoevsky's titanic novels. Readings (in translation) include War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov. No prerequisites. Substantial reading; 6-8 page paper; 10 page paper;  weekly exercises and quizzes.  Freshman/sophomore seminar This class is for   non-majors.

060.222 (H) American Literature - Nealon              MW 12-12:50am (lec)
                                                                           F 12-12:50am (sec)

This course is a survey of major developments in American poetry and narrative fiction from the end of the Civil War to the present day. Authors to be covered may include Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Henry James, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery.

060.255 (H) The Bible as Literature - Thompson           MW 11-11:50am (lec)
                                                                                 F 11-11:50am (sec)

This course looks at the Bible's influence on literature by examining the use and impact of the most common biblical stories on canonical literary works.

060.304 (H,W) Large Novels – Rosenthal                           W 1:30-3:50pm

This course will look at novels that are not only large in size, but which also think about the meaning and methods of trying to capture huge segments of the world into a piece of art. How much can be fit into a novel?  What is gained and what is lost? How large is too large? We will read Charles Dickens's *Bleak House*, Leo Tolstoy's *War and Peace*, and Thomas Pychon's *Gravity's Rainbow.*

060.319 (H,W) Values and Gender in Nineteenth-Century British Literature - Flaherty                                                                                MW 3-4:15pm

The course considers how nineteenth-century British authors—including Ruskin, Gaskell, Eliot, and Wilde—engage and oppose various sets of values in their representations of gender.

060.340 (H,W) The Literature of Atlantic Slavery – Hickman    T 2:30-4:50pm

This seminar will trace the historical development of the slavery debate in the Atlantic world through examination of key texts from a host of genres and locations—Quaker religious tracts, political documents like the Haitian Declaration of Independence, Cuban antislavery novels, slave narratives, and “classics” of American literature like Melville’s Benito Cereno. We will consider how the institution of Atlantic slavery was variously represented, justified, and criticized, discovering in the process the means whereby an institution that today seems unthinkably horrible was made unthinkably horrible.  Additional texts may include: Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; John Woolman, Journal; Victor Hugo, Bug-Jargal; David Walker, An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World; Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (his second, more interesting autobiography); Harriet Beecher Stowe, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (her second, more interesting abolitionist novel); the poetry of Brazilian abolitionist, Antonio Castro Alves. Prerequisite: ILS, English department lecture, or instructor permission.

060.341 (H,W) Milton - Achinstein                                     T 1:30-3:50pm

This class will study Milton’s poetry and prose across the whole of his writing career, with special attention to Paradise Lost, the great epic poem retelling the story of the fall of humankind.  We will consider Milton’s literary background, his contemporary political and social milieu, as well as critical debates that surrounding the poet, who was accused of being ‘of the devil’s party.’  Pre-1800 course.

060.344 (H,W) The American Renaissance In Technicolor - Hickman
                                                                         TTh 1:30-3:50pm

"The American Renaissance" refers to the boom in U.S. literary production between the 1830s and the 1860s that gave us the American writers who have achieved the greatest stature in the popular mind--Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman.  This work was in large part animated by literary nationalism--by the self-conscious effort to produce a distinctively "American" literature that could take its rightful place on the world stage.  As such, questions about the meaning of American history and the nature of American identity were central to this work both as implicit impetus and explicit theme.  Importantly, these questions were being asked during the heyday of "Manifest Destiny"--of Euro-American westward expansion, which displaced Native peoples and Hispanic settlers and perpetuated the enslavement of African Americans.  The goal of this course is to read some of the major works of the period's canonical Euro-American male writers in conjunction with works by African, Native, Latino, and female American writers in order to gain a fuller picture of literary and cultural history during this formative moment.  Texts may include: Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays and antislavery lectures; the anonymous historical romance of the Aztec conquest, Xicotencatl; William Apess, A Son of the Forest, "Eulogy on King Philip"; Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom; Henry David Thoreau, Walden, "Slavery in Massachusetts," "Plea for Captain John Brown"; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin; Herman Melville, "Hawthorne and His Mosses," Benito Cereno, Moby-Dick; Nathaniel Hawthorne, tales and sketches, The Blithedale Romance; Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855 edition).   Prerequisite: ILS, English department lecture, or instructor permission

060.348 (H,W) Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury - Mao                  T 1:30-3:50

An exploration of the achievements and investments of one of the most influential coteries in the history of Britain. In addition to delving into key fictions by Virginia Woolf, we will examine novels by Leonard Woolf and E. M. Forster, art criticism by Roger Fry and Clive Bell, biographical essays by Lytton Strachey, economic writings by John Maynard Keynes, and poetry by T. S. Eliot.

060.353 (H,W) World Literature in Theory and Practice - Jackson   M 1:30-3:50pm

This course takes stock of how the current hot topic of “world literature” has evolved from Immanuel Wallerstein’s work on world-systems theory over the course of the last three decades. We will read work by a wide range of literary critics engaged with the topic of world literature, including Franco Moretti, Pascale Casanova, David Damrosch, Emily Apter, and Alex Beecroft, as well as major “world” novels by Herman Melville, Amitav Ghosh, and Chimamanda Adichie. Students will also be introduced to critical approaches that offer a conceptual alternative to the world literature framework, for example, Edward Said’s ideas on worldliness and contrapuntalism, Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenology of the home, Fredric Jameson’s concept of cognitive mapping, and Eric Hayot’s work on literary “world-creation.” We will ask just how broadly the field can be defined before it loses its critical cohesion. In other words, does world literature exist?

060.366 (H,W) Ellison - Sundquist       W 1:30-3:50pm

After his landmark novel Invisible Man appeared in 1952 and won the National Book Award, Ralph Ellison was one of the most highly regarded and influential American writers.  Although his writing—beginning with the powerful short stories and criticism that he published in the 1930s and 40s—was steeped in steeped in African American history, literature, music, and folklore, he also thought of himself as part of the great tradition of American, European, and classical literature, from Homer through Joyce.  He quickly set to work on a second novel dealing with the assassination of a racist senator during the height of the Civil Rights movement, but he came to the end of his life in 1994 without having completed the novel to his own satisfaction.  This massive book, which appeared posthumously in a very abbreviated form as Juneteenth and more recently in the much longer Three Days before the Shooting, reveals the work of a master while at the same time it leaves critics and readers with an exceptional puzzle: What would his final intention have been? Why was he unable to complete the novel? How does it speak to the key issues of African American identity, freedom, and the American ideal that Ellison grappled with all his life?  At the same time that he worked on his second novel, Ellison became one of the most prolific and important essayists of the twentieth century, and wrote brilliantly about American race relations from the era of segregation through the twentieth century.  Even as he was celebrated by the literary establishment, however, Ellison at times found himself as odds with younger black writers and thinkers who felt that public activism, not just artistic greatness, was required of the African American writer.  Using Ellison as a lens through which to see the course of American race relations from slavery to the present, the course will include study of all of Ellison’s major work: the short stories collected in Flying Home; Invisible Man; the essays collected in Shadow and Act and Going to the Territory, as well as others; and Three Days before the Shooting.

060.394 (H,W) Class Fictions- Rosenthal       M 2:30-4:50pm

This seminar investigates one of the central concerns of nineteenth-century fiction: social and economic class. Why did raising oneself from humble beginnings, and falling into poverty, become such familiar stories? And why are they still so familiar today?  We will look at how a number of writers approached the topic of class mobility, each with a unique blend of excitement and anxiety. Authors will likely include Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac (in translation), Charles Dickens, and William Dean Howells. In order to understand our topic better, we will also look at a selection of theoretical work on the nature of class.



070.328 Ethnographies: Our Animals, Ourselves - Khan  M 1:30-3:50pm

How does the figure of the animal appear in anthropological thought? Looking at classical topics such as totemism, sacrifice and pastoralism, as well as emerging topics of animal rights and vegetarianism, we shall see how anthropological concepts bend or are bent by the animal as boundary marker or bridge between self and other. Required course background: two or more prior courses in anthropology (not cross-listed courses). Course is a requirement for anthropology majors. 



060.663 (H) Sacred Spaces and the Novel, 1853-1926 - Mao            M 1-4pm

This course offers both a survey of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century prose fiction of Britain and its empire and an examination of recent scholarship on literature’s relation to religion and the geographies of modernity. We’ll begin with three Victorian novels inhabiting the convergence between historical imagination and religious inquiry (Charles Kingsley, George Eliot, Walter Pater), move on to three turn-of-the-century narratives in which the momentum of the quest confronts sacred implacability (Olive Schreiner, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling), and conclude with three novels of the 1920s propelled by pagan ecstasy (E. M. Forster, D. H. Lawrence, Sylvia Townsend Warner). Primary readings will be accompanied by critical and theoretical texts from György Lukács, René Girard, Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Leela Gandhi, and others. 


060.665 (H) American Poetry: Whitman and Dickinson - Cameron    Th 10-1pm

An examination of the formal, conceptual, and philosophical innovations in the work of the two major nineteenth-century American poets.  We'll consider the premises behind Whitman's poetry of wholes (nothing left out) and Dickinson's poetry of fragments. How does Whitman reconcile the need for formal universals with the emotional attachment to substantive particulars?   How does Dickinson find a language for  the off-the-map quality of private experience?

060.671 (H) Blazing Worlds: Renaissance Utopia and Contemporary Apocalypse–Daniel                                                                                    T 1-4pm

This course takes its cue from a basic etymological kinship between “discovery” and apocalypse (ἀποκάλυψις, literally “un-covering”). How are world-building and world-ending related? What pathways join the literary and philosophical construction of new worlds with theological and theoretical scenarios of revelation, extinction, and doom? In search of answers, this course reads Renaissance narratives of cosmogony, proto-science fiction and utopian discovery alongside contemporary theories of “worlding”, environmental futurity, climate change, and planetary precarity. After commencing with classical precursors in the form of Lucian’s True History and Plutarch’s “On The Face Which Appears in the Orb of the Moon”, we will read a comprehensive sequence of early modern fictions in which utopias, new worlds and/or new planets are visited or “discovered”: Thomas More, Utopia (1516); Robert Greene, Planetomachia (1585); Tommaso Campanella, The City of the Sun (1602); Joseph Hall, Mundus Alter Ad Idem (The Discovery of A New World) (1605); Johannes Kepler, Somnium (The Dream) (1608); Francis Bacon, New Atlantis (1627); James Harrington, The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656); Margaret Cavendish, The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World (1666); Aphra Behn’s translation of Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle’s Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (1688). These early modern texts (a promiscuous blend of social satire, political philosophy and popular science) will be read alongside works in primary philosophy and contemporary eco-theory that constellate key concepts: earth, planet, and world. Texts include Martin Heidegger, Being and Time; Jacques Derrida, “Of An Apocalyptic Tone Recently Adopted In Philosophy”; Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World; Jeffrey Cohen, Prismatic Ecology: Ecotheory Beyond Green; Ray Brassier, “The Truth of Extinction” (from Nihil Unbound); Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Planetarity” (from Death of A Discipline); Emily Apter, Against World Literature; Lawrence Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism.

060.682 (H) The 21st Century University - Nealon    W 1:30-4:30pm

This seminar will focus on the changing contours of the American university in an era of economic instability and crisis. With a look back at the formative relationship between monopoly capitalism and the university in the 19th century, we will investigate the effect on the university of the unraveling of American economic power, with attention to the rise of administrative power and the loss of faculty governance, to the pressures of financialization, and to the contradictory situation into which the university is placed by student activism that calls its founding premises into question. We will also ask what intellectual life looks like under conditions of adjunctification and de-politicization. Reading will include selections from Gerald Graff, Professing English, Christopher Newfield’s Ivy and Industry and Unmaking The Public University, Benjamin Ginberg’s The Fall of The Faculty, Stefano Harney's and Fred Moten’s Undercommons, and [the x’s] The University Against Itself, as well as material produced by student and faculty activists in the university struggles of the last 5 to 10 years.



213.650 Mexico and the Invention of America - Castro-Klaren            

Departing from O'Gorman, the course will entail a reconsideration of the discursive invention of Mexico-America.  Anonymous, Sahagun, Clavijero, Humboldt, Dussel and Alzandua will conform part of the rearings.

213.666 "To be continuged" - Seriality in Literature and Other Media  - Strowick           

Taught in German. By ending with the words “(To be continued)” [“(Ist fortzusetzen)“], Goethe’s Wilhem Meisters Wanderjahre not only reflects on the open form of the modern novel but also points toward serialized formats of fiction as they emerge in the 19th century due to advances in printing technologies. The publication of fiction in periodical installments in magazines or newspapers brings about the development of new genres (serialized novel/Feuilletonroman) along with specific serial narrative techniques. The cliffhanger e.g. – although invented earlier – becomes a prominent technique to create suspense. The course analyzes seriality with respect to narrative forms and genres across various media (literature, theater, film, TV) from the 19th century to the present. It further discusses serial aesthetics, seriality in structuralist and poststructuralist theory as well as the ambivalent status of seriality in the arts between avantgarde and popular culture. The course material will include: Stifter, Fontane, excerpts from the magazine “Die Gartenlaube”, Wagner, Freud, Kafka, Lévi-Strauss, Deleuze, Eco, Iser, “The Perils of Pauline” (serial, 1914), “Copycat” (Jon Amiel, 1995), “Twin Peaks” and current US-American TV series.                        


Past Course Information:

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