Skip Navigation


Students can find and register for courses online at the Johns Hopkins Integrated Student Information System (ISIS), or they can go directly to English courses on ISIS.

Spring 2015 Course Descriptions

Jump to: Undergraduate English | Cross-Listed Undergraduate | Graduate English | Cross-Listed Graduate



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 1:30-2:45pm

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

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:

060.139 (H,W) Expository Writing: The Narrative Essay   MW 1:30-2:45pm

Telling stories is one of the first and most important ways that human beings try to makesense of the world and their experience of it. The narrative art informs fiction and nonfictionalike, is central to the writing of history, anthropology, crime reports and laboratory reports, sports stories and political documentaries. What happened? The answer may be imagined or factual, but it will almost certainly be narrative. This course focuses on the narrative essay, a nonfiction prose form that answers the question of “what happened” in a variety of contexts and aims to make sense not only of what happened but how and why. We will begin by summarizing narrative essays, will move to analyzing them, and in the second half of the course you will write two narrative essays of your own, the first based on a choice of topics and sources, the second of your own design. Authors may include James Baldwin, Annie Dillard, Chang Rae Lee, Danielle Ofri, George Orwell, Richard Rodriguez, Richard Selzer, and Abraham Verghese. You will learn the power of narrative to inform and persuade as you test that power in your own writing.

060.171 (H,W) Russian Classics and Their Afterlives - Jackson  
                                                                           TTh 10:30-11:45am

The idea of the "Russian Soul” has long been a source of captivation to English-language writers. How has their imagination of the dense nineteenth-century works for which Russian literature is best known evolved in the era of globalization? This course reads three major Russian novels in tandem with recent works that invoke them: Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina with Nilo Cruz’s 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Anna in the Tropics; Dostoevsky’s Demons with J.M. Coetzee’s 1994 novel Master of Petersburg; and Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons with Tom Stoppard’s 2002 Coast of Utopia trilogy. We will attend both to the aspects of Russian writing that find perennial appeal, and to the nuances of Russian intellectual history that get lost in the clamor to claim it as universal.

060.207 (H) Shakespeare - Daniel    MW 12-12:50pm (lec)
                                                           F 12-12:50pm (sec)

Reading the major comedies, histories, and tragedies alongside the narrative peom "Venus and Adonis" and the sonnets, this survey course considers Shakespeare's hybrid career as poet and playwright. Pre 1800 course.

060.219 (H) American Literature to 1865 - Hickman  MW 10-10:50am (lec)
                                                                             F 10-10:50am (sec)

A survey course of American literature from contact to the Civil War.

060.265 (H) Nineteenth Century British Novel - Rosenthal   MW 11-11:50am
                                                                                       F 11-11:50am

Reading major novelists from the nineteenth century including Austen, C. Brontë, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, and Conrad. We will pay attention to formal conventions, and relation to social and historical context.

060.332 (H,W) Jewish American Fiction – Sundquist W 1:30-3:50pm

This course will consider the development of Jewish American fiction over the past century through an examination of major authors and topics, with particular attention to novels whose historical trajectories reach geographically back and forth from America to Europe, and temporally back and forth across the Holocaust, the century’s defining event.  These novels thus frequently have multiple settings and treat familial, communal, and intellectual life, along with topics such as emigration, anti-Semitism, and religious belief, over a span of several generations.   The list includes authors whose works first appeared in Yiddish (Lamed Shapiro and Isaac Bashevis Singer) and authors whose sensibilities are decidedly American, but all write with attention to the tenuous assimilation, dislocation, trauma, and linguistic complexity that often marked twentieth-century Jewish life, no less in the United States at times than in Europe.  Works studied will include: Dara Horn, In the Image; Rebecca Goldstein, Mazel; Bernard Malamud, The Fixer; Lamed Shapiro, The Cross and Other Jewish Stories; Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shosha; Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl; Nicole Krauss, A History of Love; Jerzy Kosinski, Steps; Philip Roth, Nemesis; Shalom Auslander, Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel.

060.338 (H,W) Literary Scene – Zecca    MW 3:00-4:15pm

From Paris in the 1920s to San Francisco in the 1960s and beyond, this course will cover literature produced within major and minor literary “scenes” of the 20th Century.  Authors include Hemingway, Stein, Woolf, Ginsberg, Kerouac, and others. Dean’s Teaching Fellowship course.

060.339 (H,W) Lunatics, Lovers, Poets: Obsessive Minds in Romantic and Victorian Verse - Hann                                         MW 4:30-5:45pm

Focusing on the long nineteenth century, we will examine how major Anglo-American poets treat the complex relationship between madness, passion, and genius. Additional readings in philosophy and psychoanalysis. Dean’s Teaching Fellowship course.

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

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.

060.356 (H,W) Gordimer and Coetzee: Politics and Form - Jackson 
                                                                          M 2:30-4:50pm

A comparative study of major works by the South African Nobel Laureates Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee. Special attention to critical essays by both writers about each other, as well as about issues of shared historical and literary concern. Topics will include the role of the public intellectual in apartheid-era South Africa, competing scales of literary reception and evaluation (e.g. national, international, and universal), and the relationship between politics, form, and genre.

060.364 (H,W) Utopias - Mao                             Th 1:30-3:50pm

This course examines how writers have imagined perfect, or at least vastly improved, human societies from antiquity through our own day. Topics of particular interest will be the relation between individual liberty and social cohesion in utopian schemes, views on the nature of happiness and justice, and speculations about the ease or arduousness with which utopia might be created or maintained. Authors to be studied may include Plato, Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H. G. Wells, E. M. Forster, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

060.368 (H,W) Aesthetic Play in the Contemporary Global Novel - Hashem  
                                                                                T 2:30-4:50pm

This seminar will explore the role of aesthetic play within contemporary world literature in order to ask the question: what challenges to global issues such as imperialism, racial and identity politics, gender parity and socioeconomic disparities are being made not only through subject matter, but through novel approaches to form? We will read short stories, novels, graphic novels, and watch films which subvert expectations about the structure of storytelling: these may include works by Mohsin Hamid, Margaret Atwood, China Miéville, Haruki Murakami, J. M. Coetzee, and Marjane Satrapi. We will also read critical scholarship on the subject of world literature like Pascale Casanova’s World Republic of Letters and Aamir R. Mufti’s “Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures.”

060.381 (H,W) 2500 Years of Tragicomedy - Daniel  W 1:30-3:50pm

Spanning an arc from ancient Greek drama to the bleeding edge of contemporary literature, this course gathers together representative examples of a hybrid dramatic mode which has been derided by philosophers and dramatic theorists but beloved by audiences for millenia: tragicomedy. Variously understood as a comic play with dark elements or a dark play with a happy outcome, tragicomedy raises challenging questions about the nature of genre taxonomy, and the slippery relationship between authorial “tone,” artistic intention, and emotional temperament. As such, tragicomedies offer a particularly revealing insight into both the history of drama and philosophical questions about the nature of spectatorial pleasure. Grounding ourselves with a reading of Aristotle’s Poetics and a consideration of Plautus’ “Amphitryon”, we will read a broad swathe of plays divided evenly between a first half which focuses upon the ancient and early modern period and a second half focusing on the last century, possibly including: Euripedes “Alcestis”, Christopher Marlowe “The Jew of Malta”, Anonymous, “Arden of Faversham”, William Shakespeare “Hamlet” and “All’s Well That Ends Well”,  John Fletcher “The Faithful Shepherdess”, John Dryden “The Maiden Queen”, Samuel Beckett “Endgame”, Tom Stoppard “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”, Harold Pinter “The Caretaker”, Joe Orton, “The Erpingham Camp”, Young Jean Lee “The Shipment.”  Pre-1800 course.

060.388 (H,W) Old World/New Women - Achinstein       TTh 9:00 - 10:15am

This course considers women's experiences in British North America during the period 1620-1773 as a three-way encounter between Europeans, Africans, and First-nations peoples of America.  We will focus on three great women writers, Anne Bradstreet, Aphra Behn, and Phyllis Wheatley, supplementing their contribution to literary tradition with many sources.  Pre-1800 course.


Che Guevara and Magical Realism - Gonzalez 

His detractors often compare him to Hitler while many of his admirers see in him a saint and a martyr like Jesus Christ.  Cuban school children are taught to be like him.  Che was killed in 1967, the same year in which Gabriel García Márquez published Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitute).  We will study Guevara's life as a militant revolutionary through his own writings and the exorbitant style known as realismo mágico, crafted by García Márquez, one of Che's great admirers.  Four movies will anchor our visual take on the myth and the man: Los diarios de motocicleta (Walter Salles, 2004), Che I and Che II (Steven Soderbergh, 2008), and Wall Street (Oliver Stone, 1987).  The nineteen-eighties narcotraffic boom in Colombia and the cocaine-driven financial high times during the late Reagan years will frame our study.

Dante Visits the Afterlife: The Divine Comedy - Stephens

Dante’s Divina commedia is the greatest long poem of the Middle Ages; some say the greatest poem of all time. We will study the Commedia critically to find: (1) What it reveals about the worldview of late-medieval Europe; (2) how it works as poetry; (3) its relation to the intellectual cultures of pagan antiquity and Latin (Catholic) Christianity; (4) its presentation of political and social issues; (5) its influence on intellectual history, in Italy and elsewhere; (6) the challenges it presents to modern readers and translators; (7) what it reveals about Dante’s understanding of cosmology, world history and culture. We will read and the Commedia discuss in English, but students will be expected to familiarize themselves with key Italian terms and concepts. Students taking section 02  (for 4 credits) will spend an additional hour working in Italian at a time to be mutually decided upon by students and professor.

Women Writing in Latin America: Prose and Poetry by Sor Juana, Mistral, Lisboa, Pizarnik, Castellanos, and other poets - Castro Klaren

The first objective of the course is to train students in close reading and analysis of literary texts. The second objective is to read prose and poetry by some of the canonical texts in the Latin American tradition written by women.

193.304 Every Day Voice of the Holocaust: Popular Jewish Poetic Expression in the ghettos and Camps - Trinh

The course aims to encourage knowledge of a relatively unknown mass phenomenon - poetic creativity by Jews under Nazi Rule, in the Ghettos and Camps. The study of multi-lingual texts, written by non-professional writers, will enable to better understand the complexity of immediate Jewish reaction to Holocaust reality, in its multi-cultural contexts. Texts from selected ghettos and camps, originally written in Yiddish, Polish, German and Hebrew will be read in English translation and analyzed. Emphasis will be put on the differences and similarities between Eastern and Western European Jewry.

363.302 Queer Identity - Chilton

What does "queer" mean? And who gets to say? This course examines tensions, ambiguities, and contradictions that have emerged in popular, political, and theoretical discourses over the past 25 years.

389.359 The Literary Archive - Dean

What does a literary archive tell us about writers’ works and their connections to other works?  How do we make literary history out of archives? In this class, students will read selected modernist texts by three writers; look at their appearances in archival forms like manuscripts, periodicals, and rare books; and build a digital archive.

Our three modernists each have an important Baltimore connection: H. L. Mencken, the renowned Baltimore Sun journalist; Gertrude Stein, the avant-garde celebrity who was a Hopkins' medical student; and Dashiell Hammett, the inventor of hard-boiled detective fiction, who was a private investigator in Baltimore just before World War I. Students will work with our brand-new collections of Stein and Hammett materials, and our two extensive Mencken collections.



060.616 (H) Milton - Achinstein                                             Th 1-4pm

A seminar covering the career of John Milton, including all his major poetry and much of his prose.  There will be attention to the history of printing, publication and concepts of reading and writing, as well as to current issues and topics within early modern studies that bear on Milton (e.g. materialism, secularization, 'surface' reading, political theology, quantitative vs hermeneutic methods, actor-network theory).  As such, the course will also be an introduction to various methods in early modern studies.

060.620 (H) Topics in Criticism: The Frankfurt School - Thompson  T 3-6pm

This course offers a critical and historical introduction to the Frankfurt School.

060.657 (H) Ralph Ellison, the African American Canon, and Postwar Criticism - Sundquist                                                                                   W 1-4pm

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 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 Faulkner.  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 abbreviated form as Juneteenth and more recently in the much longer Three Days before the Shooting, leaves critics and readers with an exceptional puzzle: What would his final intention have been? Why was he unable to complete the novel? What implications does it have for Ellison’s place literary history?  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, while at the same time he found himself as odds with younger black writers who scorned his seeming conservatism.  In examining 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 (all available now in his Collected Essays), and Three Days before the Shooting, we will try to estimate Ellison’s achievement and legacy, and through him trace the course of African American literary criticism over the last three-quarters of a century.

060.682 (H) Facts and Fiction - Rosenthal                                           M 2-5pm

We will examine the vexed place of facts in literature and literary criticism.  What are the historical and ideological preconditions for focusing on the study of people that never existed, and events that never occurred? And how did literary criticism privilege an analysis of meaning of works or literary moments, as opposed to verifiable, and reproducible facts? What does all of this tell us about the recent rise of quantitiative literary analysis, and the strong resistance it has encountered? This discussion will include an examination of how different disciplines define notions like "fact," "argument," and "evidence"---in order to better understand our own discipline's principles. In addition to a selection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels yet to be determined, readings will include Émile Zola, Martin Heidegger, Wolfgang Iser, Hans-Robert Jauss, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Lukács, Fredric Jameson, Theodor Adorno, Karl Popper, Mary Poovey and Franco Moretti.



Vico and the Old Science - Stephens 

Giambattista Vico’s Principi di scienza nuova d’intorno alla comune natura delle nazioni (1725, 1730, 1744) was intended to found an “ideal” and “eternal” model of human development, valid for all societies. Vico considered his project both philology and philosophy, and tried to revolutionize thinking about human history as practiced between about 1550 and 1700, by exposing misconceptions behind attempts to square “sacred history” (the presumed historical accuracy of the Bible) with “profane” or non Judeo-Christian concepts of history, both ancient and modern.  The culture shock underlying this “old science” stimulated Vico to base philosophical and historical knowledge of mythology on a conception of narration. Recommended Course background: Italian and Latin

The Poetics of Writing Prose and Poetry in Modern Latin America: Vallejo, Mistral, Borges, Paz, Lisboa, Castellanos and Pizarnik                                                             Castro-Klaren            

This course will focus on the art of writing poetry, the art of reading poetry and the poetics of each of the poets whose work is the textual matter of the course.               


Past Course Information:

View the archive of course offerings since 2009.

Style DIV, please skip.

Style DIV, please skip.