What can the study of popular cultural forms like Television, Films, Advertisements, Video Games, Facebook as well as cultural practices like shopping, viewing habits, and other modes of consumption reveal about US American Values? How do representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality disseminated within these popular texts shape the way we come to see others and ourselves? These are some of the guiding questions we will be exploring in our study of US popular culture. Through an examination of both critical essays and primary texts, students in this course will learn not only how to critically read and interpret various cultural forms, but also will come to understand the ways in which popular culture structures our day to day lives.
(course will begin week 7)
In this condensed online course, we will deploy some key concepts in postcolonial theory to explore relevant contemporary issues such as the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, debates around immigration, and the historical development of the concept of “political correctness.” By drawing upon postcolonial conceptions of “diaspora,” “hegemony,” “knowledge,” and “othering,” we will seek to understand how the intense controversies around various types of difference (gender, race, ethnicity, region, language, etc.) have wide-ranging implications for the quality of life for all global citizens.
Students will be expected to read short selections throughout this seven-week class in preparation to write two short papers of approximately eight pages each. In addition, students will be required to make weekly postings to the course D2L site in response to prompts provided by the instructor. Required texts will include J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: The Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (New York: Harper Collins, 2016), Wesley Lowery’s They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement (New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2016), and Dane Kennedy’s Decolonization: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016).
Feel free to contact the instructor at the email above with any questions.
This course is intended to give students a practical understanding of beginning techniques of creative or literary nonfiction writing (the personal essay, reportage, and memoir) with an emphasis on craft and research, taught through exercises and modeling, the writing and revision of original nonfiction, and readings and discussion of contemporary and classic nonfiction. This course also introduces students to the workshop method used in the intermediate and advanced courses.
Poetry is where we do our cutting-edge thinking about sex, culture, politics, spirituality, mysticism, nature, and society. Poetry is also the foundational genre. Practicing poetry helps us weave our fiction and nonfiction prose with the textures and nuance of voice and imagery.
Students in this advanced course will review and practice using the terms of literary analysis that pertain to poetry, write in response to in-class and take-home prompts, generate new and varied poetic texts, provide nuanced readings and supportive critiques of peer work, and respond in writing to several book-length collections of contemporary poetry. Please note that unlike traditional writing workshops, this course imagines critique as a dialogue between author and respondents. The course will offer you a variety of structured dialogue formats that will support you in these exchanges.
While this course is about writing better poems, it is ultimately about learning new ways of seeing, feeling, thinking, and being; it’s about expanding your tool kit for self-invention and for world-invention. To realize this potential you will need your enthusiasm, vision, and work ethic.
The entry course in the fiction sequence emphasizes the close study of the major craft elements of fiction (i.e., character, point of view, plot), usually with a focus on the short story. Students engage in close reading and discussion of contemporary and classic fiction and, through specific exercises and assignments, begin practicing the techniques, mechanisms, and modes of the short story. ENGL 210 also introduces students to the workshop method used in the intermediate and advanced courses, with guidelines on the importance of active participation and engaged response.
This course is an introduction to multiple genres of creative writing in shorter forms: poetry, the short-short story, brief creative nonfiction, and the Ten-Minute play. The main objective of this course will be acquainting you with various creative literary forms and genres. We will also develop and explore techniques of craft, revision, and complementary reading practices.
This course is intended as a companion course to English 220 A, which introduced students to the Bible as a literary text, focusing on both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and Christian gospel (New Testament). Students need not have taken 220 A to enroll in 220 B. If that class considered the first two thousand years of Judaism and Christianity (from 2000 BCE roughly through the second century), this class focuses on the next 2000 years, following the religious and literary inspirations of the Jewish and Christian traditions from the time of Jesus of Nazareth to the present. We will begin with a review of the Christian gospels and the writings of Paul, and move through the early history of the Christian church (Augustine, Jerome), the influence of Judaic and Christian sources on the writings of the Prophet Muhammed, the mystics of the Middle Ages, and the earliest writings in English (Dream of the Rood and Caedmos' hymns). We will discuss the historical role of the Bible in the Middle Ages, examining how interpretations of Biblical texts influenced the Crusades and the Inquisition, along with the mystical tradition, and we will talk about the tradition of Biblical hermeneutics and its importance for the development of literary analysis. We will read Martin Luther and discuss the Protestant revolution, and its importance on British history and literature (from the King James Bible translation to Milton and John Donne). And we will examine the central role of Christianity in American literature, from Cabeza de Vaca through the Puritans, from the Book of Mormon to the religious arguments of abolitionists all the way to the writings of Pope Francis and the religious dimensions of the "war on terror." This class should be understood as an overview; we will cover far too much ground to go into depth on any single source. But students will find here a much richer understanding of how western religious traditions have developed over time, and how they continue to shape both literature and political life today.
This introductory course covers basic concepts in the study of the English language. It includes seven units:
1) What is Language?
2) The Sounds of English
3) The Words of English
4) The Grammar of English
5) Language in Use
6) The History of English
7) Variation in English
The course uses the textbook “The Study of English” by George Yule. Each area corresponds to two online lessons with online minilectures, readings, reflective writing, online discussion, and quizzlets. There is a midterm and a final. The course fulfills the English major language requirement.
In class and Online Offering
From the “origins” of the Children’s Literature to the current day call for diverse voices in the genre, this course examines the development of concepts of the child, children’s literature, and Western Culture. We will read a broad spectrum of historical and contemporary U.S., British, and world literature, and works representing a variety of genres and cultures. Through a survey of folk tales, picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels we will consider the historical development of children’s literature as well as its dual agenda of instruction and amusement.
We will study intensively works by the following writers: Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, and Louise Erdrich. Additional critical readings will be assigned on D2L. Lecture, small group discussion, quizzes, a class presentation, short response papers, and a longer final paper.
In this section we will discuss how writers have used social, political and cultural frameworks to foreground the issues and themes inherent in the works. Rather than reading the so called “canonized” texts, we may do some shorter works as well as those which offer new perspectives on the author’s body of work. For example, rather than Melville’s Billy Budd we could do Bartleby the Scrivener or, instead of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, read and focus on Tortilla Flat which is tragic but delightful; or an “easier” Toni Morrison novel!
Texts/readings will be from the four major genres – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. We will also do “twin readings.” For example, paring Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem. Assignments include short papers, exams and group reports. Extra credit will be given for complimentary activities.
This course will be a study in the major essays of Thoreau. “Civil Disobedience,” “John Brown,” and “Walking” will be included. “Civil Disobedience” played a prominent part in development of the peaceful resistance strategies of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is his most famous essay, and one of the best known American essays in the world.
We will read these essays closely and carefully with the aim of learning the art and craft of textual interpretation. Six short essays and a final will be required. The essays will be assigned to give the students the chance to learn to write interpretive essays.
This course develops student skills in reading literature and in writing and speaking about it in a persuasive and sophisticated manner. We will read a variety of different kinds of texts: poetry, short stories, drama and longer works of fiction, in order to develop strong reading skills. We will focus on both close reading skills and structural analysis, examining such elements as word choice, narrative voice, scene, plot development, and character, developing the vocabulary necessary for literary analysis. Students will be asked to write three short papers, one on a poem, one on a short story, and one on either a work of drama or a novel (your choice). Students will submit two drafts of each paper, and will be given ample opportunity to learn how to provide meaningful feedback to one another, and how to incorporate feedback in revising their work to produce as polished a final draft as possible. And finally, students will be given opportunities to present their readings in class to their peers, learning the skills of persuasive verbal rhetoric.
In this class we will explore the dream world as it has been variously represented and interpreted through literature. Beginning with the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, we will take a circuitous route through literary history – encountering such texts as Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, Derek Walcott’s Dream for Monkey Mountain, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, and poetry by Bernadette Mayer and Cecilia Vicuna – in order to consider the stuff of which literature, and dreams, are made of. We will examine the complexities of dramatic, narrative and poetic structures—including considerations of symbol and allegory, image and sound, repetition and elision—through close textual analysis, and reflect upon the disparate influences and constraints that go into the creation and dissemination of a literary text. We will also consider what it might mean to be “faithful” to the text, and our broader responsibilities as readers and interpreters of literature. This is a writing-based class with a demanding schedule of creation and revision designed to prepare you for upper division courses.
In this introductory course, we will review and expand our understanding of literary terms, conduct close reading of literary texts, and explore various methods of interpretation of those texts. For this class, the literature we will read and analyze critically will be that of our immediate writing community -- the creative writing professors at the University of Arizona -- real life people who have offices right down the hall. Poems. Novels. Short Stories. Essays. Memoirs. We’ve got it all! Students sometimes think of literature as something “other” -- something distant both in time and place -- an abstract affair or nostalgic artifact. That far-away feel is neither necessary nor historically situated. The goal of the course is to foster and improve students’ connection to literature by making it a site-specific event: Yes, literature happens right here in the English Department all the time. The requirements include several short essays and a take-home final exam.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, London was the site of confluence for revolutionary work across the arts, popular culture, and mass politics. Radical innovation in the visual arts and modernist aesthetic experimentation in literature made their way to England from the continent. The capital of the British Empire became a center for mass politics as well, playing host (often involuntarily) to demonstrations by women’s suffragists, nationalist movement leaders from across the empire, striking workers, terrorist plots, and the spectacle of mass mobilization during World War I. In this course, we’ll use the visual and literary arts to explore life in London at this pivotal moment in British cultural history. Our authors will include Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Jean Rhys, Walter Benjamin, and Wyndham Lewis. We’ll also look at examples of painting in the post-impressionist, cubist, and futurist traditions produced and exhibited in London.
Science fiction film is huge, raking in serious profits and influencing cultural trends. But where does it come from and how do science fiction texts get "translated" to the big screen? We'll look at the silent-movie origins of the SF film then work on reading SF short stories and novels that have been produced as films, ranging from Arthur Clarke's short story "The Sentinel," which was one of the origins of the masterpiece "2001," to more recent works, including, possibly, "Solaris," "The Lathe of Heaven," and the bricolage of "Avatar," which explicitly rips off (derives from? alludes to?) work by Poul Anderson and Ursula Le Guin. There will be a midterm, final, a chance to story board part of a film and critical writing.
ENGL300 emphasizes verbal, visual, musical, and/or spatial forms of expression as designed, developed, and delivered in literature and film. This version of ENGL300 focuses on what happens when literary texts are adapted for distribution in action cinema. In this version of ENGL300, we will analyze the text and various cinematic adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while students work through analyzing their own text and film adaptation (from a list including, but not limited to: Dracula, Divergent, Frankenstein, Blade Runner, Maze Runner, Casino Royale, Hunger Games, World War Z, Richard III, and Edge of Tomorrow).
This is a workshop in Creative Nonfiction Writing. This is a broad and loosely defined genre that includes memoir, personal essay, profile, cultural/art criticism, persuasive writing (such as speeches, sermons and editorials), and literary journalism (including nature, travel and science writing). Interesting forms branch out from this foundations: lyric essay, braided essay, prose poem, graphic memoir and hybrids. In this class students will develop skills in craft techniques and literary terminology: scene, summary, reflection, dialogue, theme, research, narrative voice, tone, figurative language. The focus will be on writing and refining craft. Students will also read model works by traditional and contemporary authors, with an emphasis on the growing diversity in science and nature writing in the era of climate change.
This is a class for students committed to developing a dedicated writing practice in fiction. The emphasis is on discipline and craft. We will be using Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as our primary text, as well as reading and discussing published short stories selected by class members. Students will also produce short works of fiction that will be responded to in a formal workshop setting in the final phase of the course.
Poetry is where we do our cutting-edge thinking about sex, culture, politics, spirituality, mysticism, nature, and society. That’s as true now as it was when Sappho wrote about desire, when Du Fu used nature to comment on intrigues of the Chinese Imperial court, and when Catullus penned the filthiest put-downs and the most graceful lyrics of love. Poetry is also the foundational genre. Practicing poetry helps us weave our fiction and nonfiction prose with the textures and nuance of voice and imagery.
Much of class time will be “studio” time in which you compose poems based on prompts and guidelines from model texts. The goal here is to learn new techniques from our model texts while applying them to wholly original material and personal inspiration. Our whole-group workshop critiques will consider work you produce from these writing projects as well as poems you make on your own. We will also find inspiration in visits to the Center for Creative Photography and other out-of-class venues. You will read contemporary and canonical poets across cultures and write brief craft analyses of their work. While this course is about writing better poems, it is ultimately about learning new ways of seeing, feeling, thinking, and being; it’s about expanding your took kit for self-invention and for world-invention. It’s bloody, it’s real, and it’s necessary.
ENGL 309 is open to ALL students, regardless of major/minor declaration. Only prerequisite: ENGL 209
This is a course on the exciting history of the science fiction novel, tracing its roots from the modern origins of SF with H.G. Wells's classic works into the pulp era of the 1950s, the highly experimental New Wave, in which modernist literary techniques are brought to bear on traditional SF subjects in ways that turn the genre upside-down. We'll look at more recent work, all with an eye toward reading with "literary" expectations AND science-fictional expectations. We'll emphasize discussion, weaving in history and critical theory where appropriate, with a special emphasis on the sublime and "cyborg" theory. There will be a midterm, final, a chance to write a SF short story and critical writing.
Students in this tech-focused course will read Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Merchant of Venice in terms of the theories and concepts articulated in W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk and Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera. “Diversifying Shakespeare” will require at least 45 hours of Engaged Learning. Students will develop critical skills that will enable them to manage effectively the challenges of diversity and identity beyond the classroom. In a semester-length project, students will collaborate with one another to develop digital teaching tools and then present their work at a statewide conference; the three instructors’ NEH-funded grant includes the opportunity for students to contribute their projects to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s online suite of shared teaching tools and digital assignments. In addition to the semester-long project, students will produce weekly written reflections. Assessment of the reflections will be based on how students 1) communicate their understanding of diversity and identity through textual interpretations and personal experiences and 2) translate their understanding into digital teaching tools.
In this seminar, we will study the many aspects of and potentials in very brief prose forms, including flash fiction, prose poetry, and micro essays. Readings will include collections of brief prose in addition to selected individual works. Some secondary readings will be assigned. Creative and craft exercises will be a part of the coursework.
In this course, students will read works written by inmates and ex-inmates, works about the prison system in the U.S., and works that reveal some of the literary (in the broadest sense) possibilities for prison writing.
Students will also have an opportunity to respond to writing currently being done by inmates in the Arizona state prison in Tucson in a workshop being conducted there by Erec Toso, a member of the UA faculty. Our work on the inmates’ writing will be done entirely by correspondence. Security considerations require that the writing consult-ants remain anonymous in relation to the inmates. This will be a strict requirement in the course.
To prepare for the interaction with inmates, students in the course will work together on their own writing and consider how best to respond to writing in process, including their own.
Guest consultants who have taught writing in Arizona’s prisons and ex-inmate writers will visit the class.
Prerequisite to the course is completion of a First Year Writing course with a C or better. This course is part of the English Department’s initiative in prison writing.
Philosopher Max Horkheimer defined critical theory as a genre of intellectual writing with a completely practical purpose, namely to “liberate human being from the circumstances that enslave them.” This course will survey the intellectual traditions interested in envisioning how human beings have come to be repressed, exploited, instrumentalized, or otherwise dominated by their own social, cultural, economic or political orders. The course will also consider how liberation from such conditions has been differently imagined by these traditions.
We will read work by such major thinkers as G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Franz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Stuart Hall and Judith Butler. Traditions we will engage include historical materialism, psychoanalysis, postcolonial and critical race theory, feminism and queer theory. The seminar will rely on intensive group discussion of shared readings.
From the famed French gastronome Brillat-Savarin, to the effusions of M.F.K. Fisher, and straight to the tortillas and tamales of the Old Pueblo—recently designated as the country’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy—this course will examine food culture generally and Tucson’s contemporary food scene in particular through a textural lens.
How do writings about food shape various food cultures? How and why have such writings changed over time? And how do food texts—from 17th century cookbooks to popular tomes about high-end “extreme chef” kitchens—change our understanding of what we eat and why we eat it? Do we really make our own choices about food, or does our culture—and our cultural moment—make some of those decisions for us?
Along the way we will also ask ourselves: Can we call writings about food “literature”? Why or why not? How does the decision to write about food affect the resultant prose and our response to it? These are the sorts of questions to which we will seek answers through a close examination of the textual evidence produced both abroad and locally by intelligent eaters waxing lyrical about all things gastronomic.
Assignments will likely include short responses to readings, a mid-term and a final, as well as research and class presentations on local foodways.
Sociolinguistics studies the variety of ways that people use language within social groups, such as different accents, vocabulary, grammar forms, and conversational patterns. In this course, we will study general principles of sociolinguistics and then move on to examine the unique case of English and concepts of using English to communicate in different social groups and communities locally and around the world. We will explore questions like: How does politeness vary between social or cultural groups? How do social conventions guide interactions? How can we negotiate interactions so that we avoid cultural misunderstandings? To address these questions, we’ll examine perspectives of culture, verbal communication, and global contexts, as well as analyze interactions of various social encounters in English and examine the impact of culture on everyday and international communication.
This course surveys works of British Literature from Beowulf to Paradise Lost in their historical context. Lecture/discussion will aim to generate deep understanding of the selected readings—what their earliest audiences might have taken from them and how they can continue to speak to us today.
English 373A introduces students to major writers and genres from the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) period to the middle of the seventeenth century. By the end of the course students will have had opportunity to master through close reading ways of examining and thinking profitably about literary works. The chronological arrangement of assignments will contribute to a sense of the development of English literature and the historical context associated with each work.
We begin with the Old English epic Beowulf and end with the seventeenth-century epic Paradise Lost. We will place works within their historical context. Lecture/discussion will aim to generate deep understanding of the selected readings—how their earliest audiences might have understood them and how we might engage with them today.
This course will begin with the literature of Restoration England (circa 1660) and the literature of the New World in the period that antedates the formation (and invention) of the United States. More specifically, the course will start with the end of Puritan revolution in England (Oliver Cromwell and the Interregnum) and with the beginning of Puritan “errand into the wilderness” in America. After this opening, the course will focus upon the main thematic currents in English and American Literature of the 18th and early 19th centuries, emphasizing the differences and similarities between the literature of the Old World and the literature of the new Republic. In the second half of the course we will compare two Romantic literary movements, the one in England in the early 19th century and the other in the United States circa 1840-1865. We will end the course with Rebecca Harding Davis’s Life in the Iron Mills, a Janus-faced story that looks backward to the Romantic movement and forward to the new “realism” spawn by the modern city and Industrial revolution.
A survey of literature written in English in Britain and America from the 17th through the 19th centuries, this course will read broadly through multiple significant historical traditions, including but not limited to: Restoration comedy, Puritan poetry, American autobiography, Romanticism, the novel of manners, the gothic romance, the slave narrative, and periodical fiction. Students will leave the course having read several of the most studied and referenced works of the period, and will be able to explain the significance of those works as both individual works of literature and in relation to the wider development of historical literary traditions.
This course examines the career and works of filmmaker Tim Burton as a peculiarly American auteur. Topics will include literary and artistic roots in the 19th century, adaptation and auteur theory, evolution of Burton’s style and creative team, and representations of American mythopoesis. Source texts will be drawn from E.A. Poe, Washington Irving, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, Bob Kane, Stephen Sondheim, Daniel Wallace, and Ransom Riggs. Writing assignments may include: critical essays, film or TV treatments, production designs, or adaptations as term projects. NOTE: This is NOT a fan course. Substantial reading and viewing are required. Honors credit available by contract.
This course examines basic literary aesthetics as the foundation of poetic, fictive, dramatic, and visual narrative meaning. We will develop close reading skills by studying poetic form, meter, rhyme, tropes, schemes; narrative structures and devices; literary genre forms, dramatic structures and conventions, and filmic narrative conventions. These fundamentals will inform our analysis of the ways in which meaning is constructed through a marriage of form and content in literary and filmic texts. Students will master basic terms, concepts, and conventions of poetic, dramatic, fiction, and filmic aesthetics, and demonstrate that knowledge in analytical essays based on close reading. Honors credit available by contract.
As a spur to literary investigation, our course will focus on ethically distasteful main characters. Why do anti-heroes have leading roles -- what is the value of the downright despicable protagonist? Reading drama, poetry, short stories, and novels, we'll contrast characters who repulse us with characters we trust and admire. That literature expands our empathetic repertoires, as we come to care for fictional others, has been named one of its virtues -- but what are the benefits of recoiling from certain figures? From Euripides' Medea to Milton's Satan, we'll also address the attraction of the villain. In Poe's short stories and Browning's poetry, we'll investigate "mad" or "monstrous" psychologies. In twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction we'll explore characters' moral apathy, moral complicity, and moral depravity. This course will provide you with the skills to analyze literary works across genres and periods. We will concentrate on the art of "close reading" -- mining lines and passages for their rich implications. Each student will give an in-class presentation; there will be short weekly writing assignments and three short essays.
This course will look at catastrophic literature: literature that considers how experiencing (and narrating) the catastrophic reflects different aspects of what it means to be human. Our readings will range from around 1600 to the present, with a heavier emphasis on the 20th and 21st centuries. We’ll begin with texts that show us private or personal catastrophe, before we move to literature that depicts history as (potentially) shaped by the catastrophic, and finally consider the post-human and anthropocene as catastrophic models of our present moment. Students will build on the ENGL280 curriculum to master the terms and forms of literary analysis, in a series of short close readings and two longer analytic papers. The course will include short stories, novels, poetry, drama, and the essay; authors may include Shakespeare, WB Yeats, Leslie Marmon Silko, Djuna Barnes, Agha Shahid Ali, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Jonathan Swift, Jeff Vandermeer, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
This class is the next step for English and Creative Writing majors after ENGL 280 (Introduction to Literature) and extends the learning outcomes aimed at by that course. ENGL 380 is designed to help students learn even more advanced approaches – more of the core techniques in the discipline of literary study – by concentrating on a related body of writing across human history and showing how the deepest meanings and suggestions in such works can be uncovered by disciplined close reading and systematic analysis. This section will concentrate on the analysis of literary drama, both the kind that has been put on the stage and the kind that has remained “closet drama” (only for reading). We will close read-influential and complex examples of such plays from ancient times through Shakespeare’s era up to the present day and even consider how to carry forward the analysis of written drama into the study of dramatic film (now often taught as literature in its own right). There will be individual student presentations on the assigned readings, three analytical essays, and a final exam of student responses to passages from the plays and film scripts we read and see. The techniques of analysis being taught here, however, will be ones that can be carried over into the analysis of all kinds of literature.
Alexander Pope claimed that in poetry “sound must seem an echo to the sense.” But how exactly does this echo work? And what happens if we reverse the order and say, “sense must seem an echo to the sound,” as often happens in nursery rhymes, nonsense verse, experimental writing, and song lyrics? In this class, we will examine the ways in which the new and rapidly expanding field of sound studies can help us answer these and many more questions about the work of sound in—and on—literature. Sound studies combines a variety of disciplines in order to listen to the ways in which different theories and practices of sound connect with each other. It combines literature, poetics, music, performance, film studies, linguistics, acoustics, environmental studies, recording arts, history, philosophy, and more. The basic question for this field of research is: how do we attend to sound? Or—to restate—how does listening happen? In this class, we will deepen our knowledge about the relationship between sound and literature by listening closely to poetry, prose, songs, performances, musical works, poetics statements and theoretical essays. We will listen to the sound recordings of writers and musicians, but we will also “listen” to the abstract organizations of sound represented on the page. The organizers of sound that we will be studying include Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Arnold Schoenberg, Marianne Moore, W.B. Yeats, Langston Hughes, John Cage, Robert Creeley, Henri Chopin, William Burroughs, Clark Coolidge, Eileen Myles, Charles Bernstein, Bernadette Mayer, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Public Enemy, Grimes, Kendrick Lamar, Jenny Hval, and many many more. Students in this class will have great freedom to conduct their own research project relating sound and literature. They will learn the basics of professional research both inside and outside of the library. Ultimately, students will learn how to share their work with a wider community of curious and engaged readers as well as fellow scholars. On the way, they will learn how to conduct searches for primary and secondary sources, how to describe and summarize their findings, how to construct bibliographies and discographies, and, ultimately, how to write a longer essay that combines source work and critical argument.
This course deals with the crime and gangster film and literature placed within an historical context. We will examine the notions of nationality, race, ethnicity and gender that subtend these works. In so doing, we will approach the aesthetic and ideological styles and meanings of some of the most significant crime films and literary works ever made, including Scarface, The Killing, The Godfather, Reservoir Dogs, and The History of Violence. Students will take in-class quizzes, write screening reports, and take midterm and final exams.
This is the advanced workshop in nonfiction, which, we should start by admitting, isn’t a genre. Nonfiction is just a descriptor, and not a very good one, since intelligent people don’t entirely agree about what it describes and what rules of engagement practitioners and readers expect. Instead we often use the term creative nonfiction, a little better, or, even better, literary nonfiction, which at least properly owns its snobbery. More specifically, what we’re interested in is nonfiction writing that aspires to art and complexity and is serious about its craft. More often than not we’ll be talking about the essay, which is both a sort of writing as well as a way of thinking and of being, even. Essaying is a way of engaging with the world. Essay, as you probably know, comes from the French, meaning to try, to attempt. That is, what we’re doing is inherently experimental. Well, why should that surprise us? The history of literature is the history of experimental literature. So we’ll be experimenting.
In class we’ll proceed in the workshop format, being that you will submit your work in progress to the workshop at least twice this semester, and we’ll discuss it—its best qualities, its shapes and possible shapes, its subjects, its moves, its material, its methodology, and directions for improvement and expansion—as a group. We do this not just to improve the work on the table in front of us, but as a way of talking about what we’re working on ourselves. So when we’re workshopping an essay on Sea Turtles or Lobotomies or Final Fantasy XII by student Y, we are always talking about your work. Particularly when you’re still early in your writing careers, it is often easier to clearly see and talk about others’ work than your own.
Research is super important to the nonfiction writer. A case could be made that research is the central skill of what we do. Though we can write about ourselves, we’re not always that interesting (we become a lot more interesting by having something besides ourselves to go after). And we only find out what we think by researching and writing about the world and its details. So we’ll work on that through research assignments this semester.
Assignments include a commonplace book; reading responses; weekly essay, research, and mapping assignments; peer critiques; a final portfolio; two essays turned in for workshop; and a final exam.
This course offers an opportunity to write and think creatively, learn about the craft of fiction writing, incorporate rewriting into your writing process, and develop as an articulate, generous critic of writing. Your time will be divided in large part between writing and rewriting your own work, and reading and commenting upon the work of your fellow student writers. For inspiration, and to gain insights into fictional craft, we’ll read published stories and/or novels. Emphasis throughout the semester will be on student participation and the building of a community of literary peers.
This class concerns the design and construction of long fictional works, including the novel, novella, and the novel-in-stories. As an advanced level fiction-writing workshop, we will be extending and complicating craft techniques studied at the introductory and intermediate levels, emphasizing craft techniques and issues of the long manuscript through a combination of readings, craft discussions, and writing workshops. The end goal is for you to leave the class with the first sixty (60) pages of your manuscript and a plan for how to proceed with your project.
Possible Course Readings: Disgrace, JM Coetzee; Things Fall Apart, China Achebe; Every Day is for the Thief, Teju Cole; The Emperor’s Babe, Bernardine Evaristo; and The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison.
This course will examine descriptive English grammar from the perspective of social, functional, and communicative aspects of language use. We will explore the grammar of different varieties of English within and outside the U.S., and will also examine the use of grammar across situational contexts (e.g., formal writing, conversation, fiction, texting, etc.). Applications for teaching will also be discussed. Students will complete course readings and hands-on activities culminating in a final project of their choosing.
Students in this advanced course will review and practice using the terms of literary analysis that pertain to poetry, write in response to in-class and take-home prompts, generate new and varied poetic texts, provide nuanced readings and supportive critiques of peer work, and respond in writing to several book-length collections of contemporary poetry. Please note that unlike traditional writing workshops, this course imagines critique as a dialogue between author and respondents. The course will offer you a variety of structured dialogue formats that will support you in these exchanges. Your work will communicate in a longer-form portfolio project.
While this course is about writing better poems, it is ultimately about learning new ways of seeing, feeling, thinking, and being; it’s about expanding your tool kit for self-invention and for world-invention. To realize this potential you will need your enthusiasm, vision, and work ethic.
This course will be short, just like a cruise!” It will take us to various selected islands which offer interesting perspectives, uniqueness, color and reality. We will do readings which highlight the culture, politics and history of each. We will also look at the growing body of writings by women since the 1980s. They have offered new topics, never explored before, such as colonial domination, education, family circumstances, coming of age (male and female) and the use of diaspora history and experience.
Our journey will take us to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Lucia and of course, Jamaica! All readings, lectures, and discussion is in English, but you may learn some patois or “chat Jamaican” by the time the “cruise” ends.
Full participation includes reading, writing, discussing, presenting with a partner, keeping a journal, and doing a final project. Creative projects are encouraged, such as foods, music, poetry and performance!!
The course introduces Chaucer's poetry through some of the most engaging and stimulating of The Canterbury Tales. The selected tales illustrate central Chaucerian themes and typical Chaucerian genres and verse forms. Excerpts from writings of Chaucer's antecedents and contemporaries provide an historical and literary context, and selections of modern criticism suggest ways of approaching the primary texts.
During the second half of his career, Shakespeare wrote most of his great tragedies, his so-called dark comedies, and his late romances. We will read plays from each of these groups, including Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest. Two exams, a term paper, and a final.
English 443 is an upper-division course for the study of Mexican American and Chicano literature written in English or translated into English. The course is designed to give you a clear understanding of the historical development of the Mexican American literary tradition, with an emphasis on landmark works, and a focus on events and issues which impacted and influenced its evolution. Thus, we will take care to situate the literary texts within their historical moment and we will read them alongside of historical material, in order to better understand the social context within which the literature was produced. Finally, we will spend considerable time looking closely at individual texts: critically analyzing them, interpreting them and discussing their implications. Course requirements will include a midterm and a final exam, and two or three medium-length papers, as well as regular contributions to class discussion. The course will begin with a study of the corrido tradition and move on to the short stories of Maria Cristina Mena and Mario Suarez, the novel Pocho, the poetry of the Chicano Movement, the play Zoot Suit, and the novels Face and So Far from God.
This course will trace multiple artistic and historical revolutions in Ireland since 1900 to guide its inquiry. In artistic terms, we’ll consider how the revolutionary work of WB Yeats and James Joyce in the early 20th century generated a pair of aesthetic trajectories for Irish literature of the past 100 years. In historical terms, we’ll think through how the violent upheaval of Ireland’s 20th century political revolutions is reflected in and changed by representations of history by Irish authors. We’ll map the (many!) intersections between these two types of revolution in order to understand the entanglement of history and art in Ireland’s fiction, poetry, and drama. Possible authors include: WB Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Marina Carr, Nuala Nì Dhomhnaill, Medbh McGuckian, Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Edna O’Brien, and others.
Sartre expressed the basic tenets of his Existentialist philosophy in novels, plays, essays, political position papers and theory, and in his most famous work, “Being and Nothingness,” which he wrote and published during the early years of WWII. This course will be a study of many of the diverse forms Sartre’s existentialism took. His most famous play, “No Exit,” and another play “The Flies,” will be included, as will his novel, “Nausea” and the short stories in “The Wall.” Excerpts from “Being and Nothingness” and “The Critique of Dialectical Reason” will also be included. When he died, 30,000 people attended his funeral. Like Voltaire and Rousseau before him he was a philosopher who had large following among the general population around the world.
Three essays, 5 to 10 pages, and a take-home final will be required.
This course will examine some of the masterpieces of American, British, and Continental fiction, with particular attention to the development of characteristically modern techniques and themes and the cultural and theoretical forces that gave rise to those techniques and themes. We will explore how the thought of Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud gave rise to radically new ideas about the mind and society. Six or seven novels and some short stories will be chosen from the works of the following authors: Dostoevsky, Kafka, Sartre, Camus, Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, and Hemingway. We will be moving back and forth between primary texts to secondary ones (theories of modernism, theories of the modern, theories of form, and theories of gender, and so to their implications for form and content). The course will analyze, through a combination of lecture and discussion, the technical and formal innovations deployed in a given text, the intellectual and historical contexts and ideologies that make possible these innovations, the world-views the text affirms or critiques, and the implications of the stances it suggests for that society.
Requirements: quizzes, class-participation, a mid-term exam, a term paper, and a final exam.
This course will examine modern British literature from Hardy to Beckett, focusing on techniques and themes in order to explore the phenomenon that came to be known as modernism. We will begin with a theoretical discussion about the question of the modern and its relationship to modernism. Several texts, novels, short stories, poems, and plays, will be chosen from the works of the following authors: Hardy, Conrad, Yeats, Joyce, Woolf, Ford Madox Ford, Orwell, and Beckett. We will be moving back and forth between primary texts to secondary ones (theories of modernism, theories of the modern, theories of form, and theories of gender, and so to their implications for form and content). The course will analyze, through a combination of lecture and discussion, the technical innovations deployed in a given text, the intellectual and historical contexts that make possible these innovations, the world-views that the text affirms or critiques, and the implications of the stances it suggests for that society.
Requirements: quizzes, class-participation, a mid-term exam, a term paper, and a final exam.
In a foundational Supreme Court decision, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), Chief Justice John Marshall described American Indian communities as “domestic dependent nations.” Undoing this strange declaration and resisting colonial limitations on their sovereign rights is the foremost concern of Native nations. The efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline have created an arena in which issues of native rights and sovereignty are being addressed with renewed intensity. The question we will pursue in this course is how 20th and 21st century Native American fiction relates to this project. How do some exemplary Native American writers create stories that offer resistance to colonialism, even as they explore and extend meanings of sovereignty within their communities.
Required readings will include: Francis LaFlesche, The Middle Five (1900); N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn (1968); Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977); Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water (1993); Linda Hogan, People of the Whale (2008); and Louise Erdrich, The Round House (2012), as well as assigned readings in literary and cultural studies on our D2L site.
This course is an intensive study of the films of Stanley Kubrick. The focus of the course will be on Kubrick’s adaptations of novels and short stories, and will also involve close analysis of Kubrick’s approach to literary works. Among those works are Nabokov’s Lolita, Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and Clarke’s “The Sentinal.” Critical readings will guide our discussions of visual and aural patterns in the films, and the ideological and aesthetic implications of those patterns. While we are studying Kubrick’s translation of the written word to the aesthetics of cinema, another of the major goals in this course is to develop the extremely useful skill of translating visual and aural perceptions into critical/analytical writing. Students will write weekly screening reports and take two essay exams, as well as in-class quizzes.
The first part of this course will focus on the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, showing how his complex and controversial ideas influenced both the literature of his times and contemporary American literature. Thoreau and Whiteman were inspired by him, but Melville and Hawthorne quarreled with him.
What is fascinating to see is how his presence as a seminal thinker continued to exert an influence on such diverse contemporary writers as Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Ellison, and Phillip Roth. In this course, we will read Emerson;’s most famous essays: “Self-Reliance, “Nature,” “experience,” Fate,” “The Circle” and others. What follows will be a reading of exts that either embrace his ideas or reject them–or complicate them in ways that perhaps Emerson himself did not foresee. Some of the texts we will be reading Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” Hawthorne’s “My Kinsman, Major Molineaux” and “Dr. Rappacini’s Daughter,” Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, John Williams Stoner, and Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain.
“The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other,” writes Franz Kafka in his famous surrealistic novel, The Trial. The Trial can be read as criticism of what scholars call “legal indeterminacy” and reflects the main concern of this course, which will to be examine the relationship between the material and virtual constraints governing applications of justice both in literature and our contemporary world. We will examine a variety of texts that deal with the themes of justice, judgment, physical detention and incarceration in different cultural and historical contexts. Our literary study will be augmented by a practical component where students will be asked to research contemporary issues related to judicial and prison systems. The class will be discussion based, and our ongoing conversation will focus on the intersections between the literature and theory we study in class and practical applications of our course theme. This integration between literature and practice will be reflected in the final writing assignment, in which students will be asked to integrate their research with an analysis of at least one of the literary texts covered in class. Students will also be asked to deliver a 15-20 minute oral presentation at some point during the term. This will be an opportunity for students both to present their research findings, and to reflect more broadly on the intersections between reality and the imagination in our contemporary world.
Twenty years ago, bookstores shelved memoirs by whim or subject matter; today every bookstore has a wall devoted to them. What occasioned the rise to prominence of a literary genre once considered slight? What is the relationship between memoir, memory, and history? Between bearing witness and social justice? Memoirist Fenton Johnson (Geography of the Heart) leads our discussion of these and other questions regarding what many critics see as the defining literary genre of our times.
The course will begin with a survey of the earliest examples of the form (Luke’s Gospel, chapters X and XI on memory and time from Augustine’s Confessions, along with a visit from a UA psychology faculty member setting forth the latest scientific understanding of how our memories work. The remainder of the course will be a combination of discussion and practicum, as students are offered the option of writing memoirs in the style / in imitation of the master memoirists we study.
We will be reading works that treat of the widest range of human experience, from good cheer and love to the darkest places. “All that is human is mine,” wrote the Roman slave and playwright Terence, and that might be the motto of our reading list. I do not expect that you will like all the selections but I expect and require that you read them with sufficient thoroughness and attention to judge them critically. Genocide, illness, sexual abuse, addiction, sexual identity—these are among the challenging topics of the works on the list. You are expected to encounter them with respect and equanimity. If you are uncomfortable with in-depth encounters with challenging, difficult, and sometimes explicit material, this may not be an appropriate course.
Students will be required to write two longer (10-12 pp.) papers, one of which may be a memoir. We may discuss these collectively, following the workshop model of the creative writing program. You will also be required to write four short (3-5 pp.) critical essays. Students will also be required to turn in a weekly short critical analysis of that week’s principal reading. Students will be offered the opportunity to discuss their work collectively. Students will also team up with fellow student to present.
A Space Odyssey
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
We shall take as our starting point the words spoken by Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek. His word “space” has an aura of the unknown and uncharted. The word signals adventure and wonder. But space can prove harrowing as well. Just think how the movie Gravity imagines space: empty, cold, forbidding.
Closer to home, Shakespeare’s contemporaries grappled with space too. When they embarked on a long ocean voyage or a journey through a dense forest, they imagined space as dismaying, confusing, and potentially threatening. That’s why they worked so hard to map the world. And when Galileo turned his telescope on the sky, people learned that the earth was not the center of the universe but simply a body cruising through space around the sun. The discovery was stunning. John Donne registers the shock when he says, “New philosophy [science] calls all in doubt, / The element of fire is quite put out; / The sun is lost, and the earth . . . / ‘Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone.” John Milton in Paradise Lost captures the disorientation of vast distance when Satan looks from hell to earth and finds a “wild abyss.”
Clearly, Shakespeare’s culture was unnerved by expanses of space. Perhaps that’s why people were so anxious to contain and shape the world around them, whether indoors or outdoors. And to accomplish this goal, they employed the arts of architecture, painting, garden design, and poetry.
This interdisciplinary seminar will look at the literal, literary, and artistic handling of space. How have people organized and divided space? What cultural significance does the treatment of space have? What are the implications for an understanding of the world around us? The course is not chiefly about space as understood by scientists or mathematicians. Instead, we will focus on the artistic expression of Shakespeare’s culture, especially as it manifests itself in buildings, paintings, the landscape around stately homes, and the arrangement of lyrics in a collection of poems.
During the Summer of 1816, at what became a famous gathering of British writers at the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, several of them responded to a challenge from their host, the poet Lord Byron, to write a ghost story in the Gothic tradition, and the most famous work to emerge from that “contest,” by far, turned out to be Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the original novel, begin in earnest that very summer, worked on throughout 1817, and finally published in 1818. In celebration of that “haunted summer” and the process of 1817 that led to this epoch-making novel, this seminar will look anew at the original book, with some attention to a few of the many adaptations of it, mainly as a way of studying how different theories of literature – and therefore of how to interpret literary texts – reach very different conclusions about this novel especially, including its many interconnections with other works before, during, and after the time of its creation. While rereading that novel in detail, as well as some of its sources and progeny, students will be introduced to prose theories of literature from many different schools of thought (psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist, post-structuralist, new historicist, environmentalist, and others), first to understand the fundamental assumptions of each approach and then to assess how those assumptions lead to distinctive and divergent interpretations of Frankenstein. There will be oral student presentations, an initial essay on a particular theory, and a major, final, research-based and theory-based essay, approached in several stages, that will help set all interested students up for the writing of an Honors Thesis in English. We are in a time of raging conflicts, certainly in world-views but also in approaches to the interpretation of literature and films, and this seminar will be an opportunity for advanced English students to understand the differences in influential theories of literature and to see how those differences affect our understanding of what is now the most famous of all English novels two hundred years after it was begun.