Winter 2008 Course Descriptions
ENG 104 001 Introduction to Fiction (Online Course)
The course involves reading, analysis, and appreciation of significant works of fiction,
especially short stories, with an emphasis on the fiction writer’s craft. The textbook is
Ann Charters’s The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction, Seventh
Edition, 2007. It is important that you get the full-length, 2007 edition, because much
of the online lecture material is tied to page numbers in the book. PSU’s bookstore
carries the textbooks. Grading is based on class participation and weekly writing in
response to the literature.
ENG 204 001 Survey of English Literature I
This course provides an overview of major works by major writers from Beowulf,
about 1200 years ago, up to the early works of John Milton in the 1600's.
Format: Informal lecture and discussion.
Assignments: Midterm and final examinations and a few short written assignments.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 6th ed., Vol. I
K. Griffith, Writing Essays About Literature.
Prerequisites: None. Writing 121, however, is recommended, as is at least one
college-level literature course. Despite the low course number, 204, the course is
ENG 253 001 Survey of American Literature I
American literature from its beginnings to the present.
Text: Pierson/Prentice Hall Anthology of American Lit Volume 1 9th ed
ENG 300 001 Critical Approaches to English
This course will introduce students to the basic skills and tools of literary criticism
and to the major modern theoretical approaches to the analysis of literary works. The
course focuses on close reading as the basis of textual interpretation. We will also
engage theoretical and practical questions about what makes a text “literary"; the
relationships between text, author, and reader; and the status of literature as evidence
of history and culture.
ENG 300 002 Critical Approaches to English
A survey of the central critical and theoretical schools of literary analysis, from Plato
to the present. The course will provide the students with a thorough background of
the central issues and vocabulary for literary criticism. The course will start with
Classical literary criticism (Plato, Aristotle, et al), move to Enlightenment and
Romantic criticism (Kant, Wordsworth et al), and conclude with a survey of
contemporary critical schools (modernism, postmodernism, deconstruction,
feminism, psychoanalytic criticism, and such).
Texts: The Norton Anthology of Criticism (Leitch); Aesthetics from Classical Greece
to the Present (Beardsley); The Stranger (Camus).
Grades: Midterm and Final take-home essays.
ENG 301U Shakespeare’s Comedies
We will read six of Shakespeare’s comedies paying close attention to both language
and cultural/historical context. We will be particularly engaged with the following
questions: (1) what distinguishes comedy from tragedy? Is this a useful opposition?
(2) in a society based on strict political and social hierarchies reinforced through
public rituals, does comic theater count as such a ritual space? (3) what makes
comedy funny? What types of wordplay and plot devices does Shakespeare use to
invite both pleasure and laughter, and do these different techniques ever come into
conflict with each other? (4) why do so many of the comedies involve cross-dressing?
How do Shakespeare's plays approach issues of gender identity and sexuality,
especially given the fact that in his time only men were allowed to perform onstage?
(5) do Shakespeare’s comedies tend to resolve or amplify the tensions in the social
fabric of Renaissance England ? Is comedy an essentially progressive or conservative
form – both, or neither? (6) what role do Shakespeare’s comedies play in modern
culture? How have the plays been adapted to speak to today's audiences?
This is an upper-division course. Students are expected to have some knowledge of
Shakespeare and/or Renaissance culture and literature. Although there are no specific
prerequisites, good preparatory courses would be English 201/202: Shakespeare,
English 204: Survey of English Literature (I), UNST 259: Sophomore Inquiry in
Renaissance Studies, or other similar courses.
This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for the English Major and is part of the
University Studies Renaissance Junior Cluster.
ENG 304 001 Critical Approaches to Film
A survey of the central methods and schools of cinematic and moving-image
criticism and analysis. Emphasis on both narrative and non-narrative film, with
special attention to the visual and cinematographic techniques of film. Course will
include screenings of three to four films, with application of various critical schools
to each work, including structuralist, feminist, formalist, and psychoanalytic models.
Grades: Midterm and final take-home essays. Weekly short quizzes (definitions).
Some short criticism and film review assignments.
ENG 305U 001 Native American Cinema
In Wiping the War Paint Off the Lens: Native American Film and Video, Beverly R. Singer
argues that American Indian control of the camera and the cinematic process is
significant if Native people are to become more than objects captured and emulsified
on film. In 1993, an official Aboriginal Film and Video Alliance issued the following:
“To govern ourselves means to govern our stories . . . To re-imagine and reclaim our
ground in the intimate, small, everyday things of life and community is to become
self-governing.” Simultaneously, the Native American Producers Alliance (NAPA)
was created with a focus on tribal ownership of culture and stories. Both alliances are
interested in promoting a dialogue about aesthetics and tribal sovereignty. This course
will look more closely at this increasingly transformative energy and examine the
variety of methods and patterns in which American Indian filmmakers, producers,
writers, and actors/actresses have negotiated this terrain of the contested and
complex nature of cultural production. We will look at western, anti-western, and
postmodern western traditions, transcultural identities and their relationship to the
historic construction of the frontier, and the “howling wilderness” and the “wild
frontier” in films such as John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), Kevin Costner’s Dances
With Wolves (1990), Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995), Antonia Bird’s Ravenous (2000),
and Christopher Gans’s The Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002). We will discern modern re-
shapings of early encounters between American Indians and European missionaries
in films such as Bruce Beresford’s Black Robe (1991) and John Fusco and Steven
Barron’s Dreamkeeper (2004). Much of the course will concentrate on contemporary
documentary, feature films, and telefilm by indigenous filmmakers such as Valerie
Red Horse’s Naturally Native (1998), Shelley Niro’s Honey Moccasin (1998), Chris Eyre’s
Smoke Signals (1998) and Skins (2002), Randy Redroad’s The Doe Boy (2001), Zacharias
Kunuk’s The Fast Runner (2002), and Niki Caro’s Whale Rider (2002). This course,
finally, will engage in the laughter of a Native American trickster shaking up our
status quo with irreverent act and words in Gerald Vizenor’s Harold of Orange (1984),
Charlie Hill’s On and Off the Res (2000), and Sherman Alexie’s The Business of Fancy
Dancing (2002). Dialogue journal responses and a final exam are part of the course
load but, in addition, you will have the opportunity in your panel presentations to
contemplate creating your own cinematography as an engaged interactive
postmodern “trickster” responding to the “self-representations” within Native
ENG 305U 005 Madness at the Movies
By reputation madness lies on the opposite shore of reason. Yet, there is a method to
madness, as we and Shakespeare have noted. Madness shares with sanity identical
modes of representing the world, the things not of this world, and even madness
itself, modes that include story telling (narrative) and naming (reification). Both
madness and sanity contest legitimacy in many arenas of life, especially in art and
religion. This is demonstrably apparent in movies, where madness can be iterated as
the movie’s subject, as deliberately falsified filmic re-presentation of reality, and as the
mysterious practices inherent in viewing these movies. This course is an exploration
of these inflections of “madness” and of some of the discourses that presume to
ENG 305U I01 Films and Times of Charlie Chaplin
“L’homme qui fait rire le monde”
Max Linder, 1919.
The life of Charles Chaplin (1889-1977) signifies in many ways the birth of modern
America. In this, his adopted country, and certainly the home of his most creative
years, Chaplin’s life and works reflect all of the expansionist dreams, the elation and
despair, the confusion, cynicism, and irony of a culture creating itself in the modern
world. Here he was allowed the freedom to control the creation, production,
marketing, and distribution of his films and of his stardom. Here he was allowed to
become the richest man in the nation and to espouse socialist sentiments. Here he
was allowed to create the “little tramp,” an everyman character who embodied and
parodied the best and the worst in his audience.
Chaplin made 91 films. We have only 21 class sessions. Obviously, we will be able to
view a select few; I encourage you to see others outside class and to turn in
screening journals for credit.
Text: Maland, Charles J. Chaplin and American Culture: The
Evolution of a Star Image. Princeton University Press.. 1989.
ENG 306U I02 Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien has been called “the author of the century” because he is so greatly loved,
has been compared to Joyce as a twentieth-century modernist (not always to J.R.R.’s
detriment), and has been seen by many as the great innovator in Beowulf studies as well as in
fantasy fiction. He is a major writer belatedly entering the canon. We will approach his
work as literature, not as film, in his words “there and back again,” with emphasis on the
interlace of linguistics, literature, history, and mythology.
Our four texts are available at reasonable prices from the PSU Bookstore and include the
revised Houghton Mifflin editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as well as The
Tolkien Reader and Tolkien’s translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Orfeo.
Requirements: Regular attendance, quizzes, final exam, and retrospective letter.
ENG 308U 003 Jewish American Literature
“America is Our Zion.”
This course explores the transformations of American Jewish identity from the
earliest Sephardim to the modern Orthodox through text and film. We will trace the
production of cultural artifacts from the early immigrant waves through the
assimilationism of the 1950s to the cultural and religious revival of the turn of the
21st century. Along the way we will problematize for discussion issues of identity,
race, class, and gender. Discussion will center on found themes, tropes, and the use
of shared inquiry to answer interpretive questions arising from reading an artifact.
The Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature(ed. Chametsky)
Horn, Dara The World to Come
Rosenbaum, Thane Golems of Gotham
1. 3 interpretive questions prepared for each class.
2. a Reader Response Journal, due each Friday.
3. a review of a work in text or film—to include both written and oral
presentations, selected from the Recommended Reading list.
4. a critical, annotated, bibliography of at least 10 entries on a theme,
trope, character, work, etc. of your choice.
ENG 308U N03 Divas in Drama
To what extent does the idea of DIVA embodied variously in the plays we read
derive its lifeblood from resisting myths about women, gender, and sex? Are divas
congenitally angry? If so, to what extent do 20th-21st century evocations of the diva
convey the contradictions involved in the relationship between the art of women and
the life of women? To what extent does the form the diva takes—singer, painter,
dancer, actor, playwright, revolutionary--create potentially transformational
intersections between drama (which relies on irony), melodrama (which shuns irony),
parody, camp, gay camp, the sacred/the monstrous, “high” culture/pop culture?
ENG 309U 001 American Indian Literature
Course description: This is a survey of some of the best traditional and
contemporary literature by (in one case about) American Indian/Native American
people. We will read background (e.g., Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), biography
(e.g., Black Elk Speaks), poetry, legends and recent fiction. There will usually be
visiting speakers and at least one film. It is suggested, not required, that students
enrolling will have had some courses in English, including writing and preferably at
least one literature course.)
Format: Discussion groups primarily; some informal lecture.
Assignments: Class participation, with some informal reports, and at least two
papers, as well as a take-home final exam.
Pre-requisite: None. (But Writing 121, at least, is strongly urged.)
ENG 313 001 American Short Story
“A great deal of the story is believed to be inside of the listener, and the storyteller’s role is to draw
the story out of the listener.” —Leslie Marmon Silko
In her introduction to the new collection of American Short Stories Charters asks
these questions: What is an American story? How do American stories differ from
stories originating in other parts of the world? How short is short? I add to her list
the following: What is the purpose of art? And more specifically, what is the purpose
of fiction? The answers to these and other fascinating questions will be our project
for the next 10 weeks as we examine the development of the short story genre in the
United States from Washington Irving to Sherman Alexie.
Text: The Story and Its Writer, Seventh Edition, editor Ann Charters
ENG 318 002 The Bible As Literature
A study of the kinds of literature contained in the Bible, with attention to narrative
strategies and figurative expression; analysis of the ways in which the biblical texts
reflect the cultural and historical milieu of the Hebraic-Christian experience; and
attention to ways in which biblical texts help shape the Western literary tradition.
Texts: The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha; Stephen L. Harris,
Understanding the Bible, 7th ed. English elective; pre-1800.
ENG 319U 001 Northern European Mythology
Come to Valhalla, the Spring of Mimir, the Lands of the Giants and of the Dark and
Light Elves, and then travel south to the Celtic Otherworlds of Wales and Ireland
before embarking on a mythic journey across America. We will immerse ourselves in
Norse and Celtic mythologies collected and redacted in medieval times and then see
the myths at play in a contemporary text by Neil Gaiman.
Texts: Jesse L. Byock, tr., The Saga of the Volsungs (1990)
Anthony Faulkes, tr., Edda by Snorri Sturluson (1995)
Carolyne Larrington, tr., The Poetic Edda (1996)
Thomas Kinsella, tr., The Tain (1970)
Jeffrey Gantz, tr., Early Irish Myths and Sagas (1981)
Patrick K. Ford, tr., The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales (1977)
Neil Gaiman, American Gods (2001)
Requirements: The usual exams, a short paper, and regular attendance. Note that the
translations listed above are all required.
Note: This course satisfies pre-1800, elective, and medieval cluster requirements.
ENG 365U 001 American Fiction II
Short Stories by Chopin, Gilman, Porter, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Ellison and
novels by Sherwood Anderson, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather,
and E. L. Doctorow.
Discussion, quizzes, short essay, final exam.
ENG 371 001 The Novel (The European Novel)
Texts include Barthes’ S/Z, Balzac’s “Sarrasine,” Stendhal’s Red and Black,
Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Italo Svevo’s Zeno’s Conscience, and Rene
Girard’s Deceit, Desire and the Novel (The Romantic Lie and the Novelistic Truth).
ENG 410 001 TOP: Magic Realist Fiction
We will spend our time in the literary land where the veil is lifted between the
corporeal and the spiritual, where the dead continue to live on the earth and the living
may suddenly ascend into heaven. Our texts will include Lois Parkinson Zamora’s
Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community, Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred
Years of Solitude, Allende’s House of the Spirits, Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo, a reader
edited by Young and Hollaman, Magic Realist Fiction, Murakami’s The Elephant
Vanishes, and Men of Maize by Asturias, with a little Rushdie and some other folks
thrown into the mix.
There will be weekly response papers due and a written/visual final
ENG 411U 001/ENG 511 001 Early Drama
In this advanced course, we will primarily be reading and studying three forms of
medieval drama: mystery plays, saint and conversion plays, and morality plays. The
dramatic action represented in mystery plays were drawn from biblical stories, ranging
from “The Fall of the Angels” to “The Last Judgment,” and were staged as civic
events in large towns such as York and Wakefield. Saint and conversion plays, on the
other hand, dealt with hagiography, one of the most prolific forms of medieval
Christian literature, and the conversion of non-believers to the faith of Christianity.
Finally, morality plays were often highly allegorical, portraying the life of an
Everyman or Mankind figure, who is tempted by personified abstractions—such as
Vice and Flesh—and who is (usually) recovered by holy figures—such as Mercy and
Righteousness. In addition to these kinds of medieval drama, we will also look at
more obscure and popular forms, such as the Quem queritus and Robin Hood drama.
The course will be intensive and will be driven by class discussions. Requirements will
include active participation, a presentation, a short essay, and a long research project.
ENG 412 001/ENG 512 001 English Drama II
The course explores plays in English from the Restoration to the early Twentieth
Century using selected scenes, plus 7 whole plays. Close reading, video recordings,
and class discussion will be emphasized, but background lectures will review cultural
forces in relation to theater history:
18th Century (from 1660):
Heroic Drama (Dryden), Restoration Drama (Aphra Behn and William Wycherley),
Comedy of Manners (Farquhar & Richard Sheridan), Cultural Satire (John Gay and
19th Century (to c.1914):
Gothic Melodrama ("Monk" Lewis); the "Well-Made Play" (Pinero); Musical comedy
(Gilbert & Sullivan) "Problem" Plays (Ibsen in translation and G.B. Shaw), and
Satirical Comedies (Oscar Wilde), and Symbolist Theater (Strindberg in translation,
and W. B. Yeats)
(Note that 20th century drama will be explored in ENG 484/584 “Modern Drama”
in Spring 2008)
Assignments: short analysis paper, possible midterm, term paper (or equivalent
reading/performance project), final (largely take-home). Acting and performance will
not be required, but there will be volunteer opportunities to present scenes to the
class. Graduate students will include a bibliography of scholarly / dramatic criticism
relevant to some aspect of their final term paper (or final project).
Suggested prerequisites: for Eng 412: 15 previous hours of literature and/or theater;
for Eng 512: graduate standing with coursework in literature and/or theater.
This class fulfills pre-1800 and British period requirements.
ENG 425 DL1/ENG 525 DL1 Practical Grammar (Online Course)
Practical Grammar ties English grammar to technical writing, foreign language
teaching, English teaching, and technical editing and proofreading. The textbook for
the course is DeCarrico's Structure of English (2000, UMP) and the workbook
(DeCarrico and Franks, 2000, UMP). Students must have at least senior-level
standing. Grading is based on class participation and exams.
ENG 426 001/ENG 526 001 Early Medieval Literature
This course is designed as an introduction to some important works in the vast
corpus of English Medieval Literature (c. 800-1500). It is the first part of the two-part
sequence on Medieval Literature. The literature in this course is chosen primarily
from the earlier part of the period, emphasizing Anglo-Saxon works and the
exegetical reading model. Some later Middle English and continental vernacular and
Latin medieval works are included. We will attempt to see the works in their literary
and historical contexts and discuss the interpretive possibilities inherent in the texts.
Owing to the difficulty of some of the older dialects of English (Old English, Early
Middle English) and since some of the works are in Old French ,Old Norse or Latin,
we will—alas!—encounter most of the material in good modern translations,
although students will have some opportunity to learn to read the Old English. The
format will be both lecture and discussion, with students taking active responsibility
for interpreting the texts. We will be concerned not only with "literary" issues such as
genre, imagery, pattern, audience, poetics, sources and structure, but also with issues
of how class, gender, or ideology inform the works. Outside readings and the lectures
will contextualize the literature in terms of literary theory, iconography, history, and
medieval culture to will enrich the discussions and papers.
This class fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement for the undergraduate major and
Possible texts, depending upon availability:
Beowulf. Howell D. Chickering Jr. (trans. and ed.) (Anchor, Doubleday)
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy (trans. R. Green) Macmillan
St. Benedict. Rule (trans. Meisel and Del Maestro).
R. Hamer, A Choice of Anlgo-Saxon Verse
Anon. Njal’s Saga (Penguin)
Thos. De Cantimpré. The Life of Christina the Astonishing (Peregrina Press, 1999)
Dante, La Vita Nuova (Rossetti translation).
Radice, B. (trans.), The Letters of Heloise and Abelard (Penguin)
Marie de France, Fables (Toronto/MART)
Millett and Wogan-Browne, eds. Medieval English Prose for Women OR Anchoritic
In photocopied packet:
The Owl and the Nightingale/Cleanness/St. Erkenwald (Penguin) [may be out of print.
"Owl and Nightingale" is all we will use from this book]
King Horn, Havelock the Dane, or Sir Degaré
ENG 447 002/ENG 547 002 TOP: Literature and Philosophy II
Study of the relation between these disciplines in the Enlightenment, including texts
by Locke, Sterne, Spinoza, and Diderot.
ENG 447 003/ENG 547 003 TOP: 20th Century Italian Literature
Reading and discussion of various Italian novels and stories from mid-to-later 20th
century. In addition to whole class discussions, there will be weekly small group
discussions. Students will write in response to the stories and novels, either critically
or imaginatively (e.g., providing alternate endings, extra characters). Students will also
write their own short story. (A Writing-intensive course, with Loretta Stinson as
The readings (available through In Other Words Bookstore on campus during the
first week of classes) may include:
Italo Calvino, Marcovaldo
Alessandra Lavagnino, The Librarians of Alexandria
Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table and Survival in Auschwitz
Elsa Morante, History, a Novel
Alberto Moravia, The Conformist
Giovanni Verga, Little Novels of Sicily
Please contact the instructor before buying the books to be on the safe side.
ENG 448 001/ENG 548/001 WIC: Erdrich and Morrison
Both Louise Erdrich and Toni Morrison talk about the importance of storytelling to
their art and especially to the lives of the people they write about. “People crave
narration,” Morrison says. . ..”That’s the way they learn things. That’s the way human
beings organize their human knowledge—fairy tales, myths. All narration.” As for
Erdrich, she says, “Primarily. . . I’m just a storyteller, and I take them where I find
them. I love stories whether they function to reclaim old narratives or occur
spontaneously. Often, to my surprise, they do both.”
ENG 448/548 compares and contrasts the novels of Erdrich/Morrison, whose
writings have grown fat and subtle on the ironies and insanities of racial conflict, who
thrill us with re-storied myths, who may haunt us by presenting the past in the
present, and who will certainly forever challenge our assumptions about the precise
nature of “mother-love.”
ENG 448 002/ENG 548 002 TOP: Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an immensely influential playwright in late 16th c. London,
despite having been killed under suspicious circumstances when he was only 29. In
this advanced course, we will read all of the drama we know Marlowe to have written:
the first and second parts of Tamburlaine; Doctor Faustus; The Massacre at Paris; Dido,
Queen of Carthage; The Jew of Malta; and Edward II. We will also read his poems and
translations: Ovid’s Elegies; “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”; Hero and Leander;
and Lucan’s First Book. Each week we will cover a play or one of Marlowe’s long
poems or translations. The course will therefore be intensive and will be driven by
class discussions. Requirements will include active participation, a presentation, a
short essay, and a long research project.
ENG 448 003/ENG 548 003 TOP: Philip K. Dick
Reading and discussion of various novels and stories of Philip K. Dick. In addition to
whole class discussions, there will be weekly small group discussions. Students will
write in response to the stories and novels, either critically or imaginatively (e.g.,
providing alternate endings, extra characters). Students will also write their own short
story. (This is a Writing-intensive course: G. A., Richard Yates)
The readings (available through In Other Words Bookstore on campus during the
first week of classes) may include:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Man in the High Castle
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
We Can Build You
The Philip K. Dick Reader
NOTE: Castle, Stigmata, Androids, and Ubik are available in a single volume in the
Library of the Americas Series, Philip K. Dick, Four Novels of the 1960s.
ENG 449 001/ENG 549 001 ADV TOP: Ecocriticism
Ecocriticism (the ecological implications of literary texts) studies the relationship
between literature and the physical environment. It encompasses nonhuman as well
as human contexts and considerations. In Eng 449/549 we will address the
connection between ecology, culture, and literature. Components of the course will
cover environmental literary history, nature/culture/gender, the changing natural
world, and transcultural ecocritical engagement. Our texts will be The Ecocriticism
Reader and several novels: The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, Potiki by Patricia Grace,
a nd Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya.
For English majors Ecocriticism falls under Group A, Theory.
ENG 477 001/ENG 577 001 American Poetry
In this class we will read the work collected in Nineteenth-Century American Poetry,
edited by William C. Spengemann. We may not read every poem in this volume, but
then again, we may. The idea is to acquire a reasonably comprehensive, yet concise
and convenient (you can carry it around with you to read at odd moments of leisure
or curiosity), familiarity with poetry written by Americans during this period. What
this work has to do with poetry written by UnAmericans in English or in other
languages around the world, or with poetry that was written either before or after the
nineteenth-century, will be among the things we will talk about.
Students will read slowly, carefully, imaginatively, and repeatedly, to get a
handle on what's going on in individual poems and in what amounts to a
“conversation” between them. Students will write short papers responding to the
work of particular poets. There will also be a longer final paper. For graduate
students, that longer paper will grow, in part, out of research.
ENG 494 001/ENG 594 001 Neopragmatism
For over five hundred years, since the invention of human history, being modern has
meant struggling to slough off the increasingly tattered and unpersuasive vestiges of
theological aims and explanations. For thousands of years, people have turned, for
comfort and understanding, to Gods or spirits or an Ideal Realm, and that habit has
shaped our views of all life’s experiences—including, of course, literature. Most
importantly, these lingering assumptions have promoted the idea that “art” isn’t
“real,” that there is a gap between ”art” and “life.” As a result, literature and literary
study languishes on the margins of our culture.
Neopragmatism names the Post-Structuralist project of weeding the pervasive
vestiges of theology out of all our beliefs and practices--not least, reading books and
writing about them because most strategies for approaching texts offered over the
whole history of textual scholarship (a bit over 200 years) have preserved what
amount to theological assumptions. Neopragmatism is a sort of “anti-theory theory”
that, among other things, tries to imagine literary study as a worldly activity and
promotes a point of view from which the idea of a gap between literature and life
would just seem odd.
We will pay some attention to the Nineteenth-century roots of this project
(Nietzsche, Darwin) and it's development in the earlier 20th century. Mostly, though,
we will concentrate on recent versions that are playing an increasingly influential role
in literary scholarship. Among our questions: Why read books (especially “old”
books)? And How do we read them, if they are not, in some sense, the word of God?
Reading may include: William James, Dewey, Wittgenstein, Rorty, Stanley Fish, and a
number of other contemporary scholars.
ENG 507 002 SEM: Adorno and Kierkegaard
A study of selected works by two philosophers—in English translation—who made
important contributions not only to philosophy as such but also to the study of
literature and art, including music. Texts will include Either/Or, The Concept of Dread
(Anxiety), Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic, Negative Dialectics, and Aesthetic Theory.
ENG 507 004 SEM: Postcolonial Ethnic American Literature
The debate over the status of the United States as a post-colonial country often
hinges on the definition of the term, “post-colonial.” According to Bill Ashcroft,
Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin in their influential work, The Empire Writes Back, the
term “post-colonial” designates all the cultures “affected by the imperial process from
the moment of colonization to the present day.” While the United States would be
considered “post-colonial” under this broad definition, this course explores the
question—for whom is “post-colonial” post? Drawing on U.S. ethnic studies and
post-colonial theory, we will examine literature by U.S. writers of color to explore
domestic racial politics in the context of American forms of empire.
ENG 596 001 Problems and Methods of Literary Study
The required course for all M.A. students, English 596 is an orientation to graduate
study in English-language literature. It familiarizes you with library resources and
research methods, it introduces you to different critical vocabularies and scholarly
conventions, teaching you how to use them, and gives you an overview of the current
issues affecting the field of literary studies. It is strongly suggested that you take this
course within your first two terms in the MA program.
WR 212 001 Introduction to Fiction Writing
WR 212 is for beginning writers of fiction. Students will explore and practice
techniques used in fiction writing such as conflict and character development, plot,
point of view, dialogue, and setting. Students will write two 8-10 page short stories or
novel chapters, read classmates' writing, and offer useful feedback during workshops.
The feedback received during the workshop will help students revise their stories into
second drafts. In WR 212 students will also read and discuss examples of fiction
(many stories and one novel) published by writers of note.
WR 313 001 Intermediate Poetry Writing: Monkey vs. Robot
The Anglo-Saxons called their poets gleemen and minstrels: that is, purveyors of
laughter and singers of stories. Drawing its title from the song by James Kolchaka
Superstar, this workshop examines the "music" of poetry in terms of imposed meter
(the robot) and organic rhythm (the monkey). In other words, timing. Which may not
be everything to poetry, but surely is something.
Send questions to instructor B.T. Shaw (poet and editor of The Oregonian's Poetry
column) at email@example.com.
NOTE: Permission is required to register if you are not in the MA-Writing Program
in Poetry. Email a writing sample of 3-5 poems to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than one
week prior to the first day of class.
If you have already registered and are not in the program, you must submit a sample.
If there is any question, you may also attend the first class. Students will be notified
about admission shortly after the first class.
WR 410 001/WR 510 001 Dangerous Words: Telling a Different Truth
Telling a truth different than the conventional one is a dangerous thing to do in
writing. Historically, those who have dared it have disappeared in ridicule, rage or
dungeons and even death. Human society is filigreed with lies, so for the writer,
telling a different truth is a compelling aspiration. But what makes for “the truth”? By
what features is it recognized? And how do we locate it in ourselves and give it
authentic voice? This workshop conducts a hands-on anatomy of the cadaver of
Truth. We will dissect social fictions, conventional and subtle, disinter the ocular
organ of clear sight, hatch novel schemes of form and voice, extend the ganglia of the
day’s decaying language, and, especially, see if we can reanimate spirit from the corpse
of the habitual self.
A course designed for (prospective) professional writers and teachers.
(See instructor first day of class for text.)
WR 410 002/WR 510 003 Writing the Earth
We will read Twain’s Letters from the Earth, Stafford’s Learning to Live in the World,
Snyder’s Danger on Peaks, Wood’s Nechako Country, Fromm’s Indian Creek Chronicles, an
anthology titled Sisters of the Earth edited by Lorraine Anderson, as well as myriad
other works I will bring in, including those of Barry Lopez. We will read and discuss
the texts, and students will work in small groups on writing their own works in the
style of these authors. What would you most like to say on behalf of the earth, our
world, your world (and it may be social/political/environmental…all of the above or
something else)? This is your opportunity to work on writing it well, with feedback
from peers and the professor. Putting concerns into words is a way to begin the
healing process and to do something to assist others in their healing, too. There will
be a final read around/presentation of student work.
WR 410 005/WR 510 005 TOP: Forms of Nonfiction
Forms of Nonfiction is a course that explores various nonfiction forms (narrative
journalism, essay, personal essay, memoir), with a focus on why a writer chooses a
particular form for a particular piece of prose—and the ways in which form enhances
the writer’s intended connection with his or her reader. We’ll discuss the use of point-
of-view and tense in different forms, as well as how craft elements play a part in
various forms of nonfiction, including highly experimental prose.
WR 410 006/WR 510 006 TOP: Description
In this course we will examine topics in the history of poetics related to description.
What is an image? How can a phrase carry sense information? In an exploration of
the range of expressive possibilities involved in description, we will be reading,
imitating and inhabiting the sensory visions of poets and prose writers including
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Elizabeth Bishop, Basho, and Jim Crace, as well as reading
essays by Robert Hass, John Berger, Elaine Scarry, and others. Students in the fiction
and nonfiction strands, as well as poetry, are welcome.
WR 410 007/WR 510 007 TOP: Writing Graphic Non-Fiction
This course will explore nonfiction forms based around the merging of text and
illustrations, in genres ranging from photo essays and graphic novels to conceptual
art, and demonstrated in such authors as Lawrence Weschler, Marjane Satrapi, and
John Freyer. In addition to creating these texts, students will also examine the
periodical publication and the critical language of graphic texts.
WR 410 008/WR 510 008 TOP: Personal Essay Writing
Essays come in many shapes from many perspectives, most of them (especially those
required in college classes) formal in structure, tone and approach. The personal essay
is a different animal altogether. Reflecting its author’s preoccupations and often
highly idiosyncratic view of the world, the personal essay tells us as much about the
one writing it as it does about the subject it addresses. While it is not memoir or
autobiography per se, it almost always includes intimate information about its
author’s life while at the same time connecting to some underlying element common
to people in general.
In this class we will explore the history of the personal essay in English,
looking at its classical roots and studying works by the father of the modern essay,
Michel de Montaigne, before crossing the Channel to England and journeying on to
America. Once we have some idea of where the personal essay comes from, we’ll
study several well-known modern essay writers, paying particular attention to how
they have made the personal essay their own. We will also look at contemporary
writing by new American writers from different cultural backgrounds with an eye
toward finding the particular cultural, social, economic, ethnic, philosophical,
experiential or political positions from which we ourselves might write.
While our reading will give us a better idea of what a personal essay is or can
be, the main focus in this class will be on writing personal essays of our own that
break new ground by expressing unique individual viewpoints. You will be expected
to write and revise two personal essays during the term, one focusing primarily on a
personal incident or characteristic, the other focusing on an issue, idea, situation or
object that you are or have been preoccupied with, perhaps to the point of obsession.
WR 410 020/WR 510 020 TOP: Magazine Editing
Magazine Editing students will work with professionally written manuscripts for
much of the term—editing, focusing, and shaping these articles for a particular
publication. We will explore editing philosophies as well as techniques, and will work
toward balancing responsibilities to publications with sensitivity toward writers. One
goal is to learn to think like an editor, to approach all elements of a magazine with a
WR 410 PB7/WR 510 PB7 TOP: Publishing Software
Provides a strong base in the software used in the book publishing industry, mainly
focusing on Adobe InDesign as it applies to book layout and production. Also
explores Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat in the process. Class will
produce excerpts of books in several areas of publishing -- fiction, nonfiction,
informational, and lyrical -- while considering the needs of audience and text.
WR 413 001 Advanced Poetry Writing
This class will function in a traditional workshop format, in which student poems are
regularly exchanged, and thoughtfully and rigorously discussed. The emphasis is on
process. Assigned reading, class discussion, written critiques, and regular writing
exercises will help students develop a critical vocabulary, a deeper understanding of
the craft aspects of poetry, and their own voice. Students also will be expected to read
widely and deeply on their own. In the course of discussion, we may additionally
address questions such as the writer’s responsibility to the reader, writing processes,
NOTE: A writing sample is required. Please send 3-5 poems to the instructor at
email@example.com. Send them in a single Word or PDF attachment, each poem on a
separate page. In the body of your email, briefly describe your experience with poetry,
poets you read, and the classes and instructors you have had. If there is any question,
you should also plan to attend the first class.
WR 425 DL1/WR 525 DL1 Advanced Technical Writing (Online Course)
WR 425/525 assumes that participants have completed introductory technical writing
and technical report writing courses and have vocational interests in the field. In
other words, you likely are a "professional" professional writer, whether you intend to
become a technical writer or to exercise your writing skills in order to enhance your
ability to achieve personal and career goals. On the most fundamental level, WR
425/525 promotes writing as a process for exchanging ideas, expressing yourself, and
contributing to an existing body of knowledge in your field. The course also asks you
to think epistemologically about the writing you do and receive. You have two
primary writing assignments that should take up most of your time. You'll write an
article and try to get it published, and you'll complete a discourse community journal.
WR 513 002 Fiction Writing
This course will appear to be closed. That’s so the instructor can review, if necessary,
writing samples for admission. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.
The course is open to Graduate students in the Writing Program: Fiction, Poetry,
Non-Fiction, Publishing, Technical. Email your standing to the instructor, and he’ll
post an Add-Form on his door so you can register. Still, he’d like a glimpse of your
fiction if possible.
The graduate students in this course usually work on collections of short fiction or
chapters of novels.
A Workshop: students present their manuscripts for advice. The instructor distributes
samples of contemporary fiction and gives short talks on technical issues for writers.
WR 552 001 Writing About People: Group Portraits
While we often think of profiles as focusing on individuals, some of the most
compelling profiles focus on the unpredictable and complex dynamics of a group --
be it a Harlem family, a sorority rush, a special ed classroom, or a group of astronaut
trainees. This workshop will explore this approach in such authors as Michael Lewis,
Vendela Vida, John McPhee, Susan Orlean and Tracy Kidder, and will apply these
techniques to the writing, workshopping and revision of group profiles.
WR 553 001 Writing About Places: Immersion Writing
Creative nonfiction writing has grown more popular in recent years in part because
the reading public’s hunger for “real” information has grown stronger. Readers who
used to turn to fiction to experience other ways of living or situations they might
never find themselves in are turning now to nonfiction. Nonfiction writers, in turn,
have become surrogates for these readers, trying on different lives or putting
themselves in particular situations with the sole intention of writing about them. In
order to gather as much useful information as possible, these writers “immerse”
themselves in the life or situation they want to write about, then use the techniques of
fiction to bring real life to life.
In this class we will study several works by immersion journalists, focusing on
their subject choices, their research methods, and how they go about forming stories
from the disparate information they gather. We will consider their relationships to
their subjects, their points of view and how they raise themes and issues while
keeping their work grounded in observable phenomena and information.
As we read and study published examples of immersion journalism, you will
be practicing this approach to nonfiction writing by immersing yourself in a specific
place or situation and writing about it for an audience.
WR 464 001/564 001 Bookselling
A comprehensive course covering a wide variety of subjects integral and affecting
professional booksellers: the history, current state, and future of bookselling; the
kinds of booksellers, from wholesale to retail, from on-line to hand-selling books; the
business of bookselling; inventory management; buying and selling; censorship and its
impact on the industry; and the used book business.