Courses / Past Courses


Past Course Listing

Course offerings in the School of Letters vary from summer to summer.  All these courses have been offered in the past, some of them several times, and most are likely to reappear in future summers.

English 597, Contemporary American Poetry

Study of American poetry since World War II, from the generation of Theodore Roethke and Elizabeth Bishop to contemporaries like Robert Pinsky and Susan Stewart, with special emphasis on the relationship between these poets and the high moderns who preceded them.  (Credit, full course.)

English 596, American Environmental Literature and Ecocriticism

This course explores the "green theme" and the emerging cross-disciplinary character of "ecocriticism" as reflected in writings selected from the full span of American cultural history. Readings include both traditional literary texts and seminal nonfiction by figures such as William Bartram, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, and Wendell Berry. (Credit, full course.)

English 595, African American Literature

Advanced study of the major traditions of African American writing from the nineteenth century to the present, including Frederick Douglass, Linda Brent, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Ernest Gaines, Toni Morrison, and Rita Dove.  (Credit, full course.) John Ernest.

English 594, Literature of the American South

Advanced study of the literary tradition of the U.S. South, with emphasis on such major writers as Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren and others of the Agrarian circle, Zora Neal Hurston, and Flannery O'Connor. Attention also to antebellum and contemporary southern writing, and to writers associated with Sewanee. (Credit, full course.) John Grammer.

English 593, Faulkner

Study of the celebrated novels of Faulkner's major phase-including Sanctuary, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, and The Hamlet-as well as the author's significant but often overlooked work in poetry and short fiction.  (Credit, full course.)

English 592, The Contemporary Short Story

Among the considerations of this discussion-oriented class will be strengths and weaknesses of stories, collections, and authors of the recent past. Along with speculating about what contemporary fiction can tell us about contemporary culture, we will address specific curriculum issues as they apply to the contemporary short story and the general topic of literary evaluation. Authors discussed may include George Saunders, Edward P. Jones, Jamie Quatro, and Rebecca Lee.  (Credit, full course.) David Huddle.

English 591, American Poetry and the Environment

Starting from topics raised in Angus Fletcher's book A New Theory for American Poetry, the course examines the development of what might be called "environment poems," poems that are themselves environments.  Commences with Walt Whitman and includes Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Laura Riding, Hart Crane, James Agee, May Swenson, and others.  (Credit, full course.)

English 590, Modern American Poetry

Study of major American poets from the first half of the 20th century, including Frost, Eliot, Pound, Stevens and others.  (Credit, full course.)

English 589, Modern American Fiction

Between 1900-1950, literary authors avidly experimented with new forms and philosophies as they depicted rapid changes in sexual, racial, social, and political identity in the US.  After defining the relevance of movements such as regionalism, realism, and modernism, this course addresses the historical and social effects of two world wars, immigration, and urbanization.  Authors include Henry James, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, and Patricia Highsmith.  Short readings may be added by Gertrude Stein, Eudora Welty, John Dos Passos, James Baldwin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Credit, full course; counts as a post-1900 American Literature class for MA students and as a Literature class for MFA students.)

English 588, The Russian Novel

Study of classic novels of the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Pushkin, Lermontov, and Pasternak. (Credit, full course.)

English 586, Joyce

The course will examine major works of James Joyce, including his short-fiction experiments in Dubliners and the Künstlerroman of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but dwelling primarily on Ulysses, his vastly ambitious comic novel, testing the writer’s claim that it would “keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant.”  (Credit, full course.)

English 585, Literary Humor

Despite E.B. White’s warning that analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog (“it tends to kill the frog”), this course examines the serious ends of funny fiction by modern British and American writers, working toward an understanding how humor functions in literature and culture.  Reading will include novels by Stella Gibbons, Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, Richard Russo, Zadie Smith, and others.  (Credit, full course; counts as either an English Literature class or a post-1900 American Literature class for MA students and as a Literature class for MFA students.)

English 581, Modern British Poetry

Examination of the modern period in British poetry, including close study of Hardy, Hopkins, Yeats, Lawrence, Auden and others. (Credit, full course.) Jenn Lewin.

English 579, The American Novel

A study of the development of the American novel during the 19th and 20th centuries.  Authors treated will vary from year to year but may include Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton, William Faulkner and Toni Morrison.  (Credit, full course.)

English 575, The Expatriate Experience in American Literature

A course focused on the American experience of Europe.  Reading will include major texts by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Henry Adams, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Mina Loy, and Gertrude Stein. (Credit, full course.) Jennifer Lewin.

English 574, The Ninteenth-Century English Novel

This course traces the history of the classic nineteenth-century novel. Authors include Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy. With supplementary readings to be drawn from literary theory and recent criticism, the course will analyze such topics as fictional character, prose style, and narration, as well as issues of material culture and philosophy. (Credit, full course.)

English 570, British Romanticism

Study of major literary works and theories of the Romantic period in Britain, including poetry by Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. (Credit, full course.)

English 567, The Eighteenth-Century English Novel

Study of the development of the English novel during the "long" 18th century, including works by such writers as Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Lawrence Sterne, and Jane Austen. (Credit, full course.)

English 566, Dr. Johnson and the Poets

Close study of several major English poets (Shakespeare, Donne, Cowley, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Gray), through the lens provided by the great critic Samuel Johnson, who wrote about them all. The course also looks ahead to such modern writers as Robert Lowell and Samuel Beckett, who read Johnson as a model and inspiration. (Credit, full course.) Allen Reddick.

English 563, Hebraism and Hellenism: The Bible, Homer, and English Culture

This course examines the Greek and Biblical traditions inherited by English culture and follows the transformations, adaptations, subversions, and consumptions of these texts and influence.  Reading includes passages from the Old and New Testaments, the Homeric epics, and modern writers from Milton, Fielding and Keats to Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, and Mark Strand.  (Credit, full course; counts as an English Literature course for MA students and as a literature class for MFA students.)

English 560, Seventeenth-Century English Poetry

A study of major English poetry of the 17th century, from the Metaphysicals to Milton.  Authors covered include George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, and several Cavalier poets, including Robert Herrick and Richard Lovelace. (Credit, full course.)

English 557, Shakespeare

Advanced study of major plays and lyric poems of William Shakespeare, and of major critical traditions regarding Shakespeare’s work. The course places special emphasis on issues of performance. (Credit, full course.) Ann Jennalie Cook. 

English 555, Spenser

Close study of Edmund Spenser's major poem, The Faerie Queene, with some attention to such lesser works as The Shepherd's Calendar and Amoretti(Credit, full course.)

English 553, The Romance of Arthur

A study of the literature surrounding the figure of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, from its origins in the early Middle Ages to the present. Readings include The Knight of the Cart by Chrétien de Troyes, the Middle English verse romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Malory's Morte d'Arthur, Tennyson's Idylls of the King, Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Bernard Malamud's baseball novel, The Natural. We will also consider offshoots of Arthurian legend in the visual arts, opera, and such films as Excalibur, The Fisher King, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The final assignment for the course may be either a term paper or a creative project. (Credit, full course.)

English 552, Chaucer

A close study of all of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, with special emphasis on Chaucer's language (including the pleasures of reading his poetry aloud in Middle English) and on the critical reception of his work up to the present day. (Credit, full course.)

English 513, Writing Pedagogy

This course will focus on imaginative and innovative ways to teach writing. The course will offer a variety of creative writing techniques and exercises that participants can incorporate into their own English courses, as well as into other courses across the curriculum. It will address various concerns of writing pedagogy, including constructive criticism, motivation, and the balance of reading, analysis, exercise, and workshop. Students will read some pedagogical theory, but much of the course time will be practice-oriented. Students will have the opportunity to develop, refine, and modify (for different levels) their own exercises to present to the group. Each participant will also lead a workshop of at least one piece of writing. The course will be useful to participants' own creative ventures, as well as provide a wealth of valuable ideas to carry to the classroom. (Credit, full course; counts as an elective class for MA students and can count as either a workshop or a literature class for MFA students.)

English 508, Poetry, Lyrical and Dramatic

A broad survey of poetry in English from the Renaissance to the present, with a special focus on two poetic modes, lyrical and dramatic.  Reading will include one or two plays of Shakespeare (with a focus on the use of verse therein) and lyric poems by Sidney, Jonson, Marvell, Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, Whitman, Yeats, Frost, Bishop, Plath, Strand, and Heaney, among others. (Credit, full course.)

English 507, The Craft of Poetry

Through close analysis of the poems of various modern and contemporary masters, we will consider the implications of verse as an imitation of voice, and consider how the poet’s voice is shaped by choices made in terms of imagery, themes, form and technique. (Credit, full course.)

English 502, Bible as Literature

Introduction to both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, treating the texts, as much as possible, as literary documents open to multiple interpretations.  Emphasis is on close reading of important episodes, in several translations.  Supplemental readings will include representations of the Bible by major authors and artists. (Credit, full course; covers Literature in Translation requirement.)

English 501 Classical Literature in Translation

The Classical Literature course this summer will focus exclusively on Greek literature (read in English translation), including Homer’s epics, drama by Aeschylus and Sophocles, didactic verse by Hesiod, lyrics by Sappho and others, and philosophical texts by Plato and Aristotle.  These diverse texts, composed over the course of several centuries, are united by several common concerns (the nature of justice, the relationship of the individual to society, the dictates of conscience in the face of authority, e.g.) and by their participation in a literary tradition that was keenly aware of itself as such. (Credit, full course; covers Literature in Translation requirement.) Chris McDonough.

English 500, Dante

A close reading of Dante's 100-canto Divine Comedy, with special emphasis on the relationships between Virgil's Aeneid and Dante's poem. We will consider both how Virgil's epic serves as Dante's poetic model and how Virgil's vision of history is corrected, revised, and fulfilled in Dante's own poem. (Credit, full course; covers Literature in Translation requirement.)

English 503, Literary Criticism

This course considers some of the great questions about the nature and value of literature addressed by literary theorists from Plato to the present, engaging such critical approaches as the New Criticism, reader response theory, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, psychoanalytic criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, new historicism, and cultural studies. The course has two aims: first, to help us become more aware of what we do, and why we do it, when we study literature; and, second, to help us write better literary criticism ourselves, as we apply a range of methods to the works we study. (Credit, full course.) Mark Rasmussen.

English 505, Classics of Latin American Literature

Study of the literature of Spanish America, with special emphasis on major prose writers of the 20th century, including Borges, Vargas Llosa, and Garcia-Marquez. Covers literature in translation requirement. (Credit, full course; covers Literature in Translation requirement.) Ron Briggs.

English 530, Tennessee Williams

A close study of Tennessee Williams's major dramatic works, as well as his poetry and fiction and the films based on the major plays. The course will also look at the biographical genesis of Williams's plays and will focus on the development of and interplay between his concepts of gender, sexuality, and religion.  An examination of the critical responses to the plays and films will be used to gauge shifts in the American social and cultural landscape. (Credit, full course.) Virginia Craighill.