Course Descriptions Fall 2019

Registration for Fall 2019 will open on April 1, 2019

This page contains the listing for both English and WRTG. 

We thought that you might like to see descriptions of a few of the courses we are offering.  Please make return visits to this site as changes are often made to course details.  If one or more of these descriptions catch your eye and you would like to register for them, please go to to see if they fit into your schedule.

Course Descriptions

ENGL F302 F01 - Continental Literature in Translation: Medieval and Renaissance

Subtitle: “Arthurian Literature”

Instructor: Eileen Harney

Kings, queens, knights, damsels, battles, magic, quests, the Holy Grail.  These are some of the common images associated with King Arthur and his court. This course will survey a number of medieval works surrounding the stories of King Arthur, his knights, Merlin, and the quest for the Holy Grail.  

The class will begin with an exploration of the “traditional” Arthurian legend. Discussion will then be directed to the historical treatment and development of Arthur and his legend in various medieval traditions. 

ENGL F306 F01 - Survey of American Literature:  Beginnings to the Civil War

Subtitle: Environmental Transformations

Instructor: Jen Schell

When European colonists arrived in the New World, they found themselves in a strange and unfamiliar environment, containing deep forests, rocky seacoasts, sandy beaches, clear streams, rolling hills, and rugged mountains. They encountered pigeons, parakeets, turkeys, salmon, cod, whales, deer, bison, elk, bears, panthers, and moose. And they quickly discovered that the continent was inhabited by Indigenous peoples. As the colonists established settlements, they were forced to contend with natural forces and “negotiate” with these peoples. They often wrote about their endeavors, and these texts represent some of the first examples of what we now call American literature. Significantly, many of the issues/subjects they addressed remain with us today. The list includes: sustainability, extinction, erosion, pollution, deforestation, climate change, epidemic disease, scientific knowledge, social justice, governance, and capitalism. Studying these authors and their writings, then, affords us the opportunity to learn something about the history and literature of the environmental transformation of North America.

ENGL F376 F01 - Intermediate Poetry
Instructor: Sara Johnson
This intermediate-level course is a group writing workshop focused on writing poetry. We will read a wide variety of contemporary poets that attempt to process and understand the world in its beauty, terror, and complexity. In the process of reading, experimenting, and writing over these weeks, you will learn how to write in a diversity of forms, how your work connects to/with the work of other poets writing today, and how to critique the work of other writers. Throughout the course, we will also review and deepen our understanding of basic poetic techniques, such as figurative language, voice, sound, form, and the line.

ENGL F435 F01 – Authors

Subtitle: Virginia Woolf and her Legacy Instructor: Dr. Chris Coffman

This version of ENGL 435 will focus on the early twentieth-century writer Virginia Woolf, who is best known for her stream-of-consciousness novels Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927) as well as for her famous non-fictional exploration of the situation of women writers in A Room of One’s Own (1929). We will read those texts in the context of a broader look at Woolf’s career, from the fantastic traversals of history and gender in Orlando (1928) to her highly poetic experimental novel The Waves (1931) to her non-fictional and fictional responses to the rise of fascism in Three Guineas (1938) and Between the Acts (1941). We will also examine Woolf’s legacy in Jeanette Winterson’s 1987 The Passion and Michael Cunningham’s 1998 The Hours. Far from disengaged retreats into the mind, Woolf’s innovative writings stretch our understanding of genre, gender, sexuality, politics, history, and the psyche in ways that continue to take on new significance today

ENGL F450 F01 - Studies in 19th-Century British Literature

Subtitle: Growing Up in the Victorian Era

Instructor: Rich Carr

Growing up can be a tough process for a Victorian kid, especially if your parents disappeared from the world early on.  You might, like Oliver Twist, become part of a gang of London street thieves.  Or like Jane Eyre, you might be sent from your third-rate boarding school to serve as a governess in a gloomy mansion with a gloomy master.  And even if you aren’t an orphan, maybe you are the daughter—like Maggie Tulliver in Mill on the Floss—who is always in hot water for not behaving as a little girl should.  The course will survey the growing-up experience for a range of Victorian young people, narratives that with widening literacy and growing publication venues gained popularity with readers of all ages and earned classic status as well.  The assigned works will take us to many places:  crowded London streets, the mysterious Scottish Highlands (Kidnapped), a rat-infested German town (The Pied Piper of Hamelin).  We will read great writers—Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Kipling (Kim).  We will see learning at its most fanciful (Carroll’s Alice books) and its more serious levels (Tom Brown’s Schooldays). Our class conversations will focus on universal aspects of the struggles confronting the young as they move to adulthood; they will also highlight ways these narratives offer insight into this era of empire, ways in which this modern world offered—or did not offer—a place for its emerging generations.

ENGL F470 F01 - Topics in Creative Writing

Subtitle: Flash Forms

Instructor: Joseph Holt

Flash forms are a type of creative writing defined by their brevity. Most works range from a couple sentences to a couple pages. They go by many names: napkin stories, postcard fiction, micro essays, fables and parables, dribbles and drabbles, fragments and vignettes. Regardless of how they're classified, flash forms rely on lyric intensity and narrative compression to suggest expansive worlds beyond the borders of the page. In this course, we'll study the genres of prose poetry, lyric essays, flash fiction and nonfiction. Students will read a guidebook and several single-author collections, and they'll each produce a portfolio of 12–14 original flash pieces.

ENGL F482 F01 - Topics in Language and Literature: 

Subtitle: American Visions Utopia/Dystopia

Instructor: Eric Heyne

What would the perfect America look like?  What about an America with its worst features given free rein?  Will capitalism save us or destroy us?  What about racism, or religion?  This course will explore the utopian and dystopian spirit in American literature.  We will read fiction by Edward Bellamy, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jack London, Ursula LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, Nalo Hopkinson, and others, while pursuing two parallel lines of inquiry:  how can you make a good story out of a perfect or hellacious world?  and what can we learn about our own world by conducting the thought-experiment of utopia/dystopia?


ENGL F603 - F01 Studies in British Literature:

Subtitle: Old and Middle English: Middle English Romances

Instructor: Burns Cooper

It's a long way from Lagamon's Brut and Marie de France's Lanval to Game of Thrones, not to speak of the paperback "romance novels" with embarrassing covers we avoid at the bookstore.  But the line from there to the novel to the sword-and-sorcery epic (as well as to actual history) is unmistakable.   It is enjoyable to read these old works for their own sakes, for the glimpses they give us into the cultures that gave rise to them, and for the language itself.  In this course we will read, as much as possible, in the original Middle English, but with an eye toward making that task surmountable by non-philologists.  To get a better sense of the cultural landscape, we'll also take a peek at a few things that aren't, strictly speaking, romances, and also a few things that aren't, strictly speaking, Middle English or even medieval.  

ENGLISH F606 F01 -  Studies in British Literature:  Restoration and 18th Century—

Subtitle: The Rollicking Restoration and Its Aftermath

Instructor: Rich Carr

 Laugh and the world laughs with you—The 1660 Restoration of the British monarchy found a world ready for merriment after years of Civil War, the beheading of a monarch (Charles I), and eleven years of dour Puritan rule.  Writers responded to the challenge and used their writing—plays, poems, and this new thing called a novel—to tell stories of places far away or long ago, of love lost and won, of adventure—sexual and other.  Politics and religion defined the world, and those rejecting the Catholic vs Protestant turmoil or the sweeping authority of the monarch used satire to address a world in which a powerful minority could still tyrannize over the vast majority.  English 606 will explore this world of humor and adventure in wide-ranging manner.  Aphra Behn will take us the South American coast in Oroonoko, Defoe’s Moll Flanders will give us an indelible version of the rags-to-riches story, Robert Burns will show us why he is Scotland’s great poet, Laurence Sterne will give new meaning to the term ‘experimental novel’ in the singular Tristram Shandy and ….  I will stop there and encourage you to experience for yourself the marvelous writing throughout the late 17th and 18th centuries.  Serious literature has never been more fun….


ENGL F609 F01—Studies in American Literature to 1865

Subtitle: Seafaring Adventure

Instructor: Jen Schell

Do you want to read stories of mutiny, murder, and mayhem on the high seas? Do you want to travel to exotic ports of call? Do want to encounter whales, walruses, or wobbegongs? Or do you just like to mess about in boats? Then, you should take this course! This semester we will examine nautical literature written by such famous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century authors as Daniel Defoe, Olaudah Equiano, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville (we’re not doing Moby-Dick). Along the way, we will also take up the works of several lesser known authors and literary critics. Thus, we will explore the complex and varied relationships between humans and the sea in antebellum America.

ENGL F671 F01 - Writers' Workshop
Instructor: Sara Johnson
The aim of this open genre course is twofold: to write and polish individual works for publication, and to build an understanding of how a book operates as a collective unit, so that we may better understand how our poems, essays, and/or stories are speaking to one another, as well as identify core lines of inquiry or ideas around which our manuscripts might evolve. To this end, we will be reading recent first books of respected presses and prizes to consider their successes and weaknesses, as well as the source(s) of their appeal. We will also look at how these books operate holistically—both thematically and structurally—in order to develop intuitive tools for organizing a manuscript for publication. Students will read and critique each other’s work weekly. Student presentations of class texts expected. 

ENGL F684 F01 - Forms of Nonfiction Prose

Instructor: Daryl Farmer

In this class we will examine the range and possibilities in the genre of literary nonfiction, or as Jennifer Brice calls it, “the art and craft of transforming life into art.” We will read and write in a variety of nonfiction forms and categories, and explore how those categories merge, expand and in some cases subvert the genre in new and interesting ways. The course will begin with work toward a definition of the genre and of the various forms it can take. Then we’ll move to the essentials of quality writing, including craft and technical skill, and developing an understanding of what separates a piece of writing that is merely competent from one that has lasting effect. By the semester’s end, students should have a sense of the range of creative nonfiction, the ethical and craft issues it raises, and hopefully, a body of their own work that can be developed for future nonfiction writing workshops.

WRIT 211X F01 - Writing and the Humanities—

Subtitle: LGBTQ People

Instructor: Dr. Chris Coffman

This course will provide students with the opportunity to practice writing about Humanities fields by engaging several texts concerning LGBTQ people. We will read some works by early twentieth-century gay African-American poet Langston Hughes and watch Looking for Langston, Isaac Julien’s biographical film about Hughes; we will examine Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home, a multigenerational tale about its lesbian author’s upbringing by a queer father and heterosexual mother in pre-Stonewall rural Pennsylvania; we will view Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, whose trans* protagonist mourns her cisgender lover despite his family’s rejection of their relationship; and we will read The Life and Death of Latisha King, Gayle Salamon’s recent philosophical study of the murder of a trans* teenager in Riverside, California. Over the course of the semester students will prepare multiple essays and learn about the process of doing academic research in the Humanities while also addressing the question of how to study LGBTQ people whose lives (whether real or fictional) spanned different stretches of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

WRTG F213X F01—Writing and the Sciences

Subtitle: Biodiversity and Extinction

Instructor: Jen Schell

We will examine a series of non-fictional and interdisciplinary texts that address issues of biodiversity and extinction.  First, we will consider the writings of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scientists, who “discovered” extinction. Then, we will talk about woolly mammoth hunting in early twentieth-century Alaska. Next, we will interrogate metaphors in environmentalist writing. Last, we will study the scientific possibilities involved in de-extinction. The writing assignments will require careful analysis of the texts under consideration, while the research project will involve creating de-extinction proposals.

WRTG F214X F01 - Arguing Across Contexts

Subtitle: Surviving the Future

Instructor: David Aubuchon

Times of social unrest have often produced literature fascinated with ignorant masses, abusive governments, and totalitarian regimes. With climate change on the horizon and the return of nationalism in world politics, we live in a cultural landscape fertile with dystopian themes. In Surviving the Future, we will grapple with the innate absurdity and menace of totalitarian systems. From “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” to The Road to The Handmaid’s Tale to doomsday prepper culture, the stories and ideas analyzed in this class will challenge you to think about the different ways people potentially fall victim to, participate in, and survive dystopian societies. Each student will respond to the ideas in this class with an essay critically examining one of the texts and a Ted Talk intended to awaken the public to a potential dystopian future.

WRTG F214X F02 - Arguing Across Contexts

Subtitle: Love, Language, and Hip-Hop

Instructor: Sean Enfield

“I met a critic… [who] thought Hip Hop was only guns and alcohol

  I said "Oh hell naw!", but yet it's that too

  You can't discrima-hate cause you done read a book or two”

       -Andre 3000, “Humble Mumble”

In this course, we will examine hip-hop as a genre and its many intersections with modern pop culture. From Sugarhill Gang to Public Enemy to Tupac to Kendrick Lamar to Migos, we will track hip-hop’s trajectory from underground to mainstream and look at the surrounding scholarship of this still polarizing genre. This course will analyze the music, itself, and other mediums—poetry, fiction, film—informed by the music. In addition to the rappers, we will read works by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Morgan Parker, and Hanif Abdurraqib and study films like Do the Right Thing and Juice. Students will sharpen their argumentative skills by approaching these works with a critical eye and forming critical connections across mediums and genres.

WRTG F214 F03 - Arguing Across Contexts

Subtitle: From Page to Screen and Especially In-Between: A Critical Examination of Text-to-Film Adaptations

Instructor: Adrianne Blackwood

Marilyn Monroe once said, “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” This class will explore the souls of various short stories and novels, focusing on the themes they contain and the messages they convey. We will then take a critical look at their movie adaptations—What is sacrificed during their transition to film? What is gained? Among others, we will be reading (and watching!) “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber, “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, and Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. Assignments will include writing a critical review for each film, researching a short story or novel of your choosing, writing a proposal about adapting your chosen text into a film, “pitching” your movie adaptation idea, and adapting a scene into script format. Popcorn not included, but welcome.

WRTG F214 F04 - Arguing Across Contexts

Subtitle: Welcome to the Jungle: Animals and Writing

Instructor: Rebecca Wood

Jane Goodall once said, “I like some animals more than some people, some people more than some animals.” Animals have played a consistent role in literature and study for centuries and remain ever present in contemporary writing. As literary theory and tradition have evolved, so has the intentionality and interest in writing about animals. As a class we will examine varying forms of writing and media that will challenge ideas on animal and human interactions, how symbols transfer over time, human characteristics as animal characteristics, and our role as the “superior life form.” No guarantees class will start with a funny cat video, but probably at least once. 

WRTG F214x F05

Subtitle: Is She a Bad Witch?: Exploring Female Villains in Fantasy Literature and Pop Culture

Instructor: Cheyenne Corty

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Surely Glinda the Good Witch is a good witch...or is she? In this class, we will explore female villains in fantasy literature and pop culture. We will aim to answer the questions that arise when interacting with female villains through varying academic theories, namely the question of what makes them “bad.” As a class we will examine the impact the vilification of women in literature has had on pop culture, as well as contemporary societal norms, and the implications of the vilification process. Throughout the course of the semester we will interact with texts such as, but not limited to–– selections from “Beowulf,” selections from “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” and Marissa Meyer’s 2016 novel “Fairest.” Your writing will take on many forms, but ultimately you will be asked to critically analyze female villains in fantasy literature and pop culture through various academic lenses; these lenses will include Women Gender Studies, Queer theory, and cultural studies.

WRTG F214 F06

Subtitle: The Good Life

Instructor: Daniel Lyew

What kind of life is a life worth living? Is it a life of bodily pleasure? A life of intellectual pursuits? A life of selfless devotion to others? A religious way of life? In this course we will examine these visions of the good life, exploring and engaging with a variety of texts by figures such as Aristotle, Dostoevsky, Lu Xun, Emma Goldman, Ursula K. Le Guin, as well as texts such as the Gospels and Buddhist discourses. Students will develop and hone their rhetorical and argumentative writing skills as they respond to these texts and discern their own answer to the question, what is the good life?