Fall 2020 Course Descriptions

Below is a partial listing of English Department courses—both ENGL and WRTG—for the Fall 2020 semester. Learning formats were subject to change depending on the UA coronavirus response. View the descriptions for our current registration term here.

World Literature: Detective Fiction—East Meets West
Instructor: Gerri Brightwell
TTh, 11:30–1:00pm
This course will take us through some of the big names of detective fiction, from Arthur Conan Doyle to Agatha Christie. We'll look in particular at how they portrayed the East, and will match their texts with detective stories by writers from Japan, India and Japan. Things will get messy and murderous as we examine how villainy is constructed, and by whom, and why.

ENGL F270, UX1
Introduction to Creative Writing
Instructor: Daryl Farmer
Students in this class can expect to do a great deal of writing and reading as they produce essays, stories, and poems, analyze their own work, and respond to other writers in the class. First and foremost, our purpose together will be to explore and expand  imaginative powers, and to learn methods of expressing them in language. Writing is one of the best ways to learn about ourselves and others—about our hearts, our passions, our dreams, about what it is that motivates us, drives our emotions, makes us persevere against all obstacles, causes us to feel. In short, what it is that makes us human.

ENGL F270, F01
Introduction to Creative Writing
Instructor: Joseph Holt
Online (asynchronous)
In this class, we’ll work toward sharpening our perception as readers, with the ultimate goal of improving as writers. We’ll learn key terminology and apply it to the published works in our textbook (Serious Daring: Creative Writing in Four Genres by Lisa Roney). Then we’ll also produce our own creative work—poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction—and introduce it to one another in workshops, discussing how to effectively critique and how to utilize criticism. This course should prepare you for intermediate and advanced creative writing courses, which are often specific to particular genres.

CRN: 76788 (ENGL);  76741 (WGSS)
WGS in Language, Literature and Culture—Queer Theory
Instructor: Chris Coffman
T Th, 3:40-5:10 PM by synchronous videoconference (online)

This interdisciplinary course will survey the ways queer theorists have thought about the diverse forms gender and sexuality take and have taken in different contexts; the ways that gender and sexuality intersect with other influences, such as race, ethnicity, ability, and the environment; the psychical and social aspects of LGBT life in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries; and the methodological challenges attending efforts to speak and write about genders and sexualities from divergent historical periods and political formations. We will critically examine essay-length and book-length examples of queer theories with the aim of gaining a sense of the field’s origins and current trajectory.  We will also discuss one novel (Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues, 1993), two short stories (Zitkala-Sa’s “The Trial Path” and “A Warrior’s Daughter”), and two films (Livingston’s Paris is Burning, 1990; and Weissman’s We Were Here, 2011) in light of these theories. We will conclude the semester with a post-Thanksgiving unit investigating queer discourse surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic. Much as our readings position themselves in relationship to one another, both this syllabus and our classroom discussion will form an ongoing dialogue that seeks to understand—and to shape—both the history and the future of queer theory. Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to compare and contrast different queer theories; critique them in ways that will reveal their strengths and limitations; and use them to advance your own intellectual interests. (The course will be offered by synchronous videoconference;  the link will be available on Blackboard for enrolled students by the day before class first meets.)


  • Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. New York: Vintage, 1990. 0-679-72469-9.
  • Donald E. Hall and Annamarie Jagose, eds. The Routledge Queer Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2013. ISBN 978-0-415-56411-3.

ENGL F435, F01
Authors: Toni Morrison
Instructor: Eric Heyne
MWF, 9:15–10:15am
Is Toni Morrison the greatest novelist America has ever produced?  She came late to her vocation after a blue-collar upbringing, publishing her first novel at the age of 39.  But she went on to have one of the most distinguished careers of any American writer, including winning the Nobel Prize in 1993.  She died in 2019, but her brilliant explorations of racism and African-American history could not be more timely.  We will read her early fiction, including the short novels The Bluest Eye and Sula, some of the great works of her maturity, including Song of Solomon and the Beloved trilogy, her influential collection of essays Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, and her final novel God Help the Child.

ENGL F460, F01
Studies in Comparative Literature—Scandinavian Fictions
Instructor: Rich Carr
MWF, 11:45–12:45pm
Fictions from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland—the Scandinavian countries—will provide the focus for the semester’s literary journey. The syllabus includes classic and popular works, the internationally celebrated (two Nobel laureates) and the nationally venerated, the comic and the tragic, the provincial and the universal. Familiar authors—Hans Christian Andersen, Henrik Ibsen—will mix with writers who may be new to you—Knut Hamsun, Sigrid Undset, Sjon. Beginning with selections from Norse mythology and the famed Icelandic work, Njal’s Saga and moving into the modern era, we will take a snapshot of fiction, drama, and film from these distinct cultures linked through language and history. Vikings, reindeer, mountains, fjords, dark winters, bright summers, lutefisk, lefse, trolls—these are only the most familiar of associations with the Scandinavian world. This course will expand your sense of this region, the cultures, and the history, and give you the opportunity to read entertaining, absorbing, memorable literature.

Those enrolled will write two response papers, a book review of a work not on the syllabus, a cultural essay, and a final paper on (a) work(s) or topic(s) linked to the course focus. Students will also deliver an oral essay—a short talk—on one of the assigned works. By the end of the course you will have discovered a whole new captivating world of art and may be ready to book passage for Nordic Europe. Tusen takk!

ENGL F470, F01
Topics in Creative Writing: Environmental and Nature Writing
Instructor: Daryl Farmer
Tuesdays, 11:30–1:00pm via Zoom, + asynchronous online assignments
This course will focus on writing about the natural world and how to use writing to deepen our understanding of the local and world ecology. We will spend as much time as we can outdoors, watching, listening, learning to identify. Along the way, we will read work by nature writers and explore some of the related philosophical and ethical issues inherent in this type of writing. By semester's end, students should have a sense of how to record their experiences and observations in narrative, poetic, and reflective forms. Text, Environmental and Nature Writing, eds. Sean Prentiss and Joe Wilkins.

ENGL F607, F01
Studies in 19th-Century British Literature: The 19th-Century Novel, or The Best Storytellers Ever
Instructor: Rich Carr
Mondays, 2:15–5:15pm
When Waverley was published anonymously in 1814, the novel caused an immediate sensation. Readers all over Britain—England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland—gobbled it up. Who knew that a story—a novel!—about the last great effort by Scots rebels to restore the Stuart monarchy to the throne would engage so many readers? And who wrote the book anyway?

Sir Walter Scott, already established as a poet, was later revealed as the author; he would go on to become the most widely read writer of the 19th-century worldwide. And with Waverley he could contribute to moving this fictional form from something suspect, dangerous even, to art.  The seminar will begin with Scott’s ground-breaking work and sample some of the lasting figures of the century: Austen, Thackeray, Dickens, (Anne) Bronte, Mrs Gaskell, Eliot, Hardy.  As the century passes, as we see how printing presses and faster transportation allow for speedy creation and distribution of reading matter, we will see how writers become public figures, how their work matters to the nation and beyond. We will explore as well the particular skills of these writers, the means by which they kept audiences begging to know what happens next and insisting that the writers produce more.

Seminar participants should expect to write two response papers, an essay discussing the craft of a selected writer, and an extended investigation of one of the works or authors or issues pertaining to 19th-century writers and writing. Come—discover anew or for the first time the storytelling power and art of these 19th-century greats. Probable text include Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Adam Bede by George Eliot, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, Waverley, or ‘Tis Sixty Years Since by Sir William Scott, and Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray.

ENGL F611, F01
Studies in American Literature 1865-1918:  California Here We Come:  The Birth of Left-Coast Literature
Instructor: Eric Heyne
Wednesdays, 2:15–5:15pm
We will read early fiction (and some poetry and nonfiction) about the U.S. West Coast, primarily California but including some Washington and Alaska.  We’ll read The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, The Luck of Roaring Camp, Ramona, The Land of Little Rain, The Spoilers, Burning Daylight, and Mrs. Spring Fragrance, among other things.  We’ll talk about San Francisco and Seattle, gold mines and haciendas, deserts and snowy mountains, and everything that went into the mythology of an American utopia at the end of the westward trail.

ENGL F671, FE1
Writers' Workshop
Instructor: Joseph Holt
Wednesdays, 6–9 p.m. via synchronous videoconferencing (online)
In this graduate-level course, we will write and critique original works of fiction, nonfiction and possibly poetry or other forms. Students will submit two or three full-length works (i.e., 8–30 pages), as well as some shorter, more experimental exercises. We'll conduct weekly readings from a craft book or creative anthology. Students will also complete a professionalization assignment like presenting a guest lecture, composing a book review, or writing a job letter. Our two required texts will be Robert Boswell's The Half-Known World and The O. Henry Prize Stories 100th Anniversary Edition (2019). Our ultimate goal in the workshop is to improve as readers, writers, critics and literary citizens.