Undergraduate Courses Fall 2012

400: SENIOR SEMINAR - DR. SHERITA JOHNSON

"Civil Rights Literature"

Reading Civil Rights literature requires an understanding of laws, racial politics, people, places, events, and texts that document a long history of inequality in the U.S. Though antagonistic race relations appear rooted in the South, the struggle for African Americans’ civil rights has always drawn a national audience and federal intervention. Our study will begin in the late 19th century with the birth of Jim Crow as witnessed by writers such as Frances Harper and Charles Chesnutt. We will read a variety of works extending the timeline from Plessy v Ferguson (1896) to Brown v Board of Education (1954) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). Selections will reveal themes of agency and resistance, migration, integration, separatism, violence, suffrage, white privilege, coalition building, education, and religion. The survey will conclude with reflections of the post-Civil Rights movement and the generation of reconciliation.

 

400: SENIOR SEMINAR - DR. NICOLLE JORDAN

"Literature and the English Country House"

British literature abounds with country houses, suggesting that such homes are sites for all the dreams, and all the nightmares, that occupy the minds of this culture. Whether a paradise of natural plenitude and conjugal bliss, a prison in which to hide family secrets, or the cause of deadly family quarrels, the country house clearly has an uncannily broad appeal. Poets, playwrights, novelists and filmmakers, from Shakespeare’s time until the very recent enthusiasm over Downton Abbey, testify to this appeal and will thus form the focus of our reading and discussion. Questions we will consider: How and why do the sanctity, privacy, and security of a “happy home” contribute to England’s sense of itself? Why does landed property continue to represent English identity even though it no longer forms the basis of the nation’s economy, and even though most people would have worked at rather than lived on such fine estates?

We’ll begin with the country-house poetry of Ben Jonson and Amelia Lanyer and then work our way toward the modern era. In addition to selected poetry, texts may include:  

  • Robinson Crusoe (1719)—Daniel Defoe
  • Millenium Hall (1762)—Sarah Scott
  • Mansfield Park (1814)—Jane Austen
  • The Woman in White (1859)—Wilkie Collins
  • Crome Yellow (1921)—Aldous Huxley
  • Brideshead Revisited (1945)—Evelyn Waugh
  • The Mousetrap (1950)—Agatha Christie
  • “Dr. Henry Selwyn” (1992)—W. G. Sebald
  • Arcadia (1993)—Tom Stoppard 
  • “The Thing in the Forest” (2002)—A. S. Byatt
  • Gosford Park (2001 film)
  • Match Point (2005 film

 

415: SURVEY OF MODERN POETRY - DR. JONATHAN BARRON

In English 415 we will read some of the most exciting and innovative Modern Poets from the 20th century. We will read in translation poets from Russia, Spain, Germany, France, and Israel as well as American, Irish, and English poets. The poets will include Lorca, Rilke, Ahkmatova, Auden, Frost, and Millay among others.

 

419: TOPICS IN WORLD LITERATURE - DR. MARTINA SCIOLINO

"Transhuman Heroes, Posthuman Times"

With cyborgs, aliens, hybrids, clones, and other transhuman characters, contemporary authors of both science fiction and ‘serious literature’ dramatize the problems of cultural difference in an age of technological acceleration.  We will discuss how such alterations may express anxieties about what it means to be human in a world that has become thoroughly commodified, where marketing drives all relationships, and where there are no natural boundaries whatsoever. Far from escapist, such novels confront serious limitations in contemporary culture.

To discuss these issues productively, we will define our terms as we go by grounding them in discussions of specific novels and selected critical theory. 

  • Don Delillo, Cosmopolis
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
  • William Gibson, Pattern Recognition
  • Indra Sihna, Animal’s People
  • Octavia Butler, Dawn
  • Will Self, The Book of Dave
  • Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

469: SPECIAL TOPICS IN BRITISH LITERATURE - DR. KENNETH WATSON

"Victorian Fin de Siecle"

Queen Victoria’s long reign ended in 1901.  The last decade produced an extraordinary range of writing—not only the decadence with which it is usually associated, but tales of rural and of urban troubles, of adventure, of empire, and of horror. Sometimes these all merge and blur.  Likely suspects:  Wilde, Stoker, Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard, Hardy, Gissing, Kipling, Conrad.  The usual requirements apply.  

 

Memoranda During the War

489: STUDIES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE - DR. ELLEN WEINAUER

"Literature of the American Civil War"

The Civil War remains the bloodiest conflict per capita in U.S. history.  It changed how people viewed everything from heroism to death to gender roles; it also radically shaped (and reshaped) American literature.  This course will explore such changes as they are registered in diverse texts written during the Civil War and in its immediate aftermath. Looking at works by white and African American writers, men and women, Unionists and Confederates, we will attempt to make sense of how writers dealt with the massive trauma that was the Civil War and the ways in which the war itself shaped American literature.

Possible primary texts include:

 

  • Louisa May Alcott, Hospital Sketches
  • Bruce Catton, The Civil War
  • Mary Chestnutt, Mary Chestnutt’s Civil War
  • John De Forest, Miss Ravenel’s Conversion from Secession to Loyalty
  • Augusta Jane Evans, Macaria, or the Altars of Sacrifice
  • Alexander Gardner, Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War
  • Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House
  • Paul Negri, ed., Civil War Poetry: An Anthology
  • Walt Whitman, Memoranda during the War