School of Humanities
School of Humanities
In this course, we will cultivate a lifetime habit and appreciation of reading literature by developing several modes of interpretation. The act of interpretation will be central to the course in helping students “read” not only literature but also the world. We will focus on the reader, the text, and the world as we ask ourselves how we read and why we should read. Literature is born out of life experience and, in turn, helps to establish communities by providing pleasure, sharing knowledge, and perpetuating and reforming custom.
We will read Dante’s Inferno, the classic epic journey through hell, and Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, the fascinating backstory to Jane Eyre that takes us to Dominica to see the origins of the "madwoman in the attic." The other texts we will read will be available for free etext download, and they include James Joyce's Dubliners, a classic collection of short stories set in Ireland in the early 1900s, Aristophanes' hilarious ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, about women trying to stop endless war by refusing conjugal relations, and the poems of Anna Akhmatova set to music by Iris Dement.
Our literature is highly esteemed for both its merit and its compelling nature. The texts are mostly novels since fiction seems to be the most popular genre. The thematic orientation of class sessions tries to draw connections among the texts and make them relevant to ourselves and our world. Recent films and music may bring your reading experiences to life. We will watch Spike Lee's adaptation of Lysistrata from 2015 called Chi-Raq and a film adaptation of Jane Eyre.
Rich storytelling, vivid imagery, pithy turns of phrase, and philosophical paradoxes characterize the power and style of the Bible. These elements are textual and literary elements of the written word. This course will focus on the analysis of various literary forms in the Bible. The class will examine how narrative, wisdom, prophetic and apocalyptic literature appear in the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, and the New Testament.
An important topic throughout our discussion of the Bible will be the nature of canon formation. Students therefore are required to use the Oxford Study Bible with Apocrypha. Students can bring in other versions of the Bible to supplement class discussion.
Recent films on reserve at the library will be assigned in order to discuss the diverse manifestations of Christian allegory. A presentation will bring your reading experiences to life.
This course has one book and is NOT writing-intensive.
The 20th Century to a very large degree is a century of decolonization. Nation-states were born around the globe as colonies revolted violently and intellectually against their mother countries. The British Empire began to set as it lost its Jewel in the Crown–India. The First World War saw the creation of new nations in the Middle East born out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Africa became a continent of countries rather than colonies. Ireland finally broke free from England through rebellion and the forging of a national consciousness through an explicitly nationalist literature. After the Second World War, the postcolonial contagion spread to the Caribbean, our concern for the semester. While Haiti had already gained independence from France, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, and Trinidad among others broke from the U.K. Cuba and the Dominican Republic already had become countries as Spain lost most of its colonies following the Bolivar liberation and the Spanish-American War. Over the course of the semester, we will “cruise” around the Caribbean and island hop as we learn of the literature and culture of these new countries. The peoples of these places are often of varied and mixed ethnicity with blends of native and colonizer blood as well as heritage drawn from Africa and India who had generally been imported forcibly for labor. As we analyze the literature, we will focus on the creation of a national identity as well as subversive techniques such as counternarratives, estrangement, and mimicry. We will ask if the Caribbean is experiencing neocolonialism in various forms. We will embrace the culture of these places and experience Caribbean food, music and rituals. Our daily schedule will be in the form of a cruise itinerary! Students can design their own 10-12-page research essay. This course satisfies the 400-level elective, the ethnic literature, and the writing intensive requirements.
We will read six books: C.L.R. James' Toussaint Louverture, a play about the revolutionary leader who led the Haitian independence movement; Marlon James' John Crow’s Devil, a novel about religious struggle in Jamaica; Julia Alvarez’ In the Time of the Butterflies, a work of historical fiction narrating the history of the Mirabal sisters as they struggle against dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, V.S. Naipaul’s Guerrillas, another work of historical fiction exploring the cult surrounding Michael X in Trinidad, Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John, a classic coming of age story of an Antiguan girl; and Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, the fascinating counternarrative to Jane Eyre that takes us to Dominica to see the origins of the "madwoman in the attic." We will listen to the music of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, The Maytals, Rihanna, and others and discuss ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dancehall genres.
In this class, we’ll be reading two of the most popular poets from the first half of the 20th century. We’ll be asking why they were so popular, and we’ll be discovering that they may not have been all that different. It may seem like Millay, one of the first poets to advocate for women’s rights, a radical devoted to left and liberal social causes, would have little to do with Frost, a well-established poet old enough to be her father; yet this class will bring these two poets together as equally rebellious with regard to their approach to poetry. By reading them together, this class will investigate how beginning in the 1910s their break with literary conventions helped recreate and reimagine what American literature and poetry would become today.
The primary goal of this course is to make you more confident, enthusiastic, and sophisticated readers and interpreters of drama. We will explore a diverse selection of plays, from Ancient Greek tragedy to contemporary Pulitzer-Prize winners. We will pay particular attention to how these plays engage with issues of gender, race, love, and war. Because plays are meant to be performed and experienced in-person, we will also attend and discuss several live theatrical performances at USM. Whether you are a seasoned theatre practitioner or a new visitor to the world of drama, you are welcome in this class. Together we will experience the wisdom and wonder of theatre. We will likely read plays by Edward Albee, Euripides, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, William Shakespeare, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Oscar Wilde, and Tennessee Williams.
This course is intended to acquaint you with significant figures and works of world literature, beginning with early lyric poetry in China and The Epic of Gilgamesh in Mesopotamia and moving through time and space to the modern age. We will focus how literature is constructed, how it describes the human experience, and how we can talk about its interrelationships with time, place, culture, and other contexts. Texts: The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Shorter Fourth Edition, 2 vols., and the handy Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 4th edition, ed. Chris Baldick.
In this class, you will write your own original fiction. Class sessions will be organized around craft topics, which will include assigned outside readings and writing exercises. You will also write one short story or novel chapter. Craft topics will include: character, dialogue, setting, structure, style, revision, and more.
Texts: Writing Fiction, Tenth Edition
A study of the structures, origins, power, and rhetorical nature of language and the effects of different approaches to grammar. This course is designed for both English majors and English Licensure students and will fulfill the language elective requirement for licensure students. Participants will gain confidence in their own mastery of advanced English grammar; they will also deepen their ability to analyze its rhetorical effects and communicate that analysis to others. This course will use a rhetorical framework for studying both prescriptive and descriptive grammar structures and apply that framework to students’ own writing.
Do you like helping others improve their writing?
Do people come to you for writing advice?
In this interactive course, we will learn practical skills for providing writing feedback, from helping others brainstorm and draft ideas to assisting them with revising and editing. These skills can open doors to opportunities in tutoring, teaching, and peer mentoring in a variety of fields. We’ll apply writing center research to real-life situations to explore several key questions: What are best practices for tutoring writing? How can we help diverse learners succeed? How can we tutor in online environments and respond to digital writing projects effectively? You can tailor your final project (a research paper, grant or business proposal, or a digital writing center resource) to your future professional goals.
ENG 335 is required for new undergraduate Peer Writing Tutors at the USM Writing Center. If you are interested in this position, you can apply after taking this course or in the semester prior to taking this course, pending availability. Even if you do not plan to become a tutor or teacher, this class provides a learning community centered on shared resources, activities, strategies, and knowledge. As such, ENG 335 will prepare you to adapt to new writing situations, which is a crucial skill for almost every professional job.
Questions are welcome! Email Dr. M at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This introduction to children’s literature will survey important genres—domestic fiction, fantasy, adventure, mystery, humor, and picture books—all in terms of how they approach the experience of childhood. Each class member will report on an additional work of children’s literature and thus expand our knowledge of the genre. Some of our texts will be available in online editions to cut down on the cost of primary materials and permit us to also include in our reading the highly-praised Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction, co-authored by our own Prof. Eric Tribunella, who has offered to speak to us. We will also make use of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection here at USM. Course requirements: thoughtful reading of texts, regular class attendance and participation, blog posts and/or responses on Canvas, an oral presentation on an additional text, a short paper, a midterm, and a final.
Required texts will probably include:
Burnett, The Secret Garden.
Crampton and Gergely, Scuffy the Tugboat.
Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy.
Hintz and Tribunella, Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction. Second edition.
Juster, The Phantom Toll Booth.
Keats, The Snowy Day
Lang, Blue Fairy Book.
Nesbit, The Enchanted Castle.
Poems by Browning, De la Mare, Farjeon, Lear, Milne, Richards, Stevenson, and Silverstein.
Potter, The Tailor of Gloucester.
Raskin, The Westing Game.
Sendak, Where the Wild Things.
Stevenson, Treasure Island.
Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories (excerpts).
Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming.
A survey of major works of British literature from the beginnings in Old English poetry and prose through the Anglo-Norman, Middle English, and Renaissance periods and into the middle of the eighteenth century. We will focus not only on significant authors, texts, and genres but also on helpful strategies for reading and discussing them. Texts: Norton Anthology of English Literature, 10th edition, vol. 1; Shakespeare, Measure for Measure; and Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 4th edition, ed. Chris Baldick.
This section of English 351 focuses on London as it appears in British literature from the 1790s to present. In London, people from all corners of the British Empire mixed on the city streets. The city was home to the wealthy and home to the poor. Over the past two centuries it has been the site of major historical, political, and cultural events, and a center of imperial, economic, and cultural power.
This class will explore topics including slavery, empire, gender, disability, poverty, and industrialization; figures including the chimney sweep, the flâneur, and the urban criminal; and historical moments including the 1790s, the Blitz, and the 1970s. Course texts include novels, poetry, short stories, essays, and journalistic writing by authors including William Blake, William Wordsworth, Mary Prince, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Amy Levy, and Elizabeth Bowen. We will also discuss Michaelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up and lyrics and music videos from the London punk scene of the ’70s and ’80s.
unlose (third-person singular simple present unloses, present participle unlosing, simple past and past participle unlost): 1. (transitive, rare) To recover (something lost); to find again.
The 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, originated as a protest of the city's planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Three months prior, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu had removed the monument from Lee Circle, as well as three others, asserting that “I want to gently peel people’s hands off of a false narrative of history,” since the monuments “were designed not to honor the men, not to honor Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis. They were put up to send a message [of] who were still in control, notwithstanding the fact the Confederacy lost the war. Now that’s intimidating, and the consequence of that was that people who didn’t feel comfortable here left” (as qtd. in Jonathan Capehart’s opinion piece in The Washington Post 5/23/17). Similar efforts followed in Lexington, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta, Gainesville, and elsewhere. Other memorials were pulled down by protesters, like the statue in front of the Old Courthouse in Durham, NC, which had been erected in 1907 by the Daughters of the Confederacy. After its removal, one bystander was quoted as saying “All those years, black people had to go to court, walk past this sign, and think you were going to get justice?” (qtd. in David A. Graham’s article in The Atlantic 8/15/17).
This course will investigate the persistence of the Lost Cause mythology, historical revisionism, white nationalist ideology, and antebellum nostalgia in various texts set before, during, and after the Civil War. To be clear, the class does not advocate for any aspect of the Confederacy: we will consider history and literature, film and current events as we seek to discern why the Confederate legacy retains such an enduring presence and how we might alter that in future.
Possible texts include: Mary Boykin Chesnut’s A Diary from Dixie (1905), William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (1936), the 1939 film adaptation of Gone With the Wind, Shelby Foote’s Shiloh (1952), Ernest Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971), Allan Gurganus’s The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1984), Toni Morrison’s Home (2012), Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad (2016), and Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation (2018), as well as excerpts from secondary sources like Eugene Genovese’s A Consuming Fire, Charles Reagan Wilson’s Baptized in Blood, Gaines Foster’s Ghosts of the Confederacy, Tony Horowitz’s Confederates in the Attic, and recent articles about Confederate flag and monument controversies.
The legends of King Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table at Camelot have been quite at home in the English literary imaginary for centuries. In this Capstone seminar, we will investigate: why? Why are the ideals of chivalric romance so compelling and yet so easily spoofed? Why is it so appealing to await a ‘once and future king’? Why are these knights and these forbidden romances the stories to which we return again and again, even when we already know how the story will end?
The story of Camelot will frame our consideration of genres across centuries of literary history, considering early legends as well as adaptations, satires, refashionings, and reimaginings. Participants in this seminar will carefully craft analyses of both the Arthurian legend and a trans-historical legend of their choice, in order to explore the role of legend as a pervasive narrative feature of human culture. Our readings will include early versions of the Arthurian legend and possible sources for an ‘historical’ Arthur; Malory’s Morte Darthur; Tennyson’s Idylls of the King; novelistic reimaginings, such as T. H. White’s The Once and Future King and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; and finally, television and film adaptations such as Camelot, Avalon High, and yes, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
(IVN, simultaneous in Hattiesburg & Gulf Park)
This course invites you to study and research how writing is at work in the world, how it moves through your life and communities, how people and institutions deploy writing to include and exclude, and finally, but perhaps most importantly, how to transform and utilize that knowledge in your teaching and professional endeavors. To do this, we’ll research the role of writing in our culture, education, and communities, examine our own writing processes, study the literature on the writing experiences and processes of adolescents, and design lesson plans, activities, and assessments that reflect the labors of our studies.
In this course, we define writing broadly, drawing on composition and literacy studies to expand our definitions of composing beyond the page to the digital and visual. We’ll work together to see how this expansive definition of writing will inform our pedagogy and practices and how it does, or does not, show up in education discourses about writing, including the professional statements of the National Council of Teachers English and the Mississippi Career and College Ready Standards. This course is appropriate for elementary and secondary teacher candidates.
The National Council of Teachers of English’s position statement, “The Students’ Right to Read,” states in part: “One of the foundations of a democratic society is the individual’s right to read, and also the individual’s right to freely choose what they would like to read. This right is based on an assumption that the educated possess judgment and understanding and can be trusted with the determination of their own actions. In effect, the reader is freed from the bonds of chance. The reader is not limited by birth, geographic location, or time, since reading allows meeting people, debating philosophies, and experiencing events far beyond the narrow confines of an individual’s own existence.” This course explores what, why, and how texts we choose to teach are so significant given the ever-increasing demands of our digital society, as well as the proven benefits of regular reading in terms of developing vocabulary, empathy, breadth and depth of knowledge, concentration, and writing proficiency. In the class, students will explore how to promote independent reading, create diverse reading experiences, and foster cultures of literacy within schools and the classroom.
While Latinos settled the Americas over a century before the English ever arrived, their literature has only come into wide circulation and appeal over the past 30 years. “Latinos Writing America: Contemporary Latinx Literature” will trace the rise of this body of works and explore the multiethnic, multiracial, and socially diverse dimensions of contemporary Latino-American writing. Looking at a range of Latinx writers, we will seek to unpack the term “Latino/a/x,” which has come to represent a diverse set of communities that spreads across the full spectrum of American life. At the same time, we will seek to locate those moments – be they aesthetic and/or experiential – where Latinx cultural and political identity both respond to and comment upon the United States through this rich (and prolific) body of writings as they have evolved to the present day.
Among the Assigned Texts:
Garcia, Christina. Dreaming in Cuban (1992)
Espada, Martin. Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996)
Quiñonez, Ernesto. Bodega Dreams (2000)
Diaz, Junot. “Monstro” (2012)
Henríquez, Christina. The Book of Unknown Americans (2014)
Zamora, Javier. Unaccompanied (2017)
Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X (2018)
Bringing together celebrated authors such as Tolstoy, Proust, Woolf, Nabokov, Baldwin, and Morrison, this course traces the evolution of the novel across the twentieth century. Key developments in that elusive thing called “style,” along with corresponding theoretical and socio-cultural shifts, will received sustained attention. Despite ongoing declamations regarding its demise, the novel has emerged as a remarkably resilient and malleable genre, surprising even its most vociferous critics in its ability to not only keep up with the times, but inform them.
This course addresses two kinds of transatlantic circulation: the circulations of bodies that informed Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), and the proliferation of Frankensteins and Creatures that have followed the publication of Shelley’s novel. We will begin by examining 18th- and 19th-century circulations surrounding Shelley’s novel—the transatlantic slave trade, imperial exploration, electricity—after which we’ll look at Shelley’s novel itself. Next, we’ll look at adaptations of Frankenstein, as well as other 20th- and 21st-century texts that imagine new versions of Frankenstein and his Creature. Why and how is the story of Frankenstein still relevant in the 21st-century? Why is the character of Victor Frankenstein, arguably the first “mad scientist,” such a compelling and enduring literary figure? What can the Creature teach us about what, or who, counts as “human” in the 21st century?
Course texts include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” James Whale’s 1931 film Frankenstein, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003), Victor LaValle’s graphic novel Destroyer (2017), and Jeneatte Winterson’s Frankissstein (2019).
English 430 teaches the grant writing process and provides experience writing real, submitted-to-funding-agency grants. The ability to write grants is a highly marketable skill, especially in today's political climate, which finds governments withdrawing support from the arts, education, health care, and the sciences, resulting in an increased need for non-profit groups to find additional financial support. In the seminar, students will learn the basics of grant writing, including needs assessment, identifying potential funding sources, creating goals, and identifying assessment plans. A large group project will involve the entire class in the creation of a significant grant proposal on behalf of a local community service or government agency, and, later in the semester, each student will write a smaller grant for a local agency. Students who complete the course will know how to write a grant and will be able to list actual grant writing experience on their resume. Students interested in nonprofit work, the arts, healthcare, social work, education, and the sciences will benefit from this hands-on course.
How does female identity vary depending on whether it is depicted in a rural or urban setting? Is one setting more congenial to the heroine—or the woman writer—than another? How does a woman’s experience of the country and/or the city vary depending upon her social status? In this course we will read British poetry, closet drama, novels, and letters that imagine female characters in an array of settings, from the bucolic English countryside, to the bustling social season of London, to the foreign cityscapes of Constantinople. We will explore whether a woman’s value, and her values, change depending on the familiarity or strangeness of her surroundings. Authors may include Margaret Cavendish, Jane Barker, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Sarah Scott, Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Christina Rossetti, and Virginia Woolf.
Split-level class: As a 400-level undergraduate course that is split with a 500-level graduate course, ENG 468/568 provides unique opportunities for two different constituencies. Undergraduates will learn from their more advanced colleagues and, occasionally, play the role of the student for these emerging scholars. Meanwhile, graduate students will maximize both their scholarly and professional development, in part by doing critical reading (in addition to materials assigned to undergraduates) and meeting separately as a group with Dr. Jordan (approximately every two weeks). Critical readings will focus on the following questions: what narrative of women’s literary history emerges from our reading list, with its focus on the country/city binary? How is women’s literary history a form of feminist criticism, and how does it differ from other approaches to feminist scholarship (and from literary history tout court)? What is excluded from women’s literary history, and with what consequences? What kinds of biases or faulty assumptions does it encourage? Graduate students will delve into one or more of these questions in the final paper.