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Program of Study

The undergraduate program in English Language and Literature provides students with the opportunity to intensively study works of literature originally written in English. Courses address fundamental questions about topics such as the status of literature within culture, the literary history of a period, the achievements of a major author, the defining characteristics of a genre, the politics of interpretation, the formal beauties of individual works, and the methods of literary scholarship and research.

The study of English may be pursued as preparation for graduate work in literature or other disciplines, or as a complement to general education. Students in the English Department learn how to ask probing questions of a large body of material; how to formulate, analyze, and judge questions and their answers; and how to present both questions and answers in clear, cogent prose. To the end of cultivating and testing these skills, which are central to virtually any career, each course offered by the department stresses writing.

Although the main focus of the English Department is to develop reading, writing, and research skills, the value of bringing a range of disciplinary perspectives to bear on the works studied is also recognized. Besides offering a wide variety of courses in English, the department encourages students to integrate the intellectual concerns of other fields into their study of literature. This is done by permitting up to three courses outside the English Department to be counted as part of the major if a student can demonstrate the relevance of these courses to his or her program of study. Those interested in creative writing should see Creative Writing below.

Program Requirements

The Department of English requires a total of 13 courses: 11 courses taken within the Department of English and two language courses or their equivalent, as well as a Cluster Statement to be submitted by the end of the third week of Spring Quarter of a student’s third year. The program presupposes the completion of the general education requirement in the humanities (or its equivalent), in which basic training is provided in the methods, problems, and disciplines of humanistic study. Because literary study is enriched by some knowledge of other cultural expressions, the major in English requires students to extend their knowledge of a language beyond the level required of all College students.

Language Requirement

Two quarters of study at the second-year level in a language other than English (or credit for the equivalent as determined by petition).

Alternatively, students may take two courses in an advanced computer language. Students must submit an Intent Form to inform the department of their plan to use the Computer Science combination in place of the traditional language option.

As of Autumn 2013, the following course combinations may be taken to satisfy the language requirement:

CMSC 12100-12200 Computer Science with Applications I-II,

CMSC 15100-15200 Introduction to Computer Science I-II, or

CMSC 16100-16200 Honors Introduction to Computer Science I-II.

Course Distribution Requirements

The major in English requires at least 11 departmental courses. Students may substitute up to three courses from departments outside English with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Departmental courses should be distributed among the following:

Gateway Requirement

Early on, students are required to take at least one of our three introductions to a genre (fiction, poetry, or drama), all of which introduce students to techniques for formal analysis and close reading. Alternatively, one course from the "Approaches to Theater" sequence (ENGL 10950 Approaches to Theater I: Ancient to Renaissance or ENGL 10951 Approaches to Theater II: Late 17th Century to the Present) may be taken to fulfill this requirement.

One English "Introduction to" a genre or "Approaches to Theater" course

Genre Requirement

Because an understanding of literature demands sensitivity to various conventions and genres, students are required to take at least one course in each of the genres of fiction, poetry, and drama (one of these courses may be the gateway course above).

One English course in fiction

One English course in poetry

One English course in drama

Period Requirement

Reading and understanding works written in different historical periods require skills and historical information that contemporary works do not require. Students are accordingly asked to study a variety of historical periods in order to develop their abilities as readers, to discover areas of literature that they might not otherwise explore, and to develop their knowledge of literary history. To meet the period requirement in English, students should take at least one course in each of the following:

One English course in literature written before 1650

One English course in literature written between 1650 and 1830

One English course in literature written between 1830 and 1940

One English course in literary or critical theory. Courses fulfilling this requirement are designated in our course listings.

NOTE: Many courses satisfy several requirements. For example, a gateway course could also satisfy a genre requirement, or a course on Chaucer could satisfy the genre requirement for poetry and the pre-1650 requirement. For details about the requirements met by specific courses, students should consult the Student Affairs Assistant.

Boldface letters in parentheses after the course descriptions refer to the program requirements that a course fulfills: (A) gateway, (B) fiction, (C) poetry, (D) drama, (E) pre-1650, (F) 1650–1830, (G) 1830–1940, and (H) literary or critical theory.

Cluster Statement

The purpose of the Cluster Statement is to help students organize and give coherence to their individual program of study. Students will design a cluster of at least five courses that share a conceptual focus. By the end of the third week in Spring Quarter of their third year, students should submit a Cluster Worksheet and one-page statement to their departmental advisor and then the Student Affairs Assistant outlining their interests in the field and designating a “cluster” of at least five courses. Up to two of these courses may be from departments outside English. Students will design a personalized cluster that falls under one of the following four general rubrics: (1) literary and critical theory, (2) form/genre/medium, (3) literature in history, (4) literature and culture(s). Students may include Creative Writing courses within their clusters. See the English Department website for more information.


Electives to make up a total of 11 courses. These may include:

Junior Seminar 

Junior Seminars, limited to 15 third-year students who have already fulfilled the department’s gateway requirement and taken at least two further English courses, examine different topics and change from year to year. All seminars focus on the analytical, research, and bibliographic skills necessary for producing a substantial seminar paper (around 15–20 pages). They aim to help students prepare the kind of polished writing that some may want to use when applying to graduate school. They are particularly recommended for those wishing to pursue graduate studies in English or those who wish to write a strong critical BA paper.

Seniors-Only Course

Seniors-only courses provide fourth-year English majors with the opportunity to examine literary topics in a particularly focused way. These courses may not be offered every year.

For updated course information, visit For required student forms, visit

BA Project

The BA Project is an optional component of the English major, but students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must submit a Critical or Creative BA Project. These projects may take the form of a critical essay or a piece of creative writing. The student is required to work on an approved topic over the course of the fourth year of study and to submit a final version to the Director of Undergraduate Studies that has been critiqued by both a faculty advisor and a preceptor and has gone through revisions based on this feedback and guidance.

NOTE: The Creative BA option in English will not be offered after Spring Quarter 2018. Beginning with the Class of 2019, students interested in completing a Creative BA Project should instead elect the Creative Writing major launching in 2017–18. 

Students who wish to use the BA Project in English to meet the same requirement in another major should discuss their proposals with both Directors of Undergraduate Studies no later than the end of their third year. A consent form, to be signed by both departments, is available from the College advising office. It must be completed and returned to the student's College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.

The Critical BA Project

The Critical BA Project may develop from a paper written in an earlier course or from independent research. Students who wish to complete a Critical BA Project must submit a proposal (available on the English Department website) by the end of Spring Quarter of their third year. On this form, they identify a faculty member who will serve as their project advisor.

Students work on their BA project over three quarters. Prior to the Autumn Quarter of their fourth year, students will be assigned a graduate student preceptor who will help them develop pieces of their project and suggest revisions. Over Autumn Quarter, students will attend a series of mandatory colloquia led by the preceptors to prepare them for the upcoming quarter when the bulk of the writing occurs. In Winter and Spring Quarters, students will continue to meet with their preceptors and will also consult with their individual faculty advisor.

In consultation with the faculty advisor and graduate preceptor, students submit a near-final draft of their paper by the end of week two of Spring Quarter. By the beginning of the fifth week, students submit the final version of their project to their preceptor, faculty advisor, and the Student Affairs Assistant.

Students may elect to register for the BA Project Preparation Course (ENGL 29900 Independent BA Paper Preparation) for one quarter credit. Note that the grade for this course is on work toward the BA Project and is normally submitted in Spring Quarter even when the course has been taken in an earlier quarter. See Reading Courses for other information.

The Creative BA Project

Prerequisites: Students majoring in English who wish to produce a Creative BA Project must have taken at least two Creative Writing courses in the genre of their project (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction) by the end of their third year. At least one must be an advanced course, in which the student has earned a B+ or higher. Students in the Class of 2019 and beyond will not have the option of a Creative BA. If interested, they should instead pursue the Creative Writing major.

Students who wish to complete a Creative BA Project must submit a proposal (available on the English Department website) by the end of Spring Quarter of their third year. On this form they declare their intent to write a Creative BA Project in a specific genre and list the two Creative Writing courses in the relevant genre that they have taken as prerequisites.

Students work on their BA Project over three quarters. Prior to the Autumn Quarter of their fourth year, students will be assigned a graduate student preceptor who will help them develop pieces of their project and suggest revisions. Over Autumn Quarter, students will attend a series of mandatory colloquia led by the preceptors to prepare them for the upcoming quarter when the bulk of the writing occurs.

During Winter Quarter, students will continue meeting with their graduate preceptor. In addition, students must enroll in one of the Thesis/Major Projects Workshops (or similar course approved by CRWR) in their genre. Students are not automatically enrolled in a workshop; they must receive the consent of the workshop instructor, who will also serve as their faculty advisor for their Creative BA Project. These workshops are advanced courses limited to eight students and will include not only students majoring in English but also those in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (ISHU) and the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) who are producing creative theses. Students will work closely with their faculty advisor and with their peers in the workshops and will receive course credit as well as a final grade for the workshop. Students should be aware that because of the high number of students wishing to write fiction for their BA Projects, students will not necessarily get their first choice of workshop instructor/faculty advisor.

In consultation with their faculty advisor and graduate preceptor, students submit a near-final draft of their project by the end of week two of Spring Quarter. By the beginning of the fifth week, students submit the final version of their project to their preceptor, faculty advisor, and the Student Affairs Assistant.

Creative BA writers should register for a Thesis/Major Projects Workshop (or similar course approved by CRWR) in the Winter Quarter of their fourth year. Students receive course credit for the work on their project during this workshop and thus are not eligible to enroll in an ENGL 29900 course. This Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in CRWR (or similar course) counts as an English elective but not as one of the courses fulfilling the distribution requirements for the major.


Completion of a BA Project does not guarantee a recommendation for departmental honors. For honors candidacy, a student must have at least a 3.5 grade point average overall and a 3.6 GPA in the major (grades received for transfer credit courses are not included into this calculation).

To be eligible for honors, a student's BA Project must be judged to be of the highest quality by the graduate student preceptor, faculty advisor, and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Honors recommendations are made to the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division by the department and it is the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division who makes the final decision.

Summary of Requirements for the Major

The Department of English requires a total of 13 courses: 11 courses taken within the Department of English and two language courses or their equivalent, as well as a Cluster Statement to be submitted by the end of the third week of Spring Quarter of a student’s third year. By Winter Quarter of their third year, students must also meet with the Student Affairs Assistant to review their English Requirements Worksheet.

Two quarters of study at the second-year level in a language other than English200
or credit for the equivalent as determined by petition
or two quarters of a computer language
A total of 11 additional English courses is required to meet the distribution requirements of the major (one course may satisfy more than one requirement):1100
One English introduction to a genre course or "Approaches to Theater" course
One English course in fiction
One English course in poetry
One English course in drama
One English course in literature written before 1650
One English course in literature written between 1650 and 1830
One English course in literature written between 1830 and 1940
One English course in literary or critical theory
One to seven English electives (may include ENGL 29900)
Cluster Statement with five courses *
BA Project (optional)000
Total Units1300

The Cluster Statement must be submitted by the end of the third week of Spring Quarter of a student’s third year. This requirement is worth 000 units. See the section "Cluster Statement" above for details.

Courses Outside the Department Taken for Program Credit

A maximum of three courses outside the Department of English may count toward the total number of courses required by the major. Two of these may count toward the student’s "cluster." The student, after discussion with the Student Affairs Assistant, may submit a petition for course approval to the Director of Undergraduate Studies before taking courses outside the department for credit toward the major. Such courses may be selected from related areas in the University (history, philosophy, religious studies, social sciences, etc.), or they may be taken from a study abroad program.

English courses that originate in Creative Writing (CRWR) may be counted toward the elective requirement without a petition.

Transfer credits for courses taken at another institution are subject to approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies and are limited to a maximum of three courses. Transferred courses do not contribute to the student's University of Chicago grade point average for the purpose of computing an overall GPA, dean's list, or honors. NOTE: The Office of the Dean of Students in the College must approve the transfer of all courses taken at institutions other than those in which students are enrolled as part of a University sponsored study abroad program. For details, visit the Transfer Credit page.

Reading Courses

ENGL 29700Reading Course100
ENGL 29900Independent BA Paper Preparation100

Enrollment in ENGL 29700 Reading Course or ENGL 29900 Independent BA Paper Preparation requires approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. They may be eligible to fulfill requirements for the major if they are taken for a quality grade (not P/F) and include a final paper assignment. No student may use more than two readings courses in the major. Critical BA writers who wish to register for ENGL 29900 Independent BA Paper Preparation must arrange for appropriate faculty supervision and obtain the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. ENGL 29900 Independent BA Paper Preparation counts as an English elective but not as one of the courses fulfilling distribution requirements for the major.

Creative BA writers should register for a Thesis/Major Projects Workshop (or similar course approved by CRWR) in the Winter Quarter of their fourth year. Students receive course credit for the work on their project during this workshop and thus are not eligible to enroll in an ENGL 29900 course. This Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in CRWR (or similar course) counts as an English elective but not as one of the courses fulfilling the distribution requirements for the major. 

NOTE: Reading courses are special research opportunities that must be justified by the quality of the proposed plan of study; they also depend upon the availability of faculty supervision. No student can expect a reading course to be arranged automatically.


Students majoring in English must receive quality grades (not P/F) in all 13 courses taken to meet the requirements of the program. Non-majors may take English courses for P/F grading with consent of instructor.


Students are encouraged to declare a major in English as early as possible, ideally before the end of their second year. Students who declare the major after their second year must notify the Student Affairs Assistant to ensure that departmental advising assignments are arranged. After declaring the major, students should arrange a meeting with the Student Affairs Assistant, who will help students fill out the English Requirements Worksheet. Students should also subscribe to the departmental email list for majors ( to ensure that they do not miss important communications from the undergraduate office. 

Third-year students will be assigned a departmental faculty advisor. Students should meet with their faculty advisor at least twice a year to discuss their academic interests, progress in the major, and long-term career goals. The Student Affairs Assistant and Director of Undergraduate Studies are also available to assist students. Students should meet with the Student Affairs Assistant early in their final quarter to be sure they have fulfilled all requirements.

The London Program

This program, offered in Autumn Quarter, provides students with an opportunity to study British literature and history in the cultural and political capital of England in the Autumn Quarter. In the ten-week program, students take four courses, three of which are each compressed into approximately three weeks and taught in succession by Chicago faculty. The fourth, project-oriented, course is conducted at a less intensive pace. The program includes a number of field trips (e.g., Cornwall, Bath, Canterbury, Cambridge). The London program is designed for third- and fourth-year students with a strong interest and some course work in British literature and history. Applications are available on the University of Chicago's Study Abroad home page ( and typically are due in mid–Winter Quarter.

Minor in English and Creative Writing

Undergraduate students may also declare a major in Creative Writing. Students who are not majoring in English or Creative Writing may declare the minor in English and Creative Writing. Students interested in pursuing these options should see the Creative Writing page of the Catalog for details about program requirements and contact the Program Coordinator for Creative Writing. Please note that there is no minor solely in English. The minor in English and Creative Writing for non–English majors is the only minor available through the Department of English Language and Literature.


English Language & Literature Courses

ENGL 10400. Introduction to Poetry. 100 Units.

In her poem “Poetry,” Marianne Moore writes, “I, too, dislike it. / Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it, after all, a place for the genuine.” This three-line poem is a condensed version of an earlier, thirty-line poem. Why did Moore compress it so much? Surely she must be joking about disliking poetry? This course will introduce you to a wide range of poetry and poetics, emphasizing how literature develops in concert with social, historical, and technological changes. We’ll begin by discussing irony and other poetic and rhetorical tools, such as diction, imagery, rhyme, meter, and enjambment. In the second unit, we’ll continue to develop strategies for analyzing poetry while we investigate the links between poetry and history (trauma, war, social activism). The third unit emphasizes representation and identity in U.S. poetry, with a focus on African American poetry, Latinx poetry, Asian American poetry, and Native American poetry. We’ll conclude by looking at some very recent experiments in new media and digital poetry. By the end of the quarter, you will have the vocabulary to “talk shop” about poetic technique and will have developed close reading and argumentation skills that you can apply across your intellectual work. You may also have the chance to try your hand at crafting lines ranging from iambic pentameter to haiku, as a way of learning how poems work from the inside out. (A, C, G)

Instructor(s): R. Galvin     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 10703. 20th-Century American Short Fiction. 100 Units.

This course presents America's major writers of short fiction in the 20th century. We will begin with Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" in 1905 and proceed to the masters of High Modernism, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Porter, Welty, Ellison, Nabokov; on through the next generation, O'Connor, Pynchon, Roth, Mukherjee, Coover, Carver; and end with more recent work by Danticat, Tan, and the microfictionists. Our initial effort with each text will be close reading, from which we will move out to consider questions of ethnicity, gender, and psychology. Writing is also an important concern of the course. There will be two papers and an individual tutorial with each student. (B, G)

Instructor(s): W. Veeder     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 10703

ENGL 10706. Introduction to Fiction. 100 Units.

This Gateway course introduces students to the study of narrative by examining fictional texts from different time periods, genres and media.  We will analyse elements of form and style (including narrative voice, characterisation and plot) and consider some important questions to do with the ethics of storytelling: why tell a story? Why listen? Can stories be ‘fake’?   During the course we will read examples of works from the major genres of fiction in English, and study some of the terms and concepts from narrative theory that will provide the tools for analysing them. Texts are likely to include tales from the Arabian Nights, Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Zora Neale Hurston and Zadie Smith. (A, B, F, G)

Instructor(s): J. McDonagh     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 10800. Introduction to Film Analysis. 100 Units.

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Films discussed include works by Hitchcock, Porter, Griffith, Eisenstein, Lang, Renoir, Sternberg, and Welles.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Note(s): Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 20000,ARTV 20300,CMST 10100

ENGL 13000. Academic and Professional Writing (The Little Red Schoolhouse) 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): L. McEnerney, K. Cochran, T. Weiner     Terms Offered: Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing
Note(s): This course does not count towards the ISHU program requirements. May be taken for P/F grading by students who are not majoring in English. Materials fee $20.
Equivalent Course(s): ISHU 23000,ENGL 33000

ENGL 15302. King Arthur in Legend and History. 100 Units.

We will consider the historical origins of the Arthurian Legend and some of the ways in which it has subsequently been reshaped and used in Great Britain. We will concern ourselves first with how the legend was treated in the Middle Ages, most importantly by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century and Thomas Malory in the fifteenth. Then we will turn to the extraordinary revival of interest in the legend that started with the Victorians and which has continued almost unabated to the present. In our discussions we will consider such matters as the various political uses that have been made of the legend as well as some of the reasons for its enduring popularity. We will end with a viewing of the 1975 Film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (B, E)

Instructor(s): C. Von Nolcken     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 35302

ENGL 15700. Ethics, Politics and Aesthetics in Medieval Literature. 100 Units.

This course will explore the experimental poetics of Chaucer, Gower, and Langland, with a focus on the relations between aesthetic form and ethical and political forms. (C, E)

Instructor(s): M. Miller     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 16500. Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies. 100 Units.

This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance. This course will explore a selection of seven or eight plays representing Shakespeare’s youthful genres of Comedy and History. We will consider how each play fits, or doesn’t fit, within organizing dichotomies like playhouse versus print, popular versus elite, and early versus late. We will also consider how terms that structure our encounter with Shakespeare both form and deform his work, leaving us to ask, Can we do better? (D, E)

Instructor(s): E. MacKay     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 21403,TAPS 28405

ENGL 16560. Shakespeare and the Ancient Classical World. 100 Units.

This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance. This course will look closely at the plays written by Shakespeare on the ancient classical world: Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Antony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus, with an emphasis on the second, third, and fourth titles in this list. Why did Shakespeare turn to the ancient classical world for dramatic material, and what did he find there that was not available to him in the Christian world he knew at first hand? What philosophical ideas, experiments in forms of governance, and understanding of the human condition did he discover? In what ways is Shakespeare a different writer and dramatist as a result of his imaginative journey to the world of ancient Greece and Rome?  (D, E)

Instructor(s): D. Bevington     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 36560,FNDL 26560

ENGL 16600. Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances. 100 Units.

This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance. This course will explore a selection of seven or eight plays representing Shakespeare’s mature genres of Tragedy and Romance (the latter a posthumous designation). Like Shakespeare I, this course will examine Shakespeare’s plays as well as the history and limitations of their conceptualization. We will give special attention to the biographical, formal, theatrical, historical, and cultural implications that ensue from the sequencing of Shakespeare’s corpus, before trying out alternatives to the rise and fall paradigm. (D, E)

Instructor(s): E. MacKay     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): ENGL 16500 recommended but not required.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 21404,TAPS 28406

ENGL 17525. Science and Fiction: From Milton to the Moon Landing. 100 Units.

This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance. When and why do literary writers draw upon the experimental practices and observational habits of the sciences in order to construct their narratives? This course explores a “documentary impulse” in a wide variety of literary and cinematic genres, including the most fantastical. Readings/screenings are likely to include some of the following: Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale; Godwin, The Man in the Moone; Milton, excerpts from Paradise Lost; Fontenelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds; Shelley, Frankenstein; Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth; Levi, The Periodic Table and “Observed from a Distance”; Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness; Ascher, Room 237; Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate. (B, E)

Instructor(s): D. Simon     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 17700. Seventeenth Century Literary Culture and the Woman Writer. 100 Units.

This course explores the literary culture of early modern England (and Europe, to a lesser degree) by way of writing by women. We will examine the cultural changes that enabled women to write and survey women’s writing across a diverse range of genres including poetry, prose, letters, and drama. (C, E, F)

Instructor(s): K. Fowler     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 17710

ENGL 17850. Pickpockets, Slaves, and Housewives. 100 Units.

This course will address literature in the picaresque tradition, from the first picaresque novel—the anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes—through William Wordsworth’s poetry. Picaresque novels are known for their roguish heroes, off-color humor, and episodic structure. They also, however, tell the stories of some of the period’s most vulnerable people: the poor, women, children, and slaves. We will think about the picaresque both historically—as a response to early European capitalism—and formally—as a literary form attuned to the lives of precarious populations. Readings will include Lazarillo de Tormes, Cervantes, Nashe, Defoe, Voltaire, Equiano, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, and Marx. (B, F)

Instructor(s): S. Rowe     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 17920. The Slaves' Narratives. 100 Units.

As rare first-person accounts of an institution that claimed the lives of millions, slave narratives occupy an important, almost sacred position in the history of American letters. In part, this course will offer a literary history of this genre of writing. We will consider the relationship of the slave narrative to other available genres of life writing: spiritual autobiography, captivity narratives, gallows narratives, and so on. We will consider a host of political problems that the slave narrative raises, such as: What levels of autonomy or agency could black writers hope to achieve in relation to white editors, sponsors, and abolitionist organizations? What is the evidentiary value of these narratives? How do the generic conventions of the slave narrative conscript black subjects into just giving “the facts” to white “philosophers,” as Frederick Douglass would critique, instead of enabling black subjects to theorize slavery and freedom in their own names? At the same time, we will explore print media not typically considered under the rubric of the “slave narrative” to thicken our understanding of black life-making in the shadow of slavery: legal petitions, court testimony, letters, and early novels. (F, G, H)

Instructor(s): C. Taylor     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 47920,CRES 17920

ENGL 17960. The American Revolution: Culture and Politics. 100 Units.

This course invites you to immerse yourself in the cultural, intellectual, literary, legal, social, and political worlds of Revolutionary Americans. We explore the causes and consequences of the American Revolution; the meaning of the conflict to ordinary people and extraordinary politicians; the relation of liberty to slavery; the influence of evangelical religion as well as the Enlightenment; the creation of a new legal and political order; and the legacy of the Revolution for later generations—especially our own. (F)

Instructor(s): E. Slauter     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 26502,HMRT 27960,HIST 17605

ENGL 19500. Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. 100 Units.

This course examines the writing—novels, political treatises, letters, travel essays—of two of Romanticism’s most influential women writers. In the concerns that animated their thought, spanning political revolution, sexual freedom, critiques of patriarchy, cosmopolitanism, scientific ethics, monstrosity and apocalypse, Wollstonecraft and Shelley are at once exemplary of the “spirit of the age” and fringe figures marginalized from a society whose mores they transgressed. We will study their major works, attending to historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts, as well as matters of literary concern, such as their pioneering development of modes like gothic and science/speculative fiction, Wollstonecraft’s stylistic theories, and Shelley’s scenes of imaginative sympathy. Course texts will also include several films (Rowing With the WindFrankenstein) and selections of the writing of contemporaries: Edmund Burke, Ann Radcliffe, William Godwin, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. (B, F)

Instructor(s): A. Chema     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 19500

ENGL 20144. London Program: Institution & Revolution in Romantic Arts. 100 Units.

In the first part of the course, focusing on William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s monumental poetic work Lyrical Ballads (1798), we will consider the implications of revolutions abroad and of institutionalizations of arts and culture at home for the rise of modern literary culture in Romantic-era Britain. Wordsworth famously envisioned a new role for the poet as that of a “man speaking to men” who could make “incidents and situations from common life” the proper matter of literature. As he did so, Wordsworth was confronting both the disappointed hope of the “blissful dawn” of the French Revolution and a cultural milieu reshaped by the emergence of institutions like the British Museum (1753), the Royal Academy of Art (1768), and the National Gallery (1824)—all of which continue to define British national culture. In the second part of the course, we will consider analogous developments of the present moment, including the institutionalization of new arts like fashion, to consider where (in what scenes, and in what forms of writing and media) we might look for Lyrical Ballads of our own time. (C, F)

Instructor(s): T. Campbell     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) required.

ENGL 20145. London Program: BLAST: Avant-Garde London, 1912-1920. 100 Units.

Blast (1914–15) sought to distinguish London as a new center of radical innovation in the literary and visual arts. Edited by Wyndham Lewis—the controversial painter, novelist, and polemicist—the magazine introduced Vorticism as a movement that sought to galvanize a cultural revolution. (“Curse with expletive of whirlwind the Britannic aesthete cream of the snobbish earth.”) This course will concentrate on the two issues of the magazine itself, attending to its literary and graphic experiments in the context of other modernist magazines. We will also engage related work by the artists and writers who contributed to the journal (Ezra Pound, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Jessica Dismoor, Helen Saunders, El Lissitsky, Rebecca West, Ford Madox Ford, Dorothy Shakespeare); and we will situate Vorticism in relation to the modernist contexts against which it emerged (including Cubism, Imagism, Futurism, and the Bloomsbury Group). Moreover, we will examine the brief history of Blast against the backdrop of the Great War. In London we will take particular advantage of the collections at the Tate. (B, G)

Instructor(s): B. Brown     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) required.

ENGL 20146. London Program: Money, Migration & the Metropole. 100 Units.

By focusing on a set of novels—one from the late 19th century, and several from the early 21st century—this course will explore how movement within and between great cities, particularly but not exclusively, London, challenges our capacity to imagine social value, social change, and literary form. The novels we read will include, Henry James, The Princess Casamassima, Mohsin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, Colm Tóibín, The Master, John Lanchester, Capital, Caryl Phillips, The Atlantic Sound and Higher Ground, Rachel Cusk, Outline and Transit. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): K. Warren     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) required.

ENGL 20147. London Program: Rambles and Revolutions. 100 Units.

To ramble can mean to walk without any definite route as well as a plant’s ability to put out shoots over walls; in other words, it can mean an exploration that traverses new territories while transcending borders and limits. Combined with a common phrase from a Jane Austen novel, to take a turn about a room or lawn, rambling can also be linked to the circular movement of revolution, of the turns in thinking both on a small and large scale. The aim of this course is to aid you on your rambles and scholastic turns as you develop an independent research project based on an aspect of London’s history, ecology, geography, institutions, society, or culture. Course readings and discussion will be focused on ecologies of place and of reading, and will help you contextualize your object of research. It will also include archival research and fieldwork or excursions to various sites in the city. (H)

Instructor(s): C. Heller     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) required.

ENGL 20228. William Blake: Poet, Painter, and Prophet. 100 Units.

William Blake is arguably the most unusual figure in the history of English poetry and visual art. Recognized now as an essential part of the canon of Romantic poetry, he was almost completely unknown in his own time. His paintings, poems, and illuminated books were objects of fascination for a small group of admirers, but it was not until the late 19th century that his work began to be collected by William Butler Yeats, and not until the 1960s that he was recognized as a major figure in the history of art and literature. Dismissed as insane in his own time, his prophetic and visionary works are now seen as anticipating some of the most radical strands of modern thought, including Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche. We will study Blake’s work from a variety of perspectives, placing his poetry in relation to the prophetic ambitions of Milton and his visual images in the European iconographic tradition of MIchelangelo and Durer. The course will emphasize close readings of his lyric poems and attempt to open up the mythic cosmology of his allegorical, epic, and prophetic books. (C, F, H)

Instructor(s): W.J.T. Mitchell     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 20228,FNDL 20228

ENGL 20550. The Gothic Novel. 100 Units.

Gothic novels are obsessed with what gets left out of rational accounts of experience: fantastic or inexplicable events, feelings of terror, horror, and haunting, scenarios of vulnerability, violence, or pathological desire. In this course, we will ask: When or in what ways does the gothic provide an escape from everyday life? And, when and in what ways does it mirror crucial aspects of psychological, political, or social reality? We will explore these questions by focusing on classic gothic novels from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century (by Walpole, Radcliffe, Lewis, Shelley, and Bronte); we will likely conclude with a contemporary take on the genre. (B, F)

Instructor(s): H. Keenleyside     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 20575. The Beginnings of the British Novel. 100 Units.

In this course, we will investigate the origin and nature of the modern novel by reading a selection of eighteenth-century British fiction. Eighteenth-century novels were written during a period when novelists were still working out elemental questions about their art form: what is a fiction, as opposed to a truth or a lie? How can prose narrative describe human subjectivity and society? Are novels art or entertainment? Readings will include novels by Behn, Defoe, Swift, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, and Austen, and criticism by Watt, Lukacs, and Bakhtin. (B, F)

Instructor(s): S. Rowe     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 20650. Junior Seminar: Passions, Emotions, Moods. 100 Units.

Feelings are historical phenomena that lie at the formation of aesthetic and moral values. For centuries, Western philosophy and literature have sorted changing repertoires of feeling into genres defined by a variety of principles. Some feelings are noted to increase the subject’s capacity for action; others as decreasing it. Some feelings trouble the autonomy of the self; others affirm and reinforce the will. Some feelings are powerful and intense (passions); others as ambient or objectless (moods). In this course we will think historically as well as conceptually about the role of literature in not just representing, but interpreting, enacting, and even creating passions, emotions, and moods. Reading broadly across five centuries and also across a diverse group of printed genres (essays, elegies, popular periodicals, novels), we will track changes in the theory and representation of one cluster of feelings, in particular, which has played an arguably central role in western capitalist society: envy, jealousy, and competitiveness. Readings include: Bacon, Montaigne, Donne, Shakespeare, Addison and Steele, Adam Smith, Austen, Nietzsche, Robbe-Grillet, and Highsmith. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): S. Ngai     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Students must have taken a gateway course as well as at least two additional courses in the department.
Note(s): For third-year English majors only.

ENGL 21220. Illusions of Reality: 19th and 20th Century Literary Realism. 100 Units.

This course explores the literary style called realism. How should we understand the relationship between literary representation and the world that it represents? What kinds of aesthetic forms and effects produce an illusion of realness? We will wrestle with these questions through readings that span the nineteenth and twentieth century, including writers such as Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, William Wordsworth, Rebecca West and James Joyce. (B, G)

Instructor(s): A. Shubert     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 21926. People, Places, Things: Victorian Novel Survey. 100 Units.

Quarter systems and the Victorian novel do not mix well, which is only to say that this course cannot aspire to a comprehensive accounting of the Victorian novel, or the myriad forms of the novel that emerged during Victoria’s reign (1837–1901). What it does seek to do, however, is give you some little sense of the Victorian novel’s formal and thematic range in a few of the uncharacteristically shorter novels of the period, and—in the bargain—give you a few critical tools and concepts to better figure out what these novels are and what they might be doing. Critical approaches to the Victorian novel are as varied as the novels themselves, perhaps, but I’ve tried to give you access to some of the more recent interventions that centrally query character and characterization (people), things and the circulation of things, and location and spatialization (places). Jane Eyre, Hard Times, Lady Audley’s Secret, The Warden, Jude the Obscure, The Hound of the Baskervilles. (B, G)

Instructor(s): E. Hadley     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 22310. Prosody and Poetic Form: An Introduction to Comparative Metrics. 100 Units.

This class offers (i) an overview of major European systems of versification, with particular attention to their historical development, and (ii) an introduction to the theory of meter. In addition to analyzing the formal properties of verse, we will inquire into their relevance for the articulation of poetic genres and, more broadly, the history of literary (and sub-literary) systems. There will be some emphasis on Graeco-Roman quantitative metrics, its afterlife, and the evolution of Germanic and Slavic syllabo-tonic verse. No prerequisites, but a working knowledge of one European language besides English is strongly recommended.

Instructor(s): Boris Maslov     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 32303,CLCV 21313,CLAS 31313,SLAV 22303,SLAV 32303,ENGL 32303,GRMN 22314,GRMN 32314,CMLT 22303

ENGL 22904. Imagining the Modern City. 100 Units.

The rise of the modern city makes possible new modes of experience, new kinds of people, and new kinds of stories. To appreciate these novelties, we will start by looking at sociologist Georg Simmel’s “The Metropolis and Mental Life.” Then we will explore how writers and filmmakers have tried to capture this experience of city life in different genres (the detective story, romantic comedy, modernist poetry, realism), and from different social perspectives. Texts and films may include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; The Big Sleep; Do the Right Thing; Manhattan; “The Waste Land;” “Sonny’s Blues;” Blade Runner, and Lost in Translation. (B, G)

Instructor(s): L. Rothfield     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 23305. Directors and Directing: Theory, Stage, Text. 100 Units.

Theatre has always needed the concept of directing when staging a play. However, the role of the director as we know it has emerged only with the beginning of modern drama. This course will investigate the role of the director as an intersection between text, theory, and performance. The course explores the impact of the director in shaping modern drama, as well as critical approaches of literary and theatrical theory. We will deal not only with the historical development of the director’s role and textual interpretation, but also with the dynamics between theory and practice, and the changes in the concepts of space, acting, and performing. We will focus on approaches and writings by André Antoine, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Yevgeny Vakhtangov, Konstantin Stanislavski, Gordon Craig, Max Reinhardt, Jacques Copeau, Leopold Jessner, Erwin Piscator, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett. We will examine these approaches in relation to literary theories of performativity (John Austin, John Searle, Judith Butler, Mikhail Bakhtin). We will also be interested in testing whether these theories match the practice, and discuss the potential of constructing a theory of acting, performing, and directing today.     

Instructor(s): Michal Peles-Almagor     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): TAPS 23305,CMLT 23305

ENGL 23400. Virginia Woolf. 100 Units.

Along with a number of Woolf’s major works, students read theoretical and critical texts that give a sense of the range of contemporary approaches to modernism.  (B, G)

Instructor(s): L. Ruddick     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 23400,FNDL 24011

ENGL 24119. Literature and Citizenship. 100 Units.

What we think of as modernity can be said to begin with the birth (or rebirth) of the citizen. During the 17thand 18th centuries, revolutions in Britain, France, and North America sought to recast political society as a structure built upon social contracts and natural rights of the people rather than the divine right of kings. Yet the category of citizen was (and remains) exclusionary as well as inclusive, frequently deployed to mark those outside its boundaries and protections. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the constructions of race, gender, and nation continued to shift into new forms, and many literatures of these centuries focus on how “the citizen” is conceived and reinvented into the present. This interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and transatlantic course will discuss how these tensions and debates influence literature and political discourse over four centuries, a breadth that will allow us to trace the concepts and critiques of citizenship as they have come to shape our contemporary world. Primary readings will include William Shakespeare, Tobias Smollett, Olaudah Equiano, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Richard Wright, Miné Okubo, and Claudia Rankine. Secondary and theoretical readings will include Michel Foucault, Raymond Williams, Benedict Anderson, Ian Baucom, Lord Mansfield, C. L. R. James, Paul Gilroy, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Achille Mbembe, Emma Goldman, and Harry Harootunian.

Instructor(s): Tristan Schweiger and Megan Tusler     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 40110,MAPH 40110

ENGL 24408. Before and After Beckett: Theater and Theory. 100 Units.

Beckett is conventionally typed as the playwright of minimalist scenes of unremitting bleakness, but his experiments with theatre and film echo the irreverent play of popular culture (vaudeville on stage and screen, e.g., Chaplin and Keaton) as well as experimental theatre and modern philosophy, even when there are no direct lines of influence. This course will juxtapose these points of reference with Beckett’s plays and those of his contemporaries (Ionesco, Genet, and others in French; Pinter in English). It will then explore more recent plays that suggest the influence of Beckett by Pinter, Caryl Churchill, and Sarah Kane in English; Albert Jarry and Michel Vinaver in French; as well as the relevance of theorists and philosophers include Barthes, Wittgenstein, and critics writing on specific plays. (D, G)

Instructor(s): L. Kruger     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PQ: one course in the HUM Core
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 24408,TAPS 28438,ENGL 44408

ENGL 24412. Theater about Theater. 100 Units.

This course is a transhistorical study of changing ideas about representation, explored through the lens of early modern and twentieth-century plays that foreground theatrical form. Every play frames time and space and in the process singles out a portion of life for consideration. The plays we will consider this term call conspicuous attention to the frame itself, to the materials and capacities of theater. What happens when plays comment on their own activity? Why might they do so? Why has theatrical self-consciousness emerged more strongly in particular historical periods? What might such plays teach us about the nature of art, and about the nature of life? To what extent can we distinguish between art and life? We’ll explore these and other questions through plays by Marlowe, Kyd, Shakespeare, Maeterlinck, Pirandello, Brecht, Beckett, Genet, Peter Weiss, Handke, Levine, and Baker; and through theoretical work by Abel, Puchner, Hornby, Sofer, Fuchs, and others. (D, H)

Instructor(s): J. Muse     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): TAPS 28431,SIGN 26020

ENGL 24515. Introduction to Videogame Studies: Art, Play, and Society. 100 Units.

This course is intended as an introduction to the study of videogames in the humanities. Topics include videogame form (visual style, spatial design, sound, and genre); videogames as a narrative medium; embodiment and hapticity in videogame play; issues of identity/identification, performance, and access related to gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, ability, and class; and rhetorical, educational, and political uses of videogames. Just as the videogame medium has drawn from older forms of art and play, so the emerging field of videogame studies has grown out of and in conversation with surrounding disciplines. With this in mind, readings and topics of discussion will be drawn both from videogame studies proper and from other fields in the humanities - including, but not limited to, English, art history, and cinema and media studies.


Undergraduates should be prepared for an MA-level reading load but will write final papers of the standard length for upper-level undergraduate courses (8-10 pages versus 12-15 for MA students). MA students interested in pursuing a particular research topic in-depth will be given supplemental readings. This course will also be designed to take advantage of the University of Chicago's videogame collection, and will require game play both individually and as part of group play sessions.

Instructor(s): Christopher Carloy     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 27915,MAPH 34515

ENGL 24813. South African Fictions and Factions. 100 Units.

This course examines the intersection of narrative in print and film (fiction and documentary) in Southern Africa since mid-20th-century decolonization. We begin with Cry, the Beloved Country, a best seller written by South African Alan Paton while in the US, and the original film version by a Hungarian-born, British-based director (Zoltan Korda) and an American screenwriter (John Howard Lawson), which together show both the international impact of South African stories and the important elements missed by overseas audiences. We will continue with fictional and nonfictional narrative responses to apartheid and decolonization in film and in print, and examine the power and the limits of what critic Louise Bethlehem has called the “rhetoric of urgency” on local and international audiences. We will conclude with writing and film that grapples with the complexities of the post-apartheid world, whose challenges, from crime and corruption to AIDS and the particular problems faced by women and gender minorities, elude the heroic formulas of the anti-apartheid struggle era. (B)

Instructor(s): L. Kruger     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PQ: one course in the HUM Core
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 24813,CMST 24813,CRES 24813

ENGL 25406. Hawthorne and Melville. 100 Units.

In the two-year period between 1850 and 1852, Hawthorne and Melville produced five remarkable books: The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, Moby-Dick, and Pierre. During this same time they lived within six miles of each other in the Berkshires, a circumstance that initiated a strong literary friendship and that prompted a number of shared literary, aesthetic, and political preoccupations. This course will focus on four texts: Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse and The Scarlet Letter, and Melville’s “Hawthorne and His Mosses” and Moby-Dick. Monomania—in its psychological, sexual, aesthetic, religious, epistemological, and political manifestations—will focus much of our inquiry into these texts and into the body of critical discourse surrounding them. (B, G)

Instructor(s): J. Knight     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 25406,FNDL 25406

ENGL 25423. Letters from America. 100 Units.

What new stories about American literature and political thought can we find in letters written between the seventeenth century and now? We’ll read the letters of Jonathan Edwards, Phillis Wheatley, and William Wells Brown, along with the epistolary poems, novels, and essays of Emily Dickinson, Marilynne Robinson, and James Baldwin. (F, G)

Instructor(s): A. Inchiosa     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 25425. American Nativism. 100 Units.

In 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States after a campaign that some commentators identified as nativist. This course surveys American literary articulations of nativism from the 1850s to the present in prose and film. We will ask such questions as: What is nativism? How is American cultural identity constituted? What political possibilities does the idea of culture produce? What are the continuities and discontinuities in the story of American nativism across the past two centuries? What can the history of American nativism teach us about contemporary American identity? Planned texts for the course include work by Edgar Allan Poe, Frank Norris, Jack London, Willa Cather, and others. We will also study political speeches, writing, and commentary from the 2016 campaign and Trump's presidency. (B, G)

Instructor(s): K. Kimura     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 25426. Edgar Allan Poe: Aesthetics of the Future. 100 Units.

This course will be an intensive engagement with the wide-ranging and idiosyncratic corpus of Edgar Allan Poe. Through Poe’s fiction, poetry, theory, and miscellaneous writings, students will also gain an introduction to some of the crucial philosophical, political, and social questions that haunted him and that persist today. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): J. Duesterberg     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 25502. American Women Writing at the Mid-Century. 100 Units.

The absent “’s” in the title of this course suggests the ambivalence with which many, though certainly not all, women writers from the mid-20th century would treat the category of the “woman writer” when later applied to them. While the many women writers from this period enjoyed critical esteem and mass popularity (rarely at the same time, of course), their contributions to both American literature and women’s literature remain under-described in part because they fell between first and second wave feminism. This course will survey a range of writing from pulp novel to poetry. Some possible figures: Mary McCarthy, Patricia Highsmith, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jane Bowles, Elizabeth Bishop, Betty Smith, Jean Stafford, and Anne Sexton. (B)

Instructor(s): D. Nelson     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 25509. Psychoanalytic Theory: Freud and Lacan. 100 Units.

This course is an introduction to psychoanalytic theory, from the works of the two most influential figures in the field. We’ll read seminal texts by both Freud and Lacan, and look as well at how those works have influenced the Humanities and philosophy— specifically, we’ll consider brief passages by  Derrida, Kristeva, Kofman and Zizek.  Starting with Freud, the idea is to make students feel “at home” in the fascinating world of psychoanalysis and its assumptions. Major texts by Freud will include “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” “Note on a Mystic Writing Pad,” “The Uncanny,” “Jensen’s Gradiva,” the Dora case, and a selection of texts from other works. Lacan readings: “Seminar on the Purloined Letter,” Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” “God and the Jouissance of the Woman: A love letter,” and parts of the Ecrits. We will also read excerpts from a variety of texts that use the writings of Freud and Lacan for theoretical purposes: Derrida, Sarah Kristeva, Irigaray, Zizek, and others.

Instructor(s): Françoise Meltzer     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 35509,CMLT 25551

ENGL 25640. The Problem of Fictional Character. 100 Units.

Our encounters with representations of people are often preceded by a familiar disclaimer: “All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.” But what kinds of people are literary characters? And what can we learn about a culture’s conception of personhood by analyzing how it imagines fictional subjects? In this course, we will combine a theoretical study of fictional character with a historical study of how conceptions of personhood have changed in the United States from the late 19th century to the present. Readings will include theoretical texts in psychology, affect studies, law, and literary theory as well as novels and films by Theodore Dreiser, Ralph Ellison, and Kathy Acker, among others. (B, H)

Instructor(s): J. Hurley     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 25650. Dickinson's Poetry. 100 Units.

This course will try to give some sense of the range and power of Emily Dickinson's achievement as a poet. We will wrestle with the major issues that the poetry presents, along with its inherent difficulty: its religious content, its erotic content, its treatment of emotions and psychological states. We will reckon with questions of textual instability, but they will not be the focus of the course. A short paper and a longer paper will be required. (C, G)

Instructor(s): R. Strier     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 38650,FNDL 25650

ENGL 25850. What Was Cultural Studies. 100 Units.

This course examines the origins and development of cultural studies in Britain, between 1956 and 1978. We will be reading texts by Stuart Hall, E. P. Thompson, Angela McRobbie, and Raymond Williams (among others), as well as engaging with art and journalism from the period. The problems that compelled these writers to develop new ways to study culture were political: they were responding to changes in the traditional working-class, the shifting role of the 'mass media' in modern democracies, and the 'moral panic' that many Britons felt when faced with new immigrants and rebellious youth in weird clothes. By the end of the course we may hope to gain both a deeper understanding not only of what cultural studies meant in Britain before Thatcher but also what it might be and become now, in America under Trump. Course intended as an introduction.

Instructor(s): David Gutherz     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): No prior study of British history or cultural studies required.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 21502,SCTH 20603

ENGL 25969. Music and Disability Studies. 100 Units.

This course studies the ways that attitudes toward disability are constructed within a cultural sphere. From the perspective of disability studies, bodies and minds have many kinds of differences, but what is considered “disability” is determined by culture, not given by nature. Music, as well as film, literature, visual art, theatre, and so on, participate in the complex process of constructing and modulating attitudes toward disability. In this course, we will examine the interaction of disability and music in several ways: composers and performers whose creative production is shaped by bodily difference and disability; opera and film characters who embody and stage disability for our consumption; and more abstractly, music whose formal, sonic unfolding seems to engage issues of disability, even in purely instrumental art-pour-l’art works. We will read from the disability studies literature that critiques and theorizes disability themes in literature, film, and visual art, as well as musicology, music theory, and ethnomusicology literature that shows how disability themes are crucial in music. In this interdisciplinary class, students will gain a much more intimate understanding of the ways that attitudes toward abilities and bodies are constructed in art works, as well as be able to think, analyze, critique, write, and create with this understanding in mind. It is not necessary to read music notation for this course.

Instructor(s): Jennifer Iverson     Terms Offered: Spring,TBD
Equivalent Course(s): MUSI 32318,ENGL 45969,TAPS 22318,TAPS 32318,MUSI 22318

ENGL 25980. Technorelations: Intimacy, Bodies, Machines. 100 Units.

Sociologist Sherry Turkle has recently claimed that “technology proposes itself as the architect of our intimacies.” In this course, we’ll test Turkle’s theory by examining the ways in which human relationships arise with and through machines. From eighteenth-century automata and the industrial revolution to robots and artificial intelligence, we’ll track the co-evolution of technology and social intimacies—our technorelations. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): B. Hutchison     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 25990. Always Already New - Printed Books & Electronic Texts. 100 Units.

In this course, students will learn about the fields of book history and new media in various ways—from visiting the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center to geocaching across Chicago—in an attempt to understand why the book keeps changing shape. The course will guide students in creating their own self-directed final project. (H)

Instructor(s): M. Skinner     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 25999. Secret Histories & Inside Jobs: Paranoia & Conspiracy in US. 100 Units.

American fascination with conspiracies – real and imagined – runs through the country’s history from eighteenth-century Illuminati paranoia to the latest intimations of Russian election hacking. Examining a range of fiction from around 1800 to the present, we will explore conspiracy narratives from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Thomas Pynchon. Why does the notion of one’s own manipulation in the hands of shadowy puppet-masters hold such enduring appeal and sway in the American imagination?

Instructor(s): Nell Pach (npach)     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 26030. The Nuclear Age. 100 Units.

Seventy-five years ago a group of scientists launched the first sustained nuclear chain reaction, commonly known as CP-1, at the University of Chicago under Stagg Field. This course will be part of the commemoration and reflection taking place across the University this fall. Its goal will be to explore the ensuing Nuclear Age from different disciplinary perspectives by organizing a ring-lecture. Each week’s lecture, delivered by faculty from fields across the university (for instance, Physics, Biomedicine, Anthropology, and English), will be followed by a discussion section to synthesize and integrate not only the material from the weekly lectures, but the many events happening at the University this fall. CP-1 was not only a scientific achievement of the highest magnitude, but also a civilization-changing event that remains at the boundary of the thinkable.

Instructor(s): D. L. Nelson     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Second, third, or fourth-year standing.
Equivalent Course(s): SIGN 26031,HIST 25424,BPRO 26030

ENGL 26220. Speaking Pictures: Ekphrasis in American Poetry. 100 Units.

This course tracks the relationship between visual and literary art in 20th-century American poetry, examining in particular the idea of ekphrasis—the production of a work of art in response to another work of art. We will look at poems in response to film, video games, TV, painting, and music. (C, G, H)

Instructor(s): C. Kempf     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 26250. Richer and Poorer: Income Inequality. 100 Units.

This course is part of the College Course Cluster, Inequality. Current political and recent academic debate has centered on income or wealth inequality. Data suggests a rapidly growing divergence between those earners at the bottom and those at the top. This course seeks to place that current concern in conversation with a range of moments in nineteenth and twentieth century history when literature and economics converged on questions of economic inequality. In keeping with recent political economic scholarship by Thomas Piketty, we will be adopting a long historic view and a somewhat wide geographic scale as we explore how economic inequality is represented, measured, assessed, and addressed. Readings will include some of the following literature: Hard Times, Le Pere Goriot, The Jungle, The Time Machine, Native Son, Landscape for a Good Woman, White Tiger; and some of the following economic and political texts: Principles of Political Economy, The Acquisitive Society, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Capital (Marx and Piketty), The Price of Inequality, and Inequality Re-examined. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): E. Hadley     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 36250

ENGL 26310. Narrating Appetite in the Nineteenth Century. 100 Units.

What aesthetic responses emerged alongside such conditions as “dyspepsia,” “anorexia,” and “addiction” toward the end of the nineteenth century? Narratives by Constance Fenimore Woolson, Thomas de Quincey, Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Stoddard, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Wharton make up this course’s primary materials for answering this question. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): M. Boulette     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 26614. T.S. Eliot. 100 Units.

With the major new edition of Eliot's poems by Jim McCue and Christopher Ricks, the new volumes of Eliot's letters, and two separate new editions of Eliot's complete prose, we are in a position to rethink the meanings and force of Eliot's life work. The course will be devoted to careful reading of his poems, essays, plays, and correspondence, with attention to his literary, cultural, and political contexts.

Instructor(s): Rosanna Warren     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 26614,ENGL 34850,SCTH 36014

ENGL 26715. Movement in Modernist Poetry. 100 Units.

This course examines the relationship between mobility, spatial politics, and poetic form in modernism. From vers libre to Surrealist dérives, modernist literature draws strongly on the political, ethical, and imaginative significance of movement, fundamentally connecting mobility to notions of freedom, progress, and change. Moreover, the explosion of modernist art and literature in France and Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries took place in a social context of radical changes in forms of individual and collective movement. Technologies like the subway, the automobile, the plane, and the bicycle altered notions of space and time, while women exercised new forms of autonomy of movement and transgressed gendered notions of public space. In the same decades, two World Wars reshaped Europe’s borders, passports were introduced, and waves of refugees fleeing religious persecution and war heightened xenophobic desires for closed borders and regulation—desires reaching their height in the trains, ghettos, and death camps of the Holocaust. In readings extending from the flâneur poems of Charles Baudelaire to the Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound, we will investigate the spatial poetics—and politics—of writers like Stéphane Mallarmé, Hope Mirrlees, T. S. Eliot, and the Surrealists, and consider the connections between the poetic line and spatial movement, along with concepts like transport, crossing, passage, progress,

Instructor(s): R. Kyne     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 26760. Modernism and War. 100 Units.

This course will examine literary representations of three conflicts that dramatically shaped European society and cultural production in the first half of the 20th century: the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, and the Second World War. Moving from the combative violence of the pre-World War I avant-gardes to the emergence of fascism in the 1920s and the aerial bombing of urban centers, our course will investigate the blurred line between literature and history in years of profound crisis. We will read works by both combatants and non-combatants, and encounter a fundamental dilemma that split modernist writers and artists throughout the period: should art reflect social and historical conditions or exist “for its own sake”? Readings will include the British war poets, Rebecca West’s Return of the Soldier, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926), George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia (1938), and Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1948), along with essays by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, and W. G. Sebald. (B, G, H)

Instructor(s): R. Kyne     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 26780. Anglophone Modernisms. 100 Units.

This course is designed as a survey of global fiction in the twentieth century. More specifically, it is a survey of Anglophone modernisms, or modern/modernist English literatures which are written in English even as they rely on non-English speaking contexts and figures. Through a primary, though certainly not unassailable, logic of historical development, the course engages the fictional-historical worlds of these modern novels and poems (Conrad, James, Yeats, Achebe, Naipaul, Gordimer, Ishiguro) in chronological order, and considers especially the literature’s relationship to the historical contexts it reconstructs. Film intertexts are also part of the course: Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1976) and James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993). Major themes to be explored include, but are not limited to: media, travel, and cultural exchange; psychoanalysis; global, world war; the dissolution of empire, chiefly British and French; and new colonial frontiers of subaltern labor. (B)

Instructor(s): S. Sherry     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 26940. Race & Ethnicity in American Comics. 100 Units.

This course examines the representation and discourse of race and ethnicity in an array of American comics, including early newspaper strips, underground and alternative comics, and autobiographical graphic narratives. Along with works that emphasize an intersectional approach to race, we will discuss the history of racist caricature and recent controversies such as the depiction of Mohammed in Danish and French cartoons. We will also study how the mechanics of the visual-textual medium engender unique modes of representing race in literature. Some of the cartoonists we will observe include Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi, Marjorie Liu, and Los Bros Hernandez. (B)

Instructor(s): O. Chavez     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 26940

ENGL 27010. The Matter of Black Lives: Hurston and Wright. 100 Units.

Despite being best known as adversaries—with Richard Wright notoriously accusing Zora Neale Hurston’s writing of being “cloaked in facile sensuality” and Hurston scorning Wright for his “tone deaf” and “grim” stories of “race hatred”—these two writers shared more commonalities than their feud suggests. This course will approach Hurston and Wright not as antagonists but as coworkers experimenting with how to represent something like collective black experience through different literary genres (both turning to autobiography, folklore, novels, short stories, op-eds, literary criticism, screenplays) and in response to social science methodologies (Wright’s faith in sociology vs. Hurston’s career as an anthropologist). In reframing their relationship to one another, this course will also trace a story of the development of African American literature in the early 20th century as refracted through Hurston's and Wright’s varying commitments to representing black life as both a unifying and restrictive categorization. (B, G)

Instructor(s): A. Brown     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 47310,CRES 27010,CRES 47310

ENGL 27250. Wealth, Democracy and the American Novel. 100 Units.

Numerous commentators have remarked on similarities between late 19th-century Gilded Age America and turn-of-the 21st-century neoliberal America. By focusing on several American novels, beginning with the late 19th- and early 20th-century decades, we will explore the way that US novelists sought to understand the political, social, and imaginative challenges presented by the concentration of great wealth in fewer and fewer hands. The novels we take up will include Henry Adams, Democracy; Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age; Henry James, The American; William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham; Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country; W. E. B. Du Bois, Dark Princess; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; and Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man. (B, G)

Instructor(s): K. Warren     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 27450. The Black Voice: 1880-Present. 100 Units.

Can race be heard? What makes a “black voice”? This course will examine how the black voice develops and is structured as something audible in American culture. From Justin Timberlake to Iggy Azalea, contemporary controversies over cultural appropriation have made us question the ethics of white artists capitalizing upon a proprietary “black” voice. But what does it mean to call a voice black, or say Obama “sounds white”? In this course, students will wade through several key historical moments including the post-Reconstruction rise of local color, dialect debates during the Harlem Renaissance, hipsters in the 1950s, and sonic absurdities in the contemporary. The aim of the course is to learn how sound collaborates with or at-times belies knowledge and assumptions on race derived from a language of sight and skin color. Students will read, watch, and discuss material from a variety of genres and mediums including poetry, sketch comedy, cartoons, stand-up, essays, sociology, and the novel. Key figures include Mark Twain, Paul Dunbar, Charles Chesnutt, Joel Chandler Harris, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Norman Mailer, Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Beatty, Steve Harvey, Dave Chappelle, and Aaron McGruder. Key criticism and theory includes John Edgar Wideman, Franz Fanon, Houston A. Baker, Geneva Smitherman, Kenneth Warren, and Jennifer Lynn Stoever. (B, H)

Instructor(s): L. Jackson     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 28570. Lyric and Modern Criticism. 100 Units.

Historicist scholars have recently argued that lyric as we know it was invented by twentieth-century criticism. They suggest that the familiar approach of interpreting poems by relation to a "speaker" makes it difficult to appreciate poetry's historical variety. This class tests this claim by comparing major twentieth-century critical approaches: how is lyric defined? what is its significance among other poetic and non-poetic genres? how should it be read and interpreted? Beginning with a small number of influential nineteenth-century readings, we will consider twentieth-century examples from Russian Formalism, Practical Criticism, New Criticism, phenomenology, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Deconstruction, New Historicism, gender and sexuality criticism, Marxist ideology critique, and Historical Poetics. (C, H)

Instructor(s): M. Hansen     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 28617. Global Intimacies. 100 Units.

This course investigates the intimate dimensions of contemporary transnational experience. We will focus on representations of familial bonds and on transformations of love relations under conditions of geographical displacement and migration, and we will consider whether migration and other forms of transnational experience might entail rethinking the contours of terms like “family” and “intimacy.” Among other topics, we will discuss the concept of “trafficking” in light of the rise of public awareness and human rights activism on the issues of international sex trafficking and the trade in human organs; consider the prevalence of heterosexual romance narratives in recent cosmopolitan fictions; and examine forms of transnational affiliation and desire that question the form of the heterosexual family, such as international adoption. We’ll also examine narratives of intergenerational and transnational haunting, and the presence of family ghosts that are produced by the experience of displacement or that survive the journey from home to elsewhere. We will read widely in the field of contemporary global Anglophone fiction and we will draw on theoretical and secondary materials on transnationalism and diaspora, queer theory and gender studies, and memory studies. (B)

Instructor(s): S. Thakkar     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 28708. Network Television: The Aesthetics of Totality. 100 Units.

How can we represent the structure of society in the wake of globalization, when the scale of our interconnectedness so vastly exceeds human perception? This course considers some answers to that question posed by recent televisual and theoretical texts: The X-Files, Law & Order, The Wire, House of Cards, and writings by Raymond Williams, Fredric Jameson, and Bruno Latour. (H)

Instructor(s): S. Maye     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 28720. Practicing Theory. 100 Units.

This experimental, writing-intensive course provides students with both an introduction to key texts in critical literary theory and a workshop environment in which to practice this theory with select works of contemporary literature. Students in the course will form small teams organized by a chosen novel, which will be their common object to think through the theory we read as a class. We will then alternate “reading” weeks, which will be organized by schools of critical thought, with “writing” weeks, in which students apply these schools of thought to their chosen novel and teams meet to workshop each other’s essays. In this way, students are asked to try on a range of different theoretical idioms and approaches, with an emphasis on writing as a way of metabolizing them. Given the time constraints of the quarter, the course will prioritize theoretical texts from a feminist and queer tradition, informed by Marxism and psychoanalysis. (H)

Instructor(s): M. Dango     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 28720,GNSE 28720

ENGL 28730. The Literature of Masculinity-in-Crisis. 100 Units.

This course will survey the literary history of male crisis in America. In addition to examining the ongoing problem of defining masculinity itself, we will address narratives of male crisis that involve situations like revolution, mutiny, segregation, alienation, and trauma, and historical events like Reconstruction, the Vietnam War, the AIDS Crisis, etc. (B, H)

Instructor(s): P. Lido     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 28745. Death Writing. 100 Units.

The course introduces students to the major forms of mourning and memorialization across media, including, but not limited to, the epitaph, obituary, memoir, photograph, documentary, and monument. Will explore the numerous representational strategies employed by a wide range of writers, artists, and filmmakers to mourn and memorialize the dead including William Wordsworth, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Mark Morrisroe, and Stan Brakhage. We will read this archive alongside works by literary and media theorists who have been drawn to death writing as a paradigmatic site to think through questions of voice, figuration, absence, and difference. As this archive suggests, death is also an interdisciplinary object of study. We will therefore spend the latter part of the course reading works by feminist, queer, postcolonial and critical race theorists and artists who have grappled with the necrologies and necrologics of contemporary political and social systems. These thinkers alert us to death’s genres, whether this is understood at the level of the event or apprehended through its gendered, sexualized and racialized modalities. (G, H)

Instructor(s): V. Cam     Terms Offered: Spring

ENGL 29250. The Long 1980s. 100 Units.

This course pursues a cultural history of America in the 1980s, exploring key debates and transformations of this historical moment while assessing its relative contemporaneity with our own. Students will become conversant with signal periodizing terms (e.g., postmodernism, neoliberalism, posthumanism) while reconstructing a range of contexts in fiction and popular culture, such as Wall Street finance, hip-hop, Valley Girls, AIDS, and the personal computer. (H)

Instructor(s): R. Bayne     Terms Offered: Winter

ENGL 29300-29600. History of International Cinema I-II.

This sequence is required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies. Taking these courses in sequence is strongly recommended but not required.

ENGL 29300. History of International Cinema I: Silent Era. 100 Units.

This course introduces what was singular about the art and craft of silent film. Its general outline is chronological. We also discuss main national schools and international trends of filmmaking.

Instructor(s): J. Lastra     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): This is the first part of a two-quarter course.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28500,ARTH 38500,CMLT 22400,CMLT 32400,CMST 48500,ENGL 48700,MAPH 36000,ARTV 20002,CMST 28500

ENGL 29600. History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960. 100 Units.

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

Instructor(s): Y. Tsivian     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): CMST 28500/48500 strongly recommended
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28600,ARTH 38600,CMLT 22500,CMLT 32500,CMST 48600,ENGL 48900,MAPH 33700,ARTV 20003,CMST 28600

ENGL 29413. Language is Migrant: Yiddish Poetics of the Border. 100 Units.

This course examines Ashkenazi Jewish literary narratives about geopolitical borders and border-crossing though travel and migration, engaged with questions about the linguistic borders of Yiddish itself. As a diasporic language, Yiddish has long been constructed as subversively internationalist or cosmopolitan, raising questions about the relationships between language and nation, vernacularity and statelessness.  This course explores the questions: How do the diasporic elements of the language produce literary possibilities? How do the “borders” of Yiddish shape its poetics? How do Yiddish poets and novelists thematize their historical experiences of immigration and deportation? And how has Yiddish literature informed the development of other world literatures through contact and translation.  Literary and primary texts will include the work of Anna Margolin, Alexander Harkavy, Peretz Markish, Dovid Bergelson, Yankev Glatshteyn, Yosef Luden, S. An-sky, and others. Theoretical texts will include writing by Wendy Brown, Dilar Dirik, Gloria Anzaldúa, Wendy Trevino, Agamben, Arendt, Weinreich, and others. The course will incorporate Yiddish journalism and essays, in addition to poetry and prose. All material will be in English translation, and there are no prerequisites.

Instructor(s): Anna Elena Torres     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 39413,CMLT 39402,JWSC 29402,CMLT 29402

ENGL 29500. The Contemporary Novel. 100 Units.

This course is a survey of fiction in English from 2001 to the present. We will approach this fiction through three different lenses: history, form, and media. Historically, how does literature respond to and register emerging social anxieties around issues including cultural diversity, terrorism, and climate change? Formally, how have novels developed new strategies of representation in the way characters are developed, plots are narrated, and sentences are written? And in terms of media, how do novels remain novel when digital and social media increasingly take up some of the traditional functions and platforms of the novelistic enterprise? We will explore these questions through works by authors including Zadie Smith, Tom McCarthy, Tao Lin, Marie Calloway, David Mitchell, Colson Whitehead, Barbara Browning, Nell Zink, and Chris Ware. Our primary goals are two: to develop close reading skills that can pick out emerging patterns in novel form; and to develop knowledge about our contemporary social and cultural landscape in order to relate these patterns to history and other media. (B)

Instructor(s): M. Dango     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 29700. Reading Course. 100 Units.

An instructor within ENGL agrees to supervise the course and then determines the kind and amount of work to be done. These reading courses must include a final paper assignment to meet requirements for the ENGL major, and students must receive a quality grade. Students may not petition to receive credit for more than two ENGL 29700 courses. Students may register for this course using the College Reading and Research Form, available in the College Advising offices. This form must be signed by the instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies and then submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

ENGL 29900. Independent BA Paper Preparation. 100 Units.

Senior students completing a Critical BA Project may register for this course using the College Reading and Research Form, available in the College Advising offices. This form must be signed by the faculty BA advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies and then submitted to the Office of the Registrar. This course may not be counted toward the distribution requirements for the major, but it may be counted as a departmental elective.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies


Faculty Director

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Adrienne Brown
Walker 404

Administrative Contact

Student Affairs Assistant
Angeline Dimambro