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Department Website: http://english.uchicago.edu
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 Department of English Language and Literature 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 English 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 English 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.
The Department of English requires a total of 13 courses: 11 courses taken within the Department of English and two language courses beyond the College requirement 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. All students must complete two quarters of study at the second-year level in a language other than English (or the equivalent as determined by petition).
NOTE: If a student has placed into a language's 20200-level course, they should take the course they have tested into. Upon completion, they can go through the Language Center petition process to receive back credit for the skipped intermediate-level course (20100). Students who place into a language course beyond 20200 (that is, the third course of the intermediate level, or above) and would like to discuss the possibility of petitioning for a substitute to the language requirement, should provide the Student Affairs Assistant with an official copy of their placement results and set up an appointment.
Alternatively, students may take two courses in an advanced computer language. 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:
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. NOTE: ENGL 10800 Introduction to Film Analysis does NOT satisfy the Gateway requirement and may only be used as an elective.
One English "Introduction to" a genre (poetry, fiction, drama) or "Approaches to Theater" course
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
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. The description for each English course includes the distribution areas the course is eligible to satisfy. For details about the requirements met by specific courses, students should consult the Student Affairs Assistant.
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-to-two-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:
Seminars in Research and Criticism
These courses, limited to 15 third- and fourth-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 are particularly recommended for those wishing to pursue graduate studies in English, those who wish to write a strong critical BA paper, or those interested in research methods in English.
These courses culminate in a final project that can take a variety of forms beyond the research paper. These courses are limited to third- and fourth-year English majors, but non-majors may petition the instructor for admission.
NOTE: English no longer offers a Creative BA option. Students interested in completing a creative BA project should instead elect the Creative Writing major.
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 BA Project.
All BA writers must attend a mandatory research info session, which will be held towards the end of Spring Quarter. The session will prepare students for the preliminary work they will complete for their project during the summer before their fourth year. 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 graduate student preceptor and has gone through revisions based on this feedback and guidance.
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 BA Project may develop from a paper written in an earlier course or from independent research. Students who wish to complete a 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 the 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) 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.
Completion of a BA Project does not guarantee a recommendation for departmental honors. For honors candidacy, a student must have at least a 3.25 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 English||200|
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|
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 English 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.
Four total Creative Writing (CRWR) courses 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 other institutions, with the exception of courses taken as part of a University-sponsored study abroad program. For details, visit the Transfer Credit page.
Undergraduate students may also declare a major in Creative Writing. Students who are not majoring in English Language and Literature or Creative Writing may declare the minor in English and Creative Writing. Students interested in pursuing these options should contact the Program Coordinator for Creative Writing for further information. 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.
Double Majors in English Language and Literature and Creative Writing
When students choose a double major in Creative Writing and English Language and Literature, they may count up to four courses towards both majors. These four courses will typically include the three Literature Courses and the Literary Genre course, but in some cases one of these slots might be filled by a CRWR course (with Director of Undergraduate Studies approval). However, the two Research Background Electives required for the Creative Writing major should be taken outside of the Department of English Language and Literature.
This means that a maximum of four English Language and Literature courses, including the Literary Genre course, can count towards the Creative Writing major.
Students who are pursuing only the English Language and Literature major may count up to four CRWR courses towards the major in English as electives without a petition. However, when students are pursuing a double major in English Language and Literature and Creative Writing, they must observe the shared four-course maximum, so any eligible CRWR courses beyond this cap must be counted towards English only.
Minor in English and Creative Writing
Students who are not English Language and Literature or Creative Writing majors may complete a minor in English and Creative Writing. Such a minor requires six courses plus a portfolio of creative work. At least two of the required courses must be Creative Writing (CRWR) workshop courses, with at least one being an Advanced Workshop. Three of the remaining required courses may be taken in either the Department of English Language and Literature (ENGL) or the Program in Creative Writing (CRWR). This may include CRWR Technical Seminars or general education courses, as long as they are not already counted toward the general education requirement in the arts.
In addition, students must enroll in one of the following workshops offered during the Winter Quarter: CRWR 29200 Thesis/Major Projects: Fiction; CRWR 29300 Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry; CRWR 29400Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction. Finally, students must submit a portfolio of their work (e.g., a selection of poems, one or two short stories or chapters from a novel, two or three nonfiction pieces) to the Creative Writing program coordinator by the end of the fifth week in the quarter in which they plan to graduate. Students will work with a graduate student preceptor to compile and refine their final portfolios.
Students who elect the minor program in English and Creative Writing must meet with the program administrator for Creative Writing before the end of Spring Quarter of their third year to declare their intention to complete the minor. Students choose courses in consultation with the administrator. The administrator's approval for the minor program should be submitted to a student's College adviser by the deadline above on a form obtained from the adviser.
Students completing this minor will be given enrollment preference for CRWR Advanced Workshops and Thesis/Major Projects Workshops, and they must follow all relevant admission procedures described at the Creative Writing website. For details, see Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses.
Courses in the minor (1) may not be doubly counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors and (2) may not be counted toward general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades (not P/F), and at least half of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.
Summary of Requirements for the Minor Program in English and Creative Writing
|Two CRWR workshop courses *||200|
|Three CRWR or ENGL electives||300|
|One Thesis/Major Projects Workshop +||100|
|A portfolio of the student's work|
At least one must be an Advanced Workshop.
Minor to Major and Major to Minor
Student circumstances change, and thus a transfer between the major and minor programs may be desirable to students who begin a course of study in either program. Workshop courses (including Beginning Workshops) and one Technical Seminar may count towards the minor, but Fundamentals in Creative Writing will not. The Thesis/Major Projects Workshop will also function as a portfolio workshop for minors. Students should consult with their College adviser if considering such a change and must update their planned program of study with the Program Coordinator or Director of Undergraduate Studies in Creative Writing.
Sample Plan of Study for the Minor
|CRWR 10200||Beginning Fiction Workshop||100|
|CRWR 22110||Advanced Fiction: Exploring Your Boundaries||100|
|ENGL 16500||Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies||100|
|ENGL 10706||Introduction to Fiction||100|
|CRWR 29200||Thesis/Major Projects: Fiction||100|
|ENGL 10703||20th-Century American Short Fiction||100|
|A portfolio of the student's work (two short stories)|
|ENGL 29700||Reading Course||100|
|ENGL 29900||Independent BA Paper Preparation||100|
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.
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 (email@example.com) 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 (study-abroad.uchicago.edu) and typically are due in mid–Winter Quarter.
English Language and Literature Courses
ENGL 10400. Introduction to Poetry. 100 Units.
This course involves intensive readings in both contemporary and traditional poetry. Early on, the course emphasizes various aspects of poetic craft and technique, setting, and terminology, as well as provides extensive experience in verbal analysis. Later, emphasis is on contextual issues: referentiality, philosophical and ideological assumptions, as well as historical considerations. (Gateway, Poetry)
Instructor(s): Lisa Ruddick Terms Offered: Spring
ENGL 10600. Introduction to Drama. 100 Units.
This course explores the unique challenges of experiencing performance through the page. Students will read plays and performances closely, taking into account not only form, character, plot, and genre, but also theatrical considerations like staging, acting, spectatorship, and historical conventions. We will also consider how various agents-playwrights, readers, directors, actors, and audiences-generate plays and give them meaning. While the course is not intended as a survey of dramatic literature or theater history, students will be introduced to a variety of essential plays from across the dramatic tradition. The course culminates in a scene project assignment that allows students put their skills of interpretation and adaptation into practice. No experience with theater is expected. (Gateway, Drama)
Instructor(s): John Muse Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 20601, TAPS 19300
ENGL 10640. Introduction to Victorian Literature: Men and Women. 100 Units.
This course will introduce the major genres of fiction and poetry produced in Victorian Britain. I have chosen texts that highlight the period's central preoccupations: gender and sexuality. A time during which the so-called Woman Question vexed politicians, commentators and activists, when marriage and motherhood were under review, and styles of masculinity contested, literature of the period presented dynamic discussions about the roles of men and women, how they might interact, and what they can do. These texts are also some of the most formally innovative of the period. Texts are likely to include Robert Browning's Men and Women (which gives us our title), Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, M E Braddon, Lady Audley's Secret, Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, and short stories by the New Woman writer, George Egerton, and Oscar Wilde. (1830-1940)
Instructor(s): Josephine McDonagh Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 20640
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. (1830-1940, Fiction)
Instructor(s): William Veeder Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 10703
ENGL 10706. Introduction to Fiction. 100 Units.
This course explores the various strategies and techniques that authors have used to tell stories that claim in one way or another to be realistic. As we take up how storytellers "make it real" we will address key elements of narrative, including point of view, characterization, voice, tone, diction, syntax, setting, symbolism, pacing, modes of mediation, intertextuality, motifs, and figuration. We will focus primarily on novels and short stories, with a nod to the graphic novel at the conclusion of the course. (Gateway, Fiction)
Instructor(s): Ken Warren Terms Offered: Winter
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
Note(s): Required of students taking a major or minor in Cinema and Media Studies.
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 10100, ARTV 20300, ARTH 20000
ENGL 10860. Introduction to Modernism. 100 Units.
This course focuses on the major figures of British and Anglo-American modernism, including T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett. We will also be discussing modernist developments in music and the visual arts. A guided tour of the Art Institute will be included, along with screenings of some of Beckett's plays. Requirements: one paper of 3-4 pages, one paper of 5-6 pages, regular postings to online blog, and class presentations. (Fiction, Poetry, Drama)
Instructor(s): Maud Ellmann Terms Offered: Winter
ENGL 11004. History of the Novel. 100 Units.
We will read one or more novels and novellas from each of the last four centuries and also study movie adaptations of these works. Likely novelists to be studied include Miguel de Cervantes, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Choderlos de Laclos, Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Henry James, Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Tom McCarthy, and Zadie Smith. Film screenings will be scheduled on alternate Friday afternoons and will also be available for watching in the library. (1650-1830, 1830-1940, Fiction) Requirements: one paper of 5-6 pages, one paper of 7-8 pages, regular postings to the online discussion board, and in-class exercises.
Instructor(s): Maud Ellmann Terms Offered: Autumn
ENGL 12300. Poetry And Being. 100 Units.
This course involves close analysis of poems from a variety of periods, exposure to various critics' perspectives on literary form, and a series of theoretical readings on creativity, play, and emotion, which we will place in dialogue with our interpretations of individual poems. Theoretical areas to be explored include psychoanalysis and cognitive psychology. (Poetry, Theory)
Instructor(s): Lisa Ruddick Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): PQ: Intro to Poetry (ENGL 10400) or an equiv course at another institution or consent of instructor.
ENGL 12320. Critical Videogame Studies. 100 Units.
Since the 1960s, games have arguably blossomed into the world's most profitable and experimental medium. This course attends specifically to video games, including popular arcade and console games, experimental art games, and educational serious games. Students will analyze both the formal properties and sociopolitical dynamics of video games. Readings by theorists including Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Nick Dyer‐Witheford, Mary Flanagan, Jane McGonigal, Lisa Nakamura, and Katie Salen will help us think about the growing field of video game studies. This is a 2018-19 Signature Course in the College. (Theory)
Instructor(s): Patrick Jagoda Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 22320, CMST 27916, MAAD 12320, SIGN 26038
ENGL 12520. Climate Change in Literature, Art, and Film. 100 Units.
If meteorological data and models show us that climate change is real, art and literature explore what it means for our collective human life. This is the premise of many recent films, novels, and artworks that ask how a changing climate will affect human society. In this course, we will examine the aesthetics of climate change across media, in order to understand how narrative, image, and even sound help us witness a planetary disaster that is often imperceptible. Our approach will be comparative: what kind of story about climate change can a science fiction novel about a dystopian future tell, and how is this story different than, say, that of an art installation made of melting blocks of Arctic ice? Do different media tend to emphasize different aspects of ecological crisis? Readings and discussions will introduce students to some of the ways that humanities scholarship is contributing to climate change research. The syllabus may include Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation (2014); Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003); John Luther Adams, Become Ocean (2014); George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015); and Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement (2016). (Fiction, Theory). This course is part of the College Cluster program: Climate Change, Culture and Society.
Instructor(s): Benjamin Morgan Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): SIGN 26014, ENST 12520
ENGL 12720. Inventing Consciousness: Literature, Philosophy, Psychology. 100 Units.
Consciousness is an historical achievement. As a phenomenon, consciousness probably came into being somewhere deep in evolutionary time. Yet as a concept consciousness is relatively new: the European notion of consciousness emerges only in the late seventeenth century. This course draws on the resources of literature, history, philosophy, and psychology to examine how the concept of consciousness came to possess the explanatory dominance it currently holds. We will begin by acquiring a sense of what consciousness currently means in philosophy and psychology, paying particular attention to how the Western concept differs from similar ideas in such traditions as Buddhism. After examining the pre-history of consciousness by reading such authors as William Shakespeare, we will then turn to two historical moments that were central to the concept's development. First, we will train our attention on the interplay between philosophy and literature in the late seventeenth century, reading texts by René Descartes, John Milton, Thomas Traherne, and John Locke. Second, we will focus on how, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the psychology of William James contributed to the development of "stream of consciousness" techniques in the novels of Henry James and Virginia Woolf. In this course, we will stress the historical contingency of this concept-consciousness has a birthdate-in order to determine the nature of a consequence that follows from this fact: the extent to which current uses of this concept are still shaped and constrained by the historical circumstances that conditioned its appearance and development. (1650-1830, 1830-1940, Fiction, Poetry)
Instructor(s): Timothy Harrison Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): SIGN 26042
ENGL 12800. Theories of Media. 100 Units.
This course will explore the concept of media and mediation in very broad terms, looking not only at modern technical media and mass media, but at the very idea of a medium as a means of communication, a set of institutional practices, and a habitat in which images proliferate and take on a "life of their own." The course will deal as much with ancient as with modern media, with writing, sculpture, and painting as well as television and virtual reality. Readings will include classic texts such as Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Cratylus, Aristotle's Poetics, and modern texts such as Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media, Regis Debray's Mediology, and Friedrich Kittler's Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. We will explore questions such as the following: What is a medium? What is the relation of technology to media? How do media affect, simulate, and stimulate sensory experiences? What sense can we make of concepts such as the "unmediated" or "immediate"? How do media become intelligible and concrete in the form of "metapictures" or exemplary instances, as when a medium reflects on itself (films about films, paintings about painting)? Is there a system of media? How do we tell one medium from another, and how do they become "mixed" in hybrid, intermedial formations? We will also look at recent films such as The Matrix and Existenz that project fantasies of a world of total mediation and hyperreality.
Instructor(s): W. J. T. Mitchell Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Any 100-level ARTH or DOVA course, or consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTV 20400, MAAD 12800, ARTH 35900, ARTH 25900, AMER 30800, ENGL 32800, CMST 27800, CMST 37800
ENGL 13000. Academic and Professional Writing (The Little Red Schoolhouse) 100 Units.
Academic and Professional Writing, a.k.a. "The Little Red Schoolhouse"or "LRS" (English 13000/33000) is an advanced writing course for third- and fourth-year undergraduates who are taking courses in their majors or concentrations, as well as graduate students in all of the divisions and university professional programs. LRS helps writers communicate complex and difficult material clearly to a wide variety of expert and non-expert readers. It is designed to prepare students for the demands of academic writing at various levels, from the B.A. thesis to the academic article or book--and for the tasks of writing in professional contexts.
Instructor(s): L. McEnerney, K. Cochran, T. Weiner Terms Offered: 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): ENGL 33000
ENGL 13720. Thinking with Race in Medieval England. 100 Units.
The medieval period is often thought of as the era just before the idea of race emerged - before the Atlantic slave trade, before European colonialism, before scientific racism. At the same time, the Middle Ages have been crucial to modern phenomena of racialized nationalism and ideologies of whiteness. In recent years, medievalists have studied and debated race's significance. Acknowledging the complex and urgent status of medieval race today, this course examines some of the stories, images, ideas, and institutions of medieval England. We will test how race helps us think about the articulation and operationalization of human difference between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, especially with respect to Jews, Saracens (a term created by Christians to refer to Arabs and Muslims of varying ethnicities), and the so called "monstrous races" who were thought to populate the far reaches of the world. We'll ask - How did geography, religion, and history come to be corporealized, or understood as legible on the body? How did the essentialization of differences between groups act to satisfy desires, or seemingly to solve intellectual and ideological difficulties? How does "thinking with race" in medieval England throw new light on race and racism today? Readings will be both in Middle English and modern English translation. No previous experience with medieval literature is expected. This is a 2018-19 College Signature Course. (Pre-1650)
Instructor(s): Julie Orlemanski Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 13720, SIGN 26041, MDVL 13720
ENGL 15107. Some Versions of Apocalypse. 100 Units.
The end of the world is one of the most durable of mankind's obsessions, from prophetic texts of antiquity to today's fascination with zombie plagues, environmental disaster, and nuclear winter. In this course we will explore what is both fearful and alluring about catastrophe on an unimaginable scale, as we read and view some paradigmatic apocalyptic works across a wide historical range. The course will focus on close attention to the aesthetics of individual works, locating those works in their historical contexts, and the conceptual analysis of the texts' motivating concerns. We will especially attend to the relationship between aesthetic form and the political, economic, and subjective forms that mediate catastrophe--as well as the ways that the end of things asks us to think beyond mediation. Texts include the biblical Book of Revelation, William Langland's medieval allegory Piers Plowman, Daniel Defoe's early modern chronicle of the black death A Journal of the Plague Year, Cormac McCarthy's postapocalyptic novel The Road, and both the novel and film versions of World War Z. This is a 2018-19 Signature Course in the College. (Fiction)
Instructor(s): Mark Miller Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 15107, SIGN 26040
ENGL 15500. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales. 100 Units.
Close reading of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, with particular attention to the intersection of literary form with problems in ethics, politics, and sexuality. (Pre-1650, Poetry)
Instructor(s): Mark Miller Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 15500, FNDL 25700
ENGL 15806. Multilingual Literatures of Early Medieval Britain. 100 Units.
We will read (in modern English translation) works composed in the several languages of early medieval Britain. Texts will include: from Old English, Beowulf and The Battle of Maldon; from Old Norse, Egil's Saga and King Harald's Saga; from Anglo-Norman French, The Song of Roland; from Old Irish, selections from The Táin Bó Cuailnge; from medieval Welsh, Y Gododdin, and "Culhwch and Olwen"; and from Latin, selections from Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain. (Pre-1650, Fiction)
Instructor(s): Christina von Nolcken Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 15806
ENGL 16600. Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances. 100 Units.
This course explores mainly major plays representing the genres of tragedy and romance; most (but not all) date from the latter half of Shakespeare's career. After having examined how Shakespeare develops and deepens the conventions of tragedy in Titus Andronicus, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra, we will turn our attention to how he complicates and even subverts these conventions in The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. Throughout, we will treat the plays as literary texts, performance prompts, and historical documents. Section attendance is required. This course is part of the College Course Cluster, The Renaissance. (Pre-1650, Drama)
Instructor(s): Ellen MacKay Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 21404, TAPS 28406
ENGL 17501. Milton. 100 Units.
A study of Milton's major writings in lyric, epic, tragedy, and political prose, with emphasis upon his evolving sense of his poetic vocation and career in relation to his vision of literary, political, and cosmic history. Graduate students will be expected to do additional secondary reading. (Pre-1650, 1650-1830, Poetry), (Med/Ren)
Instructor(s): Joshua Scodel Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 47501, RLST 25405, FNDL 21201
ENGL 17950. The Declaration of Independence. 100 Units.
This course explores important intellectual, political, philosophical, legal, economic, social, and religious contexts for the Declaration of Independence. We begin with a consideration of the English Revolution, investigating the texts of the Declaration of Rights of 1689 and Locke's Second Treatise and their meanings to American revolutionaries. We then consider imperial debates over taxation in the 1760s and 1770s, returning Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography to its original context. Reading Paine's Common Sense and the letters of Abigail Adams and John Adams we look at the multiple meanings of independence. We study Jefferson's drafting process, read the Declaration over the shoulders of people on both sides of the Atlantic, and consider clues to contemporary meanings beyond the intentions of Congress. Finally, we briefly engage the post-revolutionary history of the place and meaning of the Declaration in American life. (1650-1830, 1830-1940) This is a 2018-19 College Signature Course.
Instructor(s): Eric Slauter Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 27950, HMRT 17950, HIST 17604, SIGN 26039, FNDL 27950
ENGL 18500. American Horrors. 100 Units.
This course is a survey of horror in American literature and film, with a special focus on the genre's relation to racial and sexual violence. How does horror reflect, contribute to, or intervene into structures of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and queerphobia? How do fictional texts represent or transform non-fictional horrors, from lynching to rape to police brutality? And what is the status of horror as an emotion that structures relations of power and privilege in the United States? Together, we will gain a historical perspective on the genre, for instance tracking the figure of the zombie from its birth in Haitian folklore as a projection of the horrors of slavery, through 20th century works like George Romero's film Night of the Living Dead, and into present day works including Colson Whitehead's novel Zone One. We will pay special attention to the present moment, interrogating a renaissance of horror tropes in, for instance, feminist fiction (Karen Russell and Carmen Maria Machado), television (American Horror Story and Stranger Things), and cinema (It and Get Out).
Instructor(s): Michael Dango Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 18500, GNSE 18500
ENGL 18700. Sexual Violence in America: Theory, Literature, and Activism. 100 Units.
This course will consider how a spectrum of sexual violence has been represented, politicized, and theorized in the United States from the 1970s to the present. To get a handle on this vast topic, our archive will be wide-ranging, including legal statutes and court opinions on sexual harassment and pornography; fiction, poetry, and graphic novels that explore the limits of representing sexual trauma; activist discourses in pamphlets and editorials from Take Back the Night to #MeToo; and groundbreaking essays by feminist and queer theorists, especially from critical women of color. How does the meaning of sex and of power shift with different kinds of representation, theory, and activism? How have people developed a language to share experiences of violation and disrupt existing power structures? And how do people begin to imagine and build a different world whether through fiction, law, or institutions? (Theory)
Instructor(s): Michael Dango Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 18700
ENGL 19700. Image, Text, Archive. 100 Units.
This course examines hybrid image-texts of the last 150 years to investigate what happens to narrative and genre when visual images become integral parts of textual composition, and what kinds of claims such texts make about memory, veracity, or objectivity. We will examine the early history of photography and image reproduction, learn to formally read images, and interrogate the relationship of photography to documentary. Our readings will include Louis Aragon's Paris Peasant (1925), André Breton's Nadja (1928), James Agee and Walker Evans's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory (1966), Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970), W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn (1995) and Austerlitz (2001), and Anne Carson's Nox (2009); critical readings will include texts by Roland Barthes, Margaret Iverson, Timothy Dow Adams, and Linda Hutcheon. (1830-1940, Theory)
Instructor(s): Rachel Kyne Terms Offered: Winter
ENGL 19800. The Unincorporated: Modernism, Geography, and Race. 100 Units.
This course investigates the centrality of notions of exclusion and exclusivity to the development of modernist literature on both sides of the Atlantic. The period of literary modernism stretching from the late-19th century to roughly the Second World War coincides with the high point of European imperial claims as well as the sedimentation of Jim Crow. We will trace the articulation of forms of belonging - and non-belonging - along the interrelated axes of space and race in modernist figures and writings ranging from Joseph Conrad, George Orwell, James Joyce, and Jean Rhys to Djuna Barnes, Aimé Césaire, Albert Camus, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Richard Wright. Our quarter will conclude with Kamal Daoud's The Meursault Investigation, a defiant recasting of Camus's 1942 The Stranger. (Fiction, 1830-1940, Theory)
Instructor(s): Rachel Kyne Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 19800
CMLT 20109. Comparative Methods in the Humanities. 100 Units.
This course introduces models of comparative analysis across national literatures, genres, and media by focusing on poetry in different languages and cultures and in relation to other discursive and artistic forms. We will examine a wide variety of poetic and critical texts in order to explore such topics as the specificity of poetry and of poetic kinds; orality and folk, art, and popular song; poetry's relation to prose (from philosophy to autobiography to journalism); transnational imitation and translation; poetry and globalization; ekphrasis and poetry's relations to visual arts; and poetry and film. Readings will likely include poems by Sappho, Horace, Dante, Li Bai, Du Fu, Ronsard, Shakespeare, Milton, Basho, Goethe, Wordsworth, Robert Browning, and Dylan; and critical writings by Longinus, Plutarch, Montaigne, Li Zhi, Wordsworth, Auerbach, Jakobson, Adorno, Pasolini, Zumthor, Culler, and Damrosch.
Instructor(s): Joshua Scodel Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 28918
ENGL 20148. London Program: English Renaissance Verse and the Poetics of Place. 100 Units.
This course will explore sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English poetry by focusing on the poetic treatments of diverse places, including commercial, legal, and theatrical London venues, courtly palaces, aristocratic country houses and rural estates, churches, prisons, and imaginary landscapes. Poets might include Wyatt, Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Herrick, Lovelace, Milton, Marvell, Philips, and Cowley. Genres might include sonnet, epithalamion, satire, pastoral, georgic, epistle, epigram, country-house poem, and ode. Trips within and close to London might include the Tower of London, the Whitehall Banqueting House, the Globe Theater, Hampton Court, and Penshurst Place. (Pre-1650, Poetry)
Instructor(s): Joshua Scodel Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) is required.
ENGL 20149. London Program: Literature and the Environment in Eighteenth-Century Britain. 100 Units.
This course will focus on eighteenth-century literature that engages us with the nonhuman environment-with the plants, animals, and elements, the landscapes and the climates that surround and shape human life. We will range widely in genres from nature poetry and travel writing to natural history and the novel, reflecting throughout on the ways in which nature may be cultivated, improved, or imported from elsewhere - not something opposed to human culture but wholly tied up with it. Together, we will ask: how do ideas of nature look different in the city, the country, or the colonies? And crucially, what might eighteenth century understandings of the relationship between human beings and the natural world have to tell us our own moment of ecological entanglement and crisis? The course will draw on the resources of London and its environs, likely to include Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum, the Sloane House, and Tate Britain. (1650-1830)
Instructor(s): Heather Keenleyside Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) is required.
ENGL 20150. London Program: Pagan London. 100 Units.
This course is a study of literary modernism by way of its debt to Scottish anthropologist J.G. Frazer's The Golden Bough, a foundational work in the anthropology of magic, religion, purity, pollution, sacrifice, fertility, and the death and reincarnation of gods. Reading Frazer's work alongside works by William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Robert Graves, Sigmund Freud, and Jane Harrison, we will examine the widespread impact of Frazer's tome, its resonance in the tumultuous war years, and the ways in which it participated in the creation of pagan, heretical, outsider, country, rural, and ethnic values in modernist London. Inasmuch as Frazer's work possessed a literary life, we will examine how its anthropology possessed by literature lives on in the works of such anthropologists as Mary Douglas and Michael Taussig. Course fieldtrips are likely to include the newly reconstructed London Mithraeum, Greenwich, and the Stonehenge monument. (1830-1940, Fiction, Poetry, Theory)
Instructor(s): Edgar Garcia Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Admission to the London Program (study abroad) is required.
ENGL 20151. London from the Outside-In. 100 Units.
In discussing Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Edward Said writes of the Bertram estate's colonial holdings in Antigua, and the few references in the novel itself to these plantations, claiming that the novel demonstrates "the avowedly complete subordination of colony to metropolis." In this course, we will explore and expand upon this idea, seeking to understand the ways in which London's cosmopolitan and prominent history depend upon England's imperial endeavors. This pursuit will also involve representations of the city "from the outside," such as Samuel Selvon's The Lonely Londoners and Tayeb Salih'sSeason of Migration. Readings will be diverse in genre, style, and period, attempting to open as many related discourses as possible, as this course is aimed at developing an independent research project. Class time will be equally devoted to the readings, research techniques, and workshopping your ideas. (Theory)
Instructor(s): Tim DeMay Terms Offered: Autumn
ENGL 20562. Freedom and Fate in the Renaissance. 100 Units.
In this course, we will study theories of will and of action that held sway in the Renaissance. Is human choice governed by reason, or are our wills overruled by our own passions-or by divine grace? Can self-determination genuinely arise in political or physical systems determined by history? What does it mean to depict free choice? Questions like these shaped crucial Renaissance debates in parliaments and churches, in laboratories and in the arts. We'll examine them through both literary and philosophical texts by writers including William Shakespeare, John Donne, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, and Isaac Newton. (Poetry, Pre-1650, 1650-1830)
Instructor(s): Sarah Kunjummen Terms Offered: Winter
ENGL 22110. Excrement and Ecstasy: The Devotional Body in Early Modern Literature. 100 Units.
This class asks why writers in the seventeenth century turn to bodily metaphor and erotic language to describe their interactions with the divine. We will investigate the materiality of the body in early modern poetry-where it is frequently depicted as in orgasmic frenzy, failing, and even producing excrement-and its involvement with religious devotional practice. Authors of focus will likely include William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, John Milton, and Margaret Cavendish. (Poetry, Pre-1650, 1650-1830)
Instructor(s): Beatrice Bradley Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 22110
ENGL 22130. Making Scents: A Literary History of Smell. 100 Units.
While the visual has long been the privileged sense in literary studies, recent work has begun to explore other senses. From massive medieval farts to modern perfumes, we will consider what a focus on scent can contribute to our understanding of literature. Drawing from fiction, poetry, objects, history, and science, this course integrates an interdisciplinary approach. Primary literary texts will likely include H.D., Huysmans, Baudelaire, Burney, Shakespeare, and Chaucer. We will probably also think with perfumes, Luca Turin's The Secret of Scent, Alexandra Horowitz's Being a Dog, and Tom Tykwer's 2006 film adaptation of Patrick Süskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. (Fiction, Poetry, Theory)
Instructor(s): Jennifer Yida Pan Terms Offered: Winter
ENGL 22150. Luxury and Global Modernism. 100 Units.
The desire for and consumption of luxury is central to the world-building enterprise of capitalist modernity as we understand it, from the elaboration of colonial trade routes to the emergence of the era-defining aesthetic mode known as glamor. As both the object of the primitivizing imaginary of colonial social science and the motor of excitement for the new in the modern Western city, luxury infused some of the complexities of global interconnectedness into the imagination and the arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With readings across the literary, but also the material-cultural and social-scientific archives of Western and non-Western modernisms, this course asks how luxury might open new avenues for the study of modernism's inherently global character. Course texts will include literary works by Henry James, Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy, and MP Shiel; social scientific works by Marcel Mauss and Georges Bataille; visual works by Raghubir Singh, Coco Chanel, and Josephine Baker; theoretical readings from the fields of postcolonial, queer, and fashion studies. (1830-1940, Fiction, Theory)
Instructor(s): Jacob Harris Terms Offered: Spring
ENGL 23170. The Beast Fable from Aesop to Zootopia. 100 Units.
In this course, we will read collections of medieval beast fables to theorize what Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, Robert Henryson, and others found compelling about animals in various states of personification. In addition, we will look to contemporary forms of the genre to consider how this mode of storytelling continues to provoke analysis and evade interpretation. Previous work in Middle English is not required. (Pre-1650, Poetry)
Instructor(s): Jo Nixon Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 23170
ENGL 23190. Eco-consciousness: Climates and Ecologies of Eighteenth-Century Literature. 100 Units.
Given our present-day concerns about political climates and ecological consciousness, this course returns to the eighteenth century to analyze how writers interpreted climate and ecology back then. In the context of agricultural, industrial, and political revolutions, this class will explore how writers like Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, John Clare understood both political and ecological climates like colonialism, women's rights, class revolutions, and natural history. (Fiction, Poetry, 1650-1830, Theory)
Instructor(s): Caroline Heller Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 23190
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 Woolf. (1830-1940, Fiction)
Instructor(s): Lisa Ruddick Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 24011, GNSE 23400
ENGL 23808. Sonnets from Wyatt to Yeats and Beyond. 100 Units.
This course will trace the history and persistence of the sonnet in English poetry, but it will start with the founder of the tradition, the early Renaissance Italian poet, Francesco Petrarch, who made the form popular, and remained its model practitioner. Since the form flourished in the Renaissance (in England as in all over Europe) and was revived in the 19th century, the course will mainly be devoted to poets from those periods. Poets to be studied will include: Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, Hopkins, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and D. G. Rossetti. There will be a midterm and a final paper. (Poetry)
Instructor(s): Richard Strier Terms Offered: Winter
ENGL 24102. The Idiot as Hero. 100 Units.
What strains are put on the apparatus of representation and storytelling when the protagonist is assumed to be cognitively challenged, foolish, stupid, or even idiotic? How do we make sense of idiocy? How do we interpret and evaluate what an idiot's idiocy means? What other codes -- ethical, political, ideological, sexual, etc. -- come into play when we respond aesthetically to a story about an idiot? How, and to what degree, is it possible for us to identify with the experience of being stupid? What means do writers and filmmakers do to exploit the aesthetic possibilities of idiocy (that is, the pleasures that can be derived by representing or evoking idiocy in particular ways)? Readings may include Sterne, Tristram Shandy; Wordsworth, "The Idiot Boy"; Flaubert, Madame Bovary. Films may include Forrest Gump; Born Yesterday; Nights of Cabiria. (Fiction)
Instructor(s): Lawrence Rothfield Terms Offered: Winter
ENGL 24150. Melodrama and Film. 100 Units.
This course examines the central role melodrama has played in understandings of film and vice versa. Working carefully through select films like Bigger than Life, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Vertigo, we'll develop an account of key cinematic concepts like camera movement and mise-en-scène. We'll also interrogate various conceptualizations of melodrama (as mode, genre, style, affect, etc.) and consider melodrama's longstanding, global appeal. (Theory)
Instructor(s): Joseph Bitney Terms Offered: Autumn
ENGL 24170. The Arts of Civil War. 100 Units.
What aesthetic strategies do art and literature employ to represent civil war in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? In order to propose some answers, this comparative course traverses a wide range of cultural and historical contexts, moving chronologically through civil wars and revolutions in the United States, Russia, Spain, Ireland, Vietnam, Lebanon, and Syria. In doing so, we will query current debates around the relation between aesthetics and politics in critical theory, as well as pressing questions of human rights, citizenship, exile, refugee crisis, national sovereignty, and international humanitarianism. In addition to encountering artists and writers who work in a variety of different media (poetry, novels, visual art, film, etc.), we will read recent work by political theorists, philosophers, art historians, and literary critics. We will examine artists and writers such as Walt Whitman, El Lissitzky, Pablo Picasso, Etel Adnan, Lan Cao, Colm Toíbín, Claudia Rankine, Mounira Al Solh, and Ghayath Almadhoun, as well as the theoretical writings of Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Susan Sontag, and Giorgio Agamben. Our primary task will be to investigate the dynamic ways in which art theorizes civil war. (Fiction, Poetry, Theory)
Instructor(s): Brandon Truett Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 22907
ENGL 24400. Brecht and Beyond. 100 Units.
Brecht is indisputably the most influential playwright in the 20th century, but his influence on film theory and practice and on cultural theory generally is also considerable. In this course we will explore the range and variety of Brecht's own theatre, from the anarchic plays of the 1920's to the agitprop Lehrstück and film esp Kühle Wampe) to the classical parable plays, as well as the work of his heirs in German theatre (Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss) and film (RW Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge), in French film (Jean-Luc Godard) and cultural theory (the Situationists and May 68), film and theatre in Britain (such as Caryl Churchill or Mike Leigh), theatre and film in Africa, from South Africa to Senegal, and if possible a film or play from the US that engages with Brechtian theory and/or practice. (Drama)
Instructor(s): Loren Kruger Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): TAPS and/or Hum Core required; no first years.
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 20800, CMST 26200, TAPS 28435
ENGL 25130. Ethnic Minority Poetry in the US. 100 Units.
This course is designed as a survey of the various minority traditions excluded from canonical understandings of the history of US poetry. Centered around the twentieth century yet bookended by earlier and later poetry, the course is divided into five sections: African American, Native American, Latinx, Asian American, and Jewish American. Among many others, we'll read poems by Myung Mi Kim, Amiri Baraka, Simon J. Ortiz, and Allen Ginsberg. (Poetry, Theory, 1830-1940)
Instructor(s): Geronimo Sarmiento Cruz Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 25130
ENGL 25150. Pop Psychology. 100 Units.
This course takes for its premise that our understanding of psychological study is as fundamentally shaped by popular culture as it is by science. Using a constellation of literary, filmic and televisual, and other popular texts, we will consider how modes of psychological study, manipulation, and repair figure in the American popular imagination. Our eclectic archive will include pamphlets on psychological warfare, psychological thrillers, sitcoms, reality tv, studies on personality tests, and self-help tracts. Students will be encouraged to bring in their own examples as well. We will ask: what conception of human motivation and susceptibility, unconscious phenomena, collective feeling, or the form of "the therapeutic" do these texts carry? What aesthetic, formal, medial conventions or innovations can we track across our transmedial archive? (Fiction, Theory)
Instructor(s): Shirl Yang Terms Offered: Spring
ENGL 25804. Signs of the Americas. 100 Units.
It is a common misconception that literature can happen only in the alphabet or that such non-alphabetical literatures have long ago ceased to be made. This course corrects such misconceptions by exploring modern and contemporary literatures that have been written with, or in response to, such sign-systems as pictographs, hieroglyphs, totem poles, wampum, and khipu. Focusing especially on the sign-systems of the native Americas, this class gives students a basic introduction to the mechanics of these signs, in order to discuss how these mechanics might be at play in the works of such poets, writers, and artists as Anni Albers, Simon Ortiz, Gerald Vizenor, Louise Erdrich, John Borrows, Charles Olson, Bill Reid, Robert Bringhurst, Fred Wah, Clayton Eshleman, Cy Twombly, Joaquín Torres-Garcia, Cecilia Vicuña, and others. Key questions to be asked include: how are these signs an interface for contemporary histories of nation and capital? And: how do those material histories and their identifications in race, gender, kinship, and ecology change when cast in the mechanics, tropes, and figures of these signs? As a "Makers Seminar," this course will include creative alternatives to the standard analytical college paper. (Fiction, Poetry, Theory)
Instructor(s): Edgar Garcia Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LACS 25804, SPAN 25818
ENGL 25970. Alternate Reality Games: Theory and Production. 100 Units.
Games are one of the most prominent and influential media of our time. This experimental course explores the emerging genre of "alternate reality" or "transmedia" gaming. Throughout the quarter, we will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of transmedia games. These games build on the narrative strategies of novels, the performative role-playing of theater, the branching techniques of electronic literature, the procedural qualities of video games, and the team dynamics of sports. Beyond the subject matter, students will design modules of an Alternate Reality Game in small groups. Students need not have a background in media or technology, but a wide-ranging imagination, interest in new media culture, or arts practice will make for a more exciting quarter.
Instructor(s): Patrick Jagoda, Heidi Coleman Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing. Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing through online form at http://bigproblems.uchicago.edu; see course description. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory. Questions:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note(s): Note(s): English majors: this course fulfills the Theory (H) distribution requirement.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTV 30700, TAPS 28466, BPRO 28700, CMST 25954, MAAD 20700, ENGL 32314, ARTV 20700, CMST 35954
ENGL 26170. London Underground: Environment, Industry, and the Making of the English Working Class. 100 Units.
Examining the environmental and social forces in the period between 1780-1867, this course highlights the literary establishment's complex and often troubled relationship with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the working class from a matrix of underground networks. The course features a diverse cadre of writers and theorists such as Jane Austen, Karl Marx, and E.J. Blandford, and provides a nuanced understanding of laborers' lived, material conditions through class visits to the Coal Mine at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Special Collections archive, and interactive discussions with the People's History Museum and the Labor and Working-Class History Association. (1650-1830, 1830-1940, Fiction, Poetry, Theory)
Instructor(s): Carrie Taylor Terms Offered: Spring
ENGL 26300. The Literature of Disgust, Rabelais to Nausea. 100 Units.
This course will survey a range of literary works which take the disgusting as their principle aesthetic focus, while also providing students with an introduction to core issues and concepts in the history of aesthetic theory, such as the beautiful and the sublime, disinterested judgment and purposive purposelessness, taste and distaste. At the same time, our readings will allow us to explore the ways in which the disgusting has historically been utilized as a way of producing socially critical literature, by representing that which a culture categorically attempts to marginalize, exclude, and expel. Readings will engage with the variety of aesthetic functions that the disgusting has been afforded throughout modern literary history, including the carnivalesque and grotesque in Rabelais and the bawdy and satirical in Swift; revolted Victorian realism and gruesome Zolaesque naturalism; and Sartre's existential nausea and Kafka's anxious repulsion; as well as Thomas Bernhard's experiments with contempt and William Burroughs' hallucinogenic inversions of pleasure and disgust. Prerequisite: Strong stomach. (F, G, H)
Instructor(s): Zachary Samalin Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 26302, CMLT 26301
ENGL 27003. Woman/Native. 100 Units.
This course reads works of postcolonial literature and theory in order to consider the entanglements of the figures of "women" and "natives" in colonial as well as postcolonial discourse. We will discuss topics such as the persistent feminization of the profane, degraded, and contagious bodies of colonized natives; representations of women as both the keepers and the victims of "authentic" native culture; the status (symbolic and otherwise) of women in anti-colonial resistance and insurgency; and the psychic pathologies (particularly nervous conditions of anxiety, hysteria, and madness) that appear repeatedly in these works as states to which women and/as natives are especially susceptible. Authors may include Ama Ata Aidoo, Hélène Cixous J.M Coetzee, Maryse Condé, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Mahasweta Devi, Assia Djebar, Frantz Fanon, Sigmund Freud, Silvia Federici, Nuruddin Farah, Bessie Head, V.S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys, Tayeb Salih, Ousmane Sembène, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. (Fiction, Theory)
Instructor(s): Sonali Thakkar Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 27003, GNSE 27013, CRES 27013
ENGL 27600. Cinema in Africa. 100 Units.
This course examines Africa in film as well as films produced in Africa. It places cinema in Sub Saharan Africa in its social, cultural, and aesthetic contexts ranging from neocolonial to postcolonial, Western to Southern Africa, documentary to fiction, art cinema to TV. We will begin with La Noire de... (1966), ground-breaking film by the "father" of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene, contrasted w/ a South African film, African Jim (1959) that more closely resembles African American musical film, and anti-colonial and anti apartheid films from Lionel Rogosin's Come Back Africa (1959) to Sarah Maldoror's Sambizanga, Ousmane Sembenes Camp de Thiaroye (1984), and Jean Marie Teno'ss Afrique, Je te Plumerai (1995). The rest of the course will examine cinematic representations of tensions between urban and rural, traditional and modern life, and the different implications of these tensions for men and women, Western and Southern Africa, in fiction, documentary and ethnographic film, including 21st century work where available.
Instructor(s): Loren Kruger Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Second-year standing or above in the College; recommended for advanced undergrads and grad students in CMST, CRES, African studies, English and/or Comparative Lit with interests in race and representation, Africa and the world
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 48602, CMLT 22900, CRES 24201, CRES 34201, CMST 34201, GNSE 28602, ENGL 48601, CMLT 42900, CMST 24201
ENGL 28200. Narrating Migration. 100 Units.
Human migration is one of the most pressing global problems of our time, though it is not a new phenomenon. It has shaped societies throughout time, and the degree to which it is perceived as a "problem" or an "opportunity" changes radically according to circumstances and ideologies. In this course, we will analyze the different ways in which migration has been perceived, understood, and experienced. We will focus on two intense episodes in the global history of migration: migration from early nineteenth-century Britain; and migration to late 20th and 21st-century America. Our emphasis throughout will be on the ways in which migration is narrated: the stories that societies tell about the migration of themselves and others. We will cover a wide range of migration narratives, including those of creative writers and artists, and will consider them through the lenses of literary criticism, history, theory, and also artistic practice itself.
Instructor(s): J. Mcdonagh, V. Tran Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): BPRO 28200
ENGL 28404. Introduction to Old English. 100 Units.
Moððe word fræt." These are the first words of a riddle that students will learn how to read in this course. As the first part of the Medieval Research Series, this course introduces students to the Old English language, the literary history of early medieval England, and current research tools and scholarship in the field of Old English. In studying the language, we will explore its diverse and exciting body of literature, including poems of heroic violence and lament, laws, medical recipes, and humorously obscene riddles. Successful completion of the course will give students a rich sense not only of the earliest period of English literary culture, but also of the structure of the English language as it is written and spoken today. (Pre-1650) This course is the first in a two quarter Medieval Research sequence. No prior experience with Old or Middle English is required. The second course in the Medieval Research sequence (Beowulf) will be offered in the Spring Quarter.
Instructor(s): Benjamin Saltzman Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 28404, ENGL 38404
ENGL 28505. Beowulf. 100 Units.
In this course, we will read and translate Beowulf from Old English, attending closely to language, paleography, and textual cruxes. We also will examine the history of scholarship on the poem and a variety of approaches to its interpretation, guided by student interest. Over the course of the term, each student will produce a piece original scholarly research that engages with the poem and its critical tradition. (Pre-1650, Poetry) This course is the second in a two quarter Medieval Research sequence.
Instructor(s): Benjamin Saltzman Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Introduction to Old English (or the equivalent).
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 28505, ENGL 38505
ENGL 28650. Outsider Writing. 100 Units.
A kinship between poetry and mental illness is a commonplace in myth, received opinion, and literary history, whether formulated as divine inspiration or bipolar disorder. Similarly the pejorative ascription of insanity to poets has been a commonplace of literary review and criticism. 'My vocabulary did this to me' are the reputed dying words of the poet Jack Spicer who claimed to respond to dictation as though himself a radio tuning to messages. Language's dictation, however experienced, unites mental disorder and the literary arts - the pressure of language that might become unhinged. What of the reader? Aesthetic response also is both formally contained and threatens to become unhinged. This class will read 20th and 21st century works of Outsider poetry and fiction in English, and consider how best to respond. Outsider writing will be related to Outsider visual art, and to the emergent field of Outsider theory. (Theory)
Instructor(s): John Wilkinson Terms Offered: Autumn
ENGL 29505. Joan Didion: Reporter, Novelist, Essayist, Memoirist. 100 Units.
This seminar is a reading and writing-intensive course designed to provide advanced English majors with the tools and resources necessary to propose and conduct their own literary research projects. Reading for the course will include one of Didion's novels as well as works of non-fiction in its various forms. Because the course requires historical research and considerable engagement with criticism as well as with the literature itself, it is ideally suited for students interested in developing the skills necessary to write a B.A. Honors paper or considering graduate work in English. The course will culminate in a substantial critical paper of your own design. This is Seminar in Research and Criticism intended for English majors.
Instructor(s): Deborah Nelson Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): 3rd- and 4th-year English and Creative Writing majors receive priority.
ENGL 29705. Incarcerated Life. 100 Units.
The United States today is in the midst of an incarceration crisis, one in which millions of Americans are currently warehoused within, or have passed through, carceral institutions. Many scholars locate the emergence of this punitive turn in the 1970s, and with good reason: the landscape of penality and confinement looks much different in earlier historical periods. Turning to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this course will explore literary, philosophical, and pragmatic engagements with the prison across the British Empire and in the postcolonial United States. By tracing the particular fears and fantasies that grouped around institutions of confinement, we will explore the logic by which an institution once marginal to social life has become so central to society that incarceration is now a conventional form of life. This course will involve a robust research component, culminating in a final paper; while this course is rooted in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, students will be welcome to pursue research on contemporary regimes of incarceration. Our theoretical readings will include Michel Foucault, Angela Davis, and Ruth Wilson Gilmore. Our archive of literary, philosophical, and practical texts will include the Newgate Calendar, Cesare Beccaria, Oliver Goldsmith, John Gay, Jeremy Bentham, James Williams, Harriet Jacobs, and Austin Reed. (1830-1940) This is Seminar in Research and Criticism intended for English majors.
Instructor(s): Christopher Taylor Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): This course is limited to 15 third- and fourth-year students who have already fulfilled the Department’s Gateway requirement and taken at least two further English courses.
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