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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

American Literature

english department

English Electives Offered Fall 2017:

ENGL2141 American Literary History I (Fall:3.0)
Students need not take these courses in chronological order
Fulfills the pre-1900 requirement.

American Literary History 1 follows the development of American literary history from the landing of the Mayflower to the tumultuous decade of the 1850s, moving from such early writers as Bradstreet, Rowlandson and Taylor through such writers of the Revolution and Early Republic as Equiano, Franklin, and Rowson to such antebellum writers as Child, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, Douglass, Whitman, and Melville. Course assignments include regular participation in class discussions, mid-semester and final examinations, and either one ten-page or two five-page essay(s). Students considering careers in secondary English education will be given the option of writing about approaches to teaching course texts.

Paul Lewis

ENGL2141 American Literary History I (Fall:3.0)

Students need not take these courses in chronological order. 
Fulfills the pre-1900 requirement.
American Literary History 1 follows the development of American literary history from the landing of the Mayflower to the tumultuous decade of the 1850s, moving from such early writers as Bradstreet, Rowlandson and Taylor through such writers of the Revolution and Early Republic as Equiano, Franklin, and Rowson to such antebellum writers as Child, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, Douglass, Whitman, and Melville. Course assignments include regular participation in class discussions, mid-semester and final examinations, and either one ten-page or two five-page essay(s). Students considering careers in secondary English education will be given the option of writing about approaches to teaching course texts.
Paul Lewis

ENGL2142 American Literary History II (Fall:3.0)

Fulfills pre-1900 requirement.

The seventy-five years following the American Civil War defined the era when transformative changes in U.S. culture--the demise of the slave system and the rise of segregation; the emergence of corporate society and successive waves of immigration; new experimentation in the arts; new roles for women and new ideas imagined for reordering society--transformed the face of American writing. Through interdisciplinary lectures on historical and biographical background, and close discussions on authors such as Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sui Sin Far, Stephen Crane and others, this course provides an introduction to the emergence of modern American writing.

Christopher Wilson

This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of American culture. It is not a survey of American cultural history; rather, we will concentrate on approaches, methods, and themes of interest as we assemble critical skills for making interpretive arguments about aspects of culture in their historical moment. The forms we analyze will include examples from literature, film, painting, music, theater, landscape, and architecture, among others. Members of the American Studies faculty will present guest lectures to highlight various aspects of the field.

Lori Harrison-Kahan

ENGL2470 Black and Popular: Speculative Fictions by Black Writers (Fall:3.0)

Cross Listed with: AADS2470
Satisfies core requirement for: Cultural Diversity. 

This course asks: what do discussions of contemporary social issues look like when depicted in popular literatures written by writers of African descent? What is the benefit of fictionalizing these issues in genre literatures? Students address these questions by examining the forms of "speculative fictions" (specifically thriller, science fiction/fantasy, and mystery/detective) as well as urban romance to determine how each represents concerns of 20th/21st century black peoples in the US, Canada, Jamaica, and Martinique. Our focus on these genres' explorations of race, class, culture, incest, social engineering, and intimate relationships is complemented by socio-historical studies of these issues and countries.

Rhonda Frederick

ENGL3383 Asian American Film (Fall:3.0)

Cross Listed with: FILM3388

This course satisfies the Cultural Diversity requirement.

Focuses on films made by and about Asian Americans, exploring them as an art form and a medium for exploring Asian American experiences and identities. Topics include racial and gender stereotypes, the rise of Asian American cinema as part of a social and political movement, the relationship between history and memory, and sexual identity. We will watch Hollywood films, independent films, documentaries, and shorts. Films may include: Joy Luck Club, Who Killed Vincent Chin?, Chan is Missing, and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Requires one film screening per week outside of class time and weekly reading.

Christina Klein

Fulfills the Pre-1900 requirement

Walk the streets of Old Boston in this course that explores familiar and forgotten chapters of literary history. Spend a night at the Federal Street Theatre during the 1790s. Search early Boston magazines for forgotten treasures. Meet the poet buried on Boston Common. Find out why Edgar Allan Poe called members of the Boston literati "Frog-Pondians." And watch the American Renaissance flower. Authors studied will include Judith Sargent Murray, Lydia Maria Child, Charles Sprague, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Poe—Bostonians all! Visits to literary sites and explorations of online archival materials will help transport us back in time.

Paul Lewis

ENGL4001 Transatlantic Passages in 18th-Century Literature (Fall:3.0)

Fulfills the pre-1900 requirement

In 1776, a cartoon was published in England that personifies Britain and America as “female combatants,” slinging insults at one another as they face off in a fistfight. But their literary relationship was not always so adversarial, even after they parted ways following the American Revolution. In this class, we will examine the ways different kinds of Atlantic crossings shaped Anglophone texts on both sides of the ocean. The reading list may include fiction by Samuel Richardson, Penelope Aubin, and Royall Tyler, life writing by Mary Rowlandson and Mary Prince, and poetry by Phyllis Wheatley and James Grangier.

Rebekah Mitsein

ENGL4010 - Scribbling Women and Suffragettes: Human Rights and American Women’s Writing, 1850-1920

Satisfies core requirement for: Cultural Diversity
Fulfills pre-1900 requirement

This course focuses on American women writers who engaged questions of difference and justice and played pivotal roles in social reform, ranging from movements for women’s and indigenous rights to abolitionism and labor activism. How did nineteenth-century women use print culture as a forum for political debate and a means of democratic participation prior to the Nineteenth Amendment? How did women writers work within the sentimental tradition and contribute to new developments in science fiction, literary journalism, and realism? Authors include Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, Maria Ruiz de Burton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Zitkala-Sa, and Sarah Winnemucca.

Lori Harrison-Kahan

The concept of apocalypse signifies both a thinking of “the end” and an uncovering, an unveiling, or revelation. Apocalypse, then, marks both the end and the beginning of… what? Focusing on modernist texts of the interwar period (1919-1939), this course explores the apocalyptic tone that permeates the philosophy, fiction, and poetry of the years following WWI and leading up to WWII. How does this tone shift from the post-war 1920s, to the pre-war 1930s? Writers may include Yeats, Eliot, Woolf, Benjamin, and Freud.

Where in the world is American Studies? That is the central question we will take up in this seminar, and we will attempt to answer it by exploring different accounts of Americans traveling and living abroad as sailors, exiles, soldiers, expatriates, and tourists. Through a selection of readings and films, we will consider the ways in which American identities and cultures from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries take shape and transform through different global encounters.

Adam Lewis

This course will engage with modern and contemporary examples of so-called "long form" journalistic narratives (essays, books, graphic and visual texts) that, by applying literary techniques to nonfiction, tell us a story about contemporary social life. Discussing matters of literary form and technique as well as journalistic norms, we will cover nonfiction texts that address both social conditions on the home front (inequality, Wall Street adventurism, street crime, police culture, Disneyfication) and international conflicts (including war and terrorism), generally involving the U.S. Writers covered will include figures such as Michael Lewis, Joan Didion, George Packer, William Finnegan, Dexter Filkins, Suki Kim, Isabel Wilkerson, Geraldine Brooks, Mike Davis, Naomi Klein, Tracy Kidder, Thomas Frank, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Tony Horwitz, and others.

Christopher Wilson

ENGL4020  Fake News: What's it Good For?

The term “fake news” has captivated popular consciousness seemingly overnight, but stories that present reader fantasies and fears as current events stretch across history, under various guises: medieval “false prophecies”; Russian kompromat; Orwellian Newspeak; The Onion. Drawing on literature, film and journalistic case studies, this course examines the history and uses of fake news, from state propaganda designed to control and deceive to hoaxes and satire designed to fool, amuse, and make better readers. Sample texts: 1984 (George Orwell); Enemy of the People (Henrik Ibsen); Essays by H L Mencken, Edgar Allan Poe, Janet Cook, and Nik Cohn; Satire and Dissent (Amber Day); Bob Roberts, dir Tim Robbins.

Angela Ards

ENGL4006 Eco-Fictions: World Economy and the Meaning of Nature (Fall:3.0)

The calls for climate justice and environmental ethics, though motivated by climate science, emerge largely from our everyday experiences with our environment. Here imaginative works of fiction and non-fiction, poetry, art, and cultural history provide inspiration. By focusing on the environment as a global (not merely an American) issue we shall study classic and contemporary works from around the world that raise awareness about the significance of human action upon the planet. The course will include a variety of genres and media such as film, art, theory, fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction.

Kalpana Seshadri

ENGL2482   African American Writers

“Always what is going on seems to be about water.”
—M. NourbeSe Phillip, Zong!                                  

In the opening chapter of The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois famously portrays being black as a serial confrontation with a question: “How does it feel to be a problem?” This course undertakes a survey of African American Literature as an ongoing mediation on the “problem” of being black, from the advent of racial slavery to the manifold racial crises of our contemporary moment. Our readings will include a broad sampling of a black literary tradition that spans four centuries and multiple genres including: slave narratives, novels, poetry, drama, autobiography, short story, and speeches/essays.

Furthermore, our survey will be informed by poet M. NourbeSe Phillip’s provocative reflection on her experience writing Zong!. That is, we will investigate the ways in which “always what is going on,” in African American Literature’s meditation on its problem, “seems to be about water.” The slaves at the bottom of the Atlantic, the threat of being sold down river, or the use of high-pressure water hoses in Jim Crow Alabama, all bear witness to water’s enduring association with the problem of being black. And yet, over the course of the semester we will also consider how black writers deploy the trope of water in ways that challenge us to think of blackness as something more than just a problem needing to be overcome. Put differently, this class is careful to remember that black folk are not just weighed in the water, as the enduring sign of the problem of being black, they also wade there; and proposes that this wading, if properly attended to, has much to teach us about life and freedom.

Jonathan Howard

 

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