English
Offered by the English department.

At Wheaton, you have many ways to major in English. Course offerings in composition/rhetoric, literature, theory, film studies, and creative writing work in concert to help you deepen and expand your intellectual and imaginative pursuits.

Major in English

 English major worksheet

The English department allows students to take a 10-course major, with distribution requirements, or to pursue an 11-course concentration. The major requirements include 10 or more courses in English beyond the 100 level including ENG 290, a section of ENG 401, two other courses at the 300 level or above and two courses that focus on literature written before 1800. The 300- and 400-level courses must be taken at Wheaton. These are minimum requirements and students are strongly encouraged to take courses beyond the minimum. All English (ENG) courses at or above the 200-level may be used to fulfill English Major requirements, including courses on film, new media, and writing studies. Students may also take creative writing (CW) courses for English Major credit.


Major in English with a concentration

The English major with a concentration requires 11 courses. Students fulfill the same requirements as for the basic English major and also choose a five-course concentration, for a total of 11 courses in the major. It is normally desirable that one of the five courses in the concentration be at the 300 level or above. One of the five courses can, with the approval of the department, be taken in a department other than English. In general, if a student wants to count a course that is not specifically listed for a concentration in the catalog, he or she needs to petition the department for approval. Similarly, a student who wants to create a concentration that is not listed below needs to petition the department. Students who want to major in English with a particular concentration should normally apply by the end of the junior year.

The concentrations currently being offered include:

  • Drama
  • Poetry
  • Modern and Contemporary Culture and Media
  • Colonial/Postcolonial Literature
  • Medieval/Renaissance Studies
  • Literature, Film and Race
  • Gender

Concentrations

The following are examples of potential concentrations within the English major. A student wishing to create a concentration not listed, or to modify a listed concentration, needs to petition the department for approval.

The concentration in literature, film and race

 English Literature, Film and Race major worksheet

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 209, ENG 247, ENG 255, ENG 256, ENG 257, ENG 347.

The concentration in colonial and postcolonial literature

English Colonial and Postcolonial Literature major worksheet 

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 235, ENG 244, ENG 245, ENG 246, ENG 247.

The concentration in drama

English Drama major worksheet

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 241, ENG 246, ENG 252, ENG 273, ENG 274, CW 287/ENG 287, CW 288/, ENG 309, ENG 310, CW 388/.

The concentration in gender

English Gender major worksheet

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 236, ENG 240, ENG 247, ENG 272, ENG 343, ENG 348, ENG 377.

The concentration in medieval/Renaissance literature

English Medieval/Renaissance Literature major worksheet

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 207, ENG 208, ENG 273, ENG 306, ENG 309, ENG 310, ENG 313.

The concentration in poetry

English Poetry major worksheet

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 208, ENG 232, ENG 240, ENG 260, CW 283/, ENG 313, ENG 326, ENG 341, CW 383/.

The concentration in modern and contemporary culture and media

English Modern and Contemporary Culture and Media major worksheet

The five courses can include such courses as ENG 249, ENG 250, ENG 256, ENG 257, ENG 282, ENG 285, ENG 286, ENG 341, ENG 343, ENG 348, ENG 355, ENG 356, ENG 376, FNMS 231, FNMS 258.

Minor

English minor worksheet

The English minor is in literature and consists of at least five courses, one of which must be at the 300 level or above and one of which is ENG 290 Approaches to Literature and Culture or the equivalent. Students should take ENG 290 before proceeding to a 300 level course.

  • English

    ENG 010 – College Writing Workshop

    A small class for students who want individualized instruction and practice in writing and who need to achieve a satisfactory level of proficiency in written academic English. In addition to one class meeting per week, students meet individually with the course instructor and a writing tutor to identify and pursue solutions to specific writing problems. The course is normally taken either prior to or at the same time as English 101.

(Previously Basic Writing)

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    ENG 060 – Writing for Multilingual (ESL) Students

    English 060 is designed to help non-native speakers of English to gain the knowledge, skills and practice necessary to succeed at college writing. Students may take the course twice. Each semester of English 060 is worth .5 credits.

If an incoming student has been placed into English 060 and Wheaton does not offer advanced courses in that student’s first language, the student has the option of using the combination of English 101 and 2 semesters of 060 to fulfill the foreign language requirements, provided that the student has completed both semesters of English 060 by the end of his or her sophomore year.

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    ENG 098 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    ENG 099 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

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    ENG 101 – Writing

    For a complete list and descriptions for the English 101 sections refer to the course schedule.Required of all first-year students except those who have passed the Advanced Placement examination with a 4 or 5 or have passed the Wheaton exemption examination, which is given by invitation. The focus for the writing and reading varies from section to section, permitting students to follow special interests and explore new material. All sections introduce students to some college-level literacy practices. The topic for each of the sections will be announced before the date of course selections and sent to all entering students during the summer. Recent topics have included popular culture, London, multicultural lives, the environment and rebellion and authority.

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    ENG 198 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    ENG 201 – Introduction to Literature

    How do we go from simply liking a poem, play, novel or film to understanding how it has elicited this reaction from us? How do we begin to consider and write about a work that has engaged us? This course will train students in reading and writing critically about English. It will teach students to ask questions about genre (what makes a science fiction short story different from a thriller?), narrative (why don’t the film and novel tell the story the same way in Hunger Games?), and literary tradition (what makes a contemporary sonnet different from a Shakespeare sonnet?). Students will develop practices of close reading and contextualization, and draw connections between the formal analysis of texts and larger cultural issues.

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    ENG 207 – Medieval Literature: Beowulf and Others

    The class will examine medieval literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the end of the 15th century. All texts will be in translation or modernized. We will read Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Dante’s Inferno as well as various shorter texts from the Old and Middle English periods.

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    ENG 208 – Anglo-Saxon Literature

    Students in this class will learn Anglo-Saxon, the earliest form of English. We will mix the study of language with the study of literature and by the end of the semester students will be able to translate Anglo-Saxon poetry. Readings will include famous and beloved poems such as Beowulf, The Dream of the Rood, The Wanderer and The Seafarer both in the original and in translation as well as prose texts and less well-known poems. The course is part of the Computing and Texts and Medieval Culture connections and is also a prerequisite for English 320 – Beowulf (ENG 320): Beowulf. Wes þu hal!.

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    ENG 209 – African American Literature and Culture

    A survey of African American literature and its interplay with other modes of cultural production in African America. Students will examine representations of African American experiences in poetry, drama, autobiography, fiction and film/documentary. Individual projects and small-group work will enable students to engage in the contexts out of which the experiences detailed in the texts emerge.

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    ENG 224 – The Gothic: From Horace Walpole to Jane Austen

    This course explores the Gothic underbelly of eighteenth-century sensibility. It considers literary representations of terror, fantasy, sublimity, and the macabre, set in hostile landscapes of decay and foreboding. Over the course of the semester, students will examine the origins of the Gothic genre and come to understand its place in literary and cultural history. Together, we will read seminal Gothic works including Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, and Jane Austen’s satirical response to the Gothic novel, Northanger Abbey. This course fulfills the pre-1800 literature requirement.

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    ENG 232 – Revolutionary Ideals and British Romanticism

    What has the British Romantic legacy of writers like Wordsworth and Keats, Coleridge and Shelley left us? How did they grapple with their revolutionary ideals as well as their own historical circumstances? We will critically and culturally examine their poetic exploration of the mind in all its psychological complexities, the political dimensions of their lyric assertions and the images that still seem to affect our contemporary culture.

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    ENG 235 – Empire, Race and the Victorians

    By the end of the 19th century, Britain had the most powerful colonial empire in the world. That empire was acquired during a key time in the formation of European and American ideas about race and we have inherited many of the Victorians’ assumptions about race, ethnicity and relations between Western Europe, Africa, Asia and America. This course explores literature about the British Empire, the political, social and sometimes even sexual issues that underlay the acquisition of colonies and the scientific writings that helped to shape definitions of race. We will read poetry, nonfiction prose, novels, travel literature and plays, and we will share resources and some class time with Biology 111 – Evolution and Ecology (BIO 111).

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    ENG 236 – Sex, God and the Victorians

    This course examines a fundamental tension in Victorian culture: its strong sense of morality and religion, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, its perpetual fascination with the illicit, sensual, and sexual. Through our readings of works such as Stoker’s Dracula, Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Brontë’s Villete, and the bizarre Gothic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, we consider the ways that Victorian propriety and religion worked not only to regulate sexual desire and gender norms, but also to facilitate new ways of talking about and conceiving of gender, sex, and love.

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    ENG 240 – Gender, Genre and Poetry

    Poets are male. Muses are female. But what happens when the conventions get reversed? This course introduces you to the study of poetry by focusing on how gender gets associated with types of poetry and what individual poets do to subvert or refuse those associations. We will also ask what gender has to do with categories such as race, class and sexuality in the writing of poetry. You will read poems from different periods and cultures with an emphasis on the relationship between works that have come to exemplify a particular genre, such as Homer’s epic poem The Illiad or sonnets by Shakespeare and later works that revise those models.

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    ENG 241 – Modern Drama

    Although it is impossible to read all the plays of the modern period in one semester, by reading the “blockbusters” alongside lesser- and little-known avant garde plays, we will together build a foundation for taking up the important question of how the “canon” becomes encoded. Supplemental readings of particular productions, manifestos, theoretical essays, biographical accounts and historical material will enrich individual and collective responses to the dramatic texts. In this way, all of us become active participants in keeping the “body” of modern drama alive. Authors will include Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Büchner, Jean Genet, Lorraine Hansberry, Eugène Ionesco, Eugene O’Neill, Gertrude Stein, August Strindberg, Tennessee Williams and others.

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    ENG 243 – Science Fiction

    This course is an examination of recent science fiction (mostly written after 1970) and the ways in which the genre fits into and shapes the wider culture. In most years, the course will be linked to Math Thought and students will be required to take both courses in order to take either one. In those years the course will focus on the ways that mathematics and science fiction interact to describe the contemporary world and shape the future. When not linked to Math Thought, the course will examine the ways that science fiction creates worlds and offers salvation, and how gender, power and race are developed in a science fiction context.

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    ENG 244 – Contemporary Caribbean Literature in English

    An introduction to the work of Anglophone Caribbean writers who grapple with the issues of colonialism, class, race, ethnicity and gender in a context of often-conflicting allegiances to Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. The main emphasis will be on fiction and poetry published since the 1950s, but we will also read some earlier 20th-century literature to better understand the priorities and concerns of later writers. As we read, we will find some common concerns reappearing, such as anti-imperialism and nationalism, migrancy and homeland, and the relationship of literature to oral traditions and Caribbean music such as calypso, reggae and dub. Authors usually include Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Louise Bennett, Grace Nichols, Olive Senior, V. S. Naipaul, The Mighty Sparrow and Jean Binta Breeze.

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    ENG 245 – Childhood in African Fiction

    An introduction to sub-Saharan African fiction through the study of literary representations of childhood in African novels and short fiction. Particular interest in gender representations. Authors may include Buchi Emecheta, Tsiti Dangarembga, Zaynab Alkali, Chinua Achebe, Yvonne Vera, Camara Laye, Ben Okri, Nzodinma Iweala, Chimamanda Adichie, among others.

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    ENG 246 – Modern Irish Literature

    A study of the role of literary culture in the formation of modern Ireland since the late 19th century. We will examine the response of Irish writers to English racial stereotypes of the Irish and their attempt to create new images of Ireland and Irishness. Topics will include the viability of the Irish language in modern literature, the use of Irish mythology, the place of women in national culture, the role of the United States in contemporary Irish culture, and debates about the censorship of homosexuality. We will read drama, poetry and fiction by familiar figures such as Wilde, Yeats, Lady Gregory, Joyce, and Friel and less-familiar figures such as Marina Carr, Frank McGuinness, Marie Jones and Mary Dorcey.

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    ENG 247 – Feminist Fiction

    This course is about American feminist fiction of the 1970s and 1980s. Participants will examine how the discourses of Women’s Liberation and Black feminism reshaped the imaginative constructions of women’s lives in American society. In addition to revisiting the major social movements in America of the 1930s to the 1980s, students enrolled in the class will also apply contemporary theories of identity and subjectivity to the feminist realist fiction of the Seventies and Eighties. Some attention will be given to the early Chicana feminist movement. Texts include those by authors Marge Piercy, Marilyn French, Alice Walker and Cherry Moraga, among others. The course ends with the question: Is there an enduring feminist aesthetic?

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    ENG 249 – Hollywood Genres

    What makes a western a western, a musical a musical? For Hollywood, genre has historically served as a form of product differentiation organized around specific narrative codes and conventions. Genres reveal much about how Hollywood interacts with and responds to shifts in audience tastes and cultural values. The course will introduce students to a variety of Hollywood genres and theories of generic formation in order to increase our understanding of the commercial, artistic and ideological function of genres. Required weekly film viewing.

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    ENG 250 – Film History I: Cinema to 1940

    This course examines motion picture history from the late 19th century to the advent of World War II. Students will be introduced to the artistic, technological, industrial and social dimensions of film during these decades. Areas of focus may include: emergence of film narrative, genre, silent features and the star system; formation of the Hollywood studio system; American “race movies”; Soviet montage; German expressionism; French impressionism; documentary and avant-grade cinema and so on.

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    ENG 251 – Introduction to World Cinema

    This course is designed as an introduction to the critical concepts in the study of “world cinema”: Orientalism, Third World nationalism, diasporic cultural production and Global Hollywood. We will study a broad range of films, from the colonial adventure to the anti-colonial documentary, from avant-garde cinema to popular blockbusters. Rather than force the vast cinemas of the world into a stable grid of discrete national formations, this course encourages students to explore the connections between “global” and “local” cinematic worlds. Required weekly film viewing.

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    ENG 252 – Contemporary Drama: The Tip of the Iceberg

    Just as painting changed with the invention of the camera, contemporary plays continue to be influenced by television and film. Some playwrights use the influence to create a new twist on the realistic tradition, while others write highly theatrical, often nonlinear pieces that can only be performed for the stage. We will address the inherent tensions between these dramatic strategies, taking up the question of how content (political, socioeconomic, race, gender and aesthetic concerns) affects form. Readings will range from recent Pulitzer Prize winners to hot-off-the-press unproduced plays by some of America’s most renowned, as well as emerging, playwrights.

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    ENG 253 – American Literature to 1865

    A critical and cultural exploration of works and ideologies from Navajo and Hopi tales of origins to Puritan pathologies and predestined patterns, from enlightened progress to slave narratives and romantic reveries. Writers will include Wheatley, Edwards, Bradstreet, Franklin, Hawthorne, Stowe, Douglass, Poe and others. We will examine literature as historical and cultural document as well as individual testimony and demonic vision.

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    ENG 255 – Cultural Diversity in American Literature, Civil War to WWII

    A critical survey of race, class, ethnic, gender and immigration issues by the richly diverse authors of America’s late 19th and early 20th centuries. Works by African American, Asian American, Native American and Anglo American writers such as Chesnutt, Dunbar, Du Bois, Hughes, McKay, Eastman, Eaton (Sui-Sin Far) Standing Bear, James, Wharton, Chopin, Hemingway and Faulkner.

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    ENG 256 – The Novel in Multi-Ethnic America

    Examination of writers since the post-World War II period from a variety of discourses and traditions in U.S. culture, including Native American, African American, Latino/a and Asian American.

(Previously The Discourses of Cultural Diversity in United States Fiction)

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    ENG 257 – Race and Racism in United States Cinema

    U.S. cinema has always struggled with both race and racism. This course examines the long, complex history of representations (and erasures) of racial difference in U.S. film. Although most mainstream films and public discussions frame race as a black-and-white issue, this course understands racial formations in the U.S. to be more multiple. We will watch films from a wide historical range that speak to and problematize the experiences of Chicanos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Anglo Americans (yes, white is a race, too) in the U.S. Required weekly film viewing.

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    ENG 259 – J. R. R. Tolkien

    Sometimes called the “author of the century,” J. R. R. Tolkien left his mark on both scholarship and the popular culture. Whether or not The Lord of the Rings is “literature” is one of the major topics of this course. Students will read Tolkien’s major works, including The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, as well as his medieval scholarship. We will also examine Tolkien’s sources, including Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Old Norse poetry and saga, and the Finnish Kalevala. The reading load for this course is greater than 2000 pages (plus all three Peter Jackson films), so students should be prepared.

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    ENG 260 – American Voices in Lyric Combat

    Who can claim to be an “American” voice? And how? Langston Hughes or Walt Whitman? Emily Dickinson or Elizabeth Bishop? Hart Crane or Sylvia Plath? T. S. Eliot or Marianne Moore? This course will explore American poetry from several vantage points, including race, gender, class, historical circumstance, cultural imperative, linguistic patterns and the whole uncertain idea of an “American” voice.

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    ENG 261 – Queens, Kings, Poets and Playwrights: Early Modern British Literature and Culture

    Elizabeth I inspired work from England’s greatest poets, and she adored plays. In this course we will, consider whether having a female monarch influenced gender-prescribed behavior. We will examine how colonial expansion, the Atlantic slave trade, and capitalism’s start could have influenced Shakespeare, Sidney, Marlowe, Donne, and Lady Mary Wroth, among others.

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    ENG 271 – Nineteenth-Century Narrative

    The 19th century had many different storytelling modes, from the satirical romances of Jane Austen to the psychological realism of George Eliot to the ghost stories of Dickens and the detective tales of Arthur Conan Doyle. This course provides an overview of the many kinds of narrative loved by 19th-century Britons and helps students develop skills in close reading as well as historical and cultural analysis.

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    ENG 272 – Romancing the Novel

    A course addressing both high-culture and pop-culture romances, from Charlotte Brontë to Harlequin. Works may include Jane Eyre, Daisy Miller, The Making of a Marchioness, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lolita, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The English Patient, a Harlequin romance and criticism of romance fiction.

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    ENG 273 – Revenge and Domesticity in Renaissance Literature

    The decades from 1590 to 1640 produced some of the richest–and most violent–drama written in English. Playwrights such as Marlowe, Kyd, Dekker, Jonson, Webster, Beaumont and Fletcher as well as Shakespeare dramatized nationhood and nightmarish revenge for London audiences who also were entertained by bear baiting and public hangings. As global exploration and commerce accelerated, the English public and private theatres excited playgoers by portraying foreign characters and societies as degenerate and immoral. Students will read selected plays and historical and cultural texts, perform and produce scenes, and write a variety of papers as well as a revenge play to understand more fully the social and imaginative worlds of early modern English theatre.

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    ENG 274 – Restoration Theatre and Beyond

    From Aphra Behn’s The Rover to The Beggar’s Opera to Sheridan’s School for Scandal, this course covers shifting modes of humor, wit and sophistication portrayed on the English stage, while taking into account the social, cultural and political elements driving change in the English state. The course covers the Restoration antimoralist backlash, the theatre’s relationship to the mid-18th-century rise of the novel, the late-century move toward sensibility and the changes to English theatre that arrived with the 19th century.

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    ENG 275 – Gender Politics in Narrative

    Gender Politics in Narrative uses fiction, non fiction, film, and memoir to examine the assumptions about gender in particular texts and analyze the contexts that construct them. Through works such as Pride and Prejudice, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane and Mitchell & Trask’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch we will debate gender and marriage expectations. Selections from Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Junot Diaz’s Drown provoke ideas about gender self-representations and the cultural assumptions that ground them. Students will write three five-seven page papers, contribute weekly questions for class debate, and present a final research project on gender representation.

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    ENG 276 – Evolution of English

    What is English and how did it get this way? In this course we trace the histories of writing from cuneiform to to emojis, of book production from parchment manuscripts to tumblrs, and of the English language from minor Germanic tongue to the global behemoth. We will investigate changes in sound and meaning, the interaction of English with other languages, the dynamics of standardization and diversity (including American dialects), and the interaction between writing systems and dyslexia. The is highly recommended for students with an interest in English Education.

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    ENG 280 – Writing in Professional Contexts

    An advanced course in practical writing, with emphasis on writing as problem solving and on conciseness and clarity. Each student will select a particular local problem requiring a professional or technical solution, research the history of that problem, and write a report recommending a course of action to a specific audience. In addition to preparing frequent shorter writing assignments and the final large report, students will also be required to attend at least one career-related workshop or seminar offered by the Filene Center and to prepare a short report based on that seminar.

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    ENG 282 – Advanced Writing: Digital Controversies

    In an electronic era, medium and message talk alike spark debate. Brownsville, Brooklyn police used Omnipresence, a video surveillance technology, leading one journalist to ask, “Sound policing, or stop and frisk by another name?” When Europe’s top court ruled that Google could be compelled to erase news articles about individuals, scholars wondered, “Should people have the right to be forgotten?” This course explores the different ways that writers discover, frame and deliberate digital controversies. Students will read and write about these controversies, honing their writing skills by composing and revising print essays, blogs, and digital essays in our workshop-centered course.

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    ENG 285 – Journalism

    Journalism is the practice of presenting the public with timely and accurate information about matters of public interest. Our goal in this class is to develop skills that will allow you to produce journalism of your own. To this end we will practice and discuss reporting, investigating, interviewing, writing, editing, revising, re-investigating and polishing. The only way to learn to write journalistically is to do it. You will therefore be doing a lot of writing in this class: multiple short news briefs and full-length articles, as well as a comparative essay and a final in-depth enterprise story. But writing in a journalistic style is not enough to make you a journalist. The essence of journalism is timely publication, and the course, therefore, will operate according to the same kinds of strict deadlines, for both initial drafts and revisions, that are required in the profession.

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    ENG 286 – Children’s Literature

    An in-depth historical survey of British and U.S. children’s literature focused on appreciating the texts as literature, but also addressing their responsiveness to children’s needs and interests and other cultural contexts. Readings include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Little Women, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are and much more.

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    ENG 290 – Approaches to Literature and Culture

    This course introduces current debates in the field of English studies. It tackles a variety of ways of approaching literary and cultural texts, including film, from the Freudian to the feminist to the postcolonialist. What difference does knowledge about the historical period or cultural context in which a text was written make to the way we read it? Does knowing the author of a text change our reading of it? Is film authorship different from literary authorship? Does our own class, race or gender affect our reading? We will read theory about language and representation, race in literature and the economics of literary and cultural production, and we will test these ideas on literature and other kinds of texts such as advertisements, film and other visual media.

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    ENG 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    ENG 299 – Independent Writing

    As part of the creative writing concentration, after successful completion of at least one advanced writing workshop, students may be invited to undertake a semester of independent writing under the guidance of and with permission of the instructor.

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    ENG 306 – Chaucer

    A study of the Canterbury Tales and other Chaucerian verse in the original Middle English. We will discuss the ways that Chaucer portrays the social and cultural struggles of the 14th century as we marvel at the poet’s skill with verse and laugh at his dirty stories. Students do not need previous experience with medieval literature or Middle English to be successful in the course.

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    ENG 309 – Shakespeare and the Performance of Cultures

    “What is my nation?” This key question from Henry V can be interjected into many of Shakespeare’s plays. This course will look especially at how Shakespeare’s plays serve to define places and peoples. We will investigate how different productions may have aided rebellion and question how others may be used for affirmation of nationhood. How have different productions fortified pride–and prejudice? Richard III, and Henry IV, Henry V, along with Hamlet, Othello, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida and the Tempest may be among the plays we’ll read. There will be a midterm and a final exam in this course.

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    ENG 310 – Shakespeare and the Company He Keeps

    Focusing on Shakespeare’s poetry and plays and the sources he used as well as the social and cultural contexts that produced them, this course looks, too, at the dramatic responses the Bard’s work provokes. We’ll read, for instance, Shakespeare’s ‘English’ sonnet and compare it to some of Sidney’s Petrarchan sonnets. We’ll read Hamlet, King Lear, and Henry V, Othello, As You Like It and Twelfth Night, among others, to understand the ideas and conventions of thought and bias among the early modern English literary and play-going culture. Using documents contemporary with Shakespeare’s writing, we’ll see how Shakespeare’s ideas are perhaps unoriginal, and how his inventions, experiments and riffs are extraordinary. There will be a midterm and a final exam in this course.

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    ENG 312 – Feminist Theory

    (See Women’s and Gender Studies 312 – Feminist Theory (WGS 312) for course description.)

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    ENG 313 – Renaissance Poetry

    We begin with Skelton and proceed to sonnets by Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Drayton, Spenser, Shakespeare and Mary Wroth. Various theoretical perspectives will help us to consider how gender is constructed by the sonneteers as well as Jonson, Herrick, Queen Elizabeth I and Amelia Lanyer. Through our close reading, we’ll examine the literary conventions of form and meter and the divergence from such conventions made by Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Milton and Bradstreet.

(Previously Early Modern English Poetry)

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    ENG 320 – Beowulf

    In this course students will translate all of Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon poem that is usually called the earliest English epic. Topics of discussion will include manuscripts and material culture, comparative philology, heroism and epic morality, influence, adaptation and oral tradition. Students must be proficient in Old English, having taken either English 208 – Anglo-Saxon Literature (ENG 208) or its equivalent.

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    ENG 325 – The Eighteenth-Century Novel

    Before the 18th century, novels in English did not exist. By the end of the 18th century, however, many cultural figures worried about the seemingly obsessive novel reading that was going on among young (particularly female) readers. This course will examine what changed between 1700 and 1800 to make the novel the most important genre of English literature. We will explore the novel as a historical and literary phenomenon. We will see the many ways that the novel answered the grand social and cultural questions which dominated the 18th century. What is the difference between men and women? What makes a human life worthwhile? How should I relate to my family and loved ones? What makes a story seem truthful or false? By reading the prose of Defoe, Haywood, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Burney and Austen, we shall find out.

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    ENG 326 – Digital Victorians

    21st-century digital tools give us new ways of understanding Victorian literature and culture. Examining the writings of luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell alongside Victorian graphics culture (think: maps, cartoons, and infographics!), we’ll use digital methods to explore how the realms of criticism, art, and “data” overlap, sometimes to surprising effect. The course culminates in a visit to Rhode Island School of Design’s Special Collections and a final project of “information artistry” — you’ll turn one of your essays into digital art. Together, we will push the bounds of what it means to do literary scholarship.

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    ENG 331 – Digital Culture

    Designed for students with a wide range of interests in print and visual media, this course explores the various ways in which the new communication technologies and the digitization of culture impacts issues such as representation, textuality, narrative, interpretation and the production of cultural meaning.

Sample topics of inquiry include: the future of print, film and television in the age of trans-media entertainment; Digital Humanities; intellectual property rights vs. open-access and the digital commons; social media and online communities; the impact of ethnic and community media and global Internet culture on language, race and citizenship.

Prerequisite: Film and New Media Studies 231 – Introduction to New Media (FNMS 231).

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    ENG 341 – Public Poetry, Private Poetry

    Is rap poetry? Do poetry slams encourage “bad” poets? We will look at questions like these in order to examine two competing ideas about poetry’s role in the contemporary world. Is poetry the last refuge of the individual in a world dominated by corporations, as poet Robert Pinsky argues? Or can poetry be the effective vehicle for public culture, as when Maya Angelou read her poetry at Clinton’s presidential inauguration? Poets will usually include established writers like Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich, Rita Dove, Joy Harjo and Yusef Komunyakaa and newer names like the gay, Cuban American poet Rafael Campo and slammers such as Willie Perdomo and Tracie Smith.

  • English

    ENG 343 – Fictions of the Modern

    Fiction responding to the radical changes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – industrialization, urbanization, colonization, mass culture, the women’s movement, and the emerging scientific studies of sex and sexuality. We will study writers who searched for new ways to represent and explore experiences that the traditional novel did not or could not express. The novel’s response to emerging media such as film and radio will also be central to the course. The course’s thematic focus will vary from year to year, but will always include comparison between writers from the modernist period with one or two later 20th century or contemporary novels. In Spring 2017, the course focus will be on novelist’s treatment of modern ideas of gender and sexuality, figures such as the effeminate homosexual, the mannish woman, the new woman, the immigrant, and the spinster. We will read works by authors such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, May Sinclair, Samuel Selvon, Jean Rhys, Dorothy Sayers, and Radclyffe Hall.

  • English

    ENG 344 – Woolf and Joyce and Others

    In different ways, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf revolutionized the forms of the novel to focus on the inner world of the mind as well as outer “reality.” But they also focused on psychological as well as social experiences that had been traditionally marginalized. They brought into focus–and into question–“realistic” forms of storytelling that had been rendered invisible. They challenged conventional ideas of literature, politics and gender. And they stretched the limits of thought, feeling and expression through dazzling experimentation and comedy. The first half of the semester will focus on James Joyce’s Ulysses, the second half on works by Virginia Woolf.

  • English

    ENG 346 – Postmodern American Literature: The Pursuit of Meaning: Process and Provocation

    Postmodern texts and films undermine the linear sequences of cause and effect that we find in traditional fictions. They often defy normal logic, and since language is built on grammatical logic—a subject, a verb, the action upon an object—how can we ever get a grip on what appears to be non-rational, random and unprecedented? How do structure and styles change to accommodate this new perspective? Postmodernism also wrestles with the unknowability and inaccessibility of other people and ourselves.

We will explore some quantum theory, deconstruction, psychological theory and other critical approaches as a way of analyzing and grappling with these fictions. Writers will include Thomas Pynchon, Joan Didion, Paul Auster, Tim O’Brien, Don DeLillo and others as well as such films as “The Master” and “Inception.”

Classes involve discussion, student-led book and film panels, two short papers and a self-scheduled final exam.

(Previously Contemporary American Fiction: Quirks, Quarks and Quests, or Sex, Lies and Quantum Leaps)

  • English

    ENG 347 – Blackness, Futurism and Supernatural Fiction

    Shawn Christian

  • English

    ENG 348 – Sexual Politics of Film Noir

    Film noir refers to a group of films made primarily in the decade or so after World War II and which frequently addressed, in the narrative terms of the thriller, crises surrounding gender, sexuality and race in American culture. The course will investigate through a feminist framework how the sexual politics of postwar films noir and of more recent neo-noirs engage and diagnose these crises. The course will have strong applications for students interested in film studies, gender studies, American studies and cultural studies. Required weekly film viewing.

  • English

    ENG 349 – Harlem Renaissance and Modernity

    An important period for artists in North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, the Harlem Renaissance (1919-1940) was also a chronicle of social and political dynamics such as uplift philanthropy and migration. This course examines its emergence as a distinctive current of black literature and arts in the modern world.

  • English

    ENG 355 – Global Cinemas

    How has cinema “gone global”? This course explores how globalization has impacted the way films are made, circulated and received in an increasingly interconnected world system. Through specific case studies, we will examine how transnational circuits of cultural exchange have dramatically transformed the world’s media landscape, giving rise to a global imaginary with profound implications for the construction of identity.

  • English

    ENG 356 – Third Cinema

    In this course, we will trace the political, economic and cultural contexts that shaped Third Cinema, the only body of film theory that did not originate in Europe or North America. First elaborated in the militant manifestos of Latin American filmmakers during the 1960s, the theory argued for an independent and aesthetically radical cinema keyed to the anti-colonial politics of an emergent Third world political consciousness. Through a mix of case studies and theoretical explication, this course asks you to think about how the issues flagged by Third Cinema may actually be especially relevant today.

  • English

    ENG 357 – Cinema and the City

    From its beginning, cinema has been fascinated with the city as a site of social cohesion, capital flows and intense ideological conflicts. From Hollywood to Bollywood to Hong Kong, from Soviet socialist realism to German expressionism, Italian neo-realism and the French New Wave, virtually all major film movements have a special relationship to the metropole. In this course, we will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between film production and consumption, urban space, architecture and cultural geography. Required weekly film viewing.

  • English

    ENG 376 – Literary and Cultural Theory

    This course enables students to explore in greater depth some of the ideas introduced in Eng 290. Topics will change from year to year, but the course will include the study of language theories, postcolonial theory, cultural studies theory, and film and media theory. This course will be especially important for students who wish to attend graduate school in English. Offered occasionally.

  • English

    ENG 377 – Feminist Criticism

    Do women read or write differently? Has their work been marginalized? What difference do race, class and sexual orientation make? We will explore U.S., British and French approaches to feminist criticism; also psychoanalytic, Marxist, African American, queer, postcolonial and cultural-studies approaches.

  • English

    ENG 386 – Young Adult Literature

    What is Young Adult literature? Is it anything written for young people (aged 12 to 17? 10 to 25?) or is it literature appropriated by the young? Is it characteristically edgy? hopeful? defined by power relations? by abjection? Can it be canonical? What counts as a crossover novel? . . . In addition to grappling with criticism and theory, we’ll explore a wide range of literature for young adults, including science fiction, graphic fiction, poetry, and realistic fiction. The works address such topics as sex, love, LGBTQ, racism, violence, rape, the media, incest, history, hope, despair. Students will write frequently and create an online anthology.

  • English

    ENG 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • English

    ENG 399 – Independent Writing

    As part of the creative writing concentration, after successful completion of at least one advanced writing workshop, students may be invited to undertake a semester of independent writing under the guidance of and with permission of the instructor.

  • English

    ENG 401 – Senior Seminars

    Seminars study individual authors or special topics. A list for the following year is announced each spring. Students will be asked to express preferences among the subjects offered. Each group meets weekly. There are certain sections especially suited to writing and literature majors and to American Studies majors.

  • English

    ENG 499 – Independent Writing

    As part of the creative writing concentration, after successful completion of at least one advanced writing workshop, students may be invited to undertake a semester of independent writing under the guidance of and with permission of the instructor.

  • English

    ENG 500 – Individual Research and Writing

    Open to senior majors by invitation of the department; other interested students should consult with the chair of the department.

Deyonne Bryant

Samuel Valentine Cole Associate Professor of English; Chair, English Department

Claire Buck

Professor of English

James Patrick Byrne

Visiting Assistant Professor of English

Constance Campana

Teaching Associate in English

Shawn Christian

Associate Professor of English, African American, and American Studies; Associate Provost

Daniel Ciba

Visiting Instructor of English

Beverly Lyon Clark

Professor of English

Samuel Coale

Professor of English

Katherine Conway

Associate Professor of English

Susan Dearing

Associate Professor of English

Michael Drout

Professor of English; Professor of English, Director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval

Andrew Dugan

Visiting Assistant Professor of English

Talitha Espiritu

Associate Professor of English; Co-Coordinator, Journalism Studies Minor

Ruth Foley

Visiting Assistant Professor of English; ESL Specialist, Peer Writing Tutor Faculty Support

Lisa Lebduska

Professor of English, Director of College Writing

Eric Marshall

Visiting Assistant Professor of English

Charlotte Meehan

Playwright-in-Residence, Professor of English, Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts

Ted Nesi

Visiting Instructor of English

Angie Sarhan

Visiting Assistant Professor of English; Wheaton Emerson Fellow

Kent Shaw

Assistant Professor of English

Joel Simundich

Visiting Instructor of English

Sue Standing

Professor of English, Writer in Residence; Coordinator of Creative Writing and Literature

Josh Stenger

Associate Professor of Film Studies and English; Hannah Goldberg Chair in Teaching Innovation; Founding Coordinator, Film and New Media Studies

Winter Jade Werner

Assistant Professor of English