Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Fall 2017


ENG 210, Section 1: Foundations of Literary Study I
Ned Watts
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40AM 109 Olds
Focus: “The Perils of Adulting”

This section will develop basic close reading skills through the study of drama, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, and graphic narrative. Featured authors and texts will likely include William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, James Weldon Johnson Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (novel and Film), Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and a couple others.

ENG 228: Introduction to Fiction Writing
Lev Raphael
Thursdays 3:00-6:50PM A303 Wells Hall

Focus: ENGLISH 228 is an introduction to basic techniques of writing fiction taught by an award-winning author of twenty-five books.  You’ll spend the semester studying characterization, dialogue, setting, and scene building.  There’ll be a unit devoted to each of these, built on reading, class discussion, ungraded in-class exercises and homework to a final graded assignment focused on that particular technique.  The three assignments will help you build towards that dramatic scene in which you’ll employ all those techniques.  Because successful writers read everything a lot, we’ll be reading some terrific fiction for inspiration and discussion.  As the department’s most widely published author and someone who’s published in a dozen different genres, I can take you behind the scenes of the publishing world and share what it’s like to be a working writer in unique ways.  See you in the Fall!  Lev Raphael

ENG 314: Readings in American Literature
Steve Arch
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40AM 109 Olds

Focus: “The American Novella”

What is a novella? A short novel? A long story? Is it simply defined by length (somewhere between 7500 and 40,000 words)? Or does it have formal requirements? Many of the world’s great fictions were written in the in-between form of the novella: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This course focuses on novellas written by North American storytellers like Edith Wharton, Margaret Atwood, Carlos Fuentes, Mark Twain, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, Alice Munro, Tobias Wolff, Paule Marshall, Thomas Pynchon, and others. We will sample novellas from a wide range of fictional genres (realism, fantasy, mystery, etc) and literary movements (realism, naturalism, modernism, postmodernism, etc). Because of the shorter form of the novella, students will be introduced to more than a dozen writers, some with whom they might already be familiar, others certainly new to them. Students will read one novella per week, and write three critical essays on literary form and storytelling techniques, focusing on the limits and opportunities of this hybrid literary form.

ENG 318: Readings in Shakespeare
Steve Deng
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40AM 110 Berkey Hall

Focus: This course introduces various critical approaches to Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. We begin with political, religious, and social background on Shakespeare’s England, including the material conditions of textual and theatrical production. We then proceed to seven plays chosen across Shakespeare’s career and across genres (comedy, tragedy, tragicomedy, history and romance)—Titus Andronicus, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello, and The Tempest—as well as a brief stint in the middle of the semester on Shakespeare’s sonnets. We will approach the plays and poems from a variety of perspectives such as anthropological, post-colonial, historiographic, economic, and socio-political, as well as those that apply early modern theories of genre, gender, sexuality and race. Two short (1 page) written assignments are designed to develop the most important critical skill in literary studies—how to do a close reading. These exercises will help students prepare for the two 5-6 page critical essays, which should perform close readings of a work within a clearly structured argument. In addition to the final paper and short writing assignments, there will be a midterm, a final exam, and several unannounced reading quizzes throughout the term.

ENG 320C: Methods of Literary History: Canon
Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:30PM 111 Bessey Hall

Focus: “What were the Crusades? Re-reading Crusade from the Middle Ages to the Present”

The first part of this course offers an introduction to the idea of “crusade” by examining the ways in which the concept of “crusade” and “crusading” manifests itself in both medieval European literature and historiography, and later European scholarship surrounding the crusades. We will then move to compare the notion of “crusade” in these European sources to literary texts from the “East” –such as those in the Arabic and Armenian traditions – and analyze how the “East” both represents and interprets these European crusaders. We will conclude by discussing the way in which the term “crusade” has come to be understood in our own world today, and how this might compare to its representation in medieval literature –both “East” and the “West.” 

ENG 320D: Methods of Literary History: Creative Writing
Robin Silbergleid
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:30PM Location TBA

Focus: The objective of this course is to familiarize students with a history of creative writing in the United States in the 20th century, as well as an overview of current major topics in creative writing as a discipline, such the use of digital technologies, literary citizenship, the rise of the MFA program, trends in major genres, and life as a writer in the contemporary moment.  Please note, this is a *required* course for students pursuing the creative writing concentration or minor in creative writing.    Texts will likely include The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880, The Write Crowd, Creative Writing in a Digital Age, and select essays from The Writer’s Chronicle.  Assignments will include substantive participation, attendance at literary events, and written work.

ENG 328: Readings in Novel and Narrative
Zarena Aslami
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20PM A224 Wells Hall

Focus: The novel is often taken to be the most self-evident of forms. In this course, we shall denaturalize the genre and ask the following questions: How do we know a novel when we see one? What do we expect novels to do? We will start with contemporary works, then look back to earlier novels, crossing time periods and national cultures, to gain a sense of the novel as a global genre. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with the history of the novel and its narrative capacities to shape subjectivities, map worlds, build a sense of everyday life, protest social inequities, and point to utopic horizons. Possible readings include novels by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Abdul Rahman Munif, Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Junot Díaz.

ENG360-1: Postcolonial Lit. Focus: Cultural Crossovers and Leftovers
Professor Sheng-mei Ma
MW 10:20-11:40 at 207 Berkey
Office hours: MW 9:00-10:00 and by app’t.

Focus: In our postcolonial world, many novelists and filmmakers are cultural crossovers. The back and forth along cultural divides is never clean, with traces of leftover sentiments and residual selves. Stuck in between are languages, imageries, and conceptualizations. This course studies these souls stuck in a perpetual cross-dissolve that can neither shed the old skin nor grow a new one: whites in yellowfaces, Asians in whitefaces, Holmes inspired by the Orient, Chinese detectives imitating Holmes, Asian expats speaking perfect English, and Asian Americans speaking Konglish. This course encompasses novels, films, graphic novels, and artworks.

ENG352-1: Asian/Asian American Lit & Visual Culture
Professor Sheng-mei Ma
MW 12:40-2:00 at A116 Wells.
Office hours: MW 9:00-10:00 and by app’t.

Focus: Designed as a readings course aiming for breadth and to build up students’ repertoire in a certain field, this course covers a wide variety of texts to increase knowledge of literature and visual culture written by and about people of Asian descent, globally and in Asia itself. The course moves through Asian, Asian American, and Asian diasporic texts. In addition to literature, we also explore visual culture in transnational films, graphic novels, and anime. This course explores Asian American fiction (Ishiguro, P. Park), classics (Shi Nai’an), graphic novels (Gene Yang), films (wuxia or kung fu, Alice Wu), and more.

ENG 364: Studies in Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century Literature
Zarena Aslami
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:00PM A128 Wells Hall

Focus: “Victorian Literature and Liberalism”
How do novels and narrative respond to political crisis? How do they imagine difference, equality, what it means to be human? This course explores how Victorian literature represented the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, race, and ability across the 19th century. It also examines the nature of liberalism, a political philosophy that promoted freedom, democracy, and individual rights. Did literature think liberalism cured or caused social problems?

ENG 368: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Literature
Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40AM 103 Berkey Hall

Focus: “Robin Hood: From Medieval Outlaw to Pop Rebel”
This class will explore the image and portrayal of Robin Hood in literature and culture from the medieval to the contemporary period. The first part of this class will focus on the stories of Robin Hood produced in the medieval and early modern period in the form of: tales, ballads, plays, and rhymed poetry. The second part of this class will then move to examining the ways in which the figure of Robin Hood has been appropriated in later periods, such as in contemporary literature, film, and culture. 

ENG 408: Socio-Linguistic Approaches to Readings in the Disciplines
Emery Petchauer
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:50PM
A130 Wells Hall

Focus:  Explores how literacy stakeholders, networks, and brokers influence the literacy development and practices of youth. Focuses on both theory and application. Attends to how this knowledge should shape the practices of secondary English teachers.

English 320D

Focus: The objective of this course is to familiarize students with a history of creative writing in the United States in the 20th century, as well as an overview of current major topics in creative writing as a discipline, such the use of digital technologies, literary citizenship, the rise of the MFA program, trends in major genres, and life as a writer in the contemporary moment. Please note, this is a *required* course for students pursuing the creative writing concentration or minor in creative writing. Texts will likely include The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880, The Write Crowd, Creative Writing in a Digital Age, and select essays from The Writer’s Chronicle. Assignments will include substantive participation, attendance at literary events, and written work.

ENG423: Advanced Non-Fiction Writing
Robin Silbergleid
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:50 150 Natural Sciences Bldg

Focus: The objective of this course is to improve your ability to write, and read, creative (or literary) nonfiction.  Toward this end, we will read a range of twentieth- and twenty-first texts, and practice the various forms that literary nonfiction can take, including personal essay, memoir, and literary journalism.  Along the way, we’ll talk about the various problems and issues that come up in the writing of literary nonfiction, such as writing about ourselves and our families, using and incorporating primary and secondary sources, the relationship between fiction and nonfiction, and the ethics involved in representing others, and writing about trauma. This is an advanced course, designed for those students pursuing the Creative Writing Concentration of the English major, and assumes both familiarity and serious engagement with the material.  Texts will likely include Professor Marcia Aldrich’s edited collection Waveform, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and essays from Fourth Genre.

ENG 441/813.1: Seminar in Early American Literature 
Ned Watts 
Tuesdays and Thursdays 7:10-10:00PM A203 Wells 

Focus: “New Made Indians”

This section will fulfill a “Literature Before 1800” distribution for both 441 and 813 enrollees. Our subject will be the instability of race in late colonial and post-Revolutionary America, following the model of Katy Chiles’s Transformable Race (Oxford 2014). Prior of the biologicization of “Race” in the nineteenth century, many trans-Atlantic intellectuals held that both an individual’s or a group’s race cold be reassigned over the course either an individual life or over the course of a few generations. For the most part, this represents a radical destabilization of what we view as a key component of the identificatory process. Aside from Chiles, we will be read Hector St. John de Crevecouer’s Letters from an American Farmer, Royall Tyler’s The Algerine Captive, and various other plays, novels, travel-books and other narratives that track this phenomenon, such as Equano’s Travels. The goal will be the product of a professional level article (20p. for graduate students; 12-15p. for undergraduates.

ENG 473A: Literature and Medicine
Steve Rachman
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:20PM A222 Wells

Focus: This course is about the intersection of two fields that are not usually or automatically connected with one another the literary and the medical. As you will see this semester, there is a complex tradition of relations between these two areas concerning the language of medicine, the experience of illness, serious and popular narratives, medical humanities, historical and cultural approaches to the experience of illness and disease, death and dying, wellness, being and identity. While literature is foregrounded in the title to this course, it is important at the outset to know that literature is broadly conceived to be more than just fiction, drama etc. (though we will be certainly reading and watching examples of these genres). Literature is a vehicle through which we will be exploring a range of medical contexts; by the same token, medicine is to be considered as more than its current practices but vehicle through which we will explore a host of literary, social and historical contexts. To this end we will be using literature as means to study a range of topics including the history of medicine, cultural studies, science and society, language, meaning, and identity. 

Required Texts: 
Margaret Edson, Wit
Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
Atul Gawande, Complications
Susan Gubar, Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
David Rakoff, Half Empty
Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors

ENG 481: Seminar in Critical & Cultural Theory
Natalie Phillips
Thursday, 4:10 – 7:00 pm

This course interweaves four interdisciplinary fields in literary studies: cognitive approaches to literature, digital humanities, disability Studies, and the literary history of mind. Discussing literary works from the 13th-century romance of female cross-dressing, Silence, to Mark Haddon’s A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the course explores pivotal topics in the literary and scientific history of the brain. We consider, for example, how Descartes’ attempt to locate the soul in the pineal gland influenced depictions of thought in Tristram Shandy; Jane Austen’s use of contemporary theories of head injury in Persuasion; and non-western depictions of PTSD in Persepolis. Throughout, we will read key works in cognitive approaches to fiction, the history of cognition, and disability studies, exploring the advantages—and profound challenges—of integrating cognitive science with literary history, and working to re-theorize interdisciplinary studies of mind. We begin the course with a focus on disability studies and DH, reframing reading as an inherently multi-sensory and multi-media engagement (including braille, ASL, audiobooks, digital renderings, etc.). Early on, students will engage in a creative project on multi-sensory literary engagement that will be developed and included in a public day-long art-installation, Sense of Self: Disability Studies and Accessible Art, at the Eli Broad Museum, an event calling attention to alternate modes of engaging art and museum accessibility across the disability spectrum. The seminar will conclude its coverage of key themes across cognitive science and literature by exploring recent work in the neuroscience of reading, DH, and virtual reality studies. Students will learn to use scientific databases, such as PubMed, to find the latest work in neurobiology, developmental psychology, cognitive linguistics, and neuroaesthetics. Alongside their final research paper, students will work collaboratively to brainstorm an interdisciplinary experiment in groups, imagining how we could use technologies from cognitive science—such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), EEG, or eye-tracking—to explore a central question about literary reading.

ENG 484B: Critical Questions in a Region, School or Movement
Steve Deng
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:30PM 214 Berkey Hall

Focus: “Critical Questions about the Renaissance”
This course serves as a “capstone” to the English major. It is designed to bring together the various skills you have learned from your English courses thus far (close reading, engaging with secondary sources and literary theory, interpreting a literary text from within historical contexts, structuring a literary essay and developing a solid thesis), as well as to allow you to engage in more extensive research on a particular critical problem in early modern literary criticism, especially through primary research of contextual early modern texts in Early English Books Online. The course will culminate in a “mini-conference” across the final weeks and a thesis-like essay of 15-20 pages, which could serve as a writing sample for those intending to attend graduate school. Moreover, the bulk of the course is organized as a series of presentations by students in order to provide an oral interactive experience that will benefit students for whatever field they choose to pursue after MSU.

The course will then be run as a workshop – each student will prepare seven 5-10 minute presentations throughout the semester, which will constitute the largest grade component. During the semester the students will hand in an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary materials consulted for the project. And a final 10-15 minute presentation will be given at a “mini-conference” during the end of the semester, in which students will present their final projects while getting valuable feedback from the class in preparation for the final essay.