Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Fall 2019


ENG 142: Introduction to Popular Lit MW 4:10-6:00pm
ENG 319: Readings in Michigan Literature TR 10:20-11:40am
ENG 328: Readings in Novel and Narrative TR 10:20-11:40 
ENG 351 Readings in Chicano/Latino Lit TR 10:20
ENG 352: Asian American Lit. Focus: Yellowface in the West MW 8:30-9:50 AM 
ENG 450  Seminar African American Lit TR 3-4:20
ENG 473A: Literature and Medicine Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2
ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literature: Reading Black Comics Monday and Wednesday 10:20-11:40am
ENG 423: Advanced Creative Nonfiction: Personal Essay
ENG 478A: Literature, Technology, and Representation: Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-11:40am
ENG 484C: Critical Questions in a Literary Period
ENG 360 Postcolonial Lit MW 10:20-11:40 AM
ENG 473A: Literature and Medicine: Tuesdays and Thursday 10:20am - 11:40am
ENG 325: Readings in Graphic Narrative TR 3-4:20pm

ENG142: Introduction to Popular Lit MW 4:10-6:00pm

Professor Gary Hoppenstand

“The World War II Suspense Thriller in Popular Fiction and Film”

The Thriller is one of the most ubiquitous of popular narrative forms in the 20th Century. It covers a wide field of popular storytelling forms, ranging from Horror, to Crime, to Romance, to the Tale of Suspense. This class will focus on the Suspense Thriller, examining specifically the Suspense Thriller that was popular in American and Great Britain just before and during the years of World War II. These novels, and films anticipate, and perhaps influenced, American anxieties about the rise of fascism in Germany. Most often, the Suspense Thriller specifically involves stories of entrapment and escape, of spying, and of acts of heroism in the face of monstrous political brutality. Five bestselling novels from this period will be assigned reading for the class (including several by prominent women writers), as well as the viewing of popular films produced during the late-1930s and 1940s (some of which include classic film noir elements), as well as the reading of a graphic novel.

Return to top

 ENG319: Readings in Michigan Literature TR 10:20-11:40am

Professor Ned Watts
 
In this Readings course, we will be looking at texts set in Michigan and written by Michigan-based writers. We will begin with Anishinaabe writers Andrew Blackbird and Simon Pokagon and end with current favorites Jacqueline Carey and Brian Gruley. Our concerns will be, first, why local writing from places other than New York or Los Angeles is devalued? At the same time, what defines Michigan writing, beyond the political borders of the state? What does a Detroit writer like Jamal May share with western writer Bonnie Jo Campbell? And why must “genres” established elsewhere apply here? What “counts” as literary writing? Whenever possible, assigned writers will join the discussion via face time, etc. Several short essays and presentations will be required.

Tentative Reading List:
Campbell, American Salvage 
Pokagon, Red Man’s Rebuke
Flourney, The Turner House
Eugenides, Middlesex
Hernandez, Autopsy of an Engine
May, Hum
Blackbird, History
Gruley, Starvation Lake
Carey, Volume One Of Hel Series
Hemingway, Nick Adams Stories
 
Return to top
 

ENG 328: Readings in Novel and Narrative TR 10:20-11:40 

Professor Natalie M. Phillips
 
This course traces the history of the English novel from its eighteenth-century “origins” (Robinson Crusoe, Fantomina, Gullivers Travels) to the present (Persepolis, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, etc.) Students will explore questions such as: what is a novel? How has the genre changed over time, and how have these ideas about the novel shifted alongside cultural-historical definitions of the “new,” the novel, and the interesting? What counts as narrative? The class will examine how popular eighteenth-century genres like criminal biography, travel narratives, essays, cartoons, pornography, and street ballads shaped the novel as we now know it. Each section of the seminar is framed around a pairing of texts that questions the boundaries that separate a novel from other literary forms. Robinson Crusoe, one of the first eighteenth-century novels, for instance, will be paired with the contemporary video game, realMyst, another tale of being stranded on an island. We will read samples from the eighteenth-century essay (which often appeared twice a week to be read in coffee shops) alongside contemporary real-time narratives: blogs, facebook posts, Twitter feeds, etc. Pride and Prejudice appears alongside the parody by Seth Grahaeme-Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Students will engage the graphic novel, Persepolis, both in its traditional print form and as a film adaptation. As we map the complex traditions that define the novel as a genre, we will also test the limits of our own (and others’) critical definitions of narrative.

 Return to top


ENG 351 Readings in Chicano/Latino Lit TR 10:20

Professor Sheila Contreras 


This course introduces you to US Latina/Latino/Latin literature and the histories that inform their production. We will interpret poetry, essays, drama, film and fiction, and also consider “mainstream” popular culture representations of Latinas/os in the United States. While foregrounding the distinct character of Latina/o/x art and literature, the course should also continuously challenge assumptions and expectations regarding Latina/o/x cultures in America.

Return to top


ENG352: Asian American Lit. Focus: Yellowface in the West MW 8:30-9:50 AM 

Professor Sheng-mei Ma

Course Description:

Unlike its racist “cousin” blackface, yellowface has been worn with relative impunity by West Coast writers and filmmakers and by Western consciousness at large. Such yellowface “mellows” from erstwhile slant eyes and pigtails to millennial ethnic clowns and perennial aliens. This course opens with “California Dreamin’”—with a touch of evil/yellow—by Jack London, Beat poets, Philip K. Dick, winding up a bit north with David Guterson. Asian stock characters who used to be pitched down the Gold Mountain (Chinese name for San Francisco or America broadly) begins to stand up straight in Asian American culture, shaken awake from the centuries-old American Nightmare. Yet this off-white, yellow-ish correction to white discursive supremacy comes with its own side effect, exemplified by Crazy Rich Asians, Ling Ma, Patricia Park, Alice Wu, and Lulu Wang. This course studies fiction, film, radio play, and graphics. Course grade is based on papers, exams, and class performance.

Return to top


 ENG450  Seminar African American Lit TR 3-4:20

 Professor Kinitra Brooks
 
In this course, we will critically analyze texts from contemporary creators from the African diaspora whose works center on the supernatural. We will begin with the history of genre in African diasporic literature and expand to graphic novels, films, and television series.
 
Return to top

ENG 473A: Literature and Medicine Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2

Professor Natalie Phillips

Focus: This course interweaves three interdisciplinary fields in literary studies: cognitive approaches to literature, the history of mind, and medical humanities. Discussing intersections in literary and medical portrayals of cognition from Austen’s Persuasion to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and OCDaniel, we explore pivotal moments in the  history of the mind and brain, beginning in the eighteenth century and ending with the DSM-5, self-described as “the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S.” As we consider the literary history of modern diagnostic categories such as autism spectrum, attention deficit, and OCD (including depictions of distraction in Tristram Shandy, Jane Austen’s use of contemporary theories of head injury, and modern portrayals of disability in YA fiction), we will also explore therapeutic uses of literature, music, and art in proposed clinical treatments of everything from depression, anxiety, and PTSD to Alzheimers and stuttering. Throughout, we will read key works in  cognitive approaches to fiction, disability studies, and medical humanities, exploring both the power—and the profound challenges—of integrating scientific and literary-critical approaches to conduct authentically interdisciplinary work in medical humanities. The seminar will conclude by exploring work in the neuroscience of reading, with a focus on  alternate styles of literary engagement and presentation, including braille, American Sign Language, audio-books, and various Kindle/iPad apps for “assisted” reading. Students will learn to use scientific databases, such as PubMed, to find the latest studies in neurobiology, developmental psychology, cognitive linguistics, and neuroaesthetics. Alongside their final research paper, students will work collaboratively to brainstorm and design an interdisciplinary experiment that imagines using technologies from cognitive science—such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), EEG, or eye-tracking—to explore a central question at the intersection of literature and medicine.

Return to top


ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literature: Reading Black Comics Monday and Wednesday 10:20-11:40am

Professor Julian Chambliss

Focus: This course examines the origins, evolution, and impact of African-American comics in the United States. Students will learn about the history and cultural narrative linked to comics from the late 19th century to the present day. The course will explore a variety of genre from comic strips with African-American character to superhero comics with an emphasis on understanding the themes, styles, genres, symbolism linked to the black experience and its intersection with comic art.

Return to top


ENG 423: Advanced Creative Nonfiction: Personal Essay
 
Professor Robin Silbergleid
 
This course provides directed study of the forms of creative nonfiction at the advanced level. Our particular focus this semester will be on personal essay, including flash nonfiction, lyric essay, literary journalism, and cultural criticism. 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. 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 as well as prior coursework in English 223. Plan to read and write intensively. Our texts will include an anthology, such as Philip Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay, and selected shorter works available online and via D2L.
 
Return to top
 
 

ENG 478A: Literature, Technology, and Representation: Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-11:40am

Professor Steve Rachman

Focus: Focus on the study of literature in the digital age. This course introduces all the techniques that are being used in the Digital Humanities world that have directed themselves to the experience of reading/writing and analysis. Could be used as DH specialization requirement.

Return to top


ENG 484C: Critical Questions in a Literary Period

Professor Yomaira Figueroa

This course will provide an exciting opportunity to read African and Afro-Caribbean literature. The goal of the course is to invite students to think critically about the social, political, and historical issues that inform African and Afro-Diasporic cultural productions in multiple locales. Through a close reading of these texts we will engage in an in-depth examination of the migrations and developments shaping long-established and recent African and Afro-Diasporic communities in the Caribbean, Europe, and the United States. Reading texts authored by writers of Haitian, Dominican, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Equatoguinean, and other backgrounds, will allow us to consider the diversity and heterogeneity that falls under the designations of African, Afro-descendant, and Caribbean. The course requires students to participate in a critical examination of a wide selection of materials ranging from novels and short stories, to poetry, history, and documentary films. These comparative approaches will prepare students with an understanding of concepts such as diaspora, exile, and colonialism, through meditations on topics such as religiosity, violence, motherhood, belonging, gender, sex, and racialization as reflected in the literatures and cultural production of African and Afro-descendant peoples.

Return to top 

 


ENG360 Postcolonial Lit: MW 10:20-11:40 AM

Professor Sheng-mei Ma, C603 Wells, 353-3764, English Dept.

Office hours: MW 11:50-12:50

This course savors the poisoned cup of the “perennial alien,” America’s Holy Grail that defines its exceptionalism. We move from Bret Harte’s “Ah Sin” to Lu Xun’s “The True Story of Ah Q”; from nineteenth-century “The Chinese Must Go!” to Trump’s trade war; from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown to the graphic novel American Born Chinese; from Wolf Warrior’s battles in Southeast Asia and Africa to Soderbergh’s viral China in Contagion. We conclude with a unit on Afro-Asian Duet, where two U.S. minorities perform a pas de deux ever in danger of escalating into a duel, as in the part-rap, part-kung fu Busan sequence in Black Panther. This course studies fiction, film, visual art, and graphics. Course grade is based on papers, exams, and class performance.

Return to top


ENG 473A: Literature and Medicine: Tuesdays and Thursday 10:20am - 11:40am

Professor Natalie Phillips 

Focus: This course interweaves three interdisciplinary fields in literary studies: cognitive approaches

to literature, the history of mind, and medical humanities. Discussing intersections in literary and medical portrayals of cognition from Austen’s Persuasion to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and OCDaniel, we explore pivotal moments in the history of the mind and brain, beginning in the eighteenth century and ending with the DSM-5, self-described as “the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S.” As we consider the literary history of modern diagnostic categories such as autism spectrum, attention deficit, and OCD (including depictions of distraction in Tristram Shandy, Jane Austen’s use of contemporary theories of head injury, and modern portrayals of disability in YA fiction), we will also explore therapeutic uses of literature, music, and art in proposed clinical treatments of everything from depression, anxiety, and PTSD to Alzheimers and stuttering. Throughout, we will read key works in cognitive approaches to fiction, disability studies, and medical humanities, exploring both the power—and the profound challenges—of integrating scientific and literary-critical approaches to conduct authentically interdisciplinary work in medical humanities. The seminar will conclude by exploring work in the neuroscience of reading, with a focus on alternate styles of literary engagement and presentation, including braille, American Sign Language, audio-books, and various Kindle/iPad apps for “assisted” reading. Students will learn to use scientific databases, such as PubMed, to find the latest studies in neurobiology, developmental psychology, cognitive linguistics, and neuroaesthetics. Alongside their final research paper, students will work collaboratively to brainstorm and design an interdisciplinary experiment that imagines using technologies from cognitive science—such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), EEG, or eye-tracking—to explore a central question at the intersection of literature and medicine.

Return to top


 ENG325 Readings in Graphic Narrative TR 3-4:20pm

Professor Ann Larabee
 
To provide broad reading knowledge of the diversity
of graphic narratives, from early petroglyphs to contemporary graphic
novels and memoirs. Emphasis on primary texts. Major topics include the
development of the graphic forms we now call “comics,” theories of comic
art and storytelling, use of different stylistic and visual techniques,
linguistic and cultural diversity, collecting and archiving, and the
development of subgenres, such as graphic memoirs and newspaper,
historical, and underground comics. Major texts include Art Spiegelman’s
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Guy Deslisle’s Pyongyang, John Lewis and Nate
Powell’s March, Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Emily
Carroll’s A Walk in the Woods, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Students
will have the opportunity to produce both analytical and creative work.


Course objectives:

Students will:
1. Explore the distinctiveness of the graphic novel form in the
relationship of text and image,
2. Develop visual and textual literacy,
3. Gain a historical overview of the development of comics,
4. Hone literary critical skills suited to this form,
5. Practice analytical writing.

Return to top