ENG 210, Section 2: Foundations in Literary Studies I
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:00PM A304 Wells Hall
Focus: Developing and practicing the skill of close reading literary texts, with separate units on poetry, drama (by Shakespeare and David Mamet), fiction (by James Joyce and Toni Morrison), and non-fiction (by Jonathan Swift and Maya Angelou). Students will learn to write analytical, critical essays about literature; will practice facilitating discussions; and will ponder the purpose and uses of an English major/minor.
ENG 229: Introduction to Poetry Writing
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:30PM B104 Wells Hall
Focus: The objective of this course is to improve your ability to write--and read--poetry. Toward this end, we will study some of the various forms that poems can take in the twenty-first century, discuss writing habits and issues of craft, engage in a range of writing tasks, read and critique each others’ attempts. Figuring out what poetry is (or what it can be) is our primary goal for the semester; we will concentrate on lineation and description, two qualities that arguably make poetry…poetry. No previous background in creative writing is necessary; if you love language and are willing to learn about it, talk about it, play with it, struggle with it, and be humbled by it, then you're in the right place. Our primary course text will be an anthology, such as Rita Dove’s Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, as well as a book of exercises.
ENG 280, Section 1: Foundations in Literary Studies II
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40AM
Focus: “Language and Subjectivity: Author, Subject, I”
The notion of subjectivity –the term used to refer to the condition of being a subject –is the central focus of this course. In this course you will be introduced to both primary and secondary sources (from the classical to the contemporary period) surrounding notions of the subject and subjectivity. You will also be introduced to an array of critical theories pertaining to authorship, subject, and the “I” function, ranging from semiotic theory to postcolonial. We will also consider subjectivity as not only an individual phenomenon, but also one that formulates itself through the process of the individual’s interaction with the surrounding world. Through discussions and textual analyses, we will problematize how hegemonic discourses have dominated formulations of “truth” and “reality,” as well as personal and cultural understandings and judgments of ourselves and other cultures in our world today.
ENG 280, Section 2: Foundations in Literary Studies II
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:00PM A328 Wells Hall
Focus: Introduction to Cultural Studies.
What is culture? What do cultural works tell us about social, political, and economic structures? What can they tell us about human agency within those structures? This course introduces students to cultural studies. We will focus on literature, reading a select few literary texts and considering them in light of different lines of critical inquiry. Our secondary readings will be organized around the concepts of power, identity, and subjectivity and include key works in Marxist, feminist, critical race, postcolonial, queer, environmental, and disability studies. Students will develop an understanding of these influential theoretical approaches and consider how they open up literature to exciting interpretations, while also tracking how literature can refine, revise, and go beyond theory.
ENG 308: Readings in Young Adult Literature
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-11:40AM
A232 Wells Hall
Focus: The major aim of this class is to read, discuss, appreciate, and explore various themes that are common in young adult literature. The students will read a variety of young adult literature texts that explore critical issues such as (racism, sexism, classism, nationality, etc.). This course will also explore a variety of teaching strategies for the instruction of young adult literature—as well as the narrative contexts and cultural backgrounds of the various works covered—with the intent of developing instructional techniques that will encourage young adults to become active readers and learners.
ENG 318: Readings in Shakespeare
Professor Jyotsna G. Singh
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:00 PM 319 Berkey Hall
How do Shakespeare’s works reflect the society and culture of early modern England? Do they have continuing relevance in our times? How does his poetic language help us understand the complexities of human experience? Addressing such questions, we will study several plays, selected poems of Shakespeare, and some primary documents of the period. These will include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Hamlet, Richard III, Cymbeline, and the sonnets, among others. Overall, our aim will be to identify and study formal elements such as genre, imagery, diction, rhetorical/poetic forms, and character development. In addition, we will also explore the cultural contexts in which the plays have been appropriated -- both in critical and performance histories -- from the sixteenth century to the present. Class discussions will include close textual analysis of the language, as well as some interpretations of plays via dramatic performance and selected screenings of film versions. All students will also be asked to participate in short acting exercises.
Measure for Measure
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
ENG 320B: Methods of Literary History: Region, School, Movement
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20AM-12:10PM C101 Wonders Hall
Focus: “American Literary Naturalism”
This course focuses on the literary movement known as Naturalism, tracing its emergence after the Civil War, its flourishing at the turn of the century, and its afterlife in realistic novels of the mid-twentieth century and beyond. We will read stories and novels by writers like Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, and Richard Wright, as well as contextualizing essays and background material by writers like Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Hippolyte Taine, John Dewey, and others. Though Naturalism itself had a wide reach in European, Australian, and Russian literature, we will focus in this course on American (that is, U.S.) Naturalism as a special case, paying particular attention to the way that American Literary Naturalism challenged and critiqued democracy itself, corporate capitalism, and ideas about self-reliance and free will.
ENG 324 TTh Readings in the Epic 8:30-9:50, C304 Snyder
Epics: Narratives and Nations
Focus: We will be reading “long” texts deliberately designed to engender a sense of unity among a group of people through a sense of shared history, tradition, and language, a means of cohesion thought to be stronger than a monarch’s use of force. Often these texts have doubled meanings as their translations reposition them. We will likely be reading the Pentateuch (King James Bible), Virgil’s The Aeneid (Alexander Pope translation), Rowson’s Reuben and Rachel, The Descent of Inanna (1800 edition), and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, plus one other of your own choosing.
ENG 329: Readings in Poetry and Poetics
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40AM
319 Berkey Hall
Focus: “British Romantic Poetry and Revolution”
In his 1802 Preface to Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth promoted a revolution in poetry that would “choose incidents and situations from common life and…relate or describe them…in a selection of language really used by men.” And in his Defence of Poetry (1821), Percy Shelley called poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” calling attention to poetry’s political capabilities. In ENG 329 we will consider this poetic revolution and the significance of its historical context in the midst of political revolutions in France and America, as well as the abolitionist movement. In addition to the usual suspects (Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron), we will examine works by female Romantic poets such as Joanna Baillie, Felicia Hemans, Anna Laeticia Barbauld, and Mary Robinson, as well as recent critical interest in “Black Romanticism,” considering the role of women and people of color in the revolutionary Romantic impulse.
ENG 340: Theories and Methods of Pop Culture Studies
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:20
A330 Wells Hall
Focus: This class will examine the dynamic social, cultural, and technological relationships that led to the establishment and dominance of a national entertainment culture in America over the past two hundred years, following the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The major topics to be covered in the course include: 1) The popular press (such as dime novels, pulp magazines, newspaper and comic strips, comic books, paperbacks and bestsellers); 2) vaudeville; 3) popular film; 4) popular story radio; and 5) popular television. This course will seek to draw important social and cultural connections among these narrative expressions of entertainment culture (through an understanding of such concepts as icons, stereotypes, rituals, heroes, narrative formulas, and myth/belief structures), in the process offering an overview of how our American entertainment culture of today (and the near future) has been shaped and defined by earlier forms of popular culture entertainment beginning in the nineteenth century and evolving through the twenty-first century.
ENG 353: Readings in Women Writers
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:20PM 203 IM West
Focus: “Reproductive Writes”: This course considers writing by women about reproduction and motherhood from the nineteenth century to the present. Focusing on literary representations across multiple genres—including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and video—we will conduct a semester-long investigation into issues surrounding reproductive choice. How have women writers explored their desires to mother (or not mother) and the constraints of their reproductive freedoms? In what ways do literary texts contribute to cultural conversations about sex, motherhood, and reproduction? How do women writers make use of different genres in order write about motherhood and reproduction? And how do such texts both reflect and shape maternal desires and practices? In looking to answers to these questions, this class will, most importantly, develop your ability to read and write about literary texts, including close reading, analysis, and interpretation. Texts will include such works as Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899), Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Toi Derricotte’s Natural Birth (1983), A.K. Summers’ Pregnant Butch (2014), Ana Castillo’s Black Dove (2016), and episodes of Orphan Black.
ENG 360-1: Postcolonial Lit.
M/W 12:40-2:00pm A130 Wells Hall.
Office hours: W 11:15-12:15, 2:00-3:00
Focus: "Morph" By definition, postcolonial means a morph away from coloniality. This course zooms in on that morph, a project that never completes itself as life dictates an ever-changing flow, forward as well as back. Specifically, this course focuses on linguistic and visual transformations in fiction and film of the postcolonial corpus. It asks questions such as: How do English-speaking novelists and filmmakers tell stories of Asia from an Asian point of view? How do they keep up appearances of a pseudo-Asian immanence while ventriloquizing solely—soullessly—in the English language? This course encompasses novels, films, graphic novels, and artworks.
ENG 391: Special Topics in English
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:00PM
207 Berkey Hall
Focus: “Moving from Racial Violence to Racial Justice in English Education” In this course, in order to think about how we understand language and literacy, we will explore and unpack theories and research related to New Literacy Studies, critical literacies, and Critical Race English Education. Special emphasis is placed on understanding the ways in which race and racism are situated in English language arts classrooms while simultaneously thinking about transformative ways to make ELA classrooms sites for racial justice.
ENG 413: Critical Questions in Language and Composition
Mondays, 12:40-3:30PM and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:30PM
104 Berkey Hall
Focus: Explores the relationship between sound, writing, and composition – i.e., “sounding it out.” A writing intensive workshop focusing on how soundscapes, beats, and other sonic compositions can inform the ways we respond to literature and teach young writers. Contains a focus on developing practices for secondary English teachers.
ENG 458: Seminar in 19th Century British Literature
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20PM A316 Wells Hall
Focus: “Victorian Race”
Globalization, capitalism, class politics, anti-racism, feminism, liberalism, and the spread of democracy are typically associated with contemporary political moments. But they all have their roots in the nineteenth century. Working together with students at Macalester College taking the co-developed parallel course, students will interrogate notions of race as they were being invented—exploring how they were popularized and used to dominate, how they failed, and how they were resisted in 19th-century Britain. We will read canonical and non-canonical texts, including works by writers of color, visual images, scientific theories, fiction, and non-fiction. Considering locations throughout the empire, we will explore intersections of race with the history of British slavery, colonial settlement, gender politics, enfranchisement, war, and religion. For the final project, students collaborate to develop a full digital scholarly edition of a nineteenth-century memoir written by a person of color.
ENG 481: Seminar in Critical Theory
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:00PM 112B Berkey Hall
Focus: “Translation Theory and the Art of Translation”
This course is an introduction to Translation theory, where students will be asked to engage in the translation of text(s) from another language to English throughout the course, through theories and practices discussed in ancient and contemporary texts about translation.
ENG 484B: Critical Questions in a Region, School or Movement: The English Renaissance
Professor Jyotsna Singh
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20 AM-12:10 PM 319 Berkey Hall
Focus: 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. Your main aim will be 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 (EEBO) as well is of early modern printed books located in the Special Collections at the MSU Libraries. Your first task will be to explore some broad issues relating to early modern literary and cultural texts from roughly 1590s to 1625. Can you find some shared themes that cohere together to form a discourse or a set of ideas and perspectives on the period? Based on those explorations, your task will then be to identify a critical problem for focus. Even if you have limited or no background in the Renaissance or the early modern period, I hope you will be able to identify a topic and/or primary text or texts of interest on which you can concentrate for the rest of the semester.
The course will be run as a workshop – each student will prepare FIVE 5-15 minute presentations throughout the semester. Each student will also be required to hand in an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary materials consulted for the project. And a concluding (15-20 minute) presentation will be given at a “mini-conference” at the end of the semester. In this conference, students will present their final projects while getting valuable feedback from the class in preparation for their Final, thesis-directed essay (15-20 pages) submitted at the end of the semester. This essay should demonstrate a clear and sophisticated grasp of your materials, and it could serve as a writing sample for those intending to attend graduate school
The three texts below are recommended for purchase, but you are not required to purchase all three books. I will also put them on reserve in the MSU Library.
Early Modern English Drama: A Critical Companion. Ed. Patrick Cheney, Andrew Hadfield, Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr. (Oxford, 2005)
Early Modern English Poetry: A Critical Companion. Ed. Patrick Cheney, Andrew Hadfield, Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr. (Oxford, 2006)
Women, “Race,” and Writing in the Early Modern Period. Ed. Margo Hendricks and Patricia Parker (Routledge, 1994)
English 492 H: Honors Seminar in English.
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00PM-4:20PM.
Focus: "Noir Worlds."
This course will focus on "noir" in literature, film, and philosophy from Nietzsche and Zola to the contemporary noir visions of China Miélville and Christopher Nolan. Readings/viewings potentially include Zola’s Thérèse Raquin and selections from Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and film adaptations of the novel directed by Tay Garnett and Christopher Petzold, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley and film adaptations of those novels directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Minghella, Mickey Spillaine’s Kiss Me Deadly and Robert Aldrich’s film adaptation of the novel, and contemporary noirs by China Mielville (The City and the City), Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Christopher Nolan (Memento). Primary readings/viewings will be accompanied by excerpts from relevant philosophical and theoretical texts. Work for the course will include brief responses, assuming the role of discussion leader twice during the semester, a midterm essay, and a final creative/critical project of your own design. Please address any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLM 260, Section 1: Introduction to Digital Film and Media
Carleen L. Hsu
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:10-6:00PM 307 Bessey Hall
Focus: Cameras do not make films: filmmakers make films…The most important equipment is yourself, your mobile body, your imaginative mind and your freedom to use both. — Maya Daren
Filmmaking is the most powerful form of communication ever invented by humankind. With a focused eye and a keen understanding of storytelling, filmmakers can inform, influence, entertain, and even inspire. This introductory hybrid course is intended to launch students on a journey of exploration into the world of the independent filmmaker and in the process begin the odyssey of becoming one. Students will learn basic technical skills and produce original short visual projects, which will be written, photographed, and edited themselves. Together we will also screen a variety of narrative, non-fiction, and experimental works. And we will engage in robust discussion and critical analysis in an effort to understand how film affects the audience and why.
Professor of Practice Carleen L. Hsu is a two-time Peabody Award winning filmmaker who has produced documentaries for HBO and the PBS series FRONTLINE.
FLM 350: National and Transnational Cinemas
Mondays, 9:10-12:00AM and Wednesdays, 9:10-11:00AM
307 Bessey Hall
Focus: Asian Cinema This course on Asian cinema covers Japanese auteur and anime, Chinese Fifth- and Sixth-Generation, New Taiwan Cinema, the Korean Wave, Asian Horror, action and kung fu thrillers, indigenous filmmaking, and Hollywood remakes. Some weeks are structured along national lines, others along generic distinctions or thematic interest. In addition to analyzing films as art and cultural products, we also draw from film theory and cultural studies readings. Filmmakers to be discussed include Kurosawa, Ozu, Oshii, Zhang Yimou, Jia Zhangke, Edward Yang, Ang Lee, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Mingliang, and Park Chan-wook.