Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Spring 2019


ENG 142: Introduction to Popular Literary Genres with Gary Hoppenstand
ENG 200: Creative Writing Community with Robin Silbergleid
ENG 211H: Honors Foundations in Literary Studies with Zarena Aslami
ENG 323: Readings in Non-Fiction with Josh Lam
ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literary Genres with Scott Michaelsen
ENG 360: Studies in Postcolonial and Diaspora Literature with Salah Hassan
ENG 364: Studies in 18th and 19th Century Literature with Zarena Aslami
ENG 368: Studies in Medieval/Early Modern Literature with Jyotsna Singh
ENG 448: Seminar in Gender and Literature with Tamara Butler
ENG 478A: Literature, Technology, and Representation with Kathleen Fitzpatrick
ENG 481: Seminar in Critical and Cultural Theory with Robin Silbergleid
ENG 484C: Critical Questions in a Literary Period with Kristin Mahoney


ENG 142: The Hero’s Journey: Heroic Fantasy in Popular Fiction and Film
Professor Gary Hoppenstand
Mondays and Wednesdays 4:10-6 PM

Focus: This class will examine urban fantasy in popular fiction and film. Thematic issues such as Joseph Campbell’s “the hero’s journey” and comparative myth structures will provide the foundation of the course, which will cover such topics ranging from the Victorian and Edwardian supernatural sleuth to the monster hunters of today’s bestselling contemporary fantasy. Urban fantasy stories featuring diverse cultures and mythologies will also be covered, including popular novels graphic novels, and films that explore Asian urban fantasy and Native American urban fantasy, and well as urban fantasy novels that feature powerful women protagonists.

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ENG 200: Creating Writing Community
Professor Robin Silbergleid
Fridays 3:00 PM

English 200 is designed as a co-curricular experience for students pursuing the creative writing concentration or minor.  It is an experiential learning course, for students to attend literary events on campus and as outreach within the local community.  Our class will meet approximately eight times during the semester, Fridays at 3:00, in order to engage in conversation about creative writing, to meet with guest writers, and to participate in activities related to literary citizenship. You will be expected to prepare for, participate in, and reflect upon regular class meetings; attend additional literary events (minimum of 4); and create a final literary citizenship project.

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ENG 211H: Honors Foundations of Literary Studies
Professor Zarena Aslami

Literary texts implicitly pose and seek to answer the question “what is literature?” In our course, we will consider what it means to ask this question and what it means to try to answer it. The

practical concerns of the course are twofold: to develop your ability to analyze literature and to present your ideas clearly and effectively, both in written and oral forms. To this end, we will close read texts together in class and discuss the category of literature itself, the major genres, such as narrative prose, poetry, and drama, as well as major categories of literary analysis (i.e., form, structure, genre, style, and tone). In class, you will be expected to contribute regularly to discussion. In your assignments, you will be asked to build on my short lectures and our class discussions to develop your own insights into clear, rigorous arguments.

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ENG 323: Readings in Non-Fiction
Professor Josh Lam
Mondays and Wednesdays

Focus: American Modernism

Though modernist authors like Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, and Zora Neale Hurston are best known for their formal innovations in fiction and poetry, they also profoundly changed the shape of non-fiction genres like autobiography, literary criticism, and ethnography. As writers began to explore changing notions of subjective truth, history, and cultural relativism in the early twentieth century, the ostensibly “true” genres of non-fiction were essential to their thinking. This course will explore multiple genres of non-fiction in American modernism, including autobiography, travel writing, literary and cultural criticism, and paratextual forms like the preface. Though literary modernism developed on an international scale, we will focus on the specific case of American modernism from the 1890s to World War II in order to ask: How did modernist writers use non-fiction forms to interrogate social conditions such as poverty, inequality, education, and democracy? How did autobiography articulate emerging conceptions of history, memory, and identity? How did travel writing adapt to new technologies of communication and transportation? How did literary non-fiction co-evolve with disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, and anthropology? To answer such questions, we will read journalism and activist writing (Ida B. Wells, Djuna Barnes); experimental autobiographies (W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, Miné Okubo); travel writing (Henry James, Zora Neale Hurston); documentary aesthetics (James Agee, Objectivist poets); literary criticism (T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Weldon Johnson); and cultural criticism (Charles Chesnutt, Jane Addams, Thorstein Veblen, John Dewey). This reading-intensive course will double as a broad survey of American modernism and an exploration of non-fiction genres.

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ENG 342: WRITING THE COMING DISASTER
Professor Scott Michaelsen
Mondays and Wednesdays 3-4:20 PM

Focus: Amitav Ghosh, in The Great Derangement (2016), argues that that our literature, history, and politics are all ill-equipped to imagine and represent the problem of climate change, or global warming.  And yet it’s also true that many, many works of literature have at least attempted just that, and especially in the domains of science fiction and horror literatures where disaster and apocalypse are always on the agenda.  In short, we will examine “Cli-Fi” (climate fiction) this semester: both its heuristic promise, and its charting of new relationships to the earth, animals, plants, worms, and stones.  Along the way, reading both novels and short stories, we will chart strange births, enhanced death drives, the renegotiation of sex and gender relations, and the future of race, class, and forms of social dominance.  What can literature teach us about climate change?  Much more than you might guess!

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ENG 360: Studies in Postcolonial and Diaspora Literature
Professor Salah Hassan
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-11:40 AM

Focus: TBD

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ENG 364: Victorian Literature and Liberalism
Professor Zarena Aslami
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:00 PM

Focus: The nineteenth century in Britain witnessed the rise of the middle classes and a focus on the individual. Intellectuals and politicians promoted individual rights, freedoms, and sovereignty, celebrating the Victorian present as having broken free from the dark ages of absolute monarchs exercising control over life and death. Yet the nineteenth century also witnessed intense social conflicts as those who had been excluded from the privileges of individual sovereignty, such as women, workers, colonized subjects, black slaves, and free black subjects of empire, demanded entry into the category of the liberal individual. This course explores how a range of Victorian literature (poetry, drama, fiction) engaged with the ideas of liberalism across the century in Britain and its empire. We will read Victorian liberal theory alongside literary works by established writers, as well as writings by women, people of color, working-class people, queer writers, and colonial subjects. How do different literary genres respond to political crisis and social antagonisms? How do they represent the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, race, and ability? How do they imagine difference, equality, and what it means to be human? In what ways could the discourse of liberalism accommodate difference, where were its limits, and what could be its role in condoning or condemning violence?

this course counts toward the post-1800 requirement.

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ENG 368: Studies in Medieval/Early Modern Literature
Professor Jyotsna Singh
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:20 PM

Focus: TBD

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ENG 448: Electric. Magic. Futures: A Curation of Black Girlhood
Professor Tamara Butler
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:00 PM

Focus: According to CaShawn Thompson and Renina Jarmon, Black girls are magical beings from the future. Janelle Monae's Electric Lady and Eve Ewing's Electric Arches offer up Black girlness as dynamic and catalytic. In this course, students would explore the historical conceptions of Black Girlhood and the contemporary conversations about Black Girl identities, epistemologies and ontologies. By centering the works of creatives (e.g., poets, artists, non-fiction and fiction writers), we will engage in conversations about Black girls' ways of being and knowing. We will also discuss scholarship from Black Girlhood Studies and Critical Literacies as we explore the following questions: What are the frameworks informing and emerging from Black Girlhood Studies? Who are curators of Black Girlhood?

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ENG 478A: Literature, Technology, and Representation: The Interface
Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Wednesday 4:10-7:10 PM

Focus: As practices of reading and writing become increasingly screen-based, the materiality of our engagement with texts becomes all the more important to the ways we construct and interpret them, as well as the ways we understand what a “text” is in the first place. This course will explore the interfaces through which we read and write — including those based in paper, those that appear on screens, and perhaps some others as well — and the ways those interfaces are deployed and represented in both fiction and criticism.

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ENG 481: Theory and Practice of Creative Criticism
Professor Robin Silbergleid
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20 PM

Focus: This class will provide a semester-long exploration of creative modes of literary criticism in the twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries.  We will consider the contexts in which such experimental criticism is produced; its political, ethical, and disciplinary significance; and the innovative literary texts to which it is best paired.  We will also reflect on and trouble the distinctions between “theoretical,” “critical,” and “literary” texts.  Our readings will involve a range of examples, including work by such writers as Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga, John Edgar Wideman, Maggie Nelson, Maureen McLane, Carole Maso, and Mark Doty.  Beyond reading intensely, participants in this class will be tasked with producing their own innovative literary scholarship.  Students from both the literary studies and creative writing concentrations are welcome.

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ENG 484C: Apocalyptic Victorians
Professor Kristin Mahoney
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:30 PM

Focus: To many late-Victorians, the end of the nineteenth century felt like an apocalyptic moment, a moment when the world as they had known it seemed on the brink of destruction or revolution. Authors and artists living through this tumultuous time often represented their era as a period of catastrophe and, at times, rebirth. In this course, we will read late-Victorian science fiction (such as H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine) alongside urban and imperial gothic fiction (such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, Dracula, and H. Rider Haggard’s She) as attempts to negotiate an end of century that felt to some like the end of days. We will consider the sense of doom and terror in these texts as responses to a world that appeared increasingly violent and polluted, a city that felt increasingly complex and terrifying, and a set of international and class relationships that looked increasingly unethical and fraught. We will also consider Oscar Wilde’s comedies as a more gleeful response to chaos. In addition, we will read late nineteenth-century feminist utopias and dystopias from England and India and speculative fiction by African American writers as efforts to usher in a new world for women and black Americans, and we will consider the different meaning apocalypse might have for queer writers, writers of color, or women writers, who might relish the undoing of the current social order. In order to situate these texts historically and to comprehend the terror and hope that they express, we will also work with material in MSU’s Special Collections (such as the Illustrated Police News) as well as digitized archival sources (such as Duke University’s Women’s Travel Diaries project) that will give us a picture of the London, India, South Africa, and Texas to which these writers were responding. 

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