Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Spring 2020


ENG 129: Introduction to Reading Poetry with Steve Arch
ENG 200: Creative Writing Community with Will Langford
ENG 204: Topics in American Literatures with Shelia Contreras
ENG 206: Topics in Global Literature with Sheng-Mei Ma
ENG 323: Readings in Nonfiction with Josh Lam
ENG 340: Theories and Methods of Pop Culture Studies with Ann Larabee
ENG 360: Studies in Postcolonial Diaspora with Salah Hassan
ENG 362: Studies in Modern/Contemporary Literature with William Johnsen
ENG 368: Studies in Medieval/Early Modern Literature with Jyotsna Singh
ENG 391: Special Topics with Kathleen Fitzpatrick
ENG 440: Seminar in Popular Culture with Professor Boyadjian
ENG 441: Early American Women Writing About Indians with Ned Watts
ENG 449: Seminar in Race and Ethnicity with Salah Hassan
ENG 473B: Law and Literature with Gordon Henry
ENG 478B: Literature and Visual Culture with Julian Chambliss
ENG 484B: Critical Question in Region, School, Movement with Steve Arch
ENG 492: Special Topics in Creative Writing: Literary Editing and Publishing
ENG 492H: Honors Seminar on "Chinee: Toward a US Stereotype" with Professor Sheng-Mei Ma

ENG 129: Introduction to Reading Poetry
Professor Steve Arch
Mondays and Wednesdays 8:00-9:50

This is an introductory course on the basics of reading and interpreting poetry in English, with an emphasis on poetic forms and developing a critical vocabulary. We will read poetry from a range of time periods and national literatures. No previous knowledge about poetry is required. Most students in the course will not be English majors. Students will practice the skill of close reading poetry, build a library of poems that speak to them, and learn to talk about difficult poems with confidence. After reading a broad range of poetry, from the 16th century to the present, we will read a recent award-winning collection of poetry (perhaps Justin Phillip Read’s Indecency [2018], National Book Award winner in 2018). The class begins at 8:00 am, but the discussions about great poetry are a perfect way to start your day! (Coffee not provided.)

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ENG 200: Creative Writing Community
Will Langford
Fridays 2:00
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, including, but not limited to Lansing-area schools and community-engaged art organizations.  Our class will meet approximately eight times during the semester, Fridays at 2:00, in order to share ongoing writing projects via in-class "open mic" readings, 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 204: Topics in American Literatures
Professor Shelia Contreras
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40
Readings and discussion are organized around the idea and experience of migration, within and across national and other borders, and focused on travel to and from the US.
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ENG 206: Topics in Global Literature 
Professor Sheng-Mei Ma
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-11:40
This Global lit course focuses on Global Asia, mainly on English-language fiction, film, graphic novel, and other cultural production by Westerners, some of Asian descent. It interrogates the hypothetical commonality of Asianness in myriad works by Americans, Asian Americans, Anglo-Asians, and Asian Europeans. The course also flips “Global Asia” into Asianized Globalization, as the millennial China on the rise expands and challenges the Anglophone world order. This course studies fiction, film, visual art, and graphics. Course grade is based on papers, exams, and class performance.
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ENG 323: Readings in Nonfiction
Professor Josh Lam
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:00pm

Focus: 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 340: Theories and Methods of Pop Culture Studies
Professor Ann Larabee
Mondays and Wednesdays 4:10-5:30pm

We will look at a variety of approaches to the intellectual understanding of popular forms, including television, Hollywood movies, popular fiction, theme parks and games, and popular religion. Key themes will include popular culture as history; mythology, fairytales, and folklore; adaptations and spin-offs; collecting and archiving; fans and media industries; performance; and world building.

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

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ENG 362: Studies in Modern/Contemporary Literature
Professor William Johnsen
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:00pm
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ENG 368: Studies in Medieval/Early Modern Literature
Professor Jyotsna Singh
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20pm 

This class will study connections between late medieval and early modern literature, with a comparative focus on Medieval influences on selected plays by Shakespeare. Selected Medieval works include Mystery and Morality plays such as The Second Shepherd’s PlayEveryman, and The Castle of Perseverance, and the prose Romance, Morte D’Arthur. Shakespearean plays will include Richard III, Othello, Macbeth, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale.  Class discussions will be based on close textual analysis. In addition, we will view and study contemporary film versions of selected works.

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ENG 391: Introduction to Digital Media Studies
Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-4:20pm

Focus: The class will explore the origins and evolution of digital modes of representation and communication and will dig into contemporary issues of identity, community, labor, and the like, with readings in a variety of critical and theoretical texts as well as more direct study of digital media texts, platforms, and networks.

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ENG 440: Seminar in Popular Culture
Professor Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40am

The critical objectives of this course are threefold: first, to introduce students to the theoretical components of “Medievalism”; Second, an examination of medieval heroines and princesses across contemporary film and pop culture; and Third, a deeper analysis of these representations by tracing the trajectory of these princesses and heroines to the medieval world.

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ENG 441: Seminar in Early American Literature: The New Early American Literature
Professor Ned Watts
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:20-11:40pm

This course will satisfy pre-1800 distribution requirements and/or part of the undergraduate capstone requirement. In recent decades, the field of early American literary studies has been radically reinvented. Part of that process has been the recovery of “lost” texts, many by women writers, long victims of the sexist politics of canonization. As the era of recovery ends, and these important texts are back in print, we are in a position to read them critically in the context of other literary and cultural contexts. One subject at the intersections of gender, race, and colonialism, is their representations of indigenous Americans. In many of the most accomplished texts by American women before 1830, “Indians” are represented in a vast variety of ways: from Mary Rowlandson’s initial terror to Lydia Marie Child’s deep sympathy. Constantly in play are the cultural politics of settler colonialism and its entanglement with gender and class-based distinctions. We will read these texts—along with appropriate secondary historical, scholarly, and theoretical materials—as students work toward the production of a sustained seminar paper (15-20 pages).

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ENG 449: Seminar in Race and Ethnicity
Professor Salah Hassan
Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30-9:50pm

Offered in conjunction with GSAH 414

This course will cover Arab American literature from its beginnings in the late 19th century and early 20th century to the present. Readings will include a range of works across the genres by some of the first Arab immigrant authors to write in English, such as Gibran and Rihani, as well as works by contemporary Arab American authors, such as Laila Lalami, Rabih Alameddine and Omar al Akkad. The course will also include works of non-fiction that provide a context for understanding the history of Arab presence in the US.

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ENG 478B: Literature and Visual Culture
Professor Julian Chambliss
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:20pm

Focus: The relationship between science fiction and high tech culture has garnered increasing attention as we debate contemporary technoculture impact on everyday life. Has technology failed or realized the science fiction vision that inspired it? In this course, we will chart the rise of contemporary technoculture in the United States from its roots in 1970s counterculture. From the Whole Earth Manual and Hacker’s Crackdown to John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider and Vernor Ving’s True Names, the ideology that defines cyberculture in the United States has always been intimately intertwined with an ideology of resistance, liberation, and autonomy rooted in a narrow vision of identity and experience.

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ENG 484B: Critical Questions in Region, School, Movement 
Professor Steve Arch
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-12:10
This course asks why the gothic mode has been so useful for writers working in North America. We will analyze examples of gothic fiction, poetry, drama, and film from New England, Canada, the South, the Midwest, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Atwood, Carson McCullers, Toni Morrison, Mayra Montero, and Carlos Fuentes were writing in very different regional, national, and cultural contexts, yet each turned to the gothic to grapple with questions of identity, history, and knowledge. We could think about this question historically, tracking the emergence, development, and evolution of the gothic, starting perhaps with Charles Brockden Brown in New England ca 1800 or starting with the gothic colonial reverberations in the Bronte’s fictions in the 1840s. Instead, we are going to move through geographic space and track the aesthetic of the gothic mode, persistently asking why and how it inspired writers in such varied and different locales as Toronto, Georgia, Haiti, and Mexico City. Critical readings will introduce students to different theories about the gothic: queer, ecocritical, postcolonial, global, etc. Students will write short scaffolding assignments, and one long project.
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ENG 492: Special Topics in Creative Writing: Literary Editing and Publishing
Professor Kurt Milberger
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:40-2:30
This course offers both an overview of the history of literary magazine publication in the United States, as well as a hands-on experience with literary editing. Students will explore the relationship between editorial practice and creative writing and participate in the production of Red Cedar Review, the literary magazine published by undergraduates in the Department of English since 1963. Students can expect to learn professional communication, copyediting, typesetting, and other editorial skills. Course texts will include Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century, the archives of Red Cedar Review, and a handbook of grammar and style. In conjunction with English 400 (1 cr), this section may count as a senior capstone in creative writing.
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ENG 492H: Honors Seminar on "Chinee: Toward a US Stereotype"
Professor Sheng-mei Ma
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:20-11:40am
Bret Harte's 1870 poem “The Heathen Chinee” on a duplicitous Chinese card shark crystallizes the West Coast nativist “The Chinese Must Go!” movement and heralds the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943). The racial other’s physical features are first stereotyped and then decoded for intentionality, a fixation on turning unknown, evolving individuals into known, fixed types. Us in the US is thus pitted against Them, the perennial aliens. The deboning of “s” from “Chinese” produces the long “e” suffix, an alleged linguistic trait of coolies’ pidgin. Yet such stereotypes are symptomatic of our own semantic (auditory) and, increasingly, cinematic (visual) Orientalism. Nobel laureate John Steinbeck in East of Eden (1952) continues this time-honored American tradition in Lee, the Chinese servant-nanny-surrogate mother and wife, who parrots: “Dlinkee Chinee fashion.” Steinbeck’s biblical allegory sprouts in part from Lee, the East in Eden. After select canonical (read: white) American fiction and film, we proceed to Asian American (off-white, yellow-ish) correction to white discursive supremacy. The ethnic pushback comes with its own side effect on skin and speech: either self-Orientalizing yellowface speaking in Anglophone monolingualism, exemplified by Crazy Rich Asians (2013, 2018) and Severance (2018), or ethnic comedies of global fusion in the likes of Saving Face (2004), Re Jane (2015), and The Farewell (2019). Course grade is based on research papers, critical analyses, and participation.

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