Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Fall 2015

FALL 2015

ENG 142 (Section 001): Introduction to Popular Lit
Gary Hoppenstand
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:50PM
Location TBA

This course will offer an introduction to the major genres of popular literature, including science fiction, fantasy, crime fiction, detective fiction, and horror fiction. Novels to be read include Roger Zelazny’s SF classic, Lord of Light, Steve Hamilton’s crime thriller, The Lock Artist, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, and Josh Malerman’s chilling horror novel, Bird Box, among others.


ENG 211H: Honors Foundations in Literary Studies I
Sheila Teahan
Mondays and Wednesday, 3:00-4:20
100 Berkey Hall

This is an intensive introduction to literary studies for students in the Honors College. We will focus on the three major genres (poetry, drama, and fiction), on the close reading of literary texts, and on the skills involved in writing literary essays. Students need not be English majors, but must arrive prepared to read extensively and to learn how to think analytically about literary form. The first six weeks will be spent on the study of the lyric poem.

ENG 228: Introduction to Fiction Writing
Bill Penn
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:30PM
A104 Wells Hall

This course will begin teaching students the structure and methods of telling (realistic) stories, context, and value.  The class will read selected essays on writing, a series of story titles and opening paragraphs, and finally whole stories, which they will imitate.  Expect to complete several beginnings or one full length short story (1500 words) by semester’s end.  And essential part of the class will be attendance (required) and participation in writing workshops as students learn how, what, and why.


ENG 280 (Section 001): Foundations in Literary Studies II
Natalie Phillips
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20-11:40AM
A218 Wells Hall

This course introduces students to critical trends and questions in literary and cultural theory. How do we make sense of—or find beauty in—a work of literature? How does understanding a text’s forms, audience, historical context, and political ideology enrich our readings? How are our interpretations of them influenced by our own ideas of race, class, gender, and sexuality? We also will engage some of the most provocative contemporary questions in the field, engaging a variety of critical approaches to literary study including: close reading, new historicism, race studies, media theory, marxist criticism, gender and sexuality studies, the history of the book, postcolonialism, digital humanities, and cognitive approaches to literature. Students will learn how to use such theories to open up fresh readings of primary texts, as well as how to blend different methodologies to better appreciate literary complexity. Primary readings include Shakespeare’s Othello, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time.


ENG 314:  Readings in North American Literatures
Steve Arch
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 –9:50AM
A332 Wells Hall

A broad survey of 20th century fiction and poetry by writers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Our focus will be on history, and how different writers and cultures remember, forget, and revise. Authors to be studied might include Toni Morrison, Carlos Fuentes, Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, E.L. Doctorow, Margaret Atwood, and Norman Mailer. We will be sure to sample works from a broad understanding of “North America,” including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Assessment will focus on in-class exams, short reading responses, and class discussion, in order to prioritize the fact that this is a “readings” course.


ENG 315 Readings in British Literature
Sheila Teahan
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:00PM
A328 Wells Hall

The purpose of this course is to create an opportunity for students to read extensively in a given field of British literature. This section will focus on the long nineteenth century, ranging from about 1789-1900 (or slightly beyond). We will spend a number of class periods on major poets of the period (such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Arnold, Tennyson), but the major focus will fall on the work of such novelists as Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Trollope, Hardy, and Eliot. Students should arrive prepared to read a number of big and wonderful English novels.


ENG 319: Readings in Michigan Literature
Ned Watts
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:40-2:00PM
A118 Wells

When you think of literature, you like of think of places far from here—New York, London, San Francisco. But plenty of very interesting and accomplished writers live and work here in Michigan and write about life as it is lived in our state. Among others, we might be reading:

Bonnie Jo Campbell,   Jeffrey Eugenides, Jim Harrison, Gloria Naylor, Loren Estleman, Ben Hamper, Ellen Airgood, RA Reikki, Terri McMillan, Joseph Heywood, Bryan Gruley, Steve Amick, Joyce Carol Oates, Lolita Hernandez, Laura Kasciski, Michael Delp, Ernest Hemingway, Jim Daniels, Jacqueline Carey, and many others.

As often as possible authors will be invited to class. We’ll also consider Michigan-made films, Michigan-based music (Motown, Punk), and other literary/cultural phenomena. We will think about why people think literature doesn’t happen in or come from places like this. How are we made to think that we, like Lorde says of New Zealand, “live in cities you’ll never see onscreen”? Why do we so often think we live in cities we’ll never read about in books? We will be reading throughout the genres, including mysteries and historical fiction, and we’ll try to cover all the state’s regions: Detroit, Up North, the UP, west Michigan, etc.

Over-rides available for concentrators in General Literary Studies, Creative Writing, or Secondary English, as well as other interested parties.

Questions? Contact Prof Watts  wattse@msu.edu


ENG 328: Readings in Novel and Narrative
Lev Raphael
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:20PM
A216 Wells

In 1921, Sinclair Lewis was going to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize but the panel's decision was over-ruled and it went to Edith Wharton instead.  What happened?  Novel & Narrative will start with that literary scandal and explore the friendship that developed between these two authors, with Lewis on the rise and Wharton at her peak. We'll examine what they share as novelists and what makes them different and see what their place in American literature is today as opposed to 1921. What classic American narratives did each author have to share, how were they constructed,  and what do those narratives tell us today? We’ll read their most famous novels to answer these and other questions.


ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literary Genres: “White Trash” in American Literature and Culture
Ned Watts
Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30-9:50AM
Location TBA

Hillbillies Red-Necks Crackers Hicks Juggalos Okies Local-Yokels Ofays “Trailer Trash”

Going back before the Revolution, the figure of the poor, often illiterate, usually backwoods white has stalked American identity. Seemingly voluntarily rejecting the advantages of white privilege, this population has long caught the popular literary and cultural imagination of the nation. From older sources such as Hector St. John de Crevecouer, Humor of the Old Southwest, Harriet Beecher Stowe and up through better-known writers such as William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, Zora Neal Hurston, and Flannery O’Connor, and contemporary popular writers Carolyn Chute, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Bobbie Ann Mason, this class will study the history of the representation of this figure in American Popular Culture. Films such as Deliverance and Winter’s Bone will be viewed, as will graphic texts such as the Lil Abner comic strip and the new “White Trash” graphic novel. This subject reveals the darker edges of class and race in our popular culture, revealing the resilience of this subject as a source of humor, horror, and tension in American life.

Over-rides available for concentrators in General Literary Studies, Creative Writing, or Secondary English, as well as other interested parties. ENG 342 is required for the new Popular Culture Concentration in English. Questions? Contact Prof Watts  wattse@msu.edu


ENG 364:  Studies in 18th/19th Century Literature
Steve Arch
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:20 –11:40AM
Location TBA

This course will focus on the theory that western culture undergoes a paradigm shift at the end of the 18th century. We will begin with some theoretical readings that posit such a shift, and then we will focus in three four-week units on Anglo-British writing in 1750, 1800, and 1850. Each unit will be comprised of one novel, several substantial poems by a major author, and an autobiography. The reading list will include British and American authors, but we will not (in general) emphasize an author's national affiliation: we will ignore national space and think about authors in different locales as inhabiting the "same" temporal space. Students will be encouraged to think about historical periods, and how authors from different periods are shaped by their time period. Students can choose to treat the course as either an 18th century course or a 19th century course, for the purposes of their English degree program. Assessment will include in-class exams, short reading responses, and a final project or 6-8 pages.


ENG 391: Special Topics in English: Flash!  Experiments in Writing Prose Poems, Short  Essays, Micro Fictions (and other things in between)
Robin Silbergleid
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:20PM
A128 Wells Hall

This class is a semester-long investigation of, and experiments in, short prose forms, from #CNF tweets to 100-1000 word short stories,  essays, and prose poems.  In addition to meditating on their brevity, we'll also think about commonalities and differences between these forms, which operate on a spectrum somewhere between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, focusing on shifting genre boundaries as these forms have evolved.  Given the nature of these short forms, we will emphasize the writing of notebooks, not masterpieces, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf.  That is, you won't write anything long, but you?ll be doing a lot of writing.  Texts will include such works as Maggie Nelson's Bluets, Claudia Rankine's Citizen, and Lyn Hejinian's My Life.  Please note:  This course counts as a 400-level writing course for CW concentrators.  Prereqs is any 200-level creative writing course, including 226.


ENG 408, Section 002:
Tamara Butler
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:30PM
A136 Wells

What are the connections between music of Kendrick Lamar, the writings of Ernest Hemingway, and the large scale work of graffiti artists?  In this course, we will explore theories and research emerging from New Literacy Studies and critical literacies.  We will analyze theory alongside written, performed, and/or visual literacy artifacts in order to think deeply and differently about literacy, space/place and text.    


ENG 428, Advanced Fiction Writing
Bill Penn
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20AM-12:10PM
A126 Wells Hall

This course will further develop student abilities in the structures and methods of telling realistic stories and achieving context and value.  The class will read selected essays about writing and then a broad range of selected short stories, which they will imitate.  Expect to complete one very good or two fairly good or one good story by semester’s end.  An essential part of the class will be attendance (required) and participation in writing workshops as students learn how, what, and why.  Students will either revise what they have written, or start completely anew, depending.


ENG 448: Seminar on Gender and Literature: The “Sexual Mountain” and Writers of Color
Terrion Williamson
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:00-4:20PM
A324 Wells Hall

In this course, we will interrogate the intersections of gender, sexuality and race by way of the work of contemporary writers of colors writing both within and beyond the U.S. While novels will be our primary texts, we will also consider how cultural producers working in popular media forms such as film and television engage similar questions as those taken up by the novelists under study. Representative authors include Jackie Kay, Nina Revoyr, Dionne Brand, Shyam Selvadurai, and Mariko and Jillian Tamaki.


ENG 449/820: Seminar in Race, Ethnicity and Literature: Decoloniality, Diaspora, and the Human
Yomaira Figueroa
Wednesdays, 4:10-7:00PM
A303 Wells

This course will serve as a meditation on three distinct and intersecting areas of study: theories of the human, diaspora studies, and theories of decoloniality. This course should be of interest to students engaging in transdisciplinary approaches to literary and cultural theory, critical approaches to global theories of decoloniality, theories of the human as tied to bodies of color and in particular queer and gendered bodies, and students who are interested in epistemology from the “underside of humanity.”


ENG 819: Literature & Psychology: Cognition, History, and Fictions of Mind (Pro-Seminar)
Natalie Phillips
Tuesdays, 4:10-7:00PM
A106 Wells Hall

This seminar interweaves three interdisciplinary fields in literary theory: psychology and literature; the literary history of mind; and cognitive approaches to the arts. Discussing texts from the medieval to the post-modern, we use pivotal moments of engagement in the literary and scientific history of the mind/brain to engage a key set of theoretical questions. How and when does literature engage—or critique—contemporary theories of mind, and how do these literary depictions of thought and emotion shift across historical periods, authors, genre, and media? What can psychological theory (or studies) offer to us as literary scholars, and what, in turn, can interdisciplinary studies of literature tell us about cognition? How, when, and where can we make intellectual use of these connections with critical responsibility and rigor? Throughout, we will read key works in literature, psychology, and cognitive approaches to fiction, from long-standing figures in the field (Freud, Jung, Foucault) to more recent additions (ZunshineStarr, Vermeule, Richardson), exploring the advantages—and profound challenges—of integrating work in psychology and cognitive science with literary history. At key moments, faculty from across the department will join us to lead discussion on a subject of interest, allowing us to discuss topics from Jane Austen’s use of contemporary theories of head injury in Persuasion to the Victorian neuropsychology of reading, from Stein's theory of automatic writing to today's neo-neural metaphorics of disability. The seminar will conclude by exploring recent work in the neuroscience of reading, teaching students how to use scientific databases, such as PubMed, to find (and critique) recent studies in neurobiology, developmental psychology, cognitive linguistics, neurocinematics, and cognitive aesthetics. Alongside their final historical research paper, students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively to brainstorm and design an interdisciplinary experiment that uses technologies from cognitive science—such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), EEG, or eye-tracking—to explore a central question about literary reading.


FLM 380: Classical Film and Media Theory
Ellen McCallum
Mondays, 5:00-7:50PM; Wednesdays, 5:00-6:50PM
B122 Wells Hall

Film theory examines how cinema uses all the means at its disposal--including images, sound, words, and narrative--to engage us emotionally and phenomenologically. Film theory takes up fundamental questions about representation in cinema, including what film is, how it represents, how it innovates aesthetically and evolves different styles. Film theory is concerned with individual films as well as how the cinema works as a system that has social, political, and cultural significance. Film theory also considers how movies fit into a broader context of media, art, and storytelling.  As a mode of intellectual inquiry, this course in film theory builds upon the skills for analyzing film that you learned in English 230, but pushes you to refine and complicate how you watch films, even as some of the texts we will consider push the limits of filmmaking or of thinking about film.  This course draws on the work of key film theorists from the first part of the twentieth century; our primary focus will be on film, although the role of other media—particularly theatre and photography—will come into play.


FLM 400/ENG 820. Section 002. Seminar in Film History: Film and Architecture
Professor Justus Nieland
Monday, 12:40-3:30; Wednesday, 12:40-2:30 | 307 Ernst Bessey Hall

This course explores the relationship between film and architecture, and various histories of crossings between these media. We will consider cinema’s architectural qualities: the specific capacity of film to construct, organize, and sequence space, and to move spectators through space in time. We will examine the work of directors whose films are strongly interested in architecture, design, and transformations in the built environment, as well as the work of architects and designers who have worked in and with film, and have embedded their architecture and design practice in various cultures of the moving image.  We will explore the relationship between directors, art directors, and production designers in the construction of cinematic architecture, as well as the history of the architecture of the film studio itself. We will study films that foreground important works of architecture. And we will consider the role of film and multimedia in the artistic construction of immersive “environments.” While the course will place special emphasis on modern and contemporary architecture, we will consider a range of styles and idioms. Readings will be drawn from film theory and history, urban history and planning, architectural and design history and theory, sociology, and art history. Readings would likely include the work of Donald Albrecht, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Giuliana Bruno, Beatriz Colomina, John Harwood, Sigfried Giedeon, Jane Jacobs, Henri Lefebvre, Reinhold Martin, Marshall McLuhan, Merrill Schleier, Fred Turner, Pam Wojcik, and Anthony Vidler.

Films might include:

L’Inhumaine (Marcel L’Herbier, 1924)

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

Conical Intersect (Gordon Matta-Clark, 1975)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997)

The Lonely Villa (D.W. Griffith, 1909)

Antonio Gaudí (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1985)

The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1959)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchock, 1954)

Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard. 1963)

Old and New (The General Line) (Sergei Eisenstein, 1929)

Things to Come (William Cameron Menzies, 1936)

Grey Gardens (Ellen Hovde and Albert Maysles, 1975)

Panic Room (David Fincher, 2002)

Executive Suite (Robert Wise, 1954)

Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendoca Filho, 2012)

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)

House: After Five Years of Living (Charles and Ray Eames, 1955)

The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998)

The Big Clock (John Farrow, 1948)

London (Patrick Keiller, 1994)

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Anderson, 2003)

The Naked City (Jules Dassin 1948)

Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

The Moon is Blue (Otto Preminger, 1953)

Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

Still Life (Jia Zhangke, 2006)


FLM 451: Studies in Postcolonial Cinema: Films of the Postcolonial World, including major directors and trends from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Ken Harrow
Tuesdays 4:10-7:00PM; Thursdays 4:10-6:00PM
307 Ernst Bessey Hall

This course will trace the trajectory of postcolonial cinema from its early “Third World” beginnings down to recent “world” or “global” cinema, seen from the perspective of the Global South.