Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Spring 2016


ENG 210 (Section 007): Foundations in Literary Studies I
Sheng-mei Ma
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:20-11:40AM
105B Berkey

This course introduces students to the study of literature by means of two motifs in two genres: the sword in the fantasy genre and detectives in popular culture. In terms of swords, neo-medievalism yokes erstwhile legends, West and East, with present-day concerns, such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s andCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s World War II. The hero’s sword empowers at a time of darkness and doom. In terms of detectives, the stream of supreme intelligence in “whodunit” from Sherlock Holmes to Cheng Xiaoqing in Shanghai reveals modern anxiety over crime and injustice. The detective genre assuages the fear of chaos in our global village where evil spreads as if through the air. The course ties fictions and films with contemporary culture’s fears and fantasies, a rite of passage for the study of text and context, of literature and the human mind.


ENG 228: Introduction to Fiction Writing
Bill Penn
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:30PM
A128 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 231: Film and Literature: “Differences and similarities between filmic texts and literary texts and between viewing and reading. The process of adaptation from literature to film.”
Ken Harrow
Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:10-12:00PM
Location TBA

This course will look at ways films and works of literature relate to and interact with each other. The focus will be upon adaptations, where texts viewed as sources (typically novels or plays) will be set against the filmic versions.


ENG 280 (Section 001): Foundations in Literary Studies II: "Language and Subjectivity: Author, Subject, I"
Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20-11:40AM
224 Erickson Hall

In this course we will discuss questions of authorship and subjectivity in literature (from the classical to the contemporary period) and contemporary film. You will also be introduced to an array of critical theories pertaining to authorship, subject, and the “I” function, ranging from semiotic to postcolonial theory.


ENG 320A: Methodologies of Literary History: Genre
Sheila Teahan
Mondays and Wednesday, 10:20AM-12:10PM
219 Berkey Hall

This section will focus on the nineteenth-century British novel. Be prepared to read big delicious novels by Bronte, Dickens, Gaskell, Hardy, Trollope, and Eliot. The latter's novel Middlemarch, one of the longer (and also one of the greatest) novels in English, will be one of the cornerstones of the course, so scope it out and be ready for a major reading experience of your life.


ENG 325: Readings in Graphic Narrative
Gary Hoppenstand
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:10-5:30PM
Location TBA

This course intends to expose students to the study of literary genre and the graphic novel. The specific thematic focus of this course involves an examination of the origin and development of the graphic novel, as well as an examination of major popular literary genre categories (e.g. the superhero story, science fiction, fantasy, horror, the thriller, and hard-boiled noir) and their various representations in the graphic novel.


ENG 342: Readings in Popular Lit Genres
Gary Hoppenstand
Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00-7:20PM
A130 Wells Hall

This class will examine the detective story as popular literature. We will analyze three major areas of the detective story—the amateur detective, the private investigator, and the police, discussing the major literary conventions of each area. We will also investigate the intersection of the detective story with other major categories of popular literature, including urban fantasy fiction, science fiction, and screwball comedy. Authors to be covered range from Edgar Allan Poe, to Agatha Christie, to Susan Hill; the detective protagonists in the course readings range from Sherlock Holmes to Sam Spade.


ENG 350: Readings in African American Literature: (Re)Reading Blackness in the Post-civil Rights Era
Terrion Williamson
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20-11:40AM
226 Erickson

What does it mean to be black at the contemporary moment? How have black people gone about negotiating their lives and identities in the context of the specific social upheavals and sociopolitical formulations of the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries? In this comparative film and literature course, we will take up the preceding questions by analyzing the work of African American writers and filmmakers whose work interrogates the meaning of blackness after the end of formal segregation.


ENG 360:  Studies in Postcolonial and Diaspora Literature
Sheng-mei Ma
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:00PM
A130 Wells Hall

This ENG360 course focuses on diaspora literature by juxtaposing white, cosmopolitan grand imaginary of the other versus piecemeal, constricted talking back by people of color. Coinciding with colonial expansion, British Romanticism is motivated by an inner/internalized other, embodied by Heathcliff inWuthering Heights, which morphs into a twice-told tale in Mizumura’s A True Novel. The Anglo-American literary tradition continues to drive such works as David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten, an OCD of universality that compels ethnic responses from Gene Yang’s graphic novel The Shadow Hero and Shaun Tan’s wordless The Arrival. True to the definition of diaspora, this course cross-cuts East and West, literary and visual narratives, human expressions and silences.


ENG 364:  Studies in 18th/19th Century Literature
Steve Arch
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20-11:40AM
011 Olds Hall

This course will focus on the long novel in Anglo-American literature. We will read four substantial novels, and discuss the development of the novel as a genre, changing notions of authorship and readership, the nature of narrative, and other topics. We will spend three weeks on each novel, reading at a steady pace and still reserving time (three weeks) for students to pursue independent reading projects on a fifth novel of their own choosing. Readings are likely to include Eliza Haywood, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (1751); Jane Austen, Emma (1815); Herman Melville, Moby-Dick(1851); and Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881), although authors like Fielding, Richardson, Smollett, Godwin, Cooper, Charlotte Bronte, Stowe, George Eliot, and Alcott will be considered. (The four novels will be chosen by October, 2015.) Assessment will include in-class exams, short reading responses, and a final project of 6-8 pages.


ENG 368: Studies in Medieval/Early Modern Lit: "Robin Hood: From Medieval Outlaw to Pop Rebel"

Course in honor of Dr. Lister Matheson

Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:00PM
Location TBA

This course explores the image and portrayal of Robin Hood in literature and culture from the medieval to the contemporary period. The first part of this class will focus on the stories of Robin Hood produced in the medieval and early modern period in the form of: tales, ballads, plays, and rhymed poetry. The second part of this class will then move to examining the ways in which the figure of Robin Hood has been appropriated in later periods, such as in contemporary literature, film, and culture.


ENG 413: Critical Questions in Language and Composition
Tamara Butler
Mondays, 12:40-3:30
Wednesdays, 12:40-2:30
104 Berkey Hall
What is the art of storytelling?  How do we (as current and future educators) engage ethnically/racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse students in sustaining writing and composing processes?  In this course, we will speak with various artists and literacy scholars to consider how they create storytelling texts (textiles, prose, poetry, film and music). Through weekly conversations and activities with visiting scholars and artists, English education students will prepare a collection of texts that reflect their identities, represent their emerging understandings, and push their writing boundaries.



ENG 429: Advanced Poetry Writing
Robin Silbergleid
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:50PM
A216 Wells Hall

The objective of this course is to improve your ability to write (and read) poetry.  More specifically, we will focus on the ways that poetry might meet be used to as a way to work through personal and cultural histories.  In addition to reading and writing a number of poems based on specific assignments, you will draft and revise a sustained project to develop your poetic voice.  Texts will include such works as Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, Philip Metres’ Sand Opera, Natasha Tretheway’s Thrall, Adrian Matejka’s Big Smoke, and Nicole Cooley’s Breach.  Active participation in workshop and discussion is mandatory.  This is an advanced course, intended for students who are pursuing the creative writing concentration of the English major.


ENG 445: Seminar in 19th/20th Century American Lit
Sheila Teahan
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:00PM
105B Berkey Hall

This senior seminar will focus on the works (and, to some extent, lives) of Henry James (1843-1916) and Edith Wharton (1862-1937), who were friends, fellow expatriates, and novelists whose fictions were in many ways responsive to one another. James is one of the great novelists in the English language, and we will find out why. Wharton is a worthy near-contemporary and a major figure in twentieth-century American fiction. We will read widely in James's and Wharton's work, and selectively in biographical, critical, and theoretical materials. The seminar will walk students through the process of developing a research paper. Assignments will include shorter critical essays, oral reports, and a final research essay. 


ENG 455/813: Literatures in English before 1800: Early Modern Literature and Culture
Jyotsna Singh
Tuesday, 4:10–7:00PM
A136 Wells Hall

What are some distinctive features of (English) early modern literature? Why do sixteenth and seventeenth-century writers frequently use the language of desire to explore gender roles, political power, and national identity? How do early representations of love, desire, sexuality, gender, and racial difference intersect with emerging (early modern) ideas of self and subjectivity? How are the dominant literary and social codes shaped by the culture’s preoccupation with “self-fashioning”? To explore these and other questions, we will examine a range of genres, drama, poetry, and (some) prose from the 16th and 17th.centuries -- and focus on the inter-textual interplay of thematic and formal connections between the different works. Selected literary texts include works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Sidney, Mary Wroth, and Spenser. In this process, we will chart a rich dialogue between the different texts of the period, including some early modern travel narratives and Renaissance translations of classical works by Ovid and Virgil.


ENG 458/814: Literatures in English after 1800: Victorian Representations of Empire
Zarena Aslami
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40–2:00PM
Location TBA

In this course, we shall explore a range of ways that Victorians represented the British Empire. In particular, we will focus on representations of foreign power. To do this, we will compare and contrast how Victorians imagined and experienced power at home and abroad. We will ask the following questions: How did Victorian writers and artists navigate a culture dominated both by the discourse of liberalism and justifications for empire? How did notions of the past and anxieties about the present at home influence how they viewed foreign rulers and modes of political authority? We will also examine how gendered or sexual difference produced meaning in these representations and how class identity impacted representations of empire and vice versa. We will read Victorian nonfiction (such as political theory and travel writing), novels, short stories, poetry, and visual texts (such as paintings, illustrations, and photography).


ENG 484D: Critical Questions in a National Literature
Steve Arch
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:00-9:50AM
222 Erickson Hall

This course will focus on the politics of literary reputation in American literature. Why do some authors lose their significance after the lapse of time (e.g., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)? After have been largely forgotten, why do some authors come to seem indispensable to us (e.g., Herman Melville)? In this course, we will analyze four case studies of an author and/or text who/that has disappeared from the canon or been elevated into the canon. Authors to be studied might include Longfellow, Melville, Ezra Pound, Melvin Tolson, and Willa Cather. Texts to be studied might include Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Harriet Jacobs), The Morgesons (Elizabeth Stoddard), and So Big (Edna Ferber). Course readings will include theories of canon and canon formation, as well as biographies, book reviews, and archival research. Assessment will include a group research project (or perhaps several group projects, depending upon class size), in which students will contribute a single original 12-15 page essay.


ENG 492H:  Honors Seminar in English
Patrick O’Donnell
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-4:20pm
210B Berkey

Topic:  The Sign of the Three:  James, Hitchcock, Nabokov

This course will focus on three modern artists whose work has been foundational to modernism. Henry James, Alfred Hitchcock, and Vladimir Nabokov share a number of common concerns that can be seen working across their very different artistic projects, and one of our goals in this course will be to understand these commonalities while also appreciating the distinct literary or cinematic production of each individual artist.  All three of these figures create a strong authorial presence in their work as they unfold complex narratives involving secrecy, conspiracy, betrayal, and misinterpretation:  the mcguffin is as much an aspect of James’s and Nabokov’s work as it is of Hitchcock’s.  All three are interested in the intricate relationship between life and art, and equally intricate questions of perspective that pertain to the spectacle of modern existence and the identity of the viewer/reader.  All three are concerned with questions of epistemology, or how we know what we know; and all three, finally, are craftspersons of the highest order, attentive to form, detail, and implication in ways that enable deep engagement with their work for those willing to take the journey.  We will be considering important fictions and films by all three, as well as the historic and aesthetic contexts that surround them.  The list may include such works as James’s “The Beast in the Jungle,” “The Turn of the Screw,” The Portrait of a Lady, and The Wings of the Dover; Hitchcock’s Strangers on a TrainRear WindowVertigo, and The Birds; and Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark, LolitaPale Fire, and Speak, Memory.  A smaller subset from amongst these will be on the syllabus.  Work for the course will include in-class presentations/discussion leadership; short response papers, a mid-semester paper of 6-8 pages, and a final project that may be a paper, a blog, or a research summary.


FLM 350: National and Transnational Cinemas
Tuesdays 12:40-3:30PM; Thursdays 12:40-2:30PM
307 Bessey Hall

The category of the transnational has recently emerged, in distinction from earlier cinemas conceived as national, and from later notions that struggled to define films that crossed national borders, like “hybrid” cinema, or cinemas of exile, creole cinemas, international film, or global or world cinema. We will explore the specific space “transnational” seeks to establish in distinguishing itself from other, less productive concepts. The films will range over those that reach beyond the limits of national cinema.


FLM 452: Film, Gender, and Sexuality
Ellen McCallum
Mondays, 4:10-7:00PM; Wednesdays, 4:10-6:00PM
307 Ernst Bessey Hall

This course examines recent queer cinema, working from the “New Queer Cinema” movement to more recent films (from, for instance, My Own Private Idaho to Pariah via Derek Jarman and Patricia Rozema) Our focus will be primarily on independent cinema rather than LGBTQ representation broadly speaking, investigating whether/how “New Queer Cinema” still is a phenomenon, aesthetically or cinematically speaking, and if not what has emerged since? Readings and screenings will be equally important for this course. We will be engaged with queer theory texts and considering how those inform filmmaking and film theory, as well as with the films themselves.  We will be interested in how feminism, critical race theory, and critiques of capitalism intersect with queer cinematic concerns.


FLM 460/ENG 820, Section 001. Seminar in Digital Film and Emergent Media: Visuality and Data
Professor David Bering-Porter
MW 12:40 – 3:30/2:30 pm
Room TBD

An unprecedented number of images surround us today through media ranging from print to cinema to the digital. This network of screens and images surround and entice us at various scales, from the smartphone to the IMAX theater. Drawing on the idea of the “visual archive” as it is understood in media archaeology to define the vast array of images circulating across locations and media platforms, this course will explore the intersections of visual studies and the tools and techniques of information studies and “big data", specifically the visualization of data. In this course, we will explore the history, theory, and practice of generating, understanding, and using visual data within the context of film and media studies. Students will acquire a working knowledge and hands-on training with data visualization technologies including ImagePlot, and use this practical knowledge in scholarly and creative assignments in the class. This course blends theoretical and practice-based approaches to data visualization and film studies. Navigating this visual archive means fostering new kinds of visual and informational literacy within the context of film studies as the boundaries between media and data become increasingly difficult to discern. This class asks how does data visualization fit into the field of film studies and visual culture both as an analytical tool and an object of study on its own? Drawing on historical and theoretical texts from film studies, new media theory, and the digital humanities, this course helps foster an important critical understanding and engagement with the flow of images and information that circulate around us 24/7.