Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of English
Spring 2017


ENG210 (Section 004): Foundations of Literary Study I
Zarena Aslami
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:20PM
A326 Wells

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. Possible readings include works by William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Aimé Cesaire, Claudine Rankine, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Young Jean Lee.

ENG 211H: Honors Foundations in Lit Studies I: Emergent Genres
Ned Watts
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:20-11:40AM
105B Berkey

A course centered on developing close-reading and critical writing skills across the literary genres and periods. In fact, our theme will be the evolution of genres over the centuries and their relations to issues of nationalism, race, gender, capitalism, and other defining forces, from the seventeenth-century to the present, from the rise of the novel to the rise of the graphic narratives and digital platforms. Readings will include William Shakespeare, Eliza Haywood, LeAnne Howe, Toni Morrison, Alison Bechdel, Edgar Allen Poe, and others.

 

English 280 (Section 002): Foundations in Literary Studies II
Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20-11:40AM
A108 Wells

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, as well as array of critical theories pertaining to authorship, subject, and the “I” function, ranging from semiotic theory to postcolonial. These texts will help us think critically about how the quality of being a subject both informs and manifests itself in literary culture, as well as elements of pop culture such as art, music, and film. 

 

ENG 308 (Section 001): Readings in Young Adult Literature
Gary Hoppenstand
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00-4:20PM
A226 Wells

The major aim of this class is to read, discuss, appreciate, and explore various themes that are common in young adult literature. 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 314: Readings in American Literature
Steve Arch
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:00PM
219 Berkey

The American gothic from its origins in the fiction of Charles Brockden Brown to its present-day incarnations in fiction, film, and gaming. Authors to be studied might include Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edith Wharton, William Faulkner, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Joyce Carol Oates. Films might include The Haunting (1963), The Others (2001), Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), and Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Our focus will be on reading broadly and widely. Assessment will center on three in-class essays, two presentations, and engaged participation.

 

ENG 320C: Methods of Lit History: Canon Formation: American Literatures, 1770-1900
Ned Watts
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:30PM
Location TBA

At the end of the nineteenth century, genteel white men from the Northeast selected the set of texts long known as the core of “American Literature.” Not surprisingly, they chose mostly books by genteel, eastern white men. This course will think about why and how they selected and established certain texts and disdained others created by writers representing other genders, races, regions, and political perspectives. Why did they favor Benjamin Franklin over William Burroughs?  Philip Freneau over Philis Wheatly? Nathaniel Hawthorne rather than John Neal? James Fenimore Cooper over Lydia Marie Child?  Henry David Thoreau over William Apess?

 

ENG 340: Studies in Popular Culture
David Stowe
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:20-11:40AM
A330 Wells

This course is an introduction to scholarly ways of viewing popular culture and provides a basis for further coursework in the field. Students will learn to map the parameters of the term “popular culture” and will be introduced to key concepts such as culture, highbrow and lowbrow, genre, myth, taste, ideology, adaptation, identity, and celebrity. Critical readings of forms like television, comics, theme parks, and fan fiction will prepare students to independently to apply concepts, approaches and theories. A particular focus of the semester will be the analysis of popular music. Students will be guided through explorations of semiotic, narrative, psychoanalytic, economic, and sociological criticism with an eye to media industry practices.

 

ENG 342: Readings in Popular Literary Genres: “Crooks, Con-Artists, and Culprits:
The Criminal Protagonist in Popular Crime Fiction”
Gary Hoppenstand
Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00-6:20PM
A128 Wells

This course will survey the criminal protagonist in popular crime fiction and visual media, examining the major novels and films of this anti-hero category. Presented in a rough, chronological ordering over a 150-year period, the popularity of the amateur cracksman, con-artist, thief, and professional assassin waxes and wanes at various points in time and place, depending on such things as the reading tastes of a given audience and the cultural dynamics of a given historical period.

 

ENG 352: Readings in Asian/Asian American/Asian Diaspora Literature
Sheng-mei Ma
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:20-11:40AM
219 Berkey

Designed as a readings course aiming for breadth and to build up students’ repertoire in a certain field, this course covers a wide variety of texts to increase knowledge of literature and visual culture written by and about people of Asian descent, globally and in Asia itself. The course moves through Asian, Asian (North) American, and Asian diasporic texts. In addition to literature, we also explore visual culture in transnational films, graphic novels, anime, and modern art. In our global era, how do we parse either Asian American literature written in English yet reaching beyond the Pacific Ocean or Asian literature translated into English yet so localized as to resist Anglicization? If both belong to global literature, then how do we approach foreign-language films subtitled in English for global cinema while retaining their differences? In this globalization via the lingua franca English, we ask how to approach the Other’s culture, without skewing the Other’s native tongue and cultural expression.

 

English 368: Studies in Medieval/Early Modern Literature
Tamar Boyadjian
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:00PM
309 Jenison Fieldhouse

This class will explore the image and portrayal of Robin Hood in literature and culture from the medieval to the contemporary period, looking at both textual representations of the figure and his surroundings as well as film and television adaptations.

  

English 413: Critical Questions in Language and Composition
Tamara Butler
Tuesdays 9:10-12:00AM and Thursdays, 9:10-11:00AM
A136 Wells

What does it mean to master the “Art of Storytelling”?  Where might we listen to hear the best storytellers?  We will engage in writing workshops and conversations with writers, artists, and educators. Although the course is designed for secondary English educators, all students (especially writers) are welcome.  Through lyrics, poetry, prose, and other artistic ventures, we will focus on the power of stories.  Featured storytellers may include: Aminah Robinson, OutKast, Faith Ringgold, women from the Black/Land project, Alice Walker, Alexis Pauline Gumbs and more.

 

ENG 478B: Literature and Visual Culture
Ann Larabee
Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:40-2:00PM
120 Berkey Hall

The first half of the course focuses on the relationship of words and images in cartoons, comics, and experimental novels, with an emphasis on gender, memoir and trauma.  Building on that understanding, the second half focuses on adaptation as theory and practice across a range of media.  Students produce two critical analyses and two word and image projects.

 

ENG 818: Studies in Genre and Media: Picturing the World in Cinema
Ken Harrow
Mondays, 7:10-10PM and Wednesdays, 7:10-9PM

This course will ask how the various cinemas typically taken to constitute “World Cinema” have worked to establish the category as a global phenomenon. For some time the category of World Cinema has been a contested one in Cinema Studies. The appellation World Art Cinema, along with Transnational Cinema, was developed, while the category of Global Cinema emerged along with globalization theory as it began to privilege commercial networks, economic and cultural flows, along with critiques of  commodity capitalism. This course focus on this category of film in light of the central issues that have arisen in contemporary Film Studies discourses as they have attempted to define World Cinema(s) in relation to globalization.

 

FLM 311: Intro to Documentary Production
S. Eswaran Pillai
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:40-2:30PM
Location TBA

This course offers an exploration of the documentary film as a category on its own, with an implicit opposition between nonfiction and fiction films. Starting with early silent films (actualities) we will study the opposition between “fiction” and “document.” Through the different theories of the documentary form, and by studying various forms of the documentary film, we will explore how a filmmaker mediates between the viewer and the subject as he tries to represent or reconstruct reality.  We will analyze the different styles of the documentary films and their content to discuss the fundamental issues concerning the documentary form: What is the “voice” of documentary? Is it possible to film an event objectively? How does persuasion inflect a documentary? How does a documentary persuade its viewers? What is the role of narration in documentaries?

In this course we will study in detail the complex relationship between documentary, reality, and representation by engaging with some of the landmark and canonical documentaries, and significant film movements and the technological and cinematic innovations associated with them. We will also study the reality-representation dialectic in international documentary filmmaking, considering the cultural and historical context of each film, its goals, its impact, and its cinematic choices.

This course has an equally significant production component, and it will introduce students to the basics of production like shooting with a DSLR camera. The accent of this course will be on history, theory, and production, and the students are encouraged to shoot their projects with DSLR cameras and edit their footage with the basic editing software that are installed on their computer. The focus of this course will be on informed narration and creativity through low-end technology.

 

FLM 334 (Section 001): Intro to Screenwriting
S. Eswaran Pillai
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:10-6:00PM
307 Bessey

This course introduces students to significant discourses surrounding ‘acts’ in a screenplay. Starting with the foundational “three-act” screenplay, it interrogates the strengths and weaknesses of formulating rigid structures. Students in this class will learn the conventional as well as alternative ways of thinking about screenplays through the detailed analysis of mainstream, art as well as independent categories of films. The aim of this class is to enable students to look critically at the screenplay of canonical films so that they can choose and work out a schema for the stories they want to tell.

The students in this course are expected to analyze the thought process behind the structuring of elements in a screenplay, while at the same time pitch their ideas, and observe the transformation these ideas undergo as they work toward the final goal of writing almost 1/3rd of their story in a chosen screenplay format. For instance, in the conventional sense it could be Act-1 and the beginning of Act-2, or the end of Act-2, and Act-3, but one could opt for an episodic or other unconventional formats as well.

The screenings may include many short films and (either the whole or part of) La Strada, Wild Strawberries, La Notte, A Streetcar Named Desire, A Place in the Sun, Psycho, Chinatown, Breakfast Club, Blade Runner, Heat, Pulp Fiction, All About My Mother, Erin Brockovich, Memento, Les Misérables, Bridesmaids, Social Network, Silver Linings Playbook, The Grand Budapest Hotel among others.

 

FLM 480: Film and Media Theory: Picturing the World in Cinema
Ken Harrow
Mondays, 7:10-10PM and Wednesdays, 7:10-9PM

This course will ask how the various cinemas typically taken to constitute “World Cinema” have worked to establish the category as a global phenomenon. For some time the category of World Cinema has been a contested one in Cinema Studies. The appellation World Art Cinema, along with Transnational Cinema, was developed, while the category of Global Cinema emerged along with globalization theory as it began to privilege commercial networks, economic and cultural flows, along with critiques of  commodity capitalism. This course focus on this category of film in light of the central issues that have arisen in contemporary Film Studies discourses as they have attempted to define World Cinema(s) in relation to globalization.