Latinx Underworlds: Border-crossings and Migration Narratives in Latinx Literature
Drawing from katabasis, this course will examine how several texts of Latinx literature have employed the descent to and ascent from the underworld as a complex metaphor to describe border-crossings and migration narratives. Moving beyond our common understanding of the underworld as a place where the dead reside, this course and the selected readings will further complicate how migrant protagonists who cross all manner of borders must also contend with the underworld as a space of illegality, imagination, criminality, insanity, and outsider status. Drawing between the intersections of identity and the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigrant status, this course will take an interdisciplinary and cross-genre approach to our understanding of Latinx underworlds.
This is a non-workshop course that counts in the new CW major requirements in the “Writing and Literature” category. It counts as a department elective in the English major (and could be used to satisfy the Difference & Diaspora requirement if needed).
The Middle Ages in Popular Culture
Many of us first encounter the Middle Ages through film: from Robin Hood to Tristan and Isolde, The Lion in Winter to Game of Thrones, movies about the Middle Ages enchant and excite us. In this course, we will survey a wide range of films about the Middle Ages, placing them in conversation with medieval source material, historical contexts, and contemporary political issues. Why does Games of Thrones appeal to such a wide audience? What makes the legends of Robin Hood and King Arthur so enduring across historical periods and narrative formats? How does experiencing these stories through film differ from experiencing them through poems, plays, or novels?
This course counts as a department elective in the general English major, and a Media Cultures cluster course for those doing the English Topics concentration.
The Gothic Short Story
This course will primarily focus on Gothic short fiction of the 19th century—authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, E. Nesbit, and others. We will read the stories of these authors in depth and explore the influence they had upon later authors of the 20th and 21st centuries like H.P. Lovecraft, Steven King, Neil Gaiman, and Ray Bradbury; as well as on other modern mediums including podcasts, short film, and television. Our driving questions will seem relatively simple: What is the Gothic? What are short stories? Why do the two go so well together? And what makes the Gothic short story so scary and enticing? As we read, however, we will discover that these questions evade simple answers. Each week, exploring a different theme and discussing how these stories create their atmospheres of dread, we will analyze how the use of short story to depict our deepest fears has changed over time in both European and American settings. More importantly, we will dissect each thematic fear to discover common undercurrents which often intersect with or replicate some of humanity’s oldest prejudices.
This course counts as a department elective in any of the ENGL concentrations, and as a literature course in the CW major.
This is a Part of Term A (aka “first 8-week”) class
This course is an introduction to writing for the screen. Students will explore the fundamental theory and skills of story structure, character development, conflict, and scene writing. Students will then apply these principles to develop their own material, from initial premise and character, to a basic outline and a draft of a first act of a feature screenplay. The course will emphasize active participation and discussion with an emphasis on workshopping student writing.
This course will count toward the “12 hours of workshop” in the CW major, and toward your advanced hour total in the major. It’s a department elective for ENGL majors.
ENGL 350 M–Writing about literature
Happiness and the Enlightenment
In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 65/309 (Happiness: Towards a Holistic Definition of Development), calling on member countries to make happiness an index of national prosperity. This led, in 2012, to the publication of the first ever World Happiness Report and a global convention on happiness—hosted, appropriately, by Bhutan, a country that had long prioritized “Gross National Happiness” over “Gross National Product.” In 2018, Psychology Professor Laurie Santos made history at Yale University when a quarter of Yale’s undergraduate student body signed up for her new course, “Happiness and the Good Life” (Professor Santos’s Happiness Lab podcast has been downloaded by more than 35 million people worldwide). In 2021, the global wellness industry was valued at over $1.3 trillion, and the COVID19 pandemic is expected to spur further growth of the industry. Clearly, today, we are deeply preoccupied with happiness as a goal, and have been, arguably, ever since the Declaration of Independence of 1776 identified “the pursuit of happiness,” in addition to life and liberty, as an inalienable right. This course seeks to situate our modern interest in—and for some, our elitist and counter-productive obsession with—happiness in a larger cultural and intellectual history that began in the century preceding the Declaration of Independence, at the beginning of the period we call the Enlightenment. In England, this was a time when new “mechanical” philosophies of human nature were transforming earlier Christian conceptions of both happiness and human nature, away from the idea that we are immortal souls, whose happiness lies in a union with God in the afterlife, to the modern understanding that human animals are driven by the pursuit of this-worldly happiness, with happiness incorporating physical and material well-being. The good or happy life, it was increasingly argued, requires something more than being good; it also entails feeling good. Indeed, according to John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), a crucial influence on the Declaration of Independence, it is virtually impossible to be good unless you feel good about being good. This course considers how “being good” and “feeling good,” virtue and pleasure, interacted in Enlightenment literature and philosophy to enable the late eighteenth-century codification of a fundamental right to happiness. Readings include works (in whole or part) such as Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure (1668), Locke’s Essay, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740), Samuel Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1759), Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative (1789), and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). English 350 seeks at once to place the modern idea of happiness in a wider historical context and to bring into focus the writing process that is such an integral part of your happiness or misery as undergraduates. Through workshops, revisions, and peer review, the course aims to help you build the skills required for doing research in English, including developing strong argumentative theses and paper topics, constructing a cogent and current bibliography, and situating your work in a wider scholarly conversation.
ENGL 350 is a required course in the English major; this section is online and synchronous. It counts toward the literature requirement in the CW major, and toward the advanced hour total in any English department major. ENGL 350 is repeatable as long as the topics are different; if taking 350 for the second time this section can be used to satisfy the pre-1800 requirement in the ENGL major (long 18thC sub-category).
Learning and Teaching Literacy in a Digital Age
This section of the course will focus on digital literacy instruction grounded in NCTE’s “Definition of Literacy in a Digital Age,” particularly their assertion that literacies include “a wide range of skills, competencies, and dispositions” and that “[t]hese literacies are interconnected, dynamic, and malleable,” and offer a complement to traditional, print-based writing technologies. Students will explore ways to integrate digital reading and writing in composition by applying reading theories, design principles, and rhetorical concepts to digital literacy instruction. The class will consider: questions of changes in writing and written genres in relationship with emerging technologies; critical perspectives on integrating technology into writing and writing instruction; ways that emerging technologies impact writing teachers, courses, and institution; and the role of emergent technologies in empowering student writers and instructors and increasing equity.
This counts as a “Language/writing/pedagogy” course in the English Teaching concentration, or as an elective for those in the general or Topics concentrations. It also counts toward your advanced hour total in any English department major.