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Department of English


Fall 2013


ENGL 305/360 Literary Nonfiction (Lake) 

We will study creative non-fiction prose genres including lyric essays, narratives, and historical accounts, with special attention to the use of literary elements including characterization, understatement, irony, narrative voice, allegory, metaphor, and story structure. To quote one of our guides, Tracy Kidder, “the techniques of fiction never belonged exclusively to fiction, and no techniques of storytelling are prohibited to the nonfiction writer, only the attempt to pass off inventions as facts.” Students will emulate styles and techniques found in the assigned pieces, and then select some of these exercises for expansion, refinement, and in-class work shopping. Some assignments will entail off-campus observation and interviewing. Our texts will include nonfiction magazine articles, and works by Tracy Kidder, John McPhee, and the award-winning writer Dava Sobel who will be our guest during a class in October; two of the books we will study are hers.


ENGL305/360 Writing: Nature and Travel (Walker)

We will look at nature and travel writing as the “hot new genres” they have become recently.  We will read some of the best writers and pieces in each.  The course will create opportunities to write our own best pieces in each genre.


ENGL320 The Victorian Faith Crisis (Downing)

“Survival of the fittest” drove both the science and the literature of 19th century British Victorian culture. This course looks at the trauma generated by evolutionary theory and how Victorian poets and novelists grappled with the decay of Christian certitude. In addition to discussing poetry of the era—by Tennyson, Arnold, the Rossettis, the Brownings, Hopkins, etc.—we will read Dickens’s Hard Times, Eliot’s Middlemarch, and Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as Victorian essays that propose alternatives to Christianity. Regular Reading quizzes, Four short papers, and a final exam.


ENGL330/360: Pillars of American Poetry (McFarlane-Harris)

In this class, we will study “pillars” of American literature before 1900: major poets whose work has lasting impact on our cultural consciousness. Although we will investigate a number of authors, forms, and literary movements, nineteenth-century poetry will take center stage, with particular emphasis on Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. As we delve into the nuances of genre, we will also pay careful attention to the functions of social categories such as gender, race, class, and religion in American literature. While honing your “close reading” skills, we will also examine a variety of secondary criticism related to the poetry at hand. Requirements: active participation in class discussions, two analytical essays, a blue book final exam, and a number of shorter writing assignments to demonstrate your engagement across the term.


ENGL 350/360 Selected World Authors (Dzaka)

This class will introduce you to selected prize winning authors from around the world. The authors involved are Shusaku Endo (Japanese), Arundhati Roy (Indian), Ngugi wa Thiong’o (African), Tsao Hsueh-Chin (Chinese), and Naguib Mahfouz (Arab). We will consider some of their best writing and how they fit into, depart from, revise, or signify upon the tradition of the English novel. History and theory of the novel, as well as postcolonial theory will be important backdrops to the discussion in this class.


ENGL360 Young Adult Literature (Perrin)

The impulse to tell a story and to listen to a story is as old as humans.  Our book list this semester is a testament to this--it includes The Odyssey by Homer, which was recorded over 2700 years ago and told for many years before that by many people.  It also includes Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, another quest book, which has captured several generations of readers and taught kids they can sustain their narrative interest over years and thousands of pages.  Drama, poetry and the novel (Hamlet, Jane Eyre, Teacher the one who made a difference, How to Read a Book, and The Art of Poetry) are categories represented in this short list of a semester's work.  I wanted for each of you to tally your exposure to different genres and to think about what drew you to reading for your life work (at least thus far in your vocation).  We will also think collectively about how people become readers, and what sorts of teachers and exposure cultivates this living relationship which has been discarded by many.  Flannery O'Connor says "our response to life is different if we have been taught only a definition of faith then if we have trembled with Abraham as he held a knife over Issac."  How have we been shaped by trembling with Abraham, how do we make the word live so that our students also will tremble?  These are questions we will ask together.  While this course is required for English Education students it aims to be engaging far beyond that category.


ENGL 370/305 Composition Theory and Pedagogy (Service Learning) (Corey)

This class is an introduction to current theory and pedagogical practices in composition.  We will examine various notions of writing and their implications for our own practices as writers, editors, tutors, or future teachers.  Our inquiry throughout the semester will be aimed at putting theories in conversation with each other, as well as in conversation with our lived experience as writers and thinkers.  Designated as a service learning course, this course includes a 10 hr. service learning component.


ENGL494: Senior Literature Seminar (Downing)

This class will be run like a graduate-level seminar, where students are free to pursue their own topics of research and writing, with the goal of producing a publishable essay. (Students should start thinking now of a literary issue or author that they would enjoy spending an entire semester researching, because their proposal of a topic will be due the second week of class.)  For the beginning of the course, the teacher will model, through her book on postmodernism, how the study of literature by a Christian can lead to analysis of larger philosophical and theological issues. Next, students will provide xeroxed readings relevant to their chosen topic that the rest of the class will read and discuss. For the last portion of the course, students will xerox their developing 20-30 page research papers for peer-review and construct an annotated bibliography of their research. Reading quizzes, short reflection papers, and a 20-30 page final course project.



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