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Topics Courses

Fall 2020

Each term, the English Department offers variable topics courses. Because the topics change each term, the courses may be repeated for credit . Those scheduled for Fall 2020 are described below. 

ENG 3600 From Basic Writing to Community Writing.  TR 10:30-11:45 am.
(Miriam Fernandez)

This course will introduce students to the history, the practices, and certain debates regarding Composition/Writing Studies as a field. How and why did writing courses like the first-year composition course become a staple in academia? What social, cultural, and political aspects have shaped the way writing is understood, talked about, and debated in universities? Moving forward, the course will analyze and discuss recent trends and debates that push those in Composition/Writing Studies to reconsider writing in the university as a vehicle to writing in the community. What do we gain or lose if we consider writing as a political and community action? Thus, this course will look at what constructs our definition of writing in the university and how different modes and purposes for writing shift our understanding of what writing means and what writing does.  

ENG 4440 Evolution of American Gothic Literature. MW 1:00-2:15 pm.
(Chad Luck)  

This course will trace the development of the American Gothic tradition, broadly conceived, as it crosses the Atlantic and takes root in the soil of the New World.  We will begin by considering the Gothic's European origins as they appear in Horace Walpole's totally insane account of supernatural revenge in The Castle of Otranto.  Then we will chart the genre's transformation in eighteenth- and nineteeth-century American texts (Brockden Brown's Wieland, plus Poe, Hawthorne, Alcott, Spofford, and Wharton).  Finally, we will consider 20th- and 21st-century instantiations in novel and film (Morrison's Beloved, Rosemary's BabyThe Shining, etc.).

ENG 5130 Literary Hybridities and (A)symmetrical Imaginary.  TR 5:30-6:45 pm.
(Angela Peñaredondo)

According to the writer Marcela Sulak, “when we speak of hybrid literature, we are speaking of individual works that do not replicate any previously existing pattern of literary affiliation.” Rather, literary hybrids take on a variety of forms, applying characteristics from multiple genres to create a new extension of a literary art form. Writers experiment, re-invent and fuse components of a traditional literary genre until “they find a form that fits their subject or story” (Sulak). This course takes an investigative and rigorous plunge into the layers of literary hybrid genre studies. This involves art-making and meaning-making; contextualizing artistic approaches and concepts in relation to the text we read. However, as Sulak continues “a hybrid work must seduce but it cannot consummate. Hybrid work must go forth and multiply, but it cannot simply combine.” Thus, we do not create art for art’s sake. This course requires critical thought and intersectional analysis (both verbal and written) in order to better understand and work through the materials we study and literary work we produce. To be open and curious to new texts and new ways of examination is mandatory. Because literary hybridity lives in an intersection of asymmetry and interdisciplinarity, where harmonious and opposing elements collide, you are required to experience the creative and challenging process of learning how to be a writer (and learner) within a space of uncertainty, nonlinearity and confrontation. I encourage all students to unlearn singular or binary notions of creative writing; to value the process, the research that supports process, and the expansive nature of the literary arts.

ENG 5150 Reading Race and Ethnicity TR 4:00-5:15 pm.
(Bobby Smith). New tenure-line faculty member. Campus email not yet assigned.

This seminar will examine representations of race and ethnicity in cultural production.  It offers an overview of the main intellectual paradigms that have structured the academic study of race and ethnicity since the mid-twentieth century.  Although an assortment of verbal, visual, and performing arts appears on the syllabus, the course pays special attention to literature.  We will begin from the premise that constructions of race and ethnicity are multifaceted phenomena that change over time, influence broad areas of human interaction, and must be approached from a variety of perspectives.  Students in this class will gain proficiency in reading across different genres around a common topic and will practice thinking and talking mindfully and productively about issues of identity.  Authors may include Justin Torres, Nella Larsen, Helena María Viramontes, David Treuer, Jean Rhys, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Annie Proulx, and Tommy Orange.

ENG 5270 Child Language Disorders TR 9:00-10:15 am.
(Erin Hall).  New tenure-line faculty member. Campus email not yet assigned.

This course offers an introduction to the etiologies and characteristics of speech and language impairments in children, associated with developmental language disorder, autism spectrum disorder, brain injuries, and other biomedical and environmental factors. The articles and activities used in the course aim to stimulate an interest in both the theoretical and practical aspects of language disorders. In addition to examining the effects of language impairments on the individual, the family, and the community, we will survey key assessment and intervention approaches, and discuss cross-linguistic and bilingual studies of language disorders.

Graduate Courses:

ENG 6020 Shakespeare’s History Plays and the Game of Thrones. R 5:30-8:15 pm.
(Jennifer Andersen)

English 6020 is an advanced study in a particular literary genre.  This course will focus on Shakespeare’s major history plays. The prospect of dynastic civil war and foreign invasion, doctrinal controversy, and confessional conflict towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign caused late Elizabethans to study politics and history to anticipate and cope with political instability. Basing his political philosophy in ancient Roman history, Machiavelli offered a secular analysis of politics in which reason of state practiced by counselors and policy-makers replaced providential history.  We will explore how new discourses about secular politics and reason-of-state enter into the plots, characters, and rhetorics of Shakespeare’s central history plays.

ENG 6330 The Rhetoric of Political Prisoners. R 5:30-8:15 pm.
(Tom Girshin)  

This course employs a selection of US and world nonfiction to trace prison literature as an integral feature of rhetorical history; as a vehicle for civil disobedience; and as resistant political autobiography and demand for creative autonomy. We will identify and analyze the effects of censorship on the work of the imprisoned, including self-censorship and other resistance practices to censors. We will conclude the course with a collaborative practicum in which students will analyze writing (in translation) from letters written by prisoners in the Soviet GULAG. In addition to rhetorics of resistance, the class will introduce public rhetorics and archival theories.

The course is organized as a seminar rooted in class discussion of assigned texts. All students will be expected to contribute in every session. Projects include leading a class discussion on a single text, an ongoing reading journal, one critical argument, and a more complex research project. In addition to peer review, students will be required to propose plans for their projects, and will be given individual feedback from the professor after submission. Students will use this feedback to revise their projects.