English Major Offerings Spring 2013


Spring 2013

Spring course registration begins November 13, 2012. All registration is now done by phone (617-373-8000) or through the myNEU Web Portal.  Juniors and seniors who need to complete their major requirements are strongly advised to register at the first opportunity or they may find themselves unable to meet graduation requirements.  Please note: ENGL 1111 (or the equivalent) is a prerequisite for all ENGL courses.  Check the registrar’s listings on-line for the most up-to-date information about course scheduling.  You can find these at: http://www.registrar.neu.edu/course_schedules.htm.  Please see the English Department Faculty Mentor, Professor Beth Britt, in 409 Holmes (x5170) e.britt@neu.edu if you have any questions.


Introduction to English Studies
(required for majors)

ENGL1400: Introduction to English Studies
CRN# 34132, Sequence 3 (10:30 am – 11:35 am, M/W/R)

A foundational course required of all English majors. Introduces students to the various disciplines that make up English studies, such as literature, cultural studies, linguistics, film, rhetoric, and composition. Explores strategies for reading, interpreting, and theorizing about texts; for conducting research; for developing skills in thinking analytically and writing clearly about complex ideas; and for entering into written dialogue with scholarship in the field.   Texts will include: Austen Northanger Abbey, Lynn Nottage Ruined, and Wachowski Brothers The Matrix.

 Literature Backgrounds
(required for majors)

ENGL2100: Backgrounds to English and American Literature
CRN #30122, Sequence B (2:50 pm – 4:30 pm, M/W)
Fulfills the Category IV (Hist,Ethcl,Asth) requirement in the CAS Core

Background is defined as “the ground or surface lying at the back of or behind the chief objects of contemplation, which occupy the foreground. Formerly, the part of the stage in a theatre remote from the audience” (OED). In a department of English literature, our “chief objects of contemplation” include a multiplicity of texts across a number of genres written by a variety of authors, from the Anglo-Saxon author of Beowulf (c.1000) to Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who wrote Half a Yellow Sun (2006). Greek, Roman, and biblical texts lurk behind, influence, haunt, shadow, shape, structure, and pervade the majority of our objects of contemplation. These “background” texts are worth reading in and of themselves, of course. In addition, familiarity with such texts enhance and enrich our reading and interpretive experiences in English (Anglophone) literature. In this course, we will move to center stage such texts as the Iliad (Homer), the Aeneid (Virgil), the Metamorphosis (Ovid), Genesis, the Psalms, the Gospel of John, and other texts written before the beginning of the Middle Ages (c. 500-1500). (We will read everything in translation, and sometimes excerpted.) Requirements: short response papers, an in-class presentation on a modern adaptation of a classical or biblical text, and a final exam.

 Literary Periods
(five courses required for majors:
three pre-nineteenth-century; one nineteenth-century,
one twentieth-century)

ENGL1600: Introduction to Shakespeare
CRN #35922, Sequence 7 (3:25 pm – 4:30 pm, Tu/W/F)
Fulfills the Category IV (Hist,Ethcl,Asth) requirement in the CAS Core
Fulfills the Arts/Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

In this course, students will read, analyze, and discuss various plays by William Shakespeare. We will pay attention to the dynamics of the plays themselves and to important influences upon the plays. Attention will also be paid to the biography of William Shakespeare and to whatever light the biography may shed upon the plays themselves. Students will, in addition, consider aesthetic conventions of Shakespeare’s day, relevant social issues, and the outlooks of certain scholars. In addition to the focus on the plays, students will have the opportunity to read and explore the sonnets of Shakespeare. There will be, at least, one examination given during the semester, and students will be required to write papers concerned with Shakespeare’s dramatic and poetic accomplishments.

ENGL3408: Modern Bestseller
CRN# 34136, Sequence E (11:45-1:25 W/F)

“Bestseller” is an artificial category determined solely by numbers of books sold. However, we will explore some reasons behind the success of recent quality fictional best-selling–i.e., what special fantasies, obsessions, themes, plot lines, characters, action etc. appeal to popular tastes.  The selections will represent a cross-section of mainstream and genres titles—e.g., thriller, mystery, “literary,” etc.–by men and women, some of whom who have become brand names.  Guest bestselling author(s) will visit class. We will also watch and discuss movies made from the works studied in the course. Student writing: announced quizzes; midterm & final take-home essay exams (7-10 pages each).  Optional critical paper (7-10) pages analyzing a bestselling novel not read in the course.

ENGL3618: Milton
CRN #35926, Sequence D (9:50 am – 11:30 am, T/F)
Fulfills the Writing Intensive in the Major requirement in the NU Core

Students will read Paradise Lost with supplementary readings in the minor poems and prose. The course’s emphasis will be upon Milton as a writer of poetry. Midterm, final, paper, short reports.

ENGL4620: Topics in 18th Century British Literature:
Rise of the Novel
CRN#35928, Sequence 2 (9:15 am – 10:20 am M/W/TH)

This course will examine novels produced in Britain during the “long eighteenth century” (1688-1832). Framed by Parliamentary assertions of individual rights–the creation of the constitutional monarchy in 1689 and the Reform Acts of 1832 (which further limited the power of the monarch), as well as the expansion of slavery within the British Empire, increased class mobility, and changing gender roles–this period is marked by significant alterations in notions of the self and subject. These changes are manifest in many novels of the period. In addition to considering the development of the novel as a literary form, our goal will also be to consider the relationships between the newly created genre and contemporary notions of gender, the self and subjectivity. Texts will include: Aphra Behn Oroonoko (1688); Daniel Defoe Moll Flanders (1722); Samuel Richardson Pamela (1740); Charlotte Lennox The Female Quixote (1752); Horace Walpole The Castle of Otranto (1764); Jane Austen Northanger Abbey.

ENGL4669: Topics in 20th Century American Literature:                             Murder and Unbelonging in the Literary Imagination
CRN# 36576, Sequence F (1:35 pm – 3:15 pm)

This course will examine the way murder functions in the global literary imagination, particularly as murder relates to racialized and gendered otherness and influences the structure of artistic representation.  Writers (and filmmakers) concerned with marginalized people and the world they inhabit will be investigated, paying close attention to the parameters of who gets included into a culture’s homogeneity and who exists on the literal and metaphorical border of inclusion.  We will focus primarily on fictional renderings of historical murders and connect our readings to cultural narratives of violence as experienced through the impoverished body, the post-colonial body, the enslaved body, and the alien/ or foreign body.  Relationships between nation, violence, and cultural commodification in The Dominican Republic, South Africa, China, Germany and the United States will be incorporated into a cross-cultural understanding of modernity, corporeality, and exclusionary practices.  Authors include: Julia Alvarez, Truman Capote, J.M. Coetzee, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, and Li Ang.

ENGL4676: Contemporary American Literature
CRN# 36577, Sequence G (3:25 pm – 5:05 pm)

What does it mean to be an American in the period between 1950 and 2000?  How is American identity structured, altered, embraced and resisted during the contemporary era?  In this course we will explore the varied nature of racial, ethnic, and religious identities through the writers who have shaped our vision of the nation and its many fragmented inhabitants.  We will focus on quintessential American ideologies (individuality, self-reliance, nationalism, opportunity), their failures and successes, and the writers who have presented these themes to us in poetry and prose meant to interrogate as well as celebrate.  Our interest will be in the (real or imagined) hyphenated American, and the national imperatives that challenge the individual.  Authors include: James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Phillip Roth, Toni Morrison, and Cormac McCarthy.

ENGL4686: 19th Century American Major Figure: Emerson/Thoreau: Nature, Art and Nation
CRN#35929, Sequence E (11:45 am – 1:25 pm W/F)

This course will take a close look at the essays, poetry, memoirs, and journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, two nineteenth-century American writers and friends. Our primary goal will be exploring how books including Nature and Walden present the centrality of nature to human experience and the United States in terms that still influence thinking about the environment and the nation. We’ll consider, for example, Thoreau’s proposal “to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness,” and Emerson’s suggestion that one might be “caught up into the life of the Universe.” In each case, we will analyze how Thoreau and Emerson’s literary artistry—including whimsical imagery and prophetic voice—intersects with their investigations of the relationship of the individual to the natural world and that of the nation. We’ll also be paying attention to the troubled friendship between Emerson and Thoreau, and the social milieu in which they lived, including a circle of colleagues, friends, and rivals known as the “Transcendental Club.” Finally, we will investigate how Emerson and Thoreau saw literature as a foundation for changing the conditions of life in America. Their writing does not just express or represent America before the Civil War: it sought to alter the character of its readers, to contribute to the abolition of slavery, and to assist in the reformation of both familial and economic structures. Requirements: three six to seven page papers and one in class presentation. Since Emerson and Thoreau lived in nearby Concord, Mass., this course will include at least one fieldtrip to local museums and historical sites.

ENGL4687: 20th Century Major Figure: Walker/Gains

CRN#34141, Sequence D (9:50 am – 11:30 am Tu/F)

This course examines prose works by two award-winning writers whose cultural roots stem from the American South.  Studying short stories, novels, and essays by Alice Walker (e.g., “Everyday Use,” The Color Purple) and Ernest Gaines (e.g., “The Sky Is Gray,” A Lesson Before Dying) in tandem will enable gender-balanced perspectives on topics such as American/African American history, culture, and identity.  A major objective for the term is to develop reading strategies that are suitable for interpreting imaginative works by writers who identify with and draw from their ethnic American heritage.  Requirements include weekly responses to assigned readings (posted on Blackboard), a class presentation, analytical papers, and active class participation.


Transhistorical/Transnational Courses
(two courses required for majors)

ENGL1501: Survey of British Literature 2
CRN# 35921 Sequence 3 (10:30 am – 11:35 am, M/W/R)
Fulfills the Arts/Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

This course surveys English literature from the English Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods, that is, from roughly 1789 – 1945, or from the French revolution to World War II. This century-and-a-half included successive eras of change, uncertainty, and instability; of challenges to religion, to hierarchies of gender and race as well as class; of imperial conquest and colonial revolt. These changes provoked a variety of literary responses — nostalgia and cynicism; wonder and horror; celebration, elegy, and rebellion. Authors mayinclude: Jane Austen, Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Keats, Emily Bronte, Dickens, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Tennyson, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, W. B. Yeats, Joseph Conrad, W. H. Auden, and Derek Walcott. Written work will include several short essays and midterm and final exams.

ENGL1502 Survey of American Literature 1
(Beginnings to 1865)
CRN #32681, Sequence D (9:50 am – 11:3 am, Tu/F)
Fulfills the Arts/Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

This survey course of American literature from the colonial period up to the Civil War will focus on poetry, autobiography, and fiction. In considering literary history through the lens of genre—focusing on each in turn—we’ll be able to weigh different ways of constructing what counts as literature, and how literature speaks in different contexts—colony, revolution, and nation on the brink of war. We will read: poetry by Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Phyllis Wheatley, Philip Freneau, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman: autobiographies by Mary Rowlandson, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Jacobs, and Frederick Douglass; and fiction by Susannah Rowson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville. Assignments will include midterm, final exam

ENGL3406: Science Fiction
CRN#35925, Sequence F (1:35 pm – 3:15 pm Tu/F)

This course traces the development of various science fiction themes, conventions, and approaches from early human-versus-machine tales to alien encounters. We will examine how SF is a time capsule of ideas about the relationship between humans and technology, humans and nature, humans and the stars in all their promise and dangers. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, through H.G. Wells, through short fiction of the “golden age” (1940s and 50s), to the visions of current authors.  Short stories, novels, movies. Student writing: announced quizzes; midterm & final take-home essay exams (7-10 pages each); optional  critical paper (7-10 page) analyzing some SF work not read in the course.

ENGL3690: City In Literature
CRN# 35927, Sequence H  (11:45 am – 1:25 pm T, 2:50 pm- 4:30 Th)
From Blake and the English romantics through modernism and beyond, the city plays a major role in American, Anglo-Irish, and English literature.  The course will explore poetry and fiction, including novels and short stories.  Writers studied may include Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Whitman, Hardy, Yeats, H. James, Stein, Pound, Eliot, Williams, Dos Passos, Joyce, Woolf, Fitzgerald, and Beckett.

Theory Requirement

(one course in Literary Criticism, Linguistics or Rhetoric
required for majors)

LING1150: Introduction to Language and Linguistics
Section 1, CRN# 30617, Sequence 4 (1:35- pm – 2:40 pm M/W/Th)                   Hughes
Section 2, CRN# 30473, Sequence 3 (10:30 am -11:30 am M/W/Th)                 Doty
Section 3, CRN# 32716, Sequence 3 (10:30 am -11:30 am M/W/Th)                  Jones
Section 4, CRN# 32991, Sequence D (9:50 am – 11:30 am Tu/F)                          Malhotra
Section 6, CRN# 32993, Sequence 2 (9:15 am – 10:20 am M/W/Th)                 Hughes
Section 8, CRN# 34429, Sequence 2 (9:15 am – 10:20 am M/W/Th)                 Doty
Section 9, CRN# 36575, Sequence 4 (1:35- pm – 2:40 pm M/W/Th)                 Jones
Fulfills the Category II (Humanities) requirement in the CAS Core
Fulfills the Arts/Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

In this class we will address some of the fundamental questions about language that interest linguists, as well as the general public. For instance, what makes human language unique? How does it differ from communication systems in other animals? What does a speaker of a language know about that language? How can languages vary? How does a child learn a language? How do languages change over time? To approach these questions, we will begin by covering the main areas of formal linguistics. These include Morphology (the internal structure of words), Phonetics and Phonology (the sounds and sound patterns of language), Syntax (the structure of sentences), and Semantics (meaning). Next we will use the knowledge and skills from the first half of the class to study several areas of applied linguistics, including Language Variation, Historical Linguistics, Writing Systems, and Language Acquisition. Throughout the semester, we will also address many common myths and misconceptions about language. By the end of the course, you will be prepared for more advanced courses in linguistics. You will also have a basic understanding of current views about how language works which will serve you well both in linguistics and in many related fields.


LING2350: Linguistics Analysis
Section 1, CRN# 23590, Sequence G (3:25 pm – 5:05 pm Tu/F)
Section 2, CRN# 35006, Sequence D (9:50 am – 1:30 am Tu/F)

Linguistics, as the study of language structure, strives to attain an explanation of how language is generated in the human mind.This course will explore the generative nature of language by focusing on four core areas of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax.The objectives for students enrolled in this course are as follows: (1) to reinforce and improve analytic skills and linguistic problem-solving; (2) to gain a deeper understanding of the core concepts of linguistics; and (3) to develop the ability to write analytically, in a style appropriate to scientific study (including argument style, formatting, and citations).It is assumed that students have a basic, working knowledge of linguistic concepts, structures, and analysis.Prerequisite: LING 1150 (formerly LINU150/ENGU150).  Fulfills the NU CORE MATH/ANALYSIS 2 requirement.

ENGL3337: Literary Theory

CRN: 34134, Sequence 4 (1:35-2:40 M/W/Th)

This course familiarizes students with the various methods used in the study and analysis of literature. Students are provided practical training in the analysis of a range of texts (poetry, drama, fiction), and they are introduced to the theories and philosophies that shape literary study. Approaches and methods covered include Formalism, Historicism, Psychology, Gender Studies, Political Criticism, Ethnic Studies, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Post-Colonial Studies.

LING3422: Phonology
CRN# 34424, Sequence 2 (9:15 am – 10:20 am M/W/Th)


LING3434: Bilingualism
CRN# 35857, Sequence F (1:35 pm – 3:15 pm)


LING3442: Sociolinguistics
CRN# 35858, Sequence 3 (10:30 am -11:30 am M/W/Th)


LING3454: History of English
CRN# 35859, Sequence 7 (1:35 pm – 3:15 pm Tu/F)

People often talk about the difficulties of reading Shakespeare due to his use of “Old English”.  In fact, the Old English period begins a thousand years before his birth, and ends about 500 years before his birth.  So what is Old English?  When did English begin as a language?  Who were the first speakers?  Why is English considered a Germanic language, when so much of the vocabulary seems to come from French or Latin?  And why do the Latinate words, like perspire, defecate, expectorate, urinate, seem ‘cleaner’ than their slang counterparts?  Where did the words thee, thou, thy that we see in Shakespeare and the King James Bible go?  Does anyone still use these words today?  Why are there silent letters in words like castle, know, gnat, soften?  Why does the English spelling system seem so irregular?  How are sets of words like triangle/three, fish/Pisces, foot/pedestrian related?  How did the word meat, which originally referred to food in general (think of the compounds nutmeatsweetmeat and mincemeat), come to refer to the flesh of animals?  The answers to all of these questions can be found by looking back at the origins of the language and the key historical events that have shaped it into the language we speak today.  This course will explore the English’s past, and how it has shaped English’s present.


Junior/Senior Seminar
(one course required for majors)


LING4654: Seminar
CRN# 34428, Sequence 4 (1:35- pm – 2:40 pm M/W/Th)

“This course will survey a range of different constructed languages, from their phonology up through syntax and semantics. It will also investigate why people bother to make up languages in the first place, and what the learners of these languages (or lack thereof) show us about issues of language policy. Additionally, we will examine what these artificial languages can tell us about natural language. What happens if we create a language that violates a linguistic universal? What would a language without vowels sound like?”

 ENGL4710: Pamphlets and Pirates
Section 1 CRN #30758, Sequence B (2:50 pm – 4:30 pm, M/W)
Fulfills the Writing Intensive requirement in the NU Core
Fulfills the capstone requirement for the major

The first half of the nineteenth century can be considered a golden age of print culture in the United States. Newspapers, magazines, tracts, and pamphlets inundated American readers with sensational (and sometimes scandalous) stories, popular poetry, reformist appeals, apocalyptic sermons, and even outright hoaxes. Nathaniel Hawthorne complained that “the pamphlet and periodical system” had “broken up all regular literature,” but he owed his fame to the very system he decried. Indeed, many of the authors we now know through carefully edited scholarly editions—e.g. Hawthorne, Stowe, Poe, Whitman—established their careers in the volatile world of periodical publishing, where they shared venues with authors who have since been largely forgotten—e.g. T.S. Arthur, Fanny Fern, George Lippard, E.D.E.N. Southworth. In this class we’ll delve into the raucous world of antebellum print culture: its social networks, its vicious debates, its runaway bestsellers, and its ignominious flops. We’ll read poems, short stories, novels, and essays that found their first readers through the periodical and cheap presses. We’ll also look at the news, editorials, religious tracts, and advertisements that jostled with literary texts during this period in order to consider how such textual relationships may have shaped antebellum readers’ understanding of literature. Assignments will include participation in a class research blog, a presentation, and a final research project.

ENGL4710: Modern Internationalism
Section 2, CRN #30757, Sequence H (11:45 am – 1:25 pm T, 2:50 pm- 4:30 Th)
Fulfills the Writing Intensive requirement in the NU Core
Fulfills the capstone requirement for the major

This course will examine the rise of new cosmopolitanism in recent critical theory, taking as its starting point Bruce Robbin’s recent book, Perpetual War:  Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence, as its focal text.  From here we will explore the emergence of cosmopolitanism in philosophy (Kant, Marx, Freud), in key works of modernism and postmodernism (James Joyce’s Dubliners, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, André Gide’s The Immoralist, W. G. Sebald’s Rings of Saturn, Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, Luisa Valenzuela’s The Censors), and in current critical theory (Said, Spivak, Appiah, Harvey).  Students will be invited to think about literature’s relationship to the cosmopolitan understood as a philosophical category, as economic development, and as a utopian political goal.  Several short writing assignments as well as a presentation and seminar paper will be required.

ENGL4710: American Dream in American Literature
Section 3, CRN #32807, Sequence F (1:35 pm – 3:15 pm Tu/F)
Fulfills the Writing Intensive requirement in the NU Core
Fulfills the capstone requirement for the major

From the Horatio Alger and Ben Franklin models of the “self-made man” to today’s media-enhanced versions of the American success story, the American Dream persists in claiming our national identity.  Not only has the Dream played a major role in canonical American works such as The Great Gatsby, but among immigrant and ethnic writers the theme has and continues to have broad appeal.  Since writers from the margins often deconstruct and/or offer insightful analyses of this compelling topic, an examination of the theme in both traditional and culturally diverse texts can yield a deeper understanding of American literature and society.  Assigned texts include short stories, novels, essays, and a play.  Graded assignments include weekly responses (posted on Blackboard), textual explications, bibliographic annotations, a class presentation, and a seminar paper.


Experiential Education
(one course required for majors)


ENGL3381: The Writing Process: Processes of Writing and Tutoring
CRN#35924, Sequence D (9:50 am -11:30 am Tu/F)

The purpose of this course is three-fold. It is designed to help students reflect on and improve their writing. It is also designed to help students explore and understand the complex processes involved in written composition. Finally, it is designed to prepare students to become undergraduate consultants at Northeastern Writing Center. As consultants, students will be able to apply the knowledge they are gaining in the course to help other Northeastern students improve their writing. To accomplish these goals, we will (a) examine what researchers and theorists have said about writing, (b) examine what theorists and practitioners have said about teaching in a conference setting, and (c) observe, examine, and reflect upon our own experience as writers and tutors. The principal method of the course is reflective practice. Students will produce a theory-to-practice paper, respond to readings through reflective papers, and write peer observations. Required texts will include The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, The St. Martin’s Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, Misunderstanding the Assignment, and selected articles. ENGL 3381 satisfies the experiential learning and writing-intensive requirement for English majors and is an elective option for Rhetoric minors.

ENGL4694: Topics in Experiential Education: 
Opening the Archive
CRN #34923 Sequence B (2:50 pm – 4:30 pm, M/W)

This course is designed to introduce students to the rich archival holdings of print material in the greater Boston area and to offer training in the materials and the methods of primary source research. We will be taking field trips to some of the remarkable research institutions we have here in the Boston area, including the Boston Public Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, etc. to get hands-on exposure to their collections of primary documents. We will examine a wide range of resources, including books, manuscripts, letters, pamphlets, broadsides, journals, maps, illustrations, etc. from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century to see what they can teach us about the culture and letters of their times. In class we will discuss the theory and practice of archival research. There will be a series of short guided assignments that will culminate in an independent research project of your own design. This course is ideal for students considering graduate level study of English, potential librarians or archivists, or for any major who is excited about the possibility of doing original research.



ENGL3372: Creative Writing
CRN #33838, Sequence F (1:35 pm – 3:15 pm Tu/F)

Gives the developing writer an opportunity to practice writing various forms of both prose and poetry. Features in-class discussion of student work.

ENGL3377: Poetry Workshop
CRN#35923, Sequence C (8:00 am – 9:40 am (Tu/F)

Writing and vetting of student poems. Discusssions of the elements of writing poetry. Text: Kevin Clark, The Mind’s Eye. Requirements for Poetry Workshop: Short assignments as necessary, commentaries on the poems of other students in the class, and a portfolio of six finished poems, three in fixed forms