Spring Semester 2012


Spring 2012

Spring course registration begins November 14, 2011. All registration is 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 English electives (with the exception of Linguistics courses). Check the registrar’s listings at http://www.registrar.neu.edu/course_schedules.htm for the most up-to-date information about course scheduling. Contact an English Major Advisor if you have any questions.

Introduction to English Studies (required for major beginning in 2010)

ENGL1400: Introduction to English Studies
CRN: 35337
Sequence 2 (9:15 am – 10:20 am, M/W/TH)

A foundational course, required of all English majors. Introduces 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.

Literature Backgrounds (required for major)

ENGL2100: Backgrounds in English and American Literature
CRN: 30141
Sequence 2 (9:15 am – 10:20 am, M/W/TH)

  • Fulfills the Historical, Ethical, and Aesthetic Perspective requirement in the CAS Core

“A poem is best read in the light of all the poems ever written.” Robert Frost’s impossible requirement reminds us that books are made (in part) of other books, that literary meanings stem from the continuation and revision of conventions, and that literatures extend and alter the literatures and cultures that precede them. This course makes some major precedents for Western literature accessible to contemporary readers. It traces the developing genres of narrative, lyric, and drama, along with some of the changing beliefs and practices that underlie them. By examining English versions of Greek and Roman literature, the Bible, and Dante, it intends to ease, enrich, and intensify students’ encounters with more recent literary works.

Literary Periods (five required: three pre-nineteenth-century; one nineteenth-century; one twentieth-century)

ENGL3408: Modern Bestseller
CRN: 35342
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 fiction–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–horror, 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).

ENGL3672: Asian American Literature
CRN: 35343
Sequence 4 (1:35-2:40 pm M/W/R)

  • Fulfills the Comparative Study of Cultures requirement of the NU Core
  • Fulfills the Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

This course introduces works by contemporary American writers of Asian descent. In addition to fiction (novels, short stories, plays) and nonfiction (memoirs, essays, poems) by writers such as David Henry Hwang, Gish Jen, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jhumpa Lahiri, Li-Young Lee, Bharati Mukherjee, Ruth Ozeki, Andrew X. Pham, and Amy Tan, we will view text-related films and taped interviews as time permits. Topics covered include cultural representations, immigrant and ethnic identities, vernacular language, cross-generational relations, and race/class/gender/sexuality issues within Asian American communities. Requirements include weekly written responses to readings (posted on Blackboard), an in-class midterm exam, and a final paper.

ENGL4624: Victorian Literature
CRN: 35344
Sequence 3 (10:30 am – 11:35 am, M/W/R)

The speaker of Matthew Arnold’s poem “Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse” describes a feeling of “wandering between two worlds, one dead/ The other powerless to be born.” In the Victorian period (1832-1901), old ways of life were being challenged by newdevelopments: agriculture by industry, religious authority by scientific and secular arguments, class privilege by democracy; patriarchy by feminism. Victorian writers debated, resisted, encouraged, and reflected upon these cultural changes of which they were a part. As we read a variety of novels, poems, essays, and drama written between the 1830s and the end of the century, we will encounter both the stylistic diversity of Victorian literature and its recurrent concerns.

ENGL4663: Early African American Literature
CRN: 35345
Sequence F (1:35-3:15 pm, Tu/F)

  • Fulfills the Comparative Study of Cultures requirement of the NU Core

This course will focus on Black Atlantic (African, American, British, and Caribbean) writing before 1845. Recent archival research and canon reconsideration has revealed the wealth and variety of texts written by black or African Diasporic writers during the 18th and early 19th century. Drawing on this work, we will investigate the ways in which these early Black Atlantic writers engaged with a range of Enlightenment issues such as the nature of the individual subject; the rise of capitalism; the rapid expansion of print culture; the development of the novel; the cultures of neo-classicism, sentiment and the sublime; the rise of nationalism; and of course, the expansion of the institution of slavery. Through reading a variety of texts such as: poetry, speeches, essays, letters, fiction, slave narratives, biographies, and autobiographies—we will not only get a sense of the complexity of long 18th century trans-Atlantic literary cultures but also appreciate how these writers created the foundations for various literary traditions across the African Diaspora. Authors may include: Francis Williams, Lucy Terry, Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker, Lemuel Haynes, Job Ben Solomon, Ottabah Cugoano, Venture Smith, John Marrant, Britton Hammon, Jupiter Hammon, David Forten, Maria Stewart, Victor Sejour, and Frederick Douglass. Course assignments include: Daily reading responses, 2 short papers (5-7pages), a mid-term and final exam.

ENGL4664: Eighteenth Century American Literature: Woman, Gender and Early America
CRN: 35346
Sequence B (2:50-4:30pm, M/W)

The eighteenth century was an era of revolution in the Atlantic World: the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Haitian Revolution all occurred in the closing years of the century. In this class we will survey 18th-century American literature in the light of the tumultuous changes wrought by revolution, viewing the literature and culture of the period through the shifting lenses of empire and nationhood. We will focus, in particular, on the relation of gender and race to empire and nationhood and will read across a range of genres, from slave narratives, to captivity narratives, to poetry, novels, and plays of the period. Requirements will include one essay, an archival research project and presentation, and a final take-home exam.

ENGL4687: Twentieth Century Major Figure: Seamus Heaney
CRN: 35348
Sequence 3 (10:30 am – 11:35 am, M/W/R)

  • Fulfills the Writing Intensive in the Major requirement in the NU Core

From his beginnings as a provincial Irish farm boy to his canonization by the Nobel Prize for Literature, Seamus Heaney has become a major poet in an age (the last half century) when the assumptions underlying the category “major poet”—cultural coherence, stability, and continuity, for instance—have been under siege. He’s done so by locating his poems at the intersections (are they battle lines, fault lines, or shared borders?; it matters what we call them) where traditional unities meet the varieties of multiculturalism, pluralism, and inter- or transnationalism. We’ll read Heaney in terms of this postmodern condition, and for the rich sensual, emotional, intellectual, and aesthetic pleasures his poems reliably provide.

Transhistorical/Transnational Courses (two required)

ENGL1502 Survey of American Literature 1 (Beginnings to 1865)
CRN: 33000
Sequence G (3:25-5:05 PM, Tu/F)

  • Fulfills the Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

This course will provide a survey of American literature from its beginnings up through the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. Our approach will be an hemispheric one and in addition to studying writing by major American authors, we will also read texts created in the New World by people from England, Spain, France, and the Netherlands, as well as the cultural production of enslaved Africans and Native Americans from across North and South America. We will read a range of literary forms and cultural productions including poetry, autobiographies, drama/ performance, fiction, essays, journals, folk, and oral tales. Our discussions will be guided by four central questions: What is American Literature? What makes American literature American? What is the significance of Early American literature to notions of American literary traditions? What is the significance of Early American Literature to 21st century cultural and political debates? Authors may include: John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Edward Taylor, Philip Freneau, Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Jefferson, John Marrant, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, William Apess, Washington Irving, Jane Schoolcraft, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, George Moses Horton, Samuel Occom, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs. Course texts will include: The Bedford Anthology of American Literature (Vol. I) and Hope Leslie (1827) by Catherine Maria Sedgwick. Course assignments include: Daily reading responses, 2 short papers (5-7pages), a mid-term and final exam.

ENGL1700: World Literature 1
CRN: 35338
Sequence A (11:45-1:25 pm M/R)

  • Fulfills the Humanities Level 1 requirement of the NU Core

The “medieval” and the “Middle Ages” are decidedly Western European constructs, both temporal and spatial. What of the “rest” of the world? We will read with/in and against the notion of the European medieval by exploring a variety of texts (in translation) across a variety of cultures, including excerpts from Malory’s Morte Darthur and Mandeville’s Travels (England); the Táin Bó Cúailnge (Ireland); the Song of Roland (France); Sundiata (Africa); and excerpts from The Secret History of the Mongols (Mongolia), the Tale of Genji (Japan), and the Arabian Nights (India, Persia [modern Iran], Syria and Egypt). We will supplement our texts with a few films (Excalibur, the anime version of the Tale of Genji, Sundiata, and the Russian Mongol). Our literary and critical interests include questions of genre (mainly romance and epic), narrative theory (what do modern readers do with pre-modern texts?), and difference (race, gender, class). One theme that dominates these texts is that of the nation and either the founding or dissolution of the nation: we’ll examine how such national narratives functioned then and function now. Requirements depend on the size of the class. A small class in which discussion is the main mode: short responses to the readings and two short papers. A large class in which lecture is the main mode: quizzes, a take-home mid-term, and an in-class final.

ENGL3405: Horror Fiction
CRN: 35341
Sequence D (9:50-11:30 am, Tu/F)

This course explores English and American horror fiction from Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker (Dracula) to contemporary masters such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker. Using short stories, novels, and movies, we will examine the evolution of horror fiction and the various themes, techniques, and uses of macabre. Student writing: announced quizzes, midterm & final take-home essay exams (7-10 pages); optional original horror story or critical analysis of some horror work (7-10 pages).

Theory and Methods (one course in Literary Criticism, Linguistics or Rhetoric)

LING1150: Introduction to Language and Linguistics
Section1, CRN:30687   Bjorkman
Section 2, CRN: 30534 Bjorkman
Section 3, CRN: 33046 Malhotra
Section 4, CRN: 33418  Malhotra
Section 5, CRN: 33419  Malhotra
Section 6, CRN: 33420  Hughes
Section 7, CRN: 33421  Hughes
Section 8, CRN: 35653 Jones

  • Fulfills the Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core
  • Fulfills the Methods of Inquiry (Humanities Context) in the CAS Core

This course introduces students to a new way of thinking about language. Normally using language is an unconscious activity: when we speak and understand sentences, we are unaware of the complex mental activities going on at each moment. In this course, we will have an opportunity to look carefully at our unconscious knowledge of sentence structure (syntax), meaning (semantics), word forms (morphology), and sound patterns (phonology). These lead to related issues: “talking” computers, the nature/nurture controversy, and sociolinguistic debates about language standards, language and gender, and language change. A weekly problem set or essay plus a final exam will be required.

ENGL1160: Introduction to Rhetoric
CRN: 33479
Sequence 2 (9:15-10:20am, M/W/R)

  • Fulfills Theory requirement for English majors
  • Fulfills the Humanities Level 1 requirement in the NU Core

Introduces students to major concepts, traditions, and issues in rhetorical studies. Explores the range of ways that people persuade others to change their minds or take action; the relationship among language, truth, and knowledge; and the role of language in shaping identity and culture. Focuses on recognized thinkers from the Western tradition as well as writers that challenge the rhetorical canon. Emphasizes contemporary and interdisciplinary approaches to rhetoric interested in the entire range of rhetorical artifacts, with primary attention given to methods of critically investigating texts and their effects. Students work will be evaluated in a variety of modes: by regular reading quizzes, a midterm exam, at least one short writing assignment (no longer than 5 pages) a final exam or project and possibly brief group presentations or short written Blackboard assignments.

ENGL3337: Literary Theory: Theory of Film
CRN: 35339
Sequence B (2:50-4:30 pm, M/W)

This course will explore theories of film across genres, periods, styles, and national cinemas. Texts by major theorists, historians, and directors will be studied, and excerpted films will be shown in class. Written work for the course will include short papers and a research paper. Required texts will include an anthology of film theory, and several book-length essays.

ENGL3380 Topics in Writing: Reading and Writing Narrative Non-Fiction
CRN: 36163

Narrative non-fiction is an increasingly popular genre in which writers apply narrative strategies and techniques to factual material. This course will orient writers within the genre as we address the following questions: What is narrative non-fiction? What makes it different than other approaches to writing about factual material? What does the best narrative non-fiction require of its writers? Over the semester we’ll read and write our way to answers through a variety of non-fiction forms (for example, narrative essays and narrative journalism, travel and science writing, memoir, editorials, protest and political essays). We’ll also consider cross-genre and hybrid forms (for example, non-fiction prose mixed with poetry, audio and graphic non-fiction). Class time will include lectures, discussion of readings, writing exercises, and feedback for peers in a workshop format. The topics for narrative non-fiction writing apply to a wide array of disciplines, including the humanities, the sciences, and journalism.

Capstone Seminar (one course required)

ENGL4710: Junior/Senior Seminar: Utopia and its Discontents
Section 1, CRN: 30838
Sequence B (2:50-4:30 pm, M/W)

This seminar will explore utopia as a site for literary, political, and social experimentation, from its cultural origins in classical and Renaissance philosophy to contemporary examples in popular culture and science fiction. Readings will include Plato’s Republic, More’s Utopia; Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain’s Sultana’s Dream; Samuel Butler’s Erewhon; Ursula K LeGuin, The Dispossessed; and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, as well as recent work from Kim Stanley Robinson, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, and a work to be chosen by the class. Assignments will include short experimental writing exercises, a presentation on a “found” utopia, and a final research paper.

ENGL4710: Junior/Senior Seminar: Literature of Passing
Section 2, CRN: 30837
Sequence E (11:45-1:25 pm W/F)

  • Fulfills the Capstone requirement in the NU Core

This course will consider American literature of passing (race, class, gender, and sex) from 1894-2001, with particular attention to questions of what literary “identification” means, and how passing both destabilizes the constructed nature of social identity and, at the same time, shores up the very identities it destabilizes. Because the novel of passing begs both for close reading and for historical contextualization, our course will make use of a range of literary methods of analysis, combining methodological tools sometimes considered disparate. In addition to the literature of passing, we will look at passing films, memoirs and autobiographies of passers, at websites and blogs, and at a range of archival resources. All students in the seminar will be required, as part of their writing, to undertake an experiment of their own, lasting at least 48 hours, and write about what it is like to pass as something they are “not.” Readings for the course will include Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson, Mary White Ovington, Sinclair Lewis, Marie Stanley, Langston Hughes, Walter White, Nella Larsen, Jessie Fauset, Vera Caspary, George S. Schuyler, Fannie Hurst, Rita Mae Brown, Danzy Senna, Philip Roth, and others.

ENGL4710: Junior/Senior Seminar: Tricksterism in American Literature
Section 3, CRN: 33170
Sequence A (11:45-1:25 pm M/R)

  • Fulfills the Capstone requirement in the NU Core

“Change the joke and slip the yoke”—from folklore to fiction, tricksters abound in American literature. This seminar covers a range of works by writers such as Stowe, Twain, Hurston, Morrison, Wideman, Kingston, and Cisneros in conjunction with current theories on the trickster figure in literature and culture. By identifying “tricksterism” in its various literary guises—as theme, character, literary trope, and narrative strategy—it examines the American brand of a sociocultural phenomenon. Requirements include weekly postings on Blackboard, annotations of scholarly essays, textual explications, and a seminar paper.

Experiential Education (one course required)

ENGL4694: Topics in Experiential Education: Nature Writing
CRN: 33486
Sequence B (2:50-4:30 pm M/W)

  • Fulfills the Experiential Education requirement in the NU Core

Students will write about nature and about what has come to be called Ecocriticism—that is, the study of the representation of the environment, “nature,” and place in literature. Our readings will include scholarly essays drawn from a number of disciplines as well as examples drawn from popular journalism (from the NYT science page to gardening magazines) and websites, but our focus is on getting out into the world and writing about it. (This is not a creative writing course, though we will read a few literary texts, and students will have an opportunity to write a creative piece.) I am planning a few field trips: our own campus (and its transformation from blacktop to showcase); and, weather permitting, perhaps Mt. Auburn Cemetery, a private garden, and the Arnold Arboretum. Requirements: short responses to readings, a collaborative project, and a final project (traditional essay [humanities] or research paper [sciences], multimedia project, ethnography, or other.)

 The course will be divided into the following categories: “Wild and Tamed Nature” (the “wilderness,” national parks and preserves); “Domesticated and Urban Nature” (gardens, community gardens, cemeteries, city parks, golf courses, athletic fields); “Historical Nature” (the pastoral of antiquity, the hortus conclusus of the Middle Ages, the planned, geometrical garden of the Enlightenment, the environmental movement of the present); “Accidental Nature” (abandoned urban lots, invasives, disasters).

ENGL4694: Topics in Experiential Education: Writing Boston
Sequence 4 (1:35-2:40 pm M/W/R)

  • Fulfills the Experiential Education requirement in the NU Core

Boston, “the Athens of America,” is a famously literate and literary city. This course will explore how writing shapes the life of, and life in, the city. We will examine how Boston is constructed by and in memoir, literature, film, journalism, history, architecture, urban geography, and sociology. We will begin with writing about the city, exploring various representations of Boston (and its problems, perils, and promises) from a range of personal and disciplinary perspectives. We will then turn our attention to writing in the city, exploring how writing functions in the everyday life of Boston and its various neighborhoods. Finally, we will move to writing with the city, participating in a community-based writing project. We will make various forays into the city, and students will be expected to work with one of the many Boston organizations devoted to writing and writers (826 Boston, Write Boston, Grub Street, The Boston Poetry Union, Boston Public Library, etc.). This course is designed for students with interests in creative writing, nonfiction writing, rhetoric, and literature. Readings may include selections from Michael Patrick MacDonald’s All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, Thomas O’Connor’s Building a New Boston: Politics and Urban Renewal, 1950-1970, Ronald Formisano’s Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s, Mario Luis Small’s Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio, Dennis Lehane’s Boston Noir, and Emily Hiestand and Ande Zellman’s The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston. We will also view selections from popular films such as The Departed, Good Will Hunting, and The Town. Writing assignments will include an open-genre piece about students’ experiences with the city, an analysis of how writing functions in one of the city’s public spaces, and participation in a community-based writing project.

Electives (two required)

ENGL3372: Creative Writing
Section 1, CRN: 34776
Sequence D (9:50-11:30 am Tu/F)

Gives the developing writer an opportunity to practice writing memoir, a poem, and one-act play, and a short story— –particularly the short story. Features in-class discussion of student work in a workshop atmosphere. Several writing strategies will be explored, and opportunities will be given to revise submissions.

ENGL3372: Creative Writing
Section 2, CRN: 30532
Sequence 3 (10:30-11:35 am M/W/Th)

The course will be divided into three phases. In the first phase each student will submit for discussion two pieces of modern or contemporary creative writing (a poem, short story, or piece of prose nonfiction) that matters to her/him. We will discuss this work both as literature and as writing. In the second phase, the class will engage in a text-aided discussion of the techniques and forms of poetry, short fiction, and prose nonfiction. In the third phase, the class will turn to a discussion of student work. Everyone is responsible to provide written commentary on each draft submitted. Students will be required to submit a number of first drafts of poetry and prose, of which at least half must be revised. For the sake of keeping track, one poem of a page or less is equivalent to one and one-half pages of prose, and everyone must submit at least two units of poetry and at least three pages of prose. Course grades will be based on electronic portfolios containing each student’s first drafts and the revisions.

ENGL3378: Fiction Workshop
CRN: 32708
Sequence D (9:50 am – 11:30 am T/F)

 A study of the elements of fiction. The writing of fiction. Text: Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction (Longman).