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Summer 2018 Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Summer 2018

The following information is subject to change.

For the most up-to-date and comprehensive course schedule, including meeting times, course additions, cancellations, and room assignments, refer to the Banner Class Schedule on the Registrar’s website.

For curriculum information, see the Undergraduate Full-Time Day Programs catalog, also on the Registrar’s website.

Summer 1 2018

ENGL 2700 Creative Writing

Instructor: Ellen Noonan

In this online creative writing workshop, we will be using the “frame” of connections and connectedness (and disconnections and disconnectedness) alongside the concept of “hybrid genre” to think about the “tools” that writing uses to construct identities— personal, social, private, public: How do you (how might you) use writing to create a space in the world? How is identity crafted? How is identity understood by others (your readers, your audience)? What tools are at your disposal as a maker? How do you negotiate the myriad choices of purpose and audience and tone and style? These questions have many answers, which I hope to explore with you; there are also many more questions to ask, which will—along with generating lots of “writing”— be our most important class activity.


ENGL 3380 Topics in Writing: Writing to Represent 

Instructor: Somy Kim
11:40 am – 1:20 pm MTWR

Explores controversies of cultural representation paying specific attention to race, social class, gender, and sexuality. Offers students an opportunity to analyze, challenge, and create narratives of cultural representation, examining their relationships to power. Emphasizes the role of history, politics, and genre in the production of knowledge. Encourages students to participate in representing cultural narratives through an understanding of discursive power. Students produce film reviews, personal narratives, op-eds, and video essays to hone and take control of their own representations.


ENGL 3676 Representing Gender and Sexuality in Literature

Instructor: Elizabeth Polcha
9:50 – 11:30 am MTWR

Feminist Literature and Colonial Science: Healers, Herbalists, and Poets

When thinking of the terms like “colonial science” and “natural history,” an image of European men in tricorn hats recording their newest discovery likely comes to mind. This course offers an alternate image of the colonial scientist, as seen through the lens of 20th and 21st century feminist, indigenous, and anti-colonial novelists, poets, and activists who resist traditional narratives of the history of science and colonialism through their writings, art, and healing practices. Sitting at the intersection of ecofeminism, postcolonial feminism, and critical race studies, the readings for this course challenge Eurocentric and colonial notions of scientific history, namely in herbalism, medicine, and reproductive health. As a class, we will discuss feminist fiction that writes back to colonial history, such as Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, and historical scholarship on race and settler colonialism, such as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, in addition to excerpts from 18th and 19th century colonial natural histories. Class activities include a trip to Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Natural history, a research project on contemporary practices of feminist healing and justice, and a unit on the science of race.


ENGW 3310, Advanced Writing in Literature

Instructor: Thomas Akbari

This section of AWD offers instruction in literary scholarship and an intensive writing workshop. We engage, in several projects of various forms, a range of theoretical and critical approaches to canonical literature and each student’s choice of literature. We will consider literary and scholarly genres; primary and secondary source research; scholarly style, stance, and voice; collaborative strategies for revision. We will consider the role of scholarship in the wider world and its effects—if any—on that world. What is literary scholarship? Why do it? Over the term, students will be expected to forge their own answers to such questions and offer ambitious, sustained, and novel arguments on literature to scholarly and wider audiences they value.

Summer 2 2018

ENGL 2380: The Modern Novel

Instructor: Bret Keeling
Sequence: ONLINE

Hungarian-born scholar and Marxist critic György Lukács argued for a fiction of “realism” that could inspire social transformation.  According to Astradur Eysteinsson, when Lukács called for this “realism” in his studies of European literature of the early twentieth century, Lukács was already anticipating some of the distinctions later critics have made between AESTHETIC MODERNISM and the POLITICAL AVANT-GARDE.

Throughout this term, we’ll consider the ways that what is “aesthetic” and what is “political” converge in the Modern Novel.  Modern writers sought to alter the appearance of commonplace “reality” as well as to alter the appearance of “realistic” literature.  They emphasized the “new” not only in the techniques they used to portray the world but also in their challenges to a commonplace awareness of that world — a world where gender, sexuality, race, class, and physical ability intersected to shape and inform both personal and social selves.

Over the weeks of this online and fast-paced Summer course, we’ll read a number of short novels as well as a few short stories and novellas that highlight the ways that cultural “shifts” such as capitalism, industrialization, secularization, and the rise of the nation-state transformed social relations and intellectual experiences.  Interspersed throughout our reading of fiction, we’ll read two short non-fiction works that serve, in many ways, to define some of the political and aesthetic challenges that Modern novelists outline and observe, and that Modern (and Contemporary!) readers encounter and debate—often passionately, often controversially.

Course requirements seek to appeal to diverse learning styles, and graded assignments will include: a group presentation, a multimedia project, an analytic paper, and frequent participation in online class discussions.  Authors we’ll read may include James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Andre Gide, H.D., and Nella Larsen.


ENGL 3380 Topics in Writing: The Personal Essay: Memoir and its Discontents

Instructor: Sebastian Stockman
1:30 – 5:20 pm TR

Derided as solipsistic, dismissed as merely “confessional,” the personal essay is in fact a supple, useful tool that tells us much about the way we live now. In a very real sense, personal essay has been the dominant genre of the 21st Century, the way the novel was dominant in the middle decades of the 20th.

In this class, we will essay — in Montaigne’s sense of the word. That is, we will attempt to find out what we find out what we think we mean by writing through it. Students will write and revise two long essays on topics of their choosing (topics that may shift as their thinking does). Following their instincts and enthusiasms, students will figure out what they want to say about the world they live in, and then try to say it the best way they can.

In order to situate ourselves in this rich tradition, we will read some of the genre’s modern titans — Didion’s unsentimental memoiristic pieces; Baldwin’s rigorous polemics — as well as some of its most intriguing current practitioners: Leslie Jamison, Charles D’Ambrosio, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.


ENGW3311 Advanced Writing for Pre-law

Instructor: Elizabeth Britt
B (2:50-4:30PM MW)

Contrary to the expectations of many first-year law students, most legal questions aren’t straightforward but ambiguous, owing to the nature of interpretation. Law’s authority lies in its texts (cases, statutes, regulations), yet what those texts mean is open to contestation. Even the meaning of “facts” (or what counts as a fact) is not straightforward. This course is based on the premise that if legal texts are ambiguous, then legal writing cannot easily be reduced to formulas. Instead, legal writing is a highly contextual activity. In this course, we will study the situations that give rise to legal problems, exploring how writing might function to define and address those problems. The course is organized around a hypothetical scenario in which you are an attorney working for a client. In the first part of the course, you will become familiar with legal opinions (cases), using them to predict how a court might rule in a hypothetical dispute. In the next part of the course, you’ll explain your prediction to other attorneys and translate it for your client. Finally, you’ll reflect on the role of dissenting opinions and on the use of cases to solve legal problems.