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Spring 2021

ENGL 597: Topics in Literature: How to Read a Film

Meetings: Monday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor Lincoln Konkle

The large majority of films made in Hollywood are only concerned with presenting an entertaining story (and making money). In this course we will study film as an art form that employs many cinematic techniques that reinforce, comment on, or otherwise enhance the narrative elements. To do this, we will watch a film per week from a variety of genres and time periods made in a variety of styles, and discuss readings from the field of film studies. Films may include Bicycle Thieves, Citizen Kane, Hamlet (Olivier), 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Empire Strikes Back, Boyhood, Risky Business, Do the Right Thing, Apocalypse Now, Zero Dark Thirty, The Tree of Life and Parasite, but I am open to students’ suggestions. Assignments include weekly Canvas Discussion posts, a researched presentation, 2 non-research essays, and a research essay.


ENGL 550: Seminar in Poetry

Meetings: Tuesday, 5—7:30 PM

Professor Catie Rosemurgy

This course will explore the contemporary reader’s relationship to poetry in general and to books by a cross section of American poets in particular. What does poetry offer that other forms of media can’t, that other literary texts don’t? What does poetry ask of us as readers and is that work still necessary? In the age of the internet, can the slow, deliberate reading of poetry become an act of resistance?   

These are the questions we will start off the semester asking. The focus in this course will be on the reader’s direct experience of the book as we consider poetry’s relationship to place, culture, selfhood, and citizenship.   

ENGL 505: Literary Theory

Meetings: Wednesday, 5 – 7:30 PM

Professor Harriet Hustis

An introduction to the scholarly methods necessary for graduate work in literature and to the study of theoretical frameworks important to contemporary literary criticism, including formalism, structuralism, Marxism, deconstruction, feminism, post-colonial studies, cultural studies, new historicism, and psychoanalysis. The course exposes students to the primary texts from which those theoretical frameworks are derived and requires students to critique and construct applications of those theories to specific literary texts.


ENGL 612: Shakespeare: Dynamic Shakespeare

Meetings: Thursday, 5—7:30 PM

Professor David Venturo

Samuel Johnson astutely remarked of Shakespeare that he “has no heroes” and that his plays are neither tragedies nor comedies but reflect “the real state of sublunary nature.”  In other words, Shakespeare’s plays, informed by the dynamics of real life, are generically, psychologically, dramatically, and morally complicated.  The chief goal in our class will be to address Johnson’s observation and to find freshness and complexity in the seeming familiarity of Shakespeare.  I hope to engage and encourage you to search for, and to examine these tendencies in the following eight Shakespeare plays: The First and Second Parts of Henry the Fourth, Hamlet, As You Like It, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest


ENGL 654: Transnational American Literature

Meetings: Tuesday 5:00—7:30

Professor Ellen Friedman

The finalists for the U.S. National Book Award in recent years have been writers who were born or live in other countries, albeit they have U.S. citizenship.  Is U.S. citizenship all that is required to be an American writer?  Since at least the turn of the millennium, the field of American Studies has been in a process of internationalization.  Many issues important in this literature beg to be considered in a transnational context.  Cultural critics have marked this turn as the “worlding of U.S. studies.” By studying literature written in the 20th and 21st centuries, this class will consider the complications, erosion, alienation, redefinition, and meanings of American identity as depicted by U.S. writers.  Through readings and discussion, it will explore how U.S. writers capture the changing meaning of “America” and its effect on ideas of home, community, nation, state, and identity.