English Department

Upper-Level Course Offerings for Spring 2014

For more information, please download the Summer/Fall 2014 English Upper-Level Course Bulletin, or contact the English Department.

Summer School Offerings: First Session

Special Studies in American Literature

English 402-01: The Mystery of Being:  An Equation of Sorts, Part I

Dr. Dan Sundahl
9:00 AM-12:00 PM Daily 

It was likely high school chemistry; the teacher's name was Marvin Mischke and he was introducing the class to "colloidal suspensions." There was a glass cylinder filled with liquid that was cloudy, milky even. He had a titrating tube in his hand and out of that tube came a drop of something into the "suspension" and bingo, clarity, voila, even.  
Mystery solved. So I might have said something to old Marvin like all of that was like a detective story and just at the right moment the sleuthing detective inserts a "truth" into the scheme of things and bingo: Colonel Mustard did it in the library with a wrench.  And he might have said something about some students were nothing more/nothing less than hypothetical cases. 

Not so fast. Literature is of course profoundly concerned with the "mystery of being."  But to sleuth one's way into the "mystery" is hardly the same as a drop from a titrating tube into a colloidal suspension. 

Much more suggestive and ambiguous.    

Still, over three weeks and then another three weeks of a perfectly opportune "nothing else to do with one's life except avoid work" summer school, Session One and then Session Two, why not read some books with "equational" suggestiveness in mind?

Could count as English 403.

Special Studies in Western Literature

English 403-01: Reading Biblical Narrative

Dr. J. A. Jackson
9:00 AM-12:00 PM Daily

This course is designed to give the student a solid literary foundation in a broad range of texts from the Hebrew Bible and will provide the student with various examples of Biblical exegesis—from New Testament sources, from early rabbinic sources, and from sources from the early Christian Church.  While the focus in the course is primarily on biblical narrative, we will also focus on the art of biblical poetry as well—since much of biblical narrative is comprised of biblical poetry.  Additionally, we will study the physical setting of the biblical narratives, cultural/historical settings, and important mythic and anti-mythic narrative patterns throughout.

English 403-02: The Fire and the Rose: Dante’s Divine Comedy

Dr. Stephen Smith
9:00 AM-12:00 PM Daily

The course will focus on making a close, canto-by-canto reading of Dante’s Comedy. We will consider other texts, classical and biblical and mystical, as they bear on Dante’s poem.

Special Studies in Genre, Literary Criticism, and Writing

English 404-01: Lyric Poetry

Dr. David Whalen
1:00 PM-4:00 PM Daily

“Lyric Poetry” will take up English and American examples of the genre in the study of its prosody, form, history, and distinguishing generic characteristics, as well as the major themes and ideas so famously presented in the form. Poems studied will range from Anglo-Saxon and medieval lyrics, through and into the 20th century. While more emphasis will be given to British poems, American lyrics and some lyrics in translation will be covered as well. 

Summer School Offerings: Second Session

Special Studies in British Literature

English 401-01: Realism and Romance in Jane Austen and the Brontë Sisters

Dr. Lorraine Eadie
9:00 AM-12:00 PM Daily

The novels of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Emily Brontë share a core of common concerns yet are seldom studied in relation to one another. This course seeks to remedy that estrangement. Each of these remarkable authors contributes to the formation of the novel at a vital moment in its history, a moment when romance collides with realism, and that collision and each author’s unique response to it forms the subject of this seminar. In Austen’s writings, the extravagance of gothic and sentimental romance is displaced by a rigorous realism devoted to the plausible, the rational, and the ordinary: but is the expulsion of romance as final as it seems? The Brontës’ novels are often classified as “romantic” for their emotional intensity, but do they therefore renounce any claim to the depiction of reality and the communication of truth? Inspired by these questions, we will study the great Austen and Brontë novels with particular attention to the aims and methods of narrative realism. Nor will we neglect to study those narrative elements descended from the romance tradition that so often haunt the realist novel, like Cathy’s ghost at Lockwood’s window, unwilling to be banished and forgotten. Social, historical, biographical, and literary contexts will inform our study to some degree, but our steadiest concentration will be given to matters of structure, craft, and artistry, and we will seek to understand the vision of reality that each novel conveys by these means. 

Special Studies in American Literature

English 402-01: The Mystery of Being: An Equation of Sorts, Part II

Dan Sundahl
9:00 AM-12:00 PM Daily

This course is a continuation of the 402-01 listed in Summer Session One.   See above for the course description.  

Could count as English 403.

Fall 2014 Offerings

Special Studies in British Literature


English 401–01: Shakespeare

Dr. Debi Belt
Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 1:00 PM-1:50 PM 

A study of selected comedies, tragedies, and romances. The reading list below is representative of past courses, but specific content for this one will depend upon what the class has already studied and what it would like to revisit or to read for the first time. 

Prerequisite: ENG 320 or permission of instructor.

English 401-02: The Life and Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Dr. Ellen Condict
Tuesday | 6:00 PM–9:00 PM

This course explores the poetry, life, and influence of Gerard Manley Hopkins.  Hopkins' unique technique and subject matter will be discussed in his Victorian context and beyond, in light of the poetic, religious, and cultural conflicts and revolutions that helped cultivate his poetry and direct him to his vocation.  Hopkins' aesthetic sensibilities and theology are essential to his poetry, and recurring themes to be explored include the centrality of Christ and the Eucharist, the revelatory beauty of Nature, the connection of faith and reason, and the realities of exile and redemption in the Christian grandnarrative. 

English 401-03: Arthurian Literature

Dr. Patricia Bart
Wednesday | 6:00 PM-9:00 PM

This seminar will explore texts representative of major branches of the Arthurian tradition from the earliest surviving Celtic texts such as Culhwch ac Olwen, through the Latin chronicle tradition of Gildas and Geoffrey of Monmouth, to the Norman, Saxon, Anglo-Norman and Continental traditions of Wace, Chrétien de Troyes, Lawmon, Béroul, Wonfram von Eschenbach, the Cistercian Queste and Thomas Malory regarding Percival, Tristan and The Grail.  A final component of the course will be a selection from nineteenth and twentieth century interpretations of the genre, always including Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.  

The format of the class will be a true seminar, as in all terms past.  Discussion will focus on the themes, narrative styles, characterization of Percival, Tristan and Arthur, the “horizon of expectation”  associated with the Arthurian genre, and how this “horizon” has been adaptable to changing audiences for roughly one-thousand five-hundred years.

What makes for this resilience?  How can we bring the energy of this genre into the present time, to redeem popular culture in the service of the good, beautiful and true while still retaining the moral frankness about human frailty inherent in the Arthurian legends?

Prerequisites:  ENG 310 or ENG401/404 History of the English Language and one other pre-1700 British literature survey.  Special permission of the instructor is also possible to win if you make a strong case.

English 401-04: The Pearl-Poet and the Eschatological Imagination

Dr. Justin Jackson
Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 11:00 AM-11:50 AM

The students of this course will be introduced to one of the 14th Century’s finest poets: the anonymous Pearl-Poet.  If the small and undistinguished looking Cotton Nero A.x manuscript had not somehow escaped the Ashburnham fire of 1731, English literature would have lost three of its finest religious poems in Pearl, Cleanness, and Patience, and a chivalric romance of unsurpassed quality in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.    All of the poems will be read in their original Middle English (a North West Midlands dialect—very different from Chaucer’s London dialect).  We will study the poems in relation to one another, in relation to various sources and analogues, and in terms of their various genres: the dream vision (Pearl), the biblical paraphrase/narrative (Cleanness and Patience), and the chivalric romance (SGGK). Emphasis will be placed on medieval biblical hermeneutics and theology.

Prerequisite: English 310

Special Studies in American Literature

English 402-01: The Poetry of Theodore Roethke

Dr. Christopher Busch
Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 11:00 AM–11:50 AM

This course will focus on the life and writings of Theodore Roethke (1908-1963), one of America’s finest lyric poets of the last century.  Roethke’s awards include a Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Waking (1954), and two National Book Awards-- in 1959 for Words for the Wind and posthumously in 1965 for The Far Field.  Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and he grew up among the greenhouses of his father’s flower business, a context that informed his thinking and his poetry.

English 402-02: Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy

Dr. Michael M. Jordon
Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 2:00 PM-2:50 PM

This course will examine the writings of two Southern, Catholic novelists: Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy.  We will read from their fiction, their essays, and, in O’Connor’s case, her letters, to see the ways they present the modern predicament, or, as Percy would have it, the condition of being losangelized and Lost in the Cosmos. 

Prerequisite: English 370 or permission of instructor.

English 402-03/IDS 300-01: "We the People":  An American Journey

Dr. Dan Sundahl
Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 2:00 PM -2:50 PM

This English 402 and IDS 300 course serves as an introduction to American Studies as a "discipline."  The course is inter-disciplinary in that it crosses other "disciplines" for its relevance.  In this case, the course will consider the "We the People" portion of the Preamble to the Constitution as an interpretive technique to identify the "spirit" of our "American Journey" from the Seventeenth Century to the Twentieth Century. 

English 402-04/IDS 393: Spiritual Book-Keeping: God and the American Writer: From Ann Bradstreet to Harriet Beecher Stowe

Dr. Dan Sundahl
Tuesday, Thursday | 1:00 PM-2:15 PM

Three years before his death, Tocqueville published his "The Old Regime and the French Revolution" (1856). Ever the astute observer of the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies, Tocqueville wrote the following on the Americans, some two decades after his "Democracy in America":  "I have sometimes asked Americans whom I chanced to meet in their own country or in Europe whether in their opinion religion contributes to the stability of the State and the maintenance of law and order.  They always answered, without a moment's hesitation, that a civilized community, especially one that enjoys the benefits of freedom, cannot exist without religion.  In fact, an American sees in religion the surest guarantee of the stability of the State and the safety of individuals.  This much is evident even to those least versed in political science.  Yet there is no country in the world in which the boldest political theories of the eighteenth-century philosophers are put so effectively  into practice as in America.  Only their anti-religious doctrines have never made any headway in that country, and this despite the unlimited freedom of the press."

So, no apologies are necessary;  Americans simply do not live without religion exercising some kind of authority unless your name is Edmund Wilson who approached religion less for its authority and more as a scholarly exercise.   

Special Studies in Western Literature

English 403-01: Theology and Literature

Dr. Dutton Kearney
Thursday | 6:00 PM-9:00 PM

This course will explore the interpenetration between theology and literature. Our meditation on the nature of Christian poetics will cover several different genres—novel, drama, lyric, and essay—and we will examine how theological concepts such as theodicy, conversion, soteriology, and eschatology are incarnated into poetic form. Students will develop a cumulative hermeneutic for reading literature theologically. 

Special Studies in Genre, Criticism, and Writing

English 404-01: Advanced Composition

John Miller
Tuesday, Thursday | 11:00 AM-12:15 PM

This course is for good writers who want to become great writers. We will read examples of excellent writing, both old and new, but primarily we will produce and examine our own work. Expect weekly writing assignments and come prepared to give and receive constructive criticism. Enrollment is limited to eight students and instructor permission is required. Cross-listed as JRN 404.

Education 404-01: Classic Children’s Literature

Dr. Dan Coupland
Tuesday, Thursday | 1:00 PM-2:15 PM

This course will ask students to consider some of the best works in children’s literature.  Students of this course will explore features of these stories that make these tales stand out from the rest.  More importantly, students will explore the role that children’s literature—and its varied themes—can play in developing the moral imagination of the young.  This is not to suggest that the course will promote a simplistic, overly didactic approach to reading great stories.  Rather, it will show students how rich these seemingly simple stories are and how immersing young people in the worlds created in these texts will ultimately help children become more humane.

Satisfies an ENG 404 requirement.

IDS 400-01: Artes Liberales: The History and Literature of Liberal Education

Drs. David Whalen and Mark Kalthoff
Wednesday | 2:00 PM-5:00 PM

Structured as a seminar, Artes Liberales entails extensive readings, lectures, and discussions of historically significant primary texts and important scholarly studies of liberal education. As this involves the practices, institutions, and content of liberal education in its historical development, the course integrates a variety of disciplines. Historical, philosophical, literary, theological and scientific perspectives illuminate the study of liberal education from its inception in classical Greece to its modern American manifestations. The purpose of the course is to develop an integrated understanding of liberal education and to explore the possibilities for synthesis among prominent ideas foundational to the liberal arts.

Satisfies an ENG 403 requirement.