English Department

Upper-Level Course Offerings for Spring 2014

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

Special Studies in British Literature

English 401–01: High Modernism in the British Isles: Pound, Joyce, Eliot, and Woolf

Dr. Dwight Lindley

Wednesday | 2:00 PM-5:00 PM 

Between 1910 and 1935, Modernism flourished as a literary movement in England and Ireland, giving us many of the Twentieth Century’s greatest works of poetry and prose fiction. In this course, we will be reading the four greatest literary modernists of this period, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, tracking their poetic and philosophical development as inheritors and (for a time) authoritative interpreters of the prior tradition. We will be interested in their poems, novels, and aesthetic theories, but also in what they had to say about one another—both the good and the bad. By getting acquainted with texts—and through the texts, persons—of such beauty and complexity, we stand to learn a good deal more about the late modern world, and about ourselves.Grades will consist of quizzes, a shorter formal-analysis paper, a midterm, a final, and a major essay.

Pre-requisite: English 340, or permission from the instructor.

English 401-02: Thomas More, Shakespeare, and the Education of Princes

Dr. Stephen Smith
Tuesday, Thursday | 1:00 PM–2:15 PM

“The Readiness Is All.” —Hamlet, minutes before his death

The class will first examine several Renaissance treatises on educating the young. What is the best way to educate the young, especially those who will lead, according to these various authors? What kind of education do the young need most exactly, and in which specific areas? How might education “go wrong” and malform the student, or ill equip the student for the real demands of human life? After reading these texts, the class will turn to two Renaissance authors, Thomas More and William Shakespeare, who share this keen concern with educating and forming the young. We will consider first More’s Life of Pico and Utopia, along with his anatomy of failed English leadership in The History of Richard the Third and certain letters on education. We will then study some of Shakespeare’s most striking leaders—Richard the Third, Hamlet, Henry the Fifth, and Prospero—with an eye to understanding their education and formation, for good or for ill. The class will conclude with a reading of The Book of Sir Thomas More, the mysterious late Elizabethan play that was never produced during Shakespeare’s lifetime, though Shakespeare collaborated on the project. After all is said and done, we will conclude by asking how our own contemporary approaches to education and formation compare. 

Special Studies in American Literature

English 402-01: American Literature of the Mid-Twentieth Century

Dr. John Somerville
Monday, Wednesday | 11:00 AM–12:15 PM

One of the frustrations of teaching a survey course like ENG 370 is that, because of the constraints on our time produced by a too-short semester, those writers and works that appear late in that period receive little or no attention. In ENG 370: American Literature 1890-Present, for instance, I rarely cover material after about 1940. I intend this class as an attempt to remedy that problem. Rather than a survey of American literature from 1940 to the present, however, the course will concentrate on writers and works from 1940 to 1980. Among the figures whose works we may read are Saul Bellow, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Philip Roth, Robert Penn Warren, John Updike, Flannery O'Connor, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Cormac McCarthy, Sam Shepard, John Barth, and Richard Wilbur.

English 402-02: Spiritual Book-Keeping: God and the American Writer: From William James to John Hassler

Dr. Daniel Sundahl
Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 3:00 PM-3:50 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.

Having made that introduction, this English 402 class intends as its main theme less the complex issue of religion in America and more the meaning of what God has been for a selection of American writers, and thus the place of God in the cultural, imaginative life of our country. 

This class is also cross-listed as an IDS 393 for American Studies majors and as a 493 class for Christian Studies and Religion majors.

403-01 Special Studies in Western Literature

English 403-01: Philosophy and Literature: Existentialism and Personhood

Dr. Justin Jackson
Thursday | 6:00 PM-9:00 PM

“Alone, none of us can save himself or herself; we’re linked together inextricably”—this haunting line permeates the banal living space of Sartre’s hell in No Exit and eventually leads the reader to Sartre’s most famous line: “L’enfer c’est les autres.” (“Hell is other people”). In this course, students will be introduced to literary and philosophical figures commonly associated with existentialism, phenomenology, and personalism. Authors will include Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Martin Buber, Sartre, Camus, and Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Marion, Christos Yannaras, and John Zizioulas. Coming from different backgrounds—atheist, Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox—these writers, each in his own way, point to a lived philosophy founded upon human relationships that can either imprison us in this existence, thus making it a hell, or can perhaps rupture the very horizon of existence itself, thus ushering into the finite world a moment, to echo Kierkegaard, of the Infinite. And then, of course, there is God; there is always God. But for these authors an approach to God must resist the idolizing temptation of metaphysics or onto-theology—unless one simply desires to join the funeral march following the death of God—for He too is a question of experience, of relationship, of love and of suffering. All of these authors, then, continue to ask the same difficult questions one finds in Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, The Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, Augustine, Dante, and Shakespeare, but they ask them differently and arrive at different answers (even amongst themselves). Disparate in their beliefs and in their visions of man, nevertheless, they all preach, even the most ardent atheist, a difficult freedom, “a religion for adults.”

Requirements: Seminar paper (23+ pages); final exam; exam on The Brothers Karamazov on the first night of class; participation on a message board.

Prerequisites: three 300-level English courses or permission of instructor

Special Studies in Genre, Criticism, and Writing

English 404-01: Advanced Writing

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 regular writing assignments and come prepared to give and receive constructive criticism. Enrollment is limited to eight students and instructor permission is required.

English 404-02: History of Journalism in the 20th & 21st Centuries

John Miller
Tuesday, Thursday | 2:30 PM-3:45 OM

This course combines readings in modern journalism with practical lessons in how to write well. It will focus on print journalism but also cover the rise of radio, television, and the Internet. Representative readings include Ernest Hemingway, H.L. Mencken, Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell, Truman Capote, William F. Buckley, Jr., Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Bob Woodward. There are no prerequisites for this course.