This course will explore the concept of wilderness in American culture. Americans have portrayed the less tamed region of the American landscape in a variety of ways: as a hostile space full of evil, as a rugged frontier that shapes individuals into Americans, and as a protected sanctuary for endangered species. In this class, we will focus on writings that explore the range of definitions and responses to the nation’s wild spaces. Students will explore these issues in class discussions about the texts and in writing assignments that analyze and critique the readings and our own definitions of what makes a place “wild.”
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hayashi.2017-18: Not offered
This course explores the particular pleasures and interpretive problems of reading (and writing about) very long works--books so vast that any sure sense of the relation between individual part and mammoth whole may seem to elude the reader who becomes lost in a colossal imaginative world. How do we gauge, and engage with, works of disproportionate scale and encyclopedic ambition? How do we find our bearings within huge texts and who or what is our guide? In spring 2011 we shall read three fictional representations of entire societies undergoing massive transformation: Leo Tolstoy's epic account of Russia in the age of Napoleon, War and Peace; John Dos Passos' modernist "documentary fiction," 1919; and Roberto Bolano's postmodern panoramic novel, 2666.
Preference given to first-year students and sophomores. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Peterson.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 01-05 and FAMS 10.) A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two 80-minute class meetings and two screenings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Senior Lecturer von Schmidt.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Using a variety of texts–novels, essays, short stories–this course will work to develop the reading and writing of difficult prose, paying particular attention to the kinds of evidence and authority, logic and structure that produce strong arguments. The authors we study may include Peter Singer, Aravind Adiga, Willa Cather, Toni Morrison, George Orwell, Charles Johnson, James Baldwin, Alice Munro, William Carlos Williams. This is an intensive writing course. Frequent short papers will be assigned.
Fall semester: Preference given to first-year students and sophomores. Limited to 12 students. Professor Barale.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
(Offered as ENGL 01-01 and WAGS 12.) This course will examine the emergence of the “New Woman” as a category of social theory, political action, and literary representation at the turning of the twentieth century. Early readings will trace the origins of the New Woman as a response to nineteenth-century notions of “True Womanhood.” Discussions will situate literary representations of women in larger cultural events taking place during the Progressive Era–debates over suffrage as well as their relationship to issues of citizenship, immigration, Jim Crow segregation, urbanization, and nativism. The course will focus on texts written by a diverse group of women that present multiple and, at times, conflicting images of the New Woman. Close attention will be paid to the manner in which these women writers constructed their fictions, particularly to issues of language, style, and form. Readings will include texts by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Pauline Hopkins, Anzia Yezierska, and Sui Sin Far.
Preference given to first-year students and sophomores. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Bergoffen.2017-18: Not offered
A first course in reading fictional, dramatic, and lyric texts: stories, a major novel, one or more plays by Shakespeare, poems by Donne, Dickinson, Frost, and others.
Why does any writer--an Amherst College student, Philip Roth, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare--say what he or she says one way rather than another? And what in the expression itself makes a story, a play, a poem effective, something a reader might care about, be moved or delighted by? We will try to answer these questions by reading primary examples of each genre, including much recent work, with close and sustained attention to details of expressive language. There will be frequent writing exercises.
The course will be taught in sections of 15 students. Preference will be given to first-year students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Bergoffen.2017-18: Not offered
With a focus on the skills of close reading and analytical writing, we will look at the ways in which writers imagine illness, how they try to make meaning out of illness, and how they use illness to explore other aspects of experience. This is not a course on the history of illness or the social construction of disease. We will discuss not only what writers say about illness but also how they say it: with what language and in what form they speak the experience of bodily and mental suffering. Readings may include drama by Sophocles, Molière and Margaret Edson; poetry by Donne and Mark Doty; fiction by José Saramago and Mark Haddon; and essays by Susan Sontag, Raphael Campo and Temple Grandin.
Preference given to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Bosman.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
In this course we will examine twentieth-century and contemporary novels, essays, plays, and performances that challenge generic and disciplinary boundaries. All are preoccupied with the visual, perform visually, or employ images within narrative. Some of these works respond directly to pieces of visual art, others include photographs or analyze forms of seeing. Because this is a writing-intensive course we will not pursue an exhaustive or chronological history of the immense conversation between visual and literary modes of expression. While actively discussing the course materials, we will consistently and frequently engage them in critical and creative, formal and informal writing. One of our goals will be to deepen our own practices of seeing and using visual evidence as a method toward writing personal, exploratory, and persuasive essays.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Cayer.2017-18: Not offered
Students, as part of the work of the course, each week will tutor or lead discussions among a small group of students at Holyoke High School. The readings for the course will be essays, poems, autobiographies, and stories in which education and teaching figure centrally. Among these will be materials that focus directly on Holyoke and on one or another of the ethnic groups which have shaped its history. Students will write weekly and variously: critical essays, journal entries, ethnographies, etc. Readings for the course will include works by Sylvia Ashton-Warner, James Baldwin, Judith Ortiz Cofer, John Dewey, Jonathan Kozol, Herbert Kohl, Sarah Lightfoot, John Stuart Mill, Abraham Rodriguez, Esmeralda Santiago, and Patricia Williams. Two class meetings per week plus an additional workshop hour and a weekly morning teaching assistantship to be scheduled in Holyoke.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester: Professor Frank. Spring semester: Visiting Professor Cayer.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
This introduction to literary theory will offer an interrogation of some of the assumed tensions between experiences generally described as real and those described as imaginary. Over the course of the semester we will consider the ways literature enlarges personal experience, even as we will also attend to what happens when art approaches the limits of representation. Some of our particular concerns will include learning how to draw relationships between texts and their social and historical moments; questioning our own acts of learning about others through books; and exploring the relationship between identity and literacy. This class will also include a service component in which some of the class’ theory will come into practice, with students in this course working as reading partners to high school students engaged with the same texts and questions in American urban, rural, and reservation schools. Priority will be given to students already involved with teaching and literacy programs.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Parham.2017-18: Not offered
Living today in an era of rapid technological innovation, we tend to forget that print itself was once a new medium. The history of English and American literature since the Renaissance has been as much a response to the development of new material formats (scribal copying, printed play scripts, newspaper and serial publication, broadsides and ballads, “little magazines,” radio, film, TV) as it has been a succession of ideal literary forms (poems, plays, and novels). This course will survey literary works from the sixteenth to the twentieth century in relation to the history of emerging media. Texts may include Renaissance sonnet sequences, Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, selections from Johnson’s The Rambler, Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, Dickens’The Pickwick Papers, Poe’s Selected Tales, Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, Wilde’s Salomé, selections from Pound’s The Cantos, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Kushner’s Angels in America.
Preference given to sophomores. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Parker.2017-18: Not offered
This course explores the relation between literature and history. How does fiction work to interpret and understand the past? Can literary texts serve as historical evidence, providing information about social conditions and beliefs in a particular place and time? In what ways might other sorts of historical documentation affect or amplify the reading of literature? We will address these questions through specific examples and through theoretical readings that address issues of narration, memory, and the continuance of the past. The theme changes each time the course is taught. In 2010 we will focus on American literature and in particular on writing that confronts the social “problem” of the unmarried woman. Texts will include Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Harriet Jacobs’Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Stephen Crane’s Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Mei Ng’s Eating Chinese Food Naked.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Sánchez-Eppler.2017-18: Not offered
How do generic conventions affect a work’s production and interpretation? Reading a selection of plays written for the commercial Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline theaters, we will try to answer this and other questions by considering the works in their historical and theatrical context, and by closely reading the plays themselves. Turning our attention to the tragedies, comedies, histories, and tragicomedies of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Webster, Ford, and Shirley, we will consider a range of topics, including genre, performance history, politics, religion, and gender.
Omitted 2010-11.2017-18: Not offered
Why does it seem natural to read ourselves and other people in the same way that we read books? This course will introduce students to both psychoanalytic theory and literary interpretation, asking about their similarities as well as their dissonance. Why do novels of development and case-studies resemble one another? What can the Freudian understanding of the structure of the psyche teach us about the structure of narrative? And what do “illnesses” like hysteria and paranoia have in common with everyday acts of meaning-making and with the way we read literature? Each week pairing a psychoanalytic paper with a short story or novel, we will ask how psychoanalysis alters not only what we see in literary works, but also the way we understand our own acts of interpretation. Topics include the unconscious, dreams, childhood, the uncanny, desire, subjects and objects, and mourning.
Reading will include essays by Freud, Lacan, Winnicott, Melanie Klein, and others; and fiction by Jensen, Melville, Poe, Brontë, James, Flaubert, and Ishiguro.
Preference given to sophomores considering an English major. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Five College Fellow Christoff.2017-18: Not offered
This course examines briefly the literature of World War II and then turns to Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, and Lionel Trilling, the writers who made Jewish American literature a central part of American literature. Their dominance turned out to be quite brief and for the remainder of the century a rich abundance of writing appears, some of which can be labeled ethnically (American Indian, African American, Asian American, Latino), but what stands out is a range of imaginations and styles. Among the other writers we will read: James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, N. Scott Momaday, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chang-Rae Lee, Gloria Anzaldua, Anne Tyler, and Jane Smiley.
Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor O'Connell.2017-18: Not offered
Once American literature began with the Pilgrims and Puritans, though they were latecomers among the Europeans in the Americas. In this course we will begin with the oral traditions of some of the native inhabitants and then read accounts from the European discovery and conquest, Spanish, French, and English: Columbus, Verrazano, Cartier, Cortes, Bradford, and others. Then we will read the literature of the settlers: diaries, sermons, captivity narratives, and autobiographies. In the eighteenth century we will follow the emerging literature of independence, not only that written by Anglo-Americans, but also the writings of Africans and African Americans like Olaudah Equiano. We will end the course with the literature of post-independence: novels by Charles Brockden Brown and Rebecca Rush.
Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor O'Connell.2017-18: Not offered
The focus in this course will be on lesser-known writers alongside the “major” figures: James Weldon Johnson, Willa Cather, Nella Larsen, Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Edward Dahlberg, Henry Roth, Tillie Olsen, Hisaye Yamamoto, Toshio Mori, Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin and others.
Limited to 40 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor O'Connell.2017-18: Not offered
A first course in the critical reading of selected major British and American poets. Attention will be given to prosody and poetic forms, and to different ways of reading poems. We will read poetry by Shakespeare, Donne, Wordsworth, Browning, Dickinson, Stevens, Moore, O’Hara, Snyder, and others.
Spring semester. Professor Nelson.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
(Offered as ENGL 13 and BLST 15 [A].) Against a backdrop that moves from Heart of Darkness to (PRODUCT)RED™, this semester we will focus on the current proliferation of “Africa” in the western imaginary. Such surges in interest about the continent are not new, and we will trace this literary and cultural phenomenon across the twentieth century, coming to settle mainly on contemporary American films. We will read our films as films, but also as cultural texts. We must wonder: Why these films now? Are there certain conditions under which the West turns to its imagination of Africa? And how might we account for the repetition of such turns over time? We will end the course in a consideration of cultural appropriation and what it means for expressive traditions. To get at this question, however, we will also look to some of the ways African filmmakers have responded to and have themselves appropriated elements of texts similar to those with which we began the semester.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Parham.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 16 and FAMS 20.) An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of a few critical and descriptive terms together with a selection of various films (historical and contemporary, foreign and American) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion will include, among others: the moving image, montage, mise en scène, sound, genre, authorship, the gaze.
Fall semester. Professor Cameron.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
This course is concerned with the problem of honesty in subjective expression. We will study both fictional and non-fictional first person narratives. Some narrators deliberately deceive, and some deceive without intending to. How does an elusive understanding of the self make even an “honest” narrator’s project of telling harder, if not impossible? Readings will include works by Kazuo Ishiguro, Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Mitchell, Janet Malcolm, Lauren Slater, and Geoff Dyer. Students will be required to produce both critical and creative writing. Creative writing experience preferred. Writing attentive.
Students are asked to bring a creative writing sample to the first class. For more information please consult the Creative Writing Center's Website: https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/cwc/writing-courses
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Writer Gaige.2017-18: Not offered
An introduction to contemporary literary studies through the analysis of a variety of critical terms, a range of literary examples, and the relations between and among them. The terms considered in spring 2011 will be lyric, narrative, author, translation, and autobiography.
Preference given to sophomores. Spring semester. Professor Bosman.2017-18: Not offered
A first workshop in the writing of poetry. Class members will read and discuss each others’ work and will study the elements of prosody: the line, stanza forms, meter, free verse, and more. Open to anyone interested in writing poetry and learning about the rudiments of craft. Writing exercises weekly. Limited enrollment. Preregistration is not allowed. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course.
Limited enrollment. Fall semester. Writer-in-Residence Hall.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
(Offered as ENGL 24 and FAMS 25.) This course is a first workshop in narrative screenwriting. Through frequent exercises, readings, and in-class screenings, we will analyze the fundamentals of scene and story shape as they’re practiced within the commercial world of filmmaking in the U.S. We’ll also take a broader look at what a “screenplay” might be outside of that world. In the process, we’ll examine both the well-established craft of cinematic storytelling (plot structure, character, conflict, action, dialogue, etc.), and the more elastic possibilities of the audio-visual medium itself. Previous film, theater, or writing courses are recommended but not required. Please consult the Creative Writing Center web site for information on admission to this course. One three-hour seminar per week.
Limited to 15 students. Preregistration is not allowed. Interested students should attend the first class. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Johnson.2017-18: Not offered
We will study writers’ renderings of their own experiences (memoirs) and their analyses of society and its institutions (cultural criticism). Workshop format, with discussion of texts and of students’ experiments in the genre. Students must submit examples of their writing to the English office. Three class hours per week.
Limited enrollment. Spring semester. Professor Emeritus Townsend.2017-18: Not offered
A first course in writing fiction. Emphasis will be on experimentation as well as on developing skill and craft. Workshop (discussion) format.
Limited enrollment. Preregistration is not allowed. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course. Fall semester: Visiting Writer Gaige. Spring semester: Professor Frank.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
A second, advanced workshop for practicing poets. Students will undertake a longer project as well as doing exercises every week exploring technical problems.
Requisite: English 21 or the equivalent. Limited enrollment. Preregistration is not allowed. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course. Spring semester. Writer-in-Residence Hall and Simpson Lecturer Wilbur.2017-18: Not offered
An advanced level fiction class. Students will undertake a longer project as well as doing exercises every week exploring technical problems.
Requisite: Completion of a previous course in creative writing. Limited enrollment. Preregistration is not allowed. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course. Spring semester. Visiting Writer Gaige.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
A poetry writing course, but with a strong emphasis on reading. Students will closely examine the work of various poets and periods, then attempt to write plausible imitations of their own, all by way of learning about poetry from the inside, as it were.
Omitted 2010-11. Writer-in-Residence Hall.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017
The course aims to give the student rapid mastery of Chaucer’s English and an active appreciation of his dramatic and narrative poetry. No prior knowledge of Middle English is expected. A knowledge of Modern English grammar and its nomenclature, or a similar knowledge of another language, will be helpful. Short critical papers and frequent declamation in class. The emphasis will be on Chaucer’s humor, irony and lyricism. We will read The Parliament of Fowls, Troilus and Criseyde, and some shorter poems. Three class hours per week.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Chickering.2017-18: Not offered
The course aims to give the student rapid mastery of Chaucer’s English and an active appreciation of his poetry. No prior knowledge of Middle English is expected. A knowledge of Modern English grammar and its nomenclature, or a similar knowledge of another language, will be helpful. Short critical papers and frequent declamation in class. The emphasis will be on Chaucer’s humor, irony, and his narrative and dramatic gifts. We will read all of the poetic Tales and excerpts from the two prose Tales. Three class hours per week.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Chickering.2017-18: Not offered
A study of Chaucer’s “dream visions” and short lyric poems, which explore topics as diverse as love, death, fame, and politics. This course will introduce students to Chaucer’s poetic style and themes, and to the medieval culture in which he lived. All texts will be read in Middle English (of which no prior knowledge is required).
Fall semester. Professor Nelson.2017-18: Not offered
The course surveys multiple forms of drama and spectacle in Renaissance England with special attention to the cultural articulation of space. We will consider the relation of a range of texts to their real and imagined performance sites-public theatres like the Globe as well as private playhouses, castles, fairgrounds, taverns, and the streets of London-asking what impact these places had on the dramas themselves, on their representation of public and private worlds, and on the social and political role of theatre in society at large. Reading will include works by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, Heywood, Middleton and Rowley, and Milton.
Requisite: Recommend a previous course in Shakespeare or Renaissance literature. Spring semester. Professor Bosman.2017-18: Not offered
Readings in comedies, histories, and tragedies, considering the plays both as texts to be read and as events in the theater, with some attention to film versions. Films will be available on streaming video and on Library reserve. Two class meetings per week.Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Berek (Mount Holyoke College).2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018
Readings in the poetry and prose of six classic figures from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: Ben Jonson, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Samuel Johnson. Attention given to other writers from the Norton Anthology of English Literature. Three class hours per week.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Pritchard.2017-18: Not offered
Readings in the poetry and prose of six classic figures from the nineteenth century: Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, Tennyson, Matthew Arnold. Some attention given to Coleridge, Shelley, Browning.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Pritchard.2017-18: Not offered
A selection of mid-nineteenth-century English novels approached from various critical, historical, and theoretical perspectives. In spring 2009 the course will focus on novels written around 1848, among them Disraeli’s Sybil, Gaskell’s Mary Barton, E. Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Dickens’ Dombey and Son, Trollope’s Barchester Towers, and Eliot’s Adam Bede.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Parker.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
The novels read include ones by nineteenth-century English and American writers: Jane Austen, Dickens, Trollope, George Eliot, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, as well as ones more recent and less well-known. E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel and James Wood’s How Fiction Works will be used as critical handbooks that address themselves to questions of narrative procedures and literary value. Papers are directed at improving the student’s resourcefulness as a reader and critic of fiction.
Spring semester. Professor Pritchard.2017-18: Not offered
Readings in twentieth-century writers such as Henry James, Bernard Shaw, Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, W.H. Auden, Robert Graves, George Orwell, Ivy Compton-Burnett.
Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Pritchard.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
Readings and discussions centering on the work of Thomas Hardy, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens. Some attention also to A.E. Housman, Edward Thomas, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams.
Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Pritchard.2017-18: Not offered
Exploring the relations between literary form and socioeconomic change, this course examines the rise of the novel in England in the context of the rise of capitalism. Topics of discussion will include the novels’ portrayals of subjectivity, the representation of female experience, the role of servants in the imaginary worlds of novels by ruling-class authors, and the early novel’s affinity for and relation to criminality. Novels by Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Burney and Edgeworth.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Frank.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as EUST 36, ENGL 48, and FREN 62.) Why was reading novels considered dangerous in the eighteenth century, especially for young girls?
This course will examine the development, during this period, of the genre of the novel in England and France, in relation to the social and moral dangers it posed and portrayed. Along with the troublesome question of reading fiction itself, we will explore such issues as social class and bastardy, sexuality and self-awareness, the competing values of genealogy and character, and the important role of women--as novelists, readers, and characters--in negotiating these questions. We will examine why the novel was itself considered a bastard genre, and engage formal questions by studying various kinds of novels: picaresque, epistolary, gothic, as well as the novel of ideas. Our approach will combine close textual analysis with historical readings about these two intertwined, yet rival, cultures, and we will pair novels in order to foreground how these cultures may have taken on similar social or representational problems in different ways. Possible pairings might include Prévost and Defoe, Laclos and Richardson, Voltaire and Fielding, Sade and Jane Austen. French novels will be read in translation. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professors Frank and Rosbottom.2017-18: Not offered
The moral essay is a genre situated somewhere between literature and philosophy, between stories and sermons. “The essay interests itself in the narration of ideas,” one critic writes, “in their unfolding.” The moral essay is not about morals per se but about manners, about the way people live-and die. We will read essays by Montaigne, Bacon, Emerson, and Simone Weil.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Emeritus Townsend.2017-18: Not offered
Organizing and expressing one’s intellectual and social experience. Twice weekly writing assignments: a sketch or short essay of self-definition in relation to others, using language in a particular way-for example, as spectator of, witness to, or participant in, a situation. These short essays serve as preparation for a final, more extended, autobiographical essay assessing the student’s own intellectual growth.
Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Fall semester. Senior Lecturer von Schmidt.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 52 and BLST 37 [CLA].) A survey of the work of Anglophone Caribbean poets, alongside readings about the political, cultural and aesthetic traditions that have influenced their work. Readings will include longer cycles of poems by Derek Walcott and Edward Kamau Brathwaite; dialect and neoclassical poetry from the colonial period, as well as more recent poetry by women writers and performance (“dub”) poets.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Cobham-Sander.2017-18: Not offered
A specialized study of a peculiar kind of literary experiment-the attempt to create, in verse or prose, the sustained illusion of insane utterance. Readings will include soliloquies, dramatic monologues and extended “confessional” narratives by classic and contemporary authors, from Shakespeare and Browning, Poe and Dostoevsky to writers like Nabokov, Beckett, or Sylvia Plath. We shall seek to understand the various impulses and special effects which might lead an author to adopt an “abnormal” voice and to experiment with a “mad monologue.” The class will occasionally consult clinical and cultural hypotheses which seek to account for the behaviors enacted in certain literary texts. Three class hours per week.
Requisite: Several previous courses in literature and/or psychology. Open to juniors and seniors and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Peterson.2017-18: Not offered
“The Linguistic Turn” is a first course in literary and cultural theory. Though it will devote some early attention to the principles and methods of linguistic analysis, this class is not conceived as an introduction to linguistics per se. We will be asking, instead, much broader questions about the nature of “language,” among them whether there is such a thing, and, if so, why it has come to define for us the nature of our contemporaneity.
Open to juniors and seniors. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Parker.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 55 and BLST 29 [A/CLA].) The course will concentrate on Caribbean authors. It explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. We will examine the authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. French texts will be read in translation.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Cobham-Sander.2017-18: Not offered
This course will focus on the major poets and schools of American poetry from 1900 to 1990, placing equal weight on each school’s agenda. Inevitably, though, we will confront two related questions: how does one form and represent aesthetic judgment and what is the social basis for evaluations of taste. These questions will become evident as we analyze the often fractious (but also nourishing) dynamics of formation and counter-formation which govern the development of distinct schools and trends in poetry. Along the way we will try to unsettle a few cherished orthodoxies while contextualizing formal concerns within historical frameworks. Why, for instance, does Imagism emerge when it does and what drives its rejection of the past? How does the Cold War inflect the mid-century work of poets as distinct as Elizabeth Bishop and Charles Olson? Is there really such a deep divide between Allen Ginsberg, on the one hand, and Anne Sexton, on the other? Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Pritchett.
2017-18: Not offered
Although little studied as a separate literary form, the book of interlinked short stories is a prominent form of modern fiction. This course will examine a variety of these compositions in an attempt to understand how they achieve their coherence and what kinds of “larger story” they tell through the unfolding sequence of separate narratives. Works likely to be considered include Hemingway’s In Our Time, Joyce’s Dubliners, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Jean Toomer’s Cane, Eudora Welty’s The Golden Apples, Alice Munro’s The Beggar Maid, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Raymond Carver’s Cathedral. The course concludes with a significant independent project on a chosen modern (or contemporary) example of the form and its relation to preceding works.Limited to 15 students. Preference given to junior and senior English majors. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Peterson.2017-18: Not offered
The period 1880 to 1920 appears to have been the moment of the emergence of modern sexuality in American and European culture and literature. The representation of proliferating forms of erotic desire, often veiled or coded, found rich and complex articulation in the discourse of literary modernism. The course will take advantage of recent historical and theoretical work (Foucault, Sedgwick, Butler and others) to approach writing by Melville, Cather, Henry James, R.L. Stevenson, Wilde, Forster, Lawrence, Woolf, Gide, Mann, Colette, and others. Attention will be paid to the work of Sigmund Freud in this period as being perhaps the queerest fiction of all.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Cameron.2017-18: Not offered
A study of American and British gay and lesbian novelists, from 1990 to the present, who have written historical novels. We will examine such topics as the kinds of expressive and ideological possibilities the historical novel offers gay and lesbian novelists, the representation of sexuality in narratives that take place before Stonewall, and the way these authors position queer lives in history. Novelists include Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue, Jeanette Winterson, Leslie Feinberg, Alan Hollinghurst, Colm Tóibín, and Michael Cunningham.
Spring semester. Professor Frank.2017-18: Not offered
The topic varies from year to year. In fall 2008 the topic was “Twentieth-Century American Indian Literature.” Before the twentieth century American Indian writing took the form of sermons, political statements, journalism, or a few remarkable autobiographies. But there was little in the way of poetry, short stories, or novels. Especially since the 1960s Indian writing has enjoyed what has been called a “renaissance,” and there are a number of Indian writers who stand among the first ranks of American writers. We will attempt as comprehensive a survey as possible of the major American Indian writers since 1960 across all genres, writers such as Louise Erdrich, James Welch, Gerald Vizenor, Leslie Marmon Silko, Linda Hogan, and Sherman Alexie. In addition the course will begin with a brief look at Indian writers of the first half of the twentieth century: Charles Eastman, John J. Mathews, and Darcy McNickle.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor O'Connell.2017-18: Not offered
This course will regularly examine, from different historical and theoretical stances, the literary and cultural scene in nineteenth-century America. The goal of the course is to formulate new questions and possibilities for investigating the history and literature of the United States. The topic changes each time the course is taught.
The topic for spring 2010 was EMILY DICKINSON. “Experience is the Angled Road / Preferred against the Mind / By–Paradox–the Mind itself–” she explained in one poem and in this course we will make use of the resources of the town of Amherst to play experience and mind off each other in our efforts to come to terms with her elusive poetry. The course will meet in the Dickinson Homestead, visit the Evergreens (her brother Austen’s house, and a veritable time capsule), make use of Dickinson manuscripts in the College archives, and set her work in the context of other nineteenth-century writers including Helen Hunt Jackson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, and Harriet Jacobs. But as we explore how Dickinson’s poetry responds to her world we will also ask how it can speak to our present. One major project of the course will be to develop exhibits and activities for the Homestead that will help visitors engage with her poems. One class meeting per week.
Recommended requisite: English 61. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Sánchez-Eppler.2017-18: Not offered
Over the course of the semester, we will examine the construction of Asian American identity from the late 1800s to the present day. We will explore, in particular, how Asians in America have been represented and defined in the realms of law and literature, how these separate realms have intersected and informed one another. We will not only explore the formation of Asian American identity from the outside, but also from within this broad racial category, as reflected in works by Asian American authors and documentary filmmakers. The course will be strongly interdisciplinary and include readings in history, ethnic studies, legal studies, material culture, and literary criticism.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hayashi.2017-18: Not offered
A study of the emergence after the Civil War of works and theories of literary “realism” and of the movement’s transformation into “naturalistic” novels and experimental “modernist” fictions of the early twentieth century. The course concludes with a brief look at a contemporary “postmodern” text. Special attention will be given to changing conceptions and renderings of racial, cultural, and sexual differences. Among the authors likely to be assigned are Howells, James, Twain, Dreiser, Norris, Chopin, Wright, Larsen, Hemingway, Toomer, Faulkner, and DeLillo. Three class hours per week.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Peterson.2017-18: Not offered
Ethnicity. What is it? What does it mean to be Irish American? African American? Jewish American? How does one experience being any one of these? What does literature by “ethnic” authors tell us about identity in America and how ethnicity, in particular, shapes how we tell stories? Moreover, what about the other side of that hyphenated identity–American? What does that mean in an increasingly diverse nation? These are some of the questions that will guide us during the semester as we read and discuss samples of American ethnic literature: poetry, oratory, prose, and memoir.
Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Hayashi.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 66 and BLST 39 [US].) The topic changes each time the course is taught. In spring 2011 the topic will be “The Weary Blues: Mourning in African American Literature and Culture.” As a population generally familiar with the facts of living too hard and dying too soon, how have African Americans used their literary and cultural traditions to memorialize-to articulate and often to work through conditions of pain and loss? Using a variety of literary and cultural texts, including RIP murals, poetry, and music, this semester’s topic examines the various ways African Americans express and aestheticize loss; how mourning often works as a foundation for militancy; and, most importantly, how loss is often recuperated through ideologies of art, love, and memory.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Parham.2017-18: Not offered
The focus of the course will be on education within the United States. From the earliest days of the new republic Americans have linked the prospects of democracy with the quality and extent of educational opportunity. Two fundamental and contradictory questions, however, have shaped nearly every controversy: (1) Should education be a competitive system to establish and legitimate a hierarchy of merit? or (2) Should schools focus on the fullest development of each student so as to enable her or him to participate equally in a democratic society by contributing from her or his individual gifts and differences? Finally, another key and virtually silent assumption has shaped these debates: that schools are the primary generators of equality or inequality. One might argue that this assumption has functioned to help Americans evade greater and more substantial sources of inequality such as the corporate order, housing, access to medical care, and many others. The course will not seek to resolve these questions, but to explore how the different assumptions involved structure what can be taught and learned and by whom. The texts for the course will range across a number of disciplines: philosophy, cognitive psychology, literature, sociology, and political science and theory. John Dewey’s Democracy and Education will be the framing text. Two class meetings per week.
Requisite: English 02 or an equivalent course. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor O'Connell.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
(Offered as ENGL 69, BLST 17 [US], and FAMS 57.) Is identity natural or cultural? This question has persisted through centuries of American writing, and many of the most interesting meditations on this question arise from books and films that deal with passing. Texts about passing, about people who can successfully pass themselves off as something different from what they were “born as,” form an important subgenre of American culture because they force us to question some strangely consistent inconsistencies in how we define identity. If race, for example, signifies a real and material difference, how could there be such a thing as racial passing? But, at the same time, if race is “only” a social construction, then why is racial passing so often characterized as a crime against nature? Stories about passing often illustrate a fundamental ambivalence on the personal meaningfulness of biopower in America, and also reveal the nascent virtuality of worldly experiences more generally. That in mind, this course explores a broad range of literary and cultural texts, including novels by Charles Chesnutt, Percival Everett, and Danzy Senna, and film and televisual texts like Gattaca, Avatar, Sirk’s Imitation of Life, and Eddie Murphy’s “White Like Me.”
Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Parham.2017-18: Not offered
Novels and short fiction, mainly comic, by such writers as Saul Bellow, Flannery O’Connor, Norman Mailer, Anthony Powell, Kingsley Amis, John Updike, Philip Roth, Nicholson Baker, Jonathan Franzen, Ian McEwan, Barbara Pym, Robert Stone, Richard Ford. The emphasis will be on developing students’ ability to write useful criticism about the work and the writer in question.
Omitted 2010-11. Professor Pritchard.2017-18: Not offered
This course has as its first goal the rapid mastery of Old English (Anglo-Saxon) as a language for reading knowledge. Selected prose and short poems, such as The Wanderer and The Battle of Maldon, will be read in the original, with emphasis on literary appreciation as well as linguistic analysis. After that, our objectives will be an appreciation of Beowulf in the original, through the use of the instructor’s dual-language edition, and an understanding of the major issues in interpreting the poem. Students will declaim verses and write short critical papers. Three class hours per week.
Spring semester. Professor Chickering.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 79 and WAGS 79.) Why feminism? Isn’t feminism outmoded and passé? What is feminism today, and how is it relevant for theater and performance work? This class will explore the relationship between feminist history, theory, and practice. It will serve as an introduction to the work of twentieth-century women playwrights, performance artists, and critical thinkers. We will first confront feminism as a tool for reading and interpreting issues of gender and sexuality in plays and performances. We will also consider how, and to what extent, feminism influences practices of writing, performing, and spectatorship. We will then mobilize a global and inclusive definition of feminism in order to explore how the social and political aims of early feminisms influenced thinking about racial, national, post-colonial, queer, and ethnic representation in performance. Central debates will include the distinctions and shifts between theater and performance; textuality and embodiment; essentialism and social construction; and identity and representation. Course materials will include plays, performances, and visual art as well as feminist theoretical texts. We will aim to understand the diverse political and personal ambitions, risks, and power of women’s theoretical, theatrical, and performance work.
Spring semester. Visiting Professor Cayer.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 82 and FAMS 40.) The topic changes each time the course is taught. In spring 2011 the topic will be “Narrative Cinema in a Global Context.” This course will introduce students to a diverse range of approaches to narrative filmmaking. Students will gain skills in videomaking and criticism through project assignments, readings and analysis of critical discourses that ground issues of production. The course will include workshops in cinematography, sound recording, lighting and editing. Screenings will include works by Jia Zhangke, Claire Denis, Charles Burnett, and Lucrecia Martel. Students will complete three video projects.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Please complete the questionnaire at https://cms.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/english/events/questionnaire. Spring semester. Five College Professor Hillman.2017-18: Not offered
The study of a range of non-fiction films, including (but not limited to) the “documentary,” ethnographic film, autobiographical film, the film essay. Will include the work of Eisenstein, Vertov, Ivens, Franju, Ophüls, Leacock, Kopple, Gardner, Herzog, Chopra, Citron, Wiseman, Blank, Apted, Marker, Morris, Joslin, Riggs, McElwee. Two film programs weekly. Readings will focus on issues of representation, of “truth” in documentary, and the ethical issues raised by the films.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2010-11. Senior Lecturer von Schmidt.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 84 and FAMS 50.) The topic changes each time the course is taught. In fall 2010 the topic will be “Knowing Television.” For better or worse, U.S. broadcast television is a cultural form that is not commonly associated with knowledge. This course will take what might seem a radical counter-position to such assumptions--looking at the ways television teaches us what it is and even trains us in potential critical practices for investigating it. By considering its formal structure, its textual definitions, and the means through which we see it, we will map out how it is that we come to know television.
Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.2017-18: Not offered
The topic changes each time the course is taught. In fall 2010 the topic will be “The Romance.” The romance, and the generic forms it has taken, in Hollywood and elsewhere: classical romance, melodrama, screwball comedy, romantic comedy, the musical. How has the screen romance variously reflected and/or shaped our own attitudes? We will look at examples representing a range of cultures and historical eras, from a range of critical positions. Two screenings per week.
Fall semester. Senior Lecturer von Schmidt.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 84 and FAMS 37.) The topic changes each time the course is taught. In spring 2011 the topic will be “A Decade Under the Influence: U.S. Film of the 1970s.” U.S. film in the 1970s was evident of tremendous aesthetic and economic innovation. Rife with but not limited to conspiracy, disaster, love and war, 1970s popular films range from the counter-cultural to the commercial, the independent to the industrial. Thus, while American cinema of the first half of the decade is known as the work of groundbreaking independent “auteurs,” the second half of the decade witnessed an industrial transformation through the emergence of the giant blockbuster hit. With a focus on cultural and historical factors shaping filmmaking and film-going practices and with close attention to film form, this course will explore thematic threads, directors, stars, and genres that emerged and developed during the decade. While the course will largely focus on mainstream film, we will set this work in some relation to other movements of the era: blaxploitation, comic parodies, documentary, and New American Cinema. Two class meetings and one screening per week.
Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is recommended, but not required. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Hastie.2017-18: Not offered
A critical reading in English translation of substantial portions of Marcel Proust’s great work of fiction and philosophy, A la Recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time). An extended synopsis of the entire work will be provided. Class discussion and exercises will concentrate on major passages of the work (amounting to roughly half of the whole). Attention will be given to the tradition of critical commentary in English on Proust’s work and its place as a document of European modernism. Two class meetings per week.
Requisite: Recommend prior study in nineteenth- or early twentieth-century English or French novel. Not recommended for first-year students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Cameron.2017-18: Not offered
Readings in Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and some portions of Finnegans Wake. Two class meetings per week.
Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Cameron.2017-18: Not offered
Students intending to continue independent work begun in English 87 are required to submit, by the end of the first week of classes, a five-page prospectus describing in detail the shape of the intended project along with a substantial writing sample from the work completed in English 87. Students beginning a new project who wish to apply for English 88 must submit, by the end of the first week of classes, a five-page description and rationale for the proposed independent study. Those who propose projects in fiction, verse, playwriting, or autobiography must submit a substantial sample of work in the appropriate mode; students wishing to undertake critical projects must include a tentative bibliography with their proposal. Preregistration is not allowed.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
(Offered as ENGL 89 and THDA 96.) This course will focus on creating a performance, music, and video piece on the themes of migration, displacement, memory and history. The piece will be developed through interdisciplinary experiments that emphasize the exploration of reciprocal relationships within and between the different media. Students will work individually and in collaborative teams and will be involved in the conception, rehearsals and performances of an original performance work directed by the professors. One three-hour class meeting per week plus a lab session.
This course is for intermediate/advanced performers, videomakers, composers, and designers who have previous experience in any of the above media. Requisite: Previous experience in composition in video, theater, music, creative writing, and/or dance. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 16 students. Omitted 2010-11. Five College Professor Hillman and Professor Woodson.2017-18: Not offered
We’ll be reading the letters, stories, and essays of writers who are much better known for their poetry, beginning with Walt Whitman’s Civil War diaries, Specimen Days. Other writers will include Hart Crane (letters), Elizabeth Bishop (fiction), and Li-Young Lee and James Merrill (memoirs). Three class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Writer-in-Residence Hall.2017-18: Not offered
Readings of poets who have chosen to live in a culture other than their own, with an emphasis on T.S. Eliot in London, Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil, Thom Gunn in California, and Agha Shahid Ali in New England. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2010-11. Writer-in-Residence Hall.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
The story of American writers, artists, and musicians who lived and worked in Paris can be imagined as a drama in two acts. Act I, set in the 1920s, brings Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein to center stage. Act II, set in the postwar years, belongs mainly to African American writers such as Richard Wright and James Baldwin. Although the spotlight is mainly on the writers, there are important roles for painters (Gerald Murphy), photographers (Man Ray), dancers (Josephine Baker), and musicians (Sidney Bechet). There is also a kind of epilogue in which the French present their view of the Americans in their midst. Foremost among the questions to be asked is this: how did their experience as “exiles abroad” alter and complicate these Americans’ sense of their national, racial, sexual, and professional identities? Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Guttmann.2017-18: Not offered
Did medieval and early modern people think of themselves as individuals? What aspects of their personal experience did they record, and why? This seminar will examine medieval and Renaissance records of private experience, in the genre of autobiography or, to use its medieval name, confession. Reading writers as varied as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Augustine, and Anne Askew, we will explore the many varieties of confessional literature and life-writing that were available to and invented by early authors. As we examine first-person, experiential texts written in the centuries before “autobiography” became a well-defined genre, we will ask: What constitutes confessional literature? How do these texts bear on the construction of Western ideas of the individual? How do gender and class inform representations of individual experience? Texts not in English will be read in translation; Middle English and Renaissance English texts will be read in student-friendly editions with substantial notes.
Prior knowledge of Middle English helpful, but not required. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Nelson.
2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as English 95-04 and Women’s and Gender Studies 95-01.) This course examines some of the many ways American authors have written about memory–memories of the past as well as of other places, about memories that refuse to be surfaced and memories that are at times not even of their protagonists’ own lives. How, for instance, do writers portray the ways painful pasts have influenced their characters’ senses of self-identity? What does it mean to suffer for a past whose details one does not even know? Is a truth freeing, or does overcoming the hidden and silent increase memory’s burdens? What are some of the possibilities and limitations of portraying traumatic experiences in the novel form? And can “trauma” even mean the same thing across ethnic experiences? With such questions in mind we will look specifically at novels concerned with two of the foundational experiences of American civilization, slavery and migration, and at the pervasive problems of longing, disjuncture, and displacement endemic to such experiences. Authors we may read in this cross-cultural literature course include Maxine Hong Kingston, Edwidge Danticat, Gayl Jones, and Cynthia Ozick.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Parham.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as English 95-05 and Black Studies 56 [US].) William Faulkner and Toni Morrison are generally understood as two of the most important writers of the twentieth century, and indeed, the work of each is integral to American literature. But why are Morrison and Faulkner so often mentioned in the same breath–he, born in the South, white and wealthy, she, the daughter of a working-class black family in the Midwest? Perhaps it is because in a country that works hard to live without a racial past, both Morrison’s and Faulkner’s work bring deep articulation to the often unseen, and more commonly–the unspeakable. This class will explore the breadth of each author’s work, looking for where their texts converge and diverge. And we will learn how to talk and write about the visions, dreams, and nightmares–all represented as daily life–that these authors offer.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Parham.2017-18: Not offered
The course will trace the arc of James’ development as a novelist. It will also concern itself with his writing about the form and conditions of the traditional novel in Europe and America as it approaches the crisis of early modernism at the turn of the twentieth century. Works to be considered will probably include, together with selections from his essays on fiction, The American, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Ambassadors and either The Wings of the Dove or The Golden Bowl. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Cameron.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 95-03 and FAMS 70.) As an upper-division seminar in film theory, this course will offer an in-depth examination of historically significant writings that analyze film form and its social functions and effects. Our particular focus will be on the production of film theory in a collective setting: the film/media journal. Thus the course will be organized by five units, each centering on a particular journal in generally chronological order: Close Up, Cahiers du Cinéma, Film Culture, Screen, and Camera Obscura. Through this structure, we will consider how ideas have developed and transformed, often in dialogue with one another and on an international stage. Our purpose will be threefold: to understand the context for the production and development of film theories; to comprehend a wide range of changing theoretical notions and methodologies; and to create our own dialogue with these works, considering especially their impact on their own contemporaneous film viewers and on viewing positions today. One three-hour class meeting and one film screening per week.
Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is strongly recommended. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Hastie.2017-18: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 68 and ENGL 95-03.) This course is designed to provide American Studies majors, as well as others interested in interdisciplinary work, the opportunity and support to produce a major piece of research writing on a topic of their choosing. We will examine a wide range of materials, including photographs, paintings, legal documents, journals, poems, and plays. The course will also introduce students to the variety of methodologies utilized by practitioners in the field of American Studies. The specific focus of the course will be the role of place in American culture. By studying discrete geographic locations--their histories, residents, and cultural representations--students will gain appreciation for interdisciplinary work and the development of American Studies.
Requisite: American Studies 11 and 12. Open to juniors and seniors or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hayashi.2017-18: Offered in Spring 2018
(Offered as ENGL 95-06 and FAMS 72.) As an upper-division seminar in television studies, this course will offer an in-depth examination of television textuality through the rubric of the crime and detective series. Focusing on the serial as one of the definitive forms of television, we will consider how the detective series utilizes that form to engage viewers in their own processes of investigation of television itself and of criminality. Grounding the course will be U.S. and British television series; we will look at entire seasons of almost all of the series we study in order to best understand serial form. Included in our exploration will be U.K. series Edge of Darkness, Prime Suspect, and Cracker and U.S. series The Sunday Night Mystery Movie, Hill Street Blues, The Wire, and Damages. We will also consider the U.K. series Life on Mars and its U.S. remake. Engaged in theoretical and interdisciplinary readings, throughout the course we will ask how might murder be a delivery platform for television and how is television a delivery system for murder. Two class meetings per week.
Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies is required, with prior coursework in Television Studies highly recommended. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hastie.2017-18: Not offered
Is any term in the study of literature more contested than lyric? Reaching agreement on a definition beyond Aristotle’s obvious claim that lyric may be distinguished from epic and dramatic has proved impossible. Yet what critics have named lyric poems have been written for two and a half millennia, and for two centuries now the lyric has been the dominant poetic mode. With an eye to its literary-historical development, this seminar will undertake to read closely the English-language lyric from the sixteenth century to the present. Attention will be given to concurrent attempts to describe its properties, concluding with recent considerations of the genre. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Sofield and Simpson Lecturer Wilbur.2017-18: Not offered
Theater and anthropology have been linked, from debates on the ritual origins of theater to those accounts of the performative dimensions of rendering the fieldwork experience in writing. “Performance” is a key term for both disciplines. We will begin with the links forged between theater and anthropology, and the debates and discussions that contributed to the development of performance studies as a discipline. We will then look closely at the relationship between performance art practices and the enterprise of fieldwork-based ethnography. What does it mean to stage theatrically an “other” or the idea of otherness? How have artists used the body in performance to imagine and enact culture, nation, otherness, selfhood, and the complex relations among them? Our comparison of artistic and social practices will be grounded in the following topics: ritual, play, gender, documentation, primitivism, exoticism, the participant-observer process as it relates to self-other dynamics, and practices of spectatorship and the gaze.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Cayer.2017-18: Not offered
By studying selected Shakespeare plays and their afterlives in literature and performance, we will explore the fate of culture over centuries of global mobility. What qualities of Shakespeare’s works render them peculiarly adaptable to a world of intercultural conflict, borrowing and fusion? And what light does the translation and adaptation of Shakespeare shed on the dialectic of cultural persistence and change? Our examples may include European literature and theater; American silent film and musicals; post-colonial appropriations in India, Africa and Latin America; and versions in the drama, opera and cinema of China and Japan. The course includes an independent research project on a chosen case study.
Requisite: English 35 or 36. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Bosman.2017-18: Not offered
Independent Reading Courses.
Fall semester. The Department.2017-18: Offered in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018