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Indiana University Bloomington

Undergraduate Courses


Past Courses (Spring 2014)

G405 Studies in English Language: English and the Culture of Correctness
Michael Adams

This is fundamentally a course about language attitudes, and it focuses on one especially persistent attitude and reactions to it. People talk about speaking and writing English “correctly,” but — with regard to a language — what is “correct”? Correctness has not always been a concern among speakers and writers of English, which leads one to the questions, “When did it become so?” and “Why?” And then, who determines what is correct? And, finally, do notions of correctness affect our practice — are they all talk, or do they make some difference in the world? In order to answer such questions, the course is divided into three roughly equal parts: (1) we will look into the very modern history of the correctness doctrine, which, among other things, shows how correctness is ideological, not a matter of linguistic fact; (2) we will study the rhetorics of correctness, how people talk about it — for and against — not only those professionals especially concerned with language structure and language use (teachers, editors, linguists, lexicographers, pundits, and the like), but also everybody else, the public that negotiates English and attitudes about it every day; and (3) we will look for evidence of how correctness and talk about it affects the way we write, how correctness influences rhetoric.

The instructor admits that he is very suspicious of the correctness doctrine and is inclined to argue that its effects are less rhetorically and (more broadly) socially positive than many who haven’t looked into the question think. But the only book you’ll need to buy, Deborah Cameron’s Verbal Hygiene (Routledge, 1995) puts forth something like the opposite case, and you can expect lively argument about what’s at stake in the correctness doctrine throughout the term. We’ll explore the history of correctness by means of articles easily located within journals databases in the IU Library, and when considering the rhetorics of correctness and the influence of correctness on rhetoric, we’ll look at a variety of usage guides, punditry from books to blogs, pedagogical literature, and more. Sometimes, you will look deeply into a text, but there will be a lot of dipping into texts, too. Both types of reading will lead to presentations in class and to the compilation of a class-wide annotated bibliography of relevant material over the course of the term. If I can figure out how I want to do it, there may be blogging opportunities among the coursework, but there will surely be a long essay (~ 20 pages), written in three drafts, due towards the end of the term.

L111 The gothic and Grotesque in Literature
Stacey Brown

In fiction, the term “gothic” is used to describe texts that somehow wed the genres of horror and romance. “Southern Gothic” texts regionalize the concept and incorporate characters who are deeply flawed, disturbing, or eccentric. The notion of the “grotesque” often refers to the strange, disgusting, fantastical, or monstrous. This course will investigate these literary descriptors with an eye toward pinpointing society’s role—and responsibility—in the creation of that which is vilified.

Students will read short stories by authors such as Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Faulkner, Stephen King, and Joyce Carol Oates. In addition to these short texts, students will read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love. Coursework will include in-class quizzes, a mid-term exam, and a final exam. Prerequisites for this course include an open mind, the ability to stomach the disturbing, and a willingness to believe in the unimaginable.

Required Textbooks: American Gothic Tales, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

L202 Literary Interpretation
DeWitt Kilgore

In this class you will learn the basic tools of literary analysis and criticism from the level of the word to the trope to the metaphor and beyond. We will hone our close reading skills by analyzing poetry, short stories, novels, plays, and sequential art. Within these genres we will explore how the historical experience of ethnicity, race and gender, both of the author and reader, influence interpretation. We will also be concerned with how writers use and critique each other's work and the function of literary criticism. Reading will include texts by Edgar Allen Poe, H. G. Wells, Maurice Sendak, Lorraine Hansberry Arthur Miller, and Alan Moore. Required course work will include weekly informal writing, formal papers that will be graded, classroom work with drafts, one research team project, active and informed classroom participation and attendance.

L202 Literary Interpretation
Patricia Ingham

"This is your brain on fiction."

Recent research in brain science suggest that reading fiction builds cognitive pathways, making us more creative and empathic, and even more tolerant of complexity or psychologically resilient. In this introduction to literary interpretation, we will consider different acts of reading (via poem, novels, plays) as an index for the interpreting brain: what kind of thinking do we do when we figure out the meaning of a text? How is meaning produced through readerly enjoyment, frustration, imagination? How does writing, rewriting, rereading, translating, visualizing, losing interest, getting interested, speeding up or slowing down, free associating, obsessing over an image, even turning pages, or swiping screens, make a difference to what and how we think? What do we do when we "enjoy"--or "hate"-- a poem or novel, and how do those reactions help (or hinder) interpretation? The texts engaged will be (either explicitly or implicitly) concerned with the pleasures and pains of reading, but not always in the ways one might expect. Longstanding tools for the interpretation of literature ("close reading," among them) will be examined.

Students should be willing to experiment with an array of reading practices, interested in becoming more self-conscious about their own habits, and up for trying a variety of approaches.

L202 Literary Interpretation
Monique Morgan
Topic: "The Imaginary, the Rational, and the Real"


This course is only open to English majors and minors.

This course focuses on attitudes toward the imaginative and the imaginary, and toward two of their contrasting categories, the rational and the real. Some of the texts we will read imagine worlds markedly different from our own. Many depict characters who struggle with the attractions and dangers of imagination, or the powers and limitations of reason. All of them make decisions about what counts as reality and how best to depict it, and invite a mixture of reason and imagination in readers’ responses. Texts will include a wide selection of poetry from many historical periods, forms, and genres; a variety of short stories, including detective fiction and science fiction; and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

The main goals of the course are to introduce students to the stylistic features of poetry, prose fiction, and drama, to provide a shared vocabulary for recognizing and analyzing various literary forms, and to develop critical writing and research skills. We will address such questions as: What counts as a reasonable interpretation of an imaginative text? What is considered suitable evidence, and how do we assemble it into a rational argument? What imaginative acts does a particular text ask of its readers, and when and how might an interpretation become too imaginative and insufficiently grounded in the text itself? Because this is a writing-intensive course, students will complete two essays, one revision, a research paper, and several short quizzes and writing exercises. Students will also be evaluated based on mandatory attendance and regular and informed participation in class discussion.

L202 Literary Interpretation
Ranu Samantrai

This course teaches the skills required for studying literature with understanding and pleasure. It is designed to help students become perceptive readers equipped with the vocabulary and skills necessary for interpreting complex texts. The course is organized by genre: working first with poetry, we will learn to analyze the basic building blocks of literary writing. We will then apply our interpretive tools to essays, short stories, plays, and novels, and learn how to integrate close reading with large interpretations that span texts. We will attend to figurative language, literary devices and the conventions of various literary genres. We will also discuss how to situate literature in its historical context and how to use literary criticism. Our readings, drawn from a range of historical periods and from across the English-speaking world, will include Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own; J.B. Priestley, An Inspector Calls; Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; David Mitchell, Black Swan Green; Anita Desai, “Surface Textures”; Rachel Cusk, “After Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac”; and a very wide variety of poets.

This is an intensive writing section of L202. We will pay considerable attention and devote class time to improving student writing. Each week students will produce written commentary on readings and will read and respond in writing to the work of peers. Two formal essays will be preceded by drafts and editorial workshops.

L202 Literary Interpretation
John Schilb

In this course, we will define and practice “interpretation” with the aim of helping you analyze literature with greater insight and persuasiveness. In particular, we will spend much time discussing how to write about literature, so that you will grow more able to compose thoughtful, well-supported studies of such works. This will not be a lecture class. Our format will be almost entirely discussion. For the most part, reading selections will consist of poems and short stories, though we will also read at least one novel and analyze a film. Required writing will include three formal papers (two 3-page essays and one 5-page essay) along with several brief, informal responses to our readings.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Nikki Skillman

Out of the quarrel with others, W.B. Yeats proposes, we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. In this course we will explore the special linguistic strategies poets use to render the most invisible dimensions of human experience available to others; we will trace how poems work upon the senses, how they sharpen our awareness by making the familiar strange and the strange familiar, how they seduce us by “resisting the intelligence,” Wallace Stevens writes, “almost successfully.” As we range widely across the long history of poetry in English, we’ll survey varieties of poetic form and consider the kinds of defenses poets have offered for their genre; we’ll also ask how the attitudes, values and judgments of individuals and social groups find distinctive expression in poetic form. Students will amass a critical vocabulary for describing individual poems and for defending their own literary tastes, and will learn to draw on this vocabulary to support elegant analytical arguments about how poems produce meaning and why. Evaluation will be based on three short papers, oral presentations, occasional quizzes, and class participation.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
Shannon Gayk

This intensive writing course is an introduction to the art and historical development of poetry. Its goal is to help you learn to appreciate and understand poetry, and, even more importantly, to enjoy reading it, discussing it, and writing about it. Over the course of the semester, we will survey the historical development of poetry, starting with classical lyrics and concluding with lyrics written in the last decade. As we discuss the history of and changes in poetic style and form, we will acquire the interpretive tools needed to be good readers of poetry. By the end of the course, you will have mastery of major poetic movements, conventions, forms, and techniques. The required course text is the Norton Anthology of Poetry. Course requirements include three papers, an exam, several short writing assignments, and engaged participation.

L207 Women and Literature
Judith Brown
TOPIC: "Geniuses Together: Modernist Women in Paris"

In the years between the two world wars, a group of women--from England, the U.S., the Caribbean, India, and elsewhere--formed an artistic community in Paris. Paris offered them freedom of various sorts, particularly freedom from the constraints of social and aesthetic convention. Paris beckoned as a cultural center where numerous avant-garde movements were thriving and where anything seemed possible. Not only was the city associated with modernity and radical artistic innovation, "Paris was the twentieth century," declared Gertrude Stein. In this class we'll focus on the literary works of Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy, HD, Jean Rhys and Hope Mirrlees, but we'll also include in our discussions the performances of Josephine Baker and Isadora Duncan, the journalism of Janet Flanner, the cooking of Alice B. Toklas, the cabaret of Bricktop, the paintings of Amrita Sher-Gil and Romaine Brooks, the salons of Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein, and the bookstore community of Sylvia Beach. Course work will include two papers and multiple quizzes.

L208 Topics in English and American Literature and Culture
Justin Hodgson
TOPIC: “Technology and Transformation: Invention, Memory, and the Human Condition”

This course will consider how changes in technologies influence, reflect, and/or drive changes in the human condition. More specifically, we will explore technological impacts on our invention and memory practices—touching on the oral to literate to digital shifts in human culture as well as exploring various representations of “futures to come”. Meaning, we will look at academic and popular artifacts that suggest particular relationships between changes in our mediating technologies and the ways in which we generate ideas, the ways in which we relate to our memories/archives, and the very conceptual structures we use to verify and validate knowing. To this end, we will explore printed works, films, and digital texts that expand and expound on considerations of the human condition and its relationship to our mediating technologies.

Course artifacts will include selections from the popular fictions of Philip K. Dick, Jorge Luis Borges, and William Gibson, from any number of scholarly writings ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Walter J. Ong and Marshal McLuhan to N. Kathrine Hayles and Gregory L. Ulmer (among others), from films ranging from Memento and The Pillow Book to Inception and The Five Obstructions, and from digital “texts” ranging from the works of Mark Amerika to Erik Loyer.

L208 Topics in English and American Literature and Culture
Patricia Ingham
TOPIC: “Werewolves, Monsters, and Ghosts”

Weird creatures stumble through the pages of well-known classics like Beowulf, or stalk modern science in provocative novels like Katharine Dunn’s Geek Love. Their presence regularly raises problems: of knowing, of naming (as “he who must not be named”), of description or interpretation. What do such figures do for us and why are they persistently popular in various times and places? What can monsters like Grendel, ghosts like Beloved (in Toni Morrison's novel), or werewolves like Bisclavret (in a short poem by the same name) tell us about language and the imagination? About the uncanny links between terror and creativity? Engaged with research in the developing field known as “Monster Studies,” this class will examine a select set of fictional “monster” texts (poems, short stories, novels, and film) to track one cultural itinerary of these beasts in English and American Literature.

L210 Studies in Popular Literature and Mass Media
Adrian Matejka
TOPIC: The Poetics of Rap

This course will explore the most prevalent form of poetry in America: rap music. We will investigate the ways emcees use traditional poetic forms and devices in an effort to better understand contemporary American poetry and the place (if any) rap lyrics have in the poetic conversation.

This is a complicated discussion, one that requires an general understanding of both poetics and hip hop history. Our study of the history of rap music will be extensive and will include a range of eras and emcees including Gil Scott Heron, Rakim, A Tribe Called Quest, DOOM, and Kendrick Lamar.

In order to have to this broad conversation, we will use several texts including Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes, John Murillo’s Up Jump The Boogie, Jay-Z’s Decoded and the Yale Anthology of Rap. Students can expect weekly writing assignments and quizzes as well as three examinations.

Please note: The content and language in some rap music can be offensive. If you are easily offended by coarse or suggestive language, you might not want to take this class.

L224 Introduction to World Literatures in English
Vivian Halloran

This course begins from the premise that literary works construct fictive worlds that correspond to, and vary from, the lived reality experienced by readers. Taking genre considerations into account, we will embark upon a considered analysis of two general types of accounts of “worldliness”: immigrant tales and home-spun narratives. Although these perspectives are not mutually exclusive, the primary difference between these kinds of stories are the claims of ownership characters tend to make towards the specific geopolitical space (city, state, province, country) they find themselves inhabiting. Home-spun narratives are told from an insider’s perspective, while immigrant’s tales describe the in-between process of identifying difference and learning to fit in. However, neither of these vantage points are fixed or unchanging; on the contrary, the assigned works call into question the basic assumptions undergirding the insider/outsider, domestic/international binaries by forcing us to consider how, as a literary language, English can simultaneously render foreignness familiar, as well as make the everyday seem eerie and strange.

In this class, we will be using Twitter and Storify to identify and analyze current events taking place in the geopolitical regions where these narratives are set because they will influence our collective interpretation of the same. The individual sections will follow the template of World Literature Today e-newsletter to report their collective assessment of the texts we read during the semester; together, these e-newsletters will make up the review for the exams. Students will write two five-page, double spaced analytical essays and take exams over the material.

Assigned works:
Immigrant Tales:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (stories; Nigeria)
Teju Cole, Open City: A Novel (novel; Nigeria)
Austin Clarke, There Are no Elders (stories; Barbados/Canada)
Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her (stories; Dominican Republic/US) *He will come to Bloomington April 8th, 2014.

Home-spun narratives:
Alice Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories (Canada)
Samrat Uphadhyay, Buddha’s Orphans (novel; Nepal/US) *He will speak to our class in person.
D. Bruno Starrs, That Blackfella Blood Sucka Dance! (novel; Australia) (Kindle edition)

L230 Introduction to Science Fiction
Jesse Molesworth

This course offers an introduction to the analysis and appreciation of science fiction, or as it is sometimes called, the literature of cognitive estrangement. We will follow five units—usually featuring one novel, one film, and one theorist—each of which focuses on a topic of particular relevance to the genre: Monstrosity, Social Dystopia, Genetic Dystopia, Cyborg Culture, and Time Travel. Along the way, we will explore such concepts as cognitive estrangement, speculative fiction, postmodernism, posthistoricism, posthumanity, and the uncanny. Special attention will be given, especially in light of the works by Moore, Gilliam, Atwood, Cuarón, Dick, Kubrick, and Stephenson, to the critical concept of dystopia: the depiction of a fictional world marred by disharmony. My intention is to foster not only an understanding of such concepts and their implications for contemporary culture but also a love for what is surely one of the most imaginative of all literary genres.

Required Texts:
Ursula Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta

Required Viewing:
Ridley Scott, Blade Runner
Terry Gilliam, Brazil
Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men
Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Chris Marker, La Jetee

Assignments will include two medium-length papers, a midterm and a final exam, and regular class attendance and participation.

L240 Literature and Public Life
Christine Farris
Topic: Confession Culture

America has become a confessing culture, as celebrities, talk show guests, politicians, and corporations are increasingly compelled to publicly disclose and apologize for bad behavior. In this course, through autobiography, fiction, and real-life cases, we will examine how public performances of confession and apology are often marked by contradictory intentions in their efforts to admit wrongdoing, express the self, and renegotiate social values. To answer whether or not contemporary acts represent anything new, we will examine historical examples of public confession and apology and trace how a classical defense against the accusations of others evolved over time into private and public rhetorical and literary performances that accomplish things other than the simple revelation of truth. We will also consider how confessants—public figures, ordinary people, and authors of fiction—inform, persuade, and entertain, and why we respond as we do to their truths and deceptions.

Texts will include three novels: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter; Ian McEwan’s, Atonement, and J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace; Plato’s Apology; and O.J. Simpson/The Goldman Family’s (If) I Did It: Confessions of a Killer. We will also read excerpts from the confessions of Saint. Augustine, Rousseau, former president Bill Clinton, and former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, as well as some contemporary analysis of confession and apology, including sections of Foucault’s The History of Sexuality and Bauer’s The Art of the Public Grovel.

Assignments will include short responses that practice skills in close and critical reading, building toward a comparative analysis paper. There will be quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam.

L295 American Film Culture
DeWitt Kilgore

What does it mean to be human in environments defined by high technology? Is science, technology and rationality good or bad? Will the future be a time of efficient, ruthless oppression or of plenty and happiness for all? Should we expect American political and social customs to create the future and define its course? Over the past century science fiction films have addressed these questions, creating a unique and powerful expressive form. In it science is celebrated and condemned. Humanity is defined against its others and sometimes redefined as the other. Audiences are taken to distant places, other times and the ordinary is made strange. At its best cinematic science fiction allows us to escape from the mundane in ways that are both challenging and pleasurable.

In this course we will define science fiction film as a genre, explore the story-telling potentials of special effects and their meaning, and investigate the impact of futurist or exotic design on narrative. Major narrative themes will be the city of the future; space travel, its machines and environments; the monster and first contact with extraterrestrial aliens, the robot and other artificial intelligences. Our primary texts will be those American films that have made science fiction an important genre of narrative film.

We will also cover scholarship relevant to our inquiries. This literature will provide the historical background, explications of technique, and the critical vocabulary necessary to understanding SF as a visual as well as literary mode. Films and sections of films will be screened either in class and/or at regularly scheduled screenings. Several quizzes, two critical papers, two exams, and a research team report are required to complete the course.

Films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Blade Runner (1991); Forbidden Planet (1956); and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) will be our primary texts.

L305 Chaucer
Karma Lochrie

The Canterbury Tales, though written seven hundred years ago, can still make us laugh, make us ponder, and makes us look up sometimes from the page with a wild surmise,” according to Chaucer scholar, Donald Howard. This course will introduce you to that collection of tales by Geoffrey Chaucer with the aim of provoking the kind of wild surmise, laughter, and rumination to which Howard alludes. We read Chaucer in Middle English with help from various online guides to pronunciation and translation, and even a modern rap version of the tales. The more provocative strains of Chaucer’s work, such as his interest in gender and sexuality, medieval religious debates, and political crises, will occupy the focus of our literary encounter with this fabulous text. In addition, this course will lay to rest any preconceptions you might have about the boring or backwards Middle Ages in favor of a more informed appreciation of the complexity of many of the issues Chaucer addresses in his text. The sheer artistry of Chaucer’s narrative, as well as its innovative attention to persons across a spectrum of medieval society will also provide us opportunities for another kind of “wild surmise,” namely, about connections to be made between his medieval text and our own contemporary culture. The course will require two 5-7-page papers, a midterm and exam, and translation and reading quizzes. . . and a capacity for wild surmise.

L309 Elizabethan Poetry
Kathy Smith

Course description not available at this time.

L313 Early Plays of Shakespear
Linda Charnes

This course will examine social and political politics, familial relations, and competing versions of "history" in six of Shakespeare's Elizabethan plays. We will pay special attention to how social and economic systems organize familial and love relations, how conflicts between individuals and social codes are worked out (or not, depending on one's viewpoint), through strategies of genre, scapegoating, misrecognition, marriage, death and revenge. We will ground our reading of the plays in Renaissance social and cultural history, looking at the effects of female rule in a patriarchal culture, an emerging capitalist economy, and other factors that strongly influenced gender, family and class relationships. We will read several comedies, history plays, and tragedies; and look at how the choice, structure, and conventions of genre alter, disguise or reveal the debates and crises circulating in early modern England and the theatre.

Plays will include Richard II, 1 Henry IV, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet. Requirements will be two papers, a midterm, attendance and participation, and a final exam.

L314 Late Plays of Shakespeare
Linda Charnes

This course will examine literature and political psychology. Concentrating on Shakespeare's most political plays—Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2, Henry V, and Coriolanus—we will examine how the playwright anatomizes power politics and the dynamics of getting to be, being, or staying, "in charge." The seminar will spend considerable time looking at the historical conditions that organize Shakespeare's political thinking. Since it is an election year, we will also make connections between the politics of Shakespeare's day and our own, to see what Shakespeare can teach us about our own political psychology. Although we will conduct deep, complex and respectful political conversations with each other, the seminar will be run in a "non-partisan" manner and will remain focused on how Shakespeare himself understood and represented power dynamics. This course is NOT an introduction to literary study; it is designed only for upper-division students who have already satisfied their composition requirements and who have experience studying literature at an advanced level. Majors in Political Science, English, History, Psychology and other cognate fields are encouraged to apply, as are students of all political backgrounds and sensibilities.

L320 Restoration & Early 18th-Century Literature
Richard Nash

We will read, in roughly chronological order, some of the greatest works from the era of literary history most famous for its libertine sexuality and caustic satiric wit. What will we talk about? Boring things like pastoral and georgic, eclogues and ecology, country and city, political intrigue, poetic nastiness, the importation of china, the rise of coffee house culture, the development of urban planning, the importance of honor, which hairs are best to teaze and seize, the importance of cosmetics to the order of things, lapdogs, desire, fables, threshing, how plumbing worked before Thomas Krapper invented the indoor toilet, what bad poetry has to do with baking and public bathrooms, . . . and so much more.

Among the authors who will be important to our conversations we are likely to be reading John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, John Dryden, William Wycherley, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, Eliza Haywood, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Anne Finch, James Thomson, Thomas Gray, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Stephen Duck, Mary Collier, Mary Leapor, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and possibly others.

Students will write two short papers (4-6 pages) and one long paper (10-15 pages). Your life will be changed, the sun will shine brighter, you will see more than ever before; and then, before you know it, before you are ready . . . it will all be over, summer will arrive, dandelions will flourish, and like birds, we will disperse. That’s how it works, year after year.

Goals: Students will learn to read 17c and 18c British literature in relation to the context in which it was written, familiarizing themselves with the changing ideas about individual selfhood, and the relation between the individual subject and the political state that defines the modern era that is the backdrop against which American national identity defines itself. Students will develop already existing interpretive skills that enable them to discern levels of meaning (not always compatible with one another) within a single complex literary text. Students will develop already existing interpretive skills that enable them to discuss how multiple texts from a given historical period address complex cultural formations.

Students will learn or develop the ability to develop and explore preliminary interpretive formulations in productive conversation with published critical or theoretical work. They will also learn why audiences of Restoration theater laughed at the word “Roll-wagon.”

L335 Victorian Literature
Monique Morgan
Topic: "Doubt, Knowledge, and Faith"


Oscar Wilde quipped, “To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing.” Many Victorian authors were obsessed with doubt, though few were as sanguine about it as Wilde. This course will explore a wide range of Victorian poems that depict struggles to understand what we can know and how we can know it, from a sonnet sequence about suspected infidelity, to an epic consideration of a Renaissance murder trial, to a comic ballad spoken by a fossil who questions the value of thought. We will also consider the formal techniques through which poems themselves convey knowledge and create ambiguity and doubt. The dramatic monologue will receive special attention as a form that displays subjectivity, distortion, and error, while indirectly suggesting something more truthful. In addition, we will read two deeply skeptical novels from the late-Victorian period. We will contextualize our study of literature through non-fiction prose from evolutionary biology, thermodynamics, philosophy, and theology – texts that unsettled the Victorians’ sense of humanity’s relations to other species, to time, and to God.

Readings will likely include Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine, poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, George Meredith, Arthur Hugh Clough, Christina Rossetti, Augusta Webster, Amy Levy, Michael Field, May Kendall, Algernon Swinburne, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and non-fiction prose by John Stuart Mill, Arthur Henry Hallam, John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Lord Kelvin, James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Carlyle, John Henry Newman, and George Eliot’s translations of Strauss and Feuerbach. Evaluation will be based on regular and informed class participation, two formal essays, quizzes, and an exam.

L348: 19th Century British Fiction
Andrew Miller

In this course we will read some of the most significant–and enjoyable–of nineteenth-century novels. Our focus will be on the technical means by which the novelists achieve their effects. How do these authors convey the thoughts and feelings of their characters, for instance? How do they represent the interactions between their characters within broader social environments? How do these novels represent history? How do they represent different genders? By means of what literary devices do they do all this? My aims in the course are to give you a better understanding of the fiction of the period and to see how the devices used by these authors to understand their psychological, ethical and political worlds continue to bear on our own understanding of our lives. Students will most likely write two papers and take two exams.

L355 American Fiction to 1900
Allison Speicher

In the middle of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1849 novel Kavanagh, an editor visits the home of a prospective author and expounds his views on the future of American literature. He proclaims, “we want a national literature commensurate with our mountains and rivers, commensurate with Niagara, and the Alleghenies, and the Great Lakes,” “a national epic that shall correspond to the size of the country.” This editor articulates a point of view that is scarcely unique: many proponents of literary nationalism thought that a nation great in size and filled with physical wonders would naturally inspire a great and innovative literary tradition. As one might imagine, this kind of thinking was easily ridiculed (as it is in this scene), but it was less easily dispensed with. Even using the phrase “American literature” ties fiction to geography. We won’t spend this semester seeking the literary equivalent of Niagara Falls, but we will take inspiration from the persistent desire to root American fiction in place. Nineteenth-century America was both a new nation seeking to create a national literary tradition and a country deeply divided by sectionalism, regional differences, and war. As such, place looms large in its fiction. We will consider how where fiction takes place impacts what takes place. Throughout the semester, we’ll visit law offices in New York City, an Indiana schoolhouse, the edge of the frontier, slave quarters in Kentucky, and a myriad of other places. We’ll consider place on a variety of levels, from the microscopic (a single room) to the macroscopic (the nation). Along the way, we’ll think about the relationship between place and personal identity, definitions of home, and that stereotypical American rootlessness. This course will be shaped by your questions as well as my own: much of what will take place in our classroom is up to you.

L356 American Poetry to 1900
R. Arbour

Course description not available at this time.

L357 20th-Century American Poetry
Josh Kates

This course surveys 20th-century American poetry from such “lions” of literature as Robert Frost and T. S. Eliot to the iconoclasm of the Beats, and beyond, to the experiments of John Ashbery and Jorie Graham. We will read selected poems with great care—at times line by line, glossing their meter and language. We will also explore the larger landscapes in which these works were penned: aesthetic movements such as imagism, objectivism, and surrealism; the aftermaths of the two world wars; industrialization; and the advent of suburbia.

L369: Studies in British and American Authors
Ed Comentale
TOPIC: David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, and the Limits of Contemporary Fiction


Here is a description for a course to be taken later on David Foster Wallace.

Here is a very big book called Infinite Jest, which contains 1,079 pages about drug addiction, tennis prodigies, feral hamsters, and killer entertainments.

Here are 388 footnotes and a fake filmography.

Here is how to read a book after the death of the author and the collapse of the novel and after America has annexed Mexico and Canada.

Here is what may or may not actually happen on luxury cruises and at state fairs.

Here is an undergraduate thesis on free will written by the son of a moral philosopher and an English professor Like most clichés, this is profound.

Here is a book on rap that describes rap as “like little more than looking at something venomous in a tightly closed jar.''

Here is a bandanna.

Here is the “new sincerity” of a filmmaker named Wes Anderson and a rock band named The Decemberists.

Here are too many books on a shelf in your future room: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men; Consider the Lobster and Other Essays;?Girl with Curious Hair; Infinite Jest; Fate, Time, and Language; A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again; Signifying Rappers: Rap and Race in the Urban Present.

Here is how to win, later.

L369 Studies in British and American Authors
Andrew Miller
Special Topic: "Counterfactual Literature"

If only . . . . . It is a common experience: looking back on the past and wondering how things might have been different had you had chosen differently or if your luck had been different. If only your parents had not moved when you were young. . . if only you had gone to a different university . . . if only you had met that person earlier . . . . Perhaps you would have become a different person. Creative writers have been preoccupied with such counterfactual fantasies for a long time; it is one of their jobs, after all, to imagine unreal people. In exploring such counterfactual possibilities we are likely to read works by Ian McEwan, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, and Philip Larkin. We’ll also watch films, perhaps including It’s a Wonderful Life, Now Voyager, Blind Chances, and City Lights. Assignments will likely to include three papers of different lengths.

L371: Critical Methods
Judith Brown

> In this class we'll examine some of the major theories that have shaped critical reading practices over the past one hundred or so years. What assumptions determine the ways we read? What cultural narratives govern our understandings of human life? What role does interpretation have in the ways we view the world around us? And what role does literature play? Through our readings in semiotics, psychoanalysis, Marxism, deconstruction, identity-based theories (centered on race, gender, and sexuality), postcolonialism, and postmodernism, we'll consider how they transform the ways we read. We’ll read theoretical work alongside three novels – all detective fictions of sorts – in order to think through the possibilities opened up by theoretically-informed interpretation. Students should expect a challenging semester. Course work will include multiple one-page papers, two longer papers, and a quiz.

L374: Ethnic American Literature
Alberto Varon
TOPIC: Muy Machos and Other Operative Fictions of Latino Manhood

"From bandit to revolutionary to gangbanger, from Latin lover to faithful father, images of Latino manhood play an integral role in Latino culture and the popular imaginary. Yet, for all the ordinariness of the term masculinity, it is a vexing and difficult category of cultural representation. What does, or what did, it take to be a man?

Particularly since the late 20th century, questions of masculinity have been closely tied to cultural nationalist movements and have served to identify particular group characteristics. The term “machismo” itself is a vexed concept, with different meanings in the U.S. and Latin American contexts, one that emerged out of historically patriarchal societies but with widely differing understandings. Together, we will survey the ever-shifting contours of Latino manhood from the mid-nineteenth century to the present as it is performed both individually and communally. We will examine how representations of manhood are implicated in cultural, social, and political life, and how its shifts according to various historical exigencies. Throughout the course, we will work through some of the existing approaches to “masculinity” in both American Studies and Latino (Cultural) Studies, and examine how these methodologies try to chart the multiplicities of manhood, and its implications in constructions of race, class, and national life.

Some questions we will explore include: what does it mean to be a Latino male? How has this changed over time? How has Latino manhood been defined by various ethnic or national groups? What role does femininity have in shaping Latino manood? How are representations of gender put to political use? Topics may include: masculinity, the Chicano movement, Mexican revolution, immigration, nativism, femininity, colonialism, race and racism, class difference, and nationalisms."

L378 Studies in Women & Literature: jane Austen Adapted
Mary Favret

The course focuses on Jane Austen's fiction through the lens of adaptation: both the works ad styles she adapted for her own novels (from Shakespeare, Fielding, Burney, Scott) and the adaptations her work has spawned -- especially in film and on the internet. Of course, Austen also describes young women adapting to the demands of a marriage market and a society trying to adapt to broad social and economic changes. What makes adaptation work in Austen's world, in literature and across media? The first seven weeks of the course will be devoted to reading Austen's fiction, with special attention to the models she adapted to produce a new mode of fiction. The latter weeks of the course will turn to film and other adaptations of Austen's novels, with the aim of recognizing what makes a successful adaptation from one medium (print) to another (film and other digital media). Assignments will include both short papers, a mid-term exam and a longer final research paper.

L380 Literary Modernism
Josh Kates

The literary movement now known as modernism changed all the accepted conventions of literature in a way that continues to cast its shadow over much fiction and poetry written today. The modernists themselves held views of how their work would alter literature and the larger society and culture. This course surveys the modernist experiment in both poetry and prose, taking cognizance of how they understood their works’ relations to history and their own present. Among the figures to be covered are: T. S. Eliot; Amy Lowell; Gertrude Stein; William Carlos Williams; Wallace Stevens; and James Joyce.

L381 Recent Writing
Ray Hedin

This course will focus on writers whose work reflects not only great narrative skills – of various kinds – but issues of contemporary cultural and/or literary importance: e.g., coming to grips with a troubled national past (Schlink, The Reader, Spiegelman, Maus I and II); a troubling present (Coetzee, Disgrace); or a possible nightmare future (McCarthy, The Road). In addition: urban grit (Price, Lush Life); the possibility/impossibility of belief (Strout, Abide with Me; The Road again); gender issues (Munro, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; Bloom, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You; Disgrace again) contemporary intergenerational relationships (Nordan, Sharpshooter Blues; Tighlman, In a Father’s Place); the role of storytelling (O’Brien,The Things They Carried, Maus I and II again).

All of these writers have written at least three books. One purpose of this criterion of selection is that it will expose students to writers they might want to follow up on. To encourage this, one of the essays in the course will require students to read one other book by a given writer and to describe the fictional world that emerges from connecting the two. Students will also write a second essay and two exams, plus occasional short response pieces.

This list is not complete, nor is this description iron-clad. There will be selected short stories interspersed along the way both to widen the range of authors and issues and to provide some breathing space in a course that will require a good deal of reading.

L381 Recent Writing
Jesse Molesworth
TOPIC: "The Poetics of Comics"

This course takes seriously the proposition offered by the title: that comics are a form of poetry, that they operate through developed formal and aesthetic principles, and that they therefore may be read and analyzed as literature, according to any meaningful sense of the word. The course follows six topics, suggested within within Scott McCloud’s influential work Understanding Comics: iconography, the “gutter,” time-frames, lines, words and pictures, and color. Each of these six cardinal topics will be studied next to a work exploring (and sometimes exploding) its dimensions. Thus, Maus I will be paired with iconography, V for Vendetta with the gutter, Fun Home with the representation of time, etc. Our quest is meaning at a very fundamental level: how does a line create meaning? How does color mean? How do artists manipulate visual icons to mean? – and so forth. Students are encouraged not to forget what they have learned in other, more conventionally literary classes but, rather, to reflect on the ways by which concepts like poetic meter, narrative point of view, or metaphor translate within a visual medium.

Required Texts:
Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
Art Spiegelman, Maus I
Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Charles Burns, Black Hole
Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp

Assignments will include 3 medium-length essays, in-class writing assignments, and regular attendance and participation.

L389 Feminist & Queer Theory
Scott Herring
TOPIC: Introduction to LGBTQ Studies

This course offers you an introduction to the fundamentals of LGBTQ studies. We will address pertinent topics such as the history of sexuality (primarily in the United States); the mythology of the Stonewall riots; the rise of gay marriage; intersections between sexuality and race; the urban/rural/suburban divide; and recent “It Gets Better” campaigns. Familiarity with gender/sexuality studies or LGBTQ studies is not presumed, and the class begins on an even playing field. Along the way we will cover:

  • Sexual inverts in 1890s Memphis
  • Queer street life in 1920s New York City
  • Drag shows in 1960s Chicago
  • Lesbian pulp fiction from the 1950s
  • Gay Liberation movements in the 1970s
  • AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Marriage equality campaigns from the 2000s
  • Gaga now and Gaga forever

L390 Children's Literature
Ray Hedin

This course will focus on children's stories, ranging from fairy tales to contemporary fiction, television, and film. The course will emphasize the ways in which stories express and give shape to basic wishes and basic fears. We will also emphasize the strategies by which stories either convey or subvert prevalent cultural values. We will address such questions as: why do stories fascinate children (and others)? What is the relationship between the structure of stories and the emotions and values they convey? How does children’s literature address central issues such as the relationship of adults to children, the ambiguities of growing up, and the experience of death? To what extent are stories gender-coded (and how might we respond when they are)? How has the notion of childhood changed over time, and what do the changes imply culturally? What is the role of magic and the imaginary in children’s books and films? What should an adult (parent, educator) do about a children's story whose values are different from his or her own? Why is the analysis of a children’s story a useful adult activity? These issues will not be addressed in the abstract, but in the context of discussing specific, influential children's stories.

The class will meet twice a week in lecture and once a week in discussion sections. Films will be shown on Monday nights at 7:00. Students will be expected to have read the assigned material by the first day on which it is considered in lecture; quizzes will be given periodically. Students will also write two essays, a mid-term and a final exam. The first paper will be an analysis of an individual book or film. The second (6-8 pages) will a consideration of a genre, author, or series of children’s books - e.g., children’s picture books; the works of Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss or other writers; film adaptations of children’s books; Disney movies. (These are examples; specific topics for both papers should be negotiated with your A.I.)

Attendance is expected in both lecture and discussion sections. Specific policies regarding grading, late papers, quizzes, attendance, essay possibilities and requirements, and plagiarism will be set out in discussion sections.

Course Materials (Tentative):

  • selected fairy tales (in packet)
  • Beauty and the Beast (Disney film)
  • Mother Goose and The Cristian Mother Goose (overhead)
  • Stevenson, Treasure Island
  • Barrie, Peter Pan
  • Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (overhead; available on the web)
  • Graham, The Wind in the Willows
  • Lobel, Frog and Toad Are Friends (overhead)
  • Lobel, Frog and Toad Together (overhead)
  • Wilder, The Little House on the Prairies
  • The Wizard of Oz (film)
  • White, Charlotte's Web
  • Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat and other works (overhead)
  • Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy
  • Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia
  • Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Blume, Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing
  • School House Rock: American History (video)
  • Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • Paulsen, Nightjohn
  • Shrek (film)
  • Tolkein, The Hobbit
  • Rawling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

L391 Literature for Young Adults
Mark Harrison

Course description not available at this time.

L395 American Film Culture
John Schilb

In the United States, even long-time fans of the movies are not always familiar with the great achievements of British cinema. Starting in the 1930s, this course will study ten terrific films associated with Great Britain and its former empire. Most of these movies were, in fact, products of the British film industry. We will attend to the films’ themes and ideologies, noting in particular what these imply about British national identity. But we will also focus on these films’ techniques—how they use editing, photography, art design, sound, and performance—as well as on their genres (e.g., thriller, musical, melodrama, docudrama).

Some of the films and directors will be The Thirty-Nine Steps (Alfred Hitchcock); Brief Encounter (David Lean); The Red Shoes (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger); The Third Man (Carol Reed); The Innocents (Jack Clayton); The Crying Game (Neil Jordan); The Piano (Jane Campion); and The Queen (Stephen Frears).

The Tuesday night session will be the screenings. The Monday-Wednesday class will emphasize discussion. Readings will include John Buchan’s novel The Thirty-Nine Steps; Graham Greene’s novelization of his screenplay for The Third Man; Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw (the basis of The Innocents); and various articles. Required writing will consist of brief, informal reflections; two three-page analyses of scenes; and a six-page essay on one of the films, which you will prepare for by joining others in a class presentation about that film. There will also be a final exam.

L460 Seminar: Literary Form, Mode, and Theme
Shannon Gayk

This seminar will explore a range of literary texts about nature and the environment. We will begin the semester by thinking about how western literature has represented the idea of nature and end by considering contemporary discussions of how literary texts engage “ecology without nature.” We will examine major literary genres and movements, such as the pastoral, romanticism, and transcendentalism. We will consider how literary engagements with nature have changed and how they have stayed the same. Together, we will ask: How do writers think about place? About the relations between humans and the natural world? Between nature and civilization? Between nature and industrialization? How do literary engagements with the natural world represent wildness and cultivation? How do the discourses of natural science and ecology affect literary representation? How might environmentally-focused literature be read within larger social or political contexts? What sort of ethical stances does nature writing assume or take? We will also discuss how ecocriticitical approaches might affect our readings of other sorts of texts. Course readings will likely include poetry and essays by William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, and Scott Russell Sanders among others. Since this is a seminar, class sessions will be focused primarily on discussion, and thus regular attendance, thorough preparation, and engaged participation will be necessary to students’ success in the class. Students should also expect a few out-of-class excursions. Course assignments will include short entries in a reading journal, an in-class presentation, a researched final project, and occasional in-class writing.

L460 Seminar: Literary Form, Mode, and Theme
Lara Kriegel
TOPIC: Dear Diary: A History of the Form from Pepys to Blogs

In the year 1660 Samuel Pepys, a Naval Administrator, began to keep a diary. There, he wrote of events of personal and national significance over the course of ten years. Pepys wrote the Diary in shorthand and later bound it into six volumes, with the sense that it might be of interest to subsequent generations of readers. In the year 1994 Claudio Pinhanez published the first online diary through the MIT Media Lab website. While there are others who claim the title, Pinhanez , who posted his “Open Diary” between 1994 and 1996, is thought to be the first Blogger. This course will investigate the history and form of the diary over a long sweep of history, from Pepys to Blogs. We will consider the diary as a form that serves a number of purposes. Diaries provide an occasion for life writing; they allow us to record travels; they offer a mechanism to assess war; they enable artists to consider creative expression; and they provide occasions for fictional expression, too. In this course devoted to the form of the diary, we will read a range of texts, well known and little known, that were published across centuries and across continents. We will consider technologies of writing and intentions for publicity that shaped the conditions for diary writing and that inform our expectations in diary reading. We will also address stories of discovery and modes of publication. Students will be asked, in the course of the semester, to keep a diary in a form of their own choosing, as a way of reflecting upon and incorporating the concerns of the course. In this seminar-style class, students will be responsible for responding to readings through short assignments and class leadership throughout the semester. For a final project, students will write a fifteen-page “authoritative introduction” to a diary of their own choosing. Texts to be assigned may include The Diary of Samuel Pepys (selections), The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier, The Diary of Emily Pepys, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Diary of a Nobody, and The Princess Diaries.

W103 Introductory Creative Writing
Jacinda Twonsend

“See the world anew and write down the bones of it,” says novelist A.D. Sams, and that’s what we’ll be doing in W103. No prior creative writing study or experience is required in order to register for this course; W103 is an introduction to the practice and study of fiction and poetry. Half the semester will be devoted to the study of contemporary short stories and half will be devoted to the study of contemporary poetry.

The class will meet three times a week, with the Monday lecture covering the basic craft elements of fiction and poetry and the Wednesday/Friday sections allowing time for more in-depth discussion of those elements. W103 students will be evaluated based on their performance on two exams, their participation in both the lecture and the discussion sections, and their final portfolio of revised original work.

W240 Community Service Writing
Joan Linton
TOPIC: Going Public: Writing Wellness in the Community

N.B. This service-learning course requires a minimum total of 20 service hours over 10 weeks.

Most of us are familiar with the conventions and requirements of writing and research within our academic disciplines, over time developing proficiency as communicators. How do we adapt these skills in the service of others, relocating the writing self from the academy to the community? How do we reorient ourselves from being professionals in training to being engaged citizens, addressing public audiences on public issues in public venues? What new responsibilities come with citizenship, and how do we develop a voice that goes beyond our individual and academic needs and interests to address larger public issues?

Going Public aims to help students develop as public communicators through a holistic approach to health and wellness in the community. This course invites students to practice and expand the critical skills of synthesis and analysis, and rhetorical skills of persuasion through service, writing, and research in the community. In going beyond the classroom, students will develop the knowledge and understanding needed to address issues of health and wellbeing, and find their own voice in communicating this knowledge to public audiences—the very people whose lives are affected by these issues.

While community service provides real-life situations in which we may apply our academic skills and knowledge, analysis of that experience will allow us to reflect on our roles as service–learners and writers, as grounding for research into related social issues. Through readings and reflection, we shall see (1) how our life experiences, socio-economic status, and other visible or invisible kinds of differences shape our perceptions of each other and the people we serve; (2) how larger social structures and global forces operate beneath the apparent randomness of social interactions and autonomy of our choices; (3) how through social networking people can develop a community’s assets and leverage its resources in meeting collective challenges and dreams ; and (4) how such lived knowledge of a community’s “ecology” gained through service and writing informs our public role as citizens wherever we live.

Readings, discussions, and reflections will emphasize the following areas:

  • (1) holistic approach to health and wellness: going beyond a bio-medical model to understand the many factors—mental, social, financial, spiritual, behavioral, environmental—that affect our wellbeing
  • (2) cultural literacy and co-production: developing the cultural understanding and social skills needed for community service, community-based research, and social action
  • (3) critical literacy: skills of research and analysis relating to social problems most acutely felt locally and personally, addressing the causes in their communal, social, and global contexts.
  • (4) rhetorical skills and strategies for telling public stories, framing ethically sound and powerful arguments; selecting appropriate forms and language in persuading readers and stake-holders

W301 Writing Fiction
Bob Bledsoe

PREREQUISITE: Please complete the form found at

In W301, we will read short stories (and perhaps a novel) by those considered masters of the genre. I will expect you to put your analytical skills to use in reading like a writer and taking stories apart according to their craft elements. I will ask you to write a few short creative assignments, and analytical essays in addition to writing two stories to share in workshop.

Students should send a brief email "cover letter" (it shouldn't be more than a paragraph or so) outlining previous writing courses as well as your interest in this course in particular, along with 10-20 pages of what you consider to be your best writing. Ideally, this should be a "finished" story, not a fragment; something with a beginning, middle, and an end, but I will surely consider whatever you'd like to send.

Please be sure to include your name, student id#, phone number in your email. (I ask for this information so the creative writing secretary can clear you in the system for registration).

I look forward to your materials and to an exciting course.

W303 Writing Poetry
Adrian Matejka

PREREQUISITE: Please complete the form found at

This upper-level poetry course is designed for up and coming writers of poetry who would like to develop their poetic craft and technique. The class is both discussion and workshop, but our primary emphasis is the generation and revision of poems.

Students will study the work of established poets including Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Terrance Hayes, and Rodney Jones with the intent of integrating contemporary poetic strategies into their own writing. In addition to poetic responses and maintaining a writer's notebook, students are expected to assemble a portfolio that includes at least 8 poems written and revised over the course of the semester.

To apply for admission to the course, you will need to supply the following materials either electronically (MS Word of PDF docs) at least one week before your registration day.

  • Your name, student ID number and a current email address;
  • A brief letter outlining your interest in the course as well as your background in creative writing (you should have taken at least one of the following: W103 or W203 please let me know what semester you took these courses and the name of your instructor);
  • 5 pages of what you consider your best poetry.

I will notify you via email of my decision and copy the program secretary who will clear admitted students for registration. To improve your chances of getting into workshop, please submit your materials as soon as possible as seats in the workshop will be filled as people apply.

W321 Advanced Technical Writing
Dana Anderson
TOPIC: "Professional Writing and Document Design"

PREREQUISITE: Completion of W231 or permission of instructor.

How does the design of a document - the material and visual shaping of text on a page - contribute to its effectiveness in achieving its purposes? Likewise, how do poor design choices prevent documents from accomplishing their aims? How are design elements such as page layout, font, spacing, size, proximity, color, and contrast central to our visual literacy—our ability to interpret, understand, and make use of information based on how it is physically structured for our reading? These are the questions we'll be exploring as we look at a range of different documents, especially (but certainly not limiting ourselves to) those that we would call "professional writing" - reports, proposals, process and procedure descriptions, brochures, announcements, online documents such as web pages, and the like. In addition to essential concepts and theories of document design, we will learn how design choices have very real, specific consequences for how persuasive texts are in the purposes they seek to accomplish. This working knowledge of document design you'll develop is increasingly expected of people who write in their various workplaces. To that end, your work will provide you with a portfolio of various texts that you've created to help you demonstrate your abilities as both a writer and a designer of professional documents.

We'll be completing various short writing and design assignments, as well as a semester project, which will be the writing and design of a longer document needed by one of our many community service organizations.

This course is designated as fulfilling credit toward the Public & Professional Writing concentration within the English major and is highly recommended for those pursuing this concentration. (Please note, however, that interested students from any major are welcome.)

W350 Advanced Expository Writing
Scot Barnett
TOPIC: History of Writing Technologies

In this course we will examine issues in writing technologies from the invention(s) of writing through the evolution of writing within a new media context. While we will touch on more ancient writing technologies, we will primarily start with the Ancient Greeks, and investigate the issues that writing presented at the time. Thus, although we will study the technologies of writing themselves, we are also interested in these issues that writing technologies present to a society, which influences how written communication is understood, circulated, legislated, and protected. Toward these issues, we will consider the overall matrix that makes up writing, which includes not only the technology of writing, but also the practices invented for the technology, the institutions that determine those practices, and the individual and collective identities that manifest from these interactions. Moving through technologies such as the alphabet, scroll, codex, printing press, typewriter, and the photograph, we will finally address issues that confront our current understanding of what it means to write within image-based and digital environments.

W350 Advanced Expository Writing
Christine Farris
TOPIC: Schooled: Popular Representations of Learning to Write (COAS Intensive Writing)

As part of our work on your academic reading and writing practices in this course, we will discuss and analyze how fiction and film depict the experiences of schooling, especially learning (and unlearning) how to write.

In complex ways, fiction, drama, and film reflect and shape the myths and assumptions in our culture about the purpose of an education and what it takes to be a successful writer, as well as student or teacher. Narratives about schooling in popular media reflect and sometimes ignore or reconcile conflicts having to do with social class, race, and gender difference. We will explore the ways in which fictional and cinematic texts attempt to work through those conflicts, often through the use of, or the subversion of, stereotypes like the “rebel-student” and the “savior-teacher.” In the process, you will be examining your own beliefs, assumptions, and goals tied to literacy acquisition. Is an education about finding an identity and a writing voice, acquiring knowledge, exploring how to live a purposeful life, or is it just something you pass through on the way to something else? We will develop a collective inquiry through class discussion and sharing of writing. By the final paper, you will be bringing some additional texts, films, and perspectives to that inquiry.

Texts will include Janet Gardner, Reading and Writing about Literature: A Portable Guide; a memoir: Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory; several novels: Tobias Wolfe, Old School; Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys; several plays: Willy Russell, Educating Rita; Alan Bennett, The History Boys; Donald Margulies, Collected Stories; and two films: Dead Poets Society and Freedom Writers.

Writing assignments will include short microthemes that practice close reading, summary, and critique--building toward comparative analysis papers using in-course and outside source material. As part of your drafting and revision process, there will be regular peer review workshops and writing conferences with me.

W381 The Craft of Fiction
Bob Bledsoe

PREREQUISITE: Completion of ENG-W203 or W301 or W311 or by permission. Please complete the form found at

This course will focus on the most important elements of craft in fiction. We will focus on reading like writers, examining both the content and the technique writers employ to create their fiction. We will also write a series of short exercises intended to stimulate new writing. Our goal will always be to push our understanding of fiction writing and encourage each other in class discussions.

Students seeking permission should send a brief email "cover letter" (it shouldn't be more than a paragraph or so) outlining previous writing courses as well as your interest in this course in particular, along with 10-20 pages of what you consider to be your best writing.

W383 The Craft of Poetry: Form and Feeling
Catherine Bowman

PREREQUISITE: Completion of Eng-W203 or W301, W303 or W311 or by permission. Please complete the form at

In this class we will learn about technique and craft, the nuts and bolts of writing poems. Simultaneously we will explore feelings, namely, compassion, empathy and mindfulness. We will attempt to link the practice of writing poems with a practice of mindfulness. We will experiment with the forms of poetry, the line, figures of speech, tone, diction, rhythm, repetition and rhyme. We will discuss aspects of how a poem begins and how the poem makes its way down the page. We will also think about what it means to lead a mindful, companionate and empathetic life and how this connects to writing poems. You will keep a poets journal and a compassion/mindfulness workbook. There will be response papers based on the class readings. There will be in-class writing assignments to generate poems and experiment with aspects of craft. There will also be various mediation exercises and poetry assignments around the exploration of compassion and empathy in our everyday lives. There will be two exams and some quizzes. In addition to a packet of readings posted on Oncourse we will read four collections of poetry and two books of nonfiction.

  • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.
  • Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki and David Chadwick.
  • One Hidden Stuff by Barbara Ras.
  • Cradle Song by Stacey Lynn Brown.
  • In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Poems by Campbell McGrath.
  • Salvation Blues by Rodney Jones.

W401: Advanced Fiction Writing
Samrat Upadhyay

PREREQUISITE: Please complete the form found at

In this course you will deepen your study of the craft of writing fiction. You will read one collection of short stories (most likely Ha Jin’s The Bridegroom) and selections from the anthology, A Stranger Among Us, with stories by acclaimed international authors. A large part of the course will be in the workshop format, where you will read and discuss one another’s work. Expect to write three to four stories during the semester, and also to provide written critiques on your colleagues’ work. The aim is to deepen your understanding of the fiction through writing, reading, and critiquing. You will also do individual presentations, in which you will discuss your literary interests and books that have inspired you. The course will challenge you by pushing you into new arenas of form and content.

To apply, submit a work of fiction (no longer than 20 pages), as well as a brief essay (no more than a page) on the creative writing courses you’ve taken, with whom, and what makes you want to take W401. Please feel free to talk about your creative and literary interest in the essay. I’ll make a decision on your application as soon as I can, most likely within a week.

W403 Advanced Poetry Writing
Richard Cecil

PREREQUISITE: Please complete the form found at

This course is a workshop in writing poetry. Students will turn in a poem a week, which will be discussed in class. The poems will be formal exercises drawn from Wendy Bishop's Thirteen Ways of Looking for a Poem. Students will learn to work with accentual and syllabic meters, as well as to create contemporary versions of ancient forms such as sonnets and sestinas. No tests. No auditors. Students will distribute copies of their work to all members of the class.

Approval of the instructor is required for admission. To apply, e-mail 5 pages of poetry by attachment and a list of creative writing courses(including the name of their instructors) you've taken at IU at least one week before your registration day. To improve your chances of getting a place in the workshop, submit your manuscript as soon as possible, since places will be filled as people apply. Those who register late should apply at the beginning of the registration period so that, if admitted, a place will be reserved for them in the class. No places will be saved for late registration.