Course Offerings: Spring 2008

Below is a list of Current Upper-Division Undergraduate Course Offerings and our Current Graduate-Seminar Offerings.


ENG 205B.01  
Christopher Mensel
T TH 2-3:15                                                                                         


This introductory course will cover the basics of screenwriting from professional formatting to the proper use of elements such as scene headings, action, parentheticals, dialogue, and transitions among others.  The class will also examine narrative structure, character development, endings, and plot points, as well as the use of index cards and script notes, log-lines, treatments, copyright protection, and the evolution of the modern screenplay.

ENG 260.01  
Prof. Karen Stein
T TH 2-3:15                                                                                         


The first African American awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.  We’ll study her works in the context of African American culture and history.

ENG 300A
Gerald DeSchepper
Tu 6-9 pm 

Providence Campus only


This course examines how the highly verbal art of the playwright is transformed into the primarily visual art of the filmmaker.  It includes readings of different types of plays from different periods in history and viewings of their adaptations for film.  Differences in writing, dramatic structures, means of production, staging and performance, and audience expectations for the two mediums will be studied, as well as differences in artistic styles.  We will also look at the shared and unique characteristics of the two mediums and their respective forms of narrative, and we will take into account contextual factors of technology, conventions and genres, and will consider the question of art versus entertainment.  Plays / films to be studies will include such works as Romeo & Juliet, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Death of a Salesman.
For more information contact the instructor, Jerry DeSchepper<> or 1 401 277-5073

ENG 302.01/FLM 203.01
Rebecca Romanow
M W 2-3:45


ENG 302/FLM 203 will explore American and International films, their historical contexts and their changing audiences, read and studied through the lens of the theory and aesthetics of Punk Cinema. This category of film, as explained by Nicholas Rombes, is “an often brutal mixture of underground, avant-garde technique and mainstream, genre-based
story-telling that [weaves] together cinematic traditions that included the French New Wave, Italian Neorealism and cinema verite. . . animated by the same do-it-yourself approach that characterized 1970s punk in the United States
and in Britain.” We will examine the earlier films that influenced the Dogme 95 movement, as well as the “Cinema of Transgression,” the Neo-Underground, and the New American Cinema, as we trace the trajectory of the influence of punk style in film from the 1950s into the 21st century. Films will be drawn from many directors including Lars Von Trier, Harmony Korine, Tom Tykwer, Danny Boyle, Mike Figgis, Jim Jarmusch, Darren Aronofsky, Eli Suleiman, and David Fincher, as well as Godard, Truffaut, Visconti and De Sica. In doing this, our concern will be to approach these films through the close study of multiple genres, critical film theory, and cultural critique. This project assumes that we
become critically sophisticated, informed, articulate viewers of films, examining their cultural constraints and contexts, and the complex international genres that they share and modify. Two papers, an oral presentation, and devoted attendance are required.

ENG 304.01
Prof. Jean Walton
T Th 3:30-5:30

We will begin with some of the watershed political and social events of the late nineteen sixties, then move on for a whirlwind tour of some notable cinematic genres, movements, and directors of the 1970s, with an emphasis on the relation between film and politics in the United States. We'll look at how aspiring "auteur" directors such as Altman, Bogdanovich, Coppola, Lumet, Mazursky, Scorsese, Kubrick, Polanski, Pakula, Friedkin, Cassavetes, Malick, and Allen worked with and transformed established and emerging genres, but also check in to see what was happening in the realm of the avant garde film, with such innovative filmmakers as Brakhage, Keller, Frampton, Gehr, Hammer, Rainer, Sharits, Snow, and Warhol.  

ENG 304
Keith B. Wagner
W 6-9 pm

Providence Campus only


Over the last ten years, there has been a significant shift in the theoretical problems and popularity of world cinema, moving beyond its once peripheral labeling by film and English departments. Examples of this can be seen as the University of Leeds established the first masters degree program in world cinema, to a large number of publications on the subject, to scholars from more mainstream fields contributing to the debate of filmmaking from the Third World and newer postcolonial states. In general, these many cultures, film practices and ideologies that determine what is meant by the term world cinema, also seem to challenge our understanding of this global filmmaking. This course will ask what world cinema is by introducing students to the key debates surrounding the different contexts of the term, gathering ideas from the following theorists: Armes, Andrew, Codell, Hill, Lim, Stam, Wayne. We shall also interrogate the ‘West and the Rest’ binarism that continues to launch much critical debate. Comparatively, is the concept of world cinema really working against the Hollywood hegemony, or is it inevitably fused to the rationality of globalization? Likely films that address these issues include: The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina, 2004), Battle of Algiers (France, Italy and Algeria, 1958), Old Boy (Korea, 2003), Come Back, Africa (South Africa, 1959), Bumming in Beijing (China, 1990), Soy Cuba (Cuba, 1968), Farewell My Concubine (China, 1993), Amores Perros (Mexico, 2000), Sholay (India, 1975), A Time to Love (Iran, 1991).

ENG 305.01
Prof. Peter Covino
T Th 11-12:15

In addition to writing/revising your own poems, ten new pages per semester, we will spend focused class time responding to changing poetic traditions and how these trends still influence our work as contemporary practitioners of the art.  Every other week, students will respond to specific writing assignments related to formal principles discussed, as well as experiment with newer, non-conventional poetic strategies. This course will explore some of the most innovative and exciting poems ever written both in English and some in translation, beginning from Medieval times with a special focus on avant-garde and contemporary poetry.  Class time is divided equally between discussion of poems by established writers/poets and review of student work.  This course is offered in consideration of the Read/Write visiting writers literary series, so students will be expected to attend events whenever possible.  Some class time will be devoted to student performance and the development of small chapbooks of students’ work.

ENG 305.02
Prof. Mary Cappello
T Th 2-3:15                                                                                          


To all burgeoning practitioners of nonfiction forms:

Lyric Essay        Creative Nonfiction          Literary Nonfiction       Experimental Memoir

To what do these phrases refer and what’s happening nowadays to the genre that used to rest easy under the sign of “autobiography,” “biography,” “travel writing,” and “memoir”? What kind of revolution is the ESSAY currently undergoing, and how can your own yen to write nonfiction be informed by its exciting and timely new developments? In what sense can the essay be understood as a workshop for making, breaking, and reinventing order? Is it possible to write anti-confessional memoir in a wholly confessional age? How do we know we’re telling the “truth” in our writing rather than reproducing the most striking clichés of the moment in which we live?

ENGLISH 305: Advanced Creative Writing will introduce you to and tempt you to practice a range of modes represented by the genre: “nonfiction.” I’ll help you to expand the repertoire of your writing practices, take risks at the level of form and content, and find ways to let your writing arrive at unanticipated rather than predictable places. We’ll work at the level of words as entities with complex histories to which we need to be attentive—word “auras,” etymologies, etc, and at all other levels of the production of nonfiction prose—from the rhythms that can be achieved inside a sentence to the matter of narrative, or associational, non-narrative forms or both. There will be no such things as “assignments” but rather “incitements” spun from my own loom and which will lead to the production of numerous experimental and full-bodied pieces that you will compose and present to me in draft form throughout the semester and in more polished form at mid-term and in the final weeks of the semester in portfolios. Students will also be encouraged to develop “writing directives” themselves (again, over and against “assignments”) drawn from the reading that we’ll in concert, engage. The class will be run workshop-style, and students will be expected to be responsible, attentive readers of each other’s work. Reading is as important as writing for any writer and to that end we’ll be both reading and writing nonfiction in-depth. The writers who will serve as inspiration, masters of their form, and provocateurs will include: Lyn Hejinian; Colin Thubron, Lydia Davis, Abigail Thomas, Allison Bechdel, Adam Phillips, David Plante, Robin Hemley, Brett Lott, Bruce Hainley , Susan Sontag, Bia Lowe, James Baldwin, Roland Barthes, Mikhail Epstein, Cynthia Ozick, Sarah Kofman, Natalia Ginzburg, and Osip Mandelstam.

What’s the difference between cultivating a sensibility and leaving a creative writing workshop with a bag o’ tricks?  How and why might we practice nonfiction in order to put forms of wandering, exploration, and play back into the plodding unfolding of each day and of each form, of each life?

ENG 305.0201
Kate Schapira
Tu 4-6:45

Providence Campus only


In this class we'll broaden and deepen our understanding of poetry and its possibilities by reading it, writing it, reading about it, writing about it, hearing it, presenting it. Our goals will include considering how we, as poets, fit into the larger context of the world, and how the world shapes us; the power language has, including 'power to' and 'power over'; asking what's relevant, what's risky, what's ethical, and what's clear. Publication and presentation, constraint and challenges, and a possible field trip to New York.
Note: You may enjoy this class even more if you took Introduction to Creative Writing with me in Fall 2007, but it is not a prerequisite.  We will be doing different things.

ENG/WMS 317.01
Janet Hagen
M 4-6:45                                                                                               


Novels by contemporary women writers from the American continent. Topics include construction of the female body, sexuality and desire, motherhood, exile and immigration, women and work.


ENG 336.01
Prof. Paul Arakelian
T Th 11-12:15  


Children's literature has been dismissed as mere fluff and vilified as cultural indoctrination.  In this course we will attempt to determine whether children's literature is just harmless fun or dangerous propaganda by developing a method of analyze the language of literary texts.  We will review those linguistic tools with which critics describe style, and then we will apply those tools to children's texts and ask whether style reveals or reinforces cultural values.  Students will consider in particular books by Dr. Seuss by analyzing their sound patterns, word choice, and sentence structure.

ENG 337.01
Prof. Paul Arakelian
T Th 12:30-1:45    


In this course we will study the evolution of American English from its beginnings as a colonial DIALECT of British English to its current status as a world-wide LANGUAGE.  In particular, we will consider regional and social varieties (New England English, Black English) as well as historical varieties (Colonial English).  The majority of class time will be devoted to individual or group exercises and projects which will enable you to study the varieties of American English in film and in person.  Your grade will depend on both exams and projects.  The projects will send you out into the field to interview people, record the way they speak, and analyze their dialects.  This course contains language that may be offensive to some students.

ENG 338.0200
Alexia Kosmider
Tu 7-9:45 PM

Providence Campus only


The purpose of this class is to explore the conflicted subject position of American Indians as represented in popular culture as well as the manner in which American Indians inscribe their own subjectivity in films and literature. Many Americans hold conflicting and often contradictory images of American Indians. Is the Indian viewed nostalgically as someone whose land was appropriated and his/her culture erased? Is the American Indian a symbol of intuitive wisdom in tune with his/her surroundings and thus seen ultimately as the ‘survivor’ in the twenty-first century? Or are Indians tethered to the stereotypes of primitivism and savagism, displaced into less offensive popular stereotypes?

Our study first will concentrate on the visual representations of Indians as depicted in paintings, photographs, popular cultural images, ethnographic films. Secondly, we will focus on the novels and films made by prominent American Indians. We also will focus on such topics as the different community experiences of American Indians, and the construction and deconstruction of the self in novels/films. Finally, we also attempt to formulate our own definition of what encompasses American Indian literature as well as its placement within the American literary canon.

ENG 347.01
David Rutschman
T Th 12:30-1:45


ENG 348
Greta Methot
W 9-11:45 AM

Providence Campus only


In 1865, battered from an arduous and bloody civil war, America faced an uncertain future.  Ongoing racial tensions, an escalating influx of immigrants, a mounting women’s movement, and rabid progress towards urbanization and industrialization made for a turbulent and volatile social landscape.  Such a backdrop provided rich material for America’s authors.  In this course will we read extensively, fiction and non-fiction, to explore post-bellum literary developments and engage with the cultural challenges of the era.  Frequent writing assignments and serious commitment to reading and discussion are essential components of this course.  Authors we will likely encounter include: Horatio Alger, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry James, James Weldon Johnson, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, and Mark Twain. 

ENG/AAF 364.01
Prof. Gitahi Gititi
T Th 9:30-10:45


Like literature and related disciplines, contemporary African film concerns itself with questions of self-definition and the establishment of an authentic tradition of self-representation. A corollary issue is the creation of African film as both intellectual property and commercial artefact, allied to the larger process of establishing and maintaining political and economic power; the reconstruction of cultural foundations eroded by European colonization. Seen as a more direct tool of communication than many other modalities, film addresses issues of individual and group morality, ethics, social class formation and its consequences, gender disparity, and other problems afflicting post-colonial African states, including the nature of political authority and its legitimization, nation-building, conflict resolution, as well as projections of the present and the future.

ENG 367.01
Prof. Peter Covino
T Th 12:30-1:45


We will explore the thematic and stylistic interrelationships and the historical legacy of some of the most important literary epics ever written, including Homer’s The Iliad, Virgil’s The Aeneid; Dante’s Inferno, sections of Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the Modernist epic William Carlos Williams’ Paterson.  The course will offer an in-depth exploration of various innovations and conventions of the epic, and will focus on how and why this originally oral tradition continues to impact us as one of the most sophisticated and challenging literary genres.  When applicable, the enduring influence of the epic in art, film, and in contemporary culture will also be considered.  We will devote focused attention to how issues of integrating history, cultural myths, and imaginative discourses are enhanced by poetic strategies and, when appropriate, divergent theories of translation.

ENG 367.0200
Rosendo Evora Brito
Sa 9-11:45 AM

Providence Campus only


This course is designed for reading and understanding the structure and interpretation of Greek and Roman Epic poetry. These poetic compositions are some of the earliest forms of writing to survive from a distant past and are considered the best of their genre; they are among the most important documents of Western Civilization. In this course we will study The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer, and the Roman epic, The Aeneid of Virgil. We will also analyze their correspondence with today’s issues of war and piece, and their effect on the expanding western civilization. We also will explain the composition of the modern Portuguese epics, The Lusiads, of Luis de Camoes and the English epic, Paradise Lost, of John Milton.

ENG 368.01
Prof. Felix Okeke-Ezigbo
T Th 9:30-10:45


(A moment’s silence for William Tyndale who was burnt at the stake for translating the Bible into the language of his country!)

Indifferent alike to the faithful, rejoicing in Heaven with the Maker, and the infidel, smoldering in Hell beside Lucifer and his minion who felled “honest Abe,” this course shall neither concern itself with whether the Bible is completely true and Divinely inspired, nor speculate regarding the likelihood that Angel Gabriel is the same personage the Moslems revere as Jibrael. Rather, identifying the prototypes of many a medieval exemplum, savoring apologues but shunning apologetics – for instance, tackling the rhetoric of “The Book of Job,” without debating Job’s eschatology – we shall study the narratives, teachings, poetry and rebukes in the Bible, as the metaphoric Rock on which Western civilization - ideas, wisdom, philosophy, literature and jurisprudence – is founded. The Golden Rule will remain in the foreground, though, even as the students, informally cutting their teeth on typology, will hopefully relish the parallel between the binding of Isaac in Genesis and the binding of Iphegenia in The Iliad.

ENG 374.01
Prof. J. Jennifer Jones
T Th 11-12:15


Is the Gothic a genre, a form, or a mode?  Is the Gothic a sub-genre contained within British Romanticism, or is British Romanticism essentially gothic?  So often the Gothic is something we associate as sideways to Romanticism, or at any rate as relatively frivolous in the face of high Romantic idealism and sincerity.  And yet it is the case that the authors that make up the high Romantic canon read gothic fiction voraciously, including William Blake, William Godwin, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, and Jane Austen.  This course will study gothic fiction in the long eighteenth century (1660-1800) beginning with the “school of Terror” writers (Horace Walpole, Monk Lewis, and Ann Radcliffe) and moving forward to the later debate of Romanticism vs. Gothicism, which will include study of the close but contentious relation between what we now recognize as a “major” literary movement (Romanticism) and a minor one (Gothicism), with special attention to works that blur the boundaries in major writers, such as Coleridge, the Shelleys, Keats, and Austen.  As a final move, we will look at a contemporary gothic novel, by such as Stephen King or Neil Gaiman in order to reflect with special depth on the question of genre, which must always be thought over time.  Throughout the course we will read theory on genre as well as criticism on the Gothic and its relationship to British Romanticism.

ENG 375/CLS 450
Prof. Carolyn Betensky
T Th 2-3:15    

In this course, we will read and compare British realist novels by authors Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthon Trollope, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy, alongside novels by their influential French counterparts Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, and Emile Zola. Besides asking what “realism” means from historical, aesthetic, and theoretical perspectives, the course will consider the contributions of gender, class, and ethnicity to the construction of this venerable genre.

English 375
Alex Moffett
M 4-6:45

Providence Campus only


The nineteenth century was an era of extraordinary social change in England.  The industrialization that commenced in the latter half of the previous century accelerated, forever changing both the landscape and the demographics of Britain.  This process helped achieve riches for the “captains of industry” who spearheaded it, but it also generated great social upheaval.  Meanwhile, Britain reached the apex of its imperial power, generating even more wealth for the country.  As both wealth and literacy increased, British men and women read more than ever before, and the publishing world boomed.  Consequently, the era saw the production of many great works of prose and poetry.  The Romanticism of the first part of the century gave way to a new realism, where writers increasingly attempted to represent the changes that were taking place in British society.

In this class, we’ll be reading some of the novels, poetry, and prose of the nineteenth century.  Concentrating primarily on the Victorian age, we’ll be studying how the literature engages with the various social currents of the era, including capitalism, colonialism, industrialization, and evolution.  We’ll also examine popular various literary forms of the time, and consider the development of now familiar literary genres, including the detective story, Gothic horror, and science fiction.  Finally, we’ll be considering how the literature scrutinized the various social mores and pressures of the era.

ENG 379
Prof. Andrea Opitz
T 4-6:45                                                                                          

Contemporary Literature: Space, Place, Narrative: This course explores the intersections of space, place and literature in a number of different spaces: the country, the city, and the (trans)nation. Most broadly, we will ask how the productions of space and narrative intersect and how narrative shapes our perception of space, assuming that "space" is not simply "there." Alternately, we will consider how different places shape the narratives we tell about them. How does literature contribute to how we read and conceptualize places? These theoretical questions will lead us to consider how the interrelation of narrative and space effect identities, communities, and multiple forms of belonging. To explore these questions, we will study a number of literary and cinematic texts, beginning with those that examine the relationship of "literature and the environment" in the American West. From there we will move to representations of the city in fiction and film. New York and Berlin will serve as our particular cityscapes. The last third of the semester will focus on "space and movement" in the context of transnationalism and globalization. What narratives help us structure the "global" and the "local"? How are spatial concepts—such as "home"—changed by different experiences of crossing, dwelling, and (im)migrating?

Students can expect a rigorous reading schedule, weekly responses, and a longer final paper/project. Also, each student is expected to attend the English Department's graduate conference, "Space, Place, and Imagination" on March 29th, 2008. In addition to theoretical readings on space and place, texts might include Leslie Silko, Ceremony; Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge; Peter Schneider, Wall Jumper; Theresa Cha, Dictee; Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of the Lion; Wolfgang Becker, Good Bye, Lenin! (film); Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (film); Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children; Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation; Don Delillo, Falling Man.

ENG 379
Instructor: Piotr A. Skuza
T 9-11:45 AM

Providence Campus only


Contemporary Reflections: Who am I? What am I? We all ask ourselves these questions at some point in our lives, and their answers have led us to new and sometimes fearsome territories. This course will explore what it means to ask these questions today. How do contemporary authors, film directors, and philosophers reflect on themselves and each other? How do they reflect each other, and what are they reflected in? Is contemporary culture more given to self-reflection than in previous times, and is self-reflection easier or more difficult in an increasingly global and technological world?
Some of the texts and films we will be examining: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro;
The Attack by Yasmina Khadra; My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki; The Nature of Blood by Caryl Phillips; After Dark by Haruki Murakami; Fight Club (dir. David Flincher); Crash (dir. Paul Haggis). By the end of the course, you will have studied some of the most exciting and important texts in contemporary literature, and in doing so, you should be able to ask – and answer – these questions: Who am I? What am I? How do I know this? And why?

ENG 381
Walter Cane
Th 7-9:45 PM

Providence Campus only


A study of Marlowe’s tragedies and Jonson’s comedies. The Elizabethan and Jacobean theater at its best.

ENG 382
Prof. Lee Manion
T Th 2-3:15    


Edmund Spenser, the renaissance poet, claimed to have been “infused” with the “spirit” of a medieval poet, Geoffrey Chaucer; Spenser claimed that Chaucer was the “pure well head of Poesie.” How could these two poets, separated by 200 years of turbulent history (and a sea-change in the English language and church), be related? What does it mean to claim that the medieval Chaucer was the origin of poetry and that he was reborn in a renaissance setting and poet? In this course we will explore various topics that concerned both poets, such as chivalry, romance, and fantasy, for how they relate to each author’s concept of what poetry is and what it can do. Readings from Chaucer will include The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Squire’s Tale, and The Parliament of Fowls; those from Spenser will include Book I of The Faerie Queene, selections from Books III and IV, and the Mutabilitie Cantos. A mix of written essays and response papers will help us tease out the relationship between the two poets and to think in general about the use and meaning of the past.

ENG 385
Alexia Kosmider
W 4-6:45

Providence Campus only


Women’s autobiography/fiction/memoirs: Some women write not to go mad. Others write about their experiences traveling alone across the country, looking for their Mexican roots; and still some write about their daughters, mothers, ancestral ghosts, negative body images, sexual fear. This class explores women’s writing and their wide-ranging literary visions through autobiography/fiction/ memoirs, from the early 1930s (the beginning of the first wave of feminist thought represented by Virginia Woolf) to the present (Eve Ensler’s new book), examining a varied range of ethnicities, class statuses, and sexual orientations. The goal of the class is to trace the development of women’s literatures and to ask what female literature is? Is it a distinct language as Kristeva and other French feminists assert? Are there other ways that we can describe the mapping out of women’s language territory and of self through writing?

ENG 387
Andrea Yates
W 1-3:45 PM

Providence Campus only


This course is an exploration of canonical and lesser known works that thematize representations of homosexuality in literature from the late 19th through the 20th century. Also at issue will be the hetero-homosexual binary and the theoretical distinctions between "gay and lesbian" and "queer."

Readings will include theoretical texts by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler as well as novels by Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, Radclyffe Hall and contemporary writers Pat Barker and Alan Hollinghurst.

ENG 396.01
Prof. Matthew Frankel
T Th 3:30-4:45

This year’s Rumowicz seminar will explore a selection of works written by 19th-and 20th-century American authors with eye towards examining how various encounters with the sea have at once incited and encoded complex moments of sublime transport, horror, and critique.   Readings for the course will include the philosophical and scientific considerations of Henry David Thoreau’s “Cape Cod” (1855) and John Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941); the distinct yet equally severe realist visions of Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” (1898) and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899); and the racialized gothic histories of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838), Herman Melville’s “Benito Cereno” (1856), and Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage (1990).   In order to give our discussions a coherent critical vocabulary, we also will be reading excerpts from different theories of the sublime—from the classic statement by Longinus to the seminal studies of Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant, as well as more recent formulations by Thomas Weiskel, Neil Hertz, Frances Ferguson, and Jean-François Lyotard.

ENG 399
Prof. Stephanie Dunson
T Th 3:30-4:45    

The focus of this course will be the study of the graphic novel as a literary genre. Over the course of the semester, we’ll consider the particular narrative capability of visual texts and reflect upon how the graphic novel as a category of formal literature extends, complicates, and enriches our appreciation of more “established” narrative forms. We’ll explore and compare how graphic novelists make meaning by directing the reader’s eye through textures of visual and emotional material, often to dynamic and profound effect. And we’ll grapple with these central questions: What do graphic novels offer that other narrative forms don’t? How does a graphic novelist generate visual language that both reflects his/her unique vision and communicates meaning to a large audience? Why after decades of being considered a lowbrow mode of storytelling are graphic novels now being taken seriously by critics and other literary sorts? What’s the internal logic of visual meaning and how do artists access that logic? Readings will include Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Art Speigelman’s Maus, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, and Karasik and Mazzucchellil’s graphic version of Paul Auster’s City of Glass.

ENG 399
Joanna Howard
W 7-9:45

Providence Campus only


This course will explore the way in which the West has been defined, imagined and mythologized, and how that myth has been manipulated, exploited, deflated, and questioned by contemporary American writers.  The course will begin with examinations of the immediate post-civil war period, critically examining myth-making blind-spots, paying close attention to texts which examine not just the culture of the west, but the western landscape, gathering perspectives from marginalized or minority depictions, and moving toward contemporary revisionist narratives, while considering the influence of cinematography and film iconography of this particular terrain.  The course will examine both the romanticism of west, and those violent revisionist texts which seek to both debunk and reaffirm this romanticism.  Texts will include John Muir’s non-fictional account of his travels in the Sierra Nevadas, Charles Portis’s True Grit, Michael Ondaatje’s The Real Life of Billy the Kid, and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller, a wide selection of stories from contemporary Western and Midwestern writers including Annie Proulix's "Broke Back Mountain" and William Gass's "The Pedersen Kid", Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, as well as portions of John Ford's filmic Cavalry trilogy.

ENG 469
Prof. Stephen Barber
T Th 12:30-1:45    


Prof. Gitahi Gititi
Th 7-9:45                                                                                        


Like literature and related disciplines, contemporary African film concerns itself with questions of self-definition and the establishment of an authentic tradition of self-representation. A corollary issue is the creation of African film as both intellectual property and commercial artefact, allied to the larger process of establishing and maintaining political and economic power; the reconstruction of cultural foundations eroded by European colonization. Seen as a more direct tool of communication than many other modalities, film addresses issues of individual and group morality, ethics, social class formation and its consequences, gender disparity, and other problems afflicting post-colonial African states, including the nature of political authority and its legitimization, nation-building, conflict resolution, as well as projections of the present and the future.

ENG 469.01
Prof. Stephen Barber
T Th 12:30-1:45    


Virginia Woolf considered Marcel Proust by “far the greatest modern novelist” and was awed by his “extravagant command of every resource.”   This course offers the opportunity to read, side by side, the novels of Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf, who is herself esteemed by many to be another of the greatest modern novelists.  We will study their novels in terms of their contributions to philosophy (in their concern with temporality, subjectivity, and thought), in terms of their critical projects (to think the relation of history to the present), and, finally, in terms of their joint ventures to combine aesthetics and ethics.  All selections from Proust’s In Search of Lost Time will be read in English translation.  Novels by Woolf to be studied here are Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, The Waves, and The Years.  We will also read essays by Proust and Woolf on the modern novel as we explore the relationship of their critical agendas to their aesthetic practice.

There are three essays, the first two of which will offer close readings of selected passages from both novelists (passages that treat similar themes, ideas, and/or concerns), and the third of which is to be a comparative critical analysis of a novel by Woolf and a novel-section by Proust.

ENG 482.01
Prof. Martha Rojas
M 7-9:45

Providence Campus Only


This course examines the cultural history of the Enlightenment in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century America. Through readings of legal, literary, political, religious, scientific, and visual texts, we ask what "enlightenment" meant for various inhabitants and figures of the United States.  We will investigate the physical spaces of Enlightenment (clubs, coffeehouses, colleges, churches, salons, libraries, museums, statehouses, and charitable societies) as well as the material manifestations of the "republic of letters" (periodicals, pamphlets, books, prints). We will survey recent theoretical and historical accounts and critiques of the Enlightenment that address topics such as the concept of a deliberating public, the place of feeling in the age of reason, the valorization or denigration of "primitive" peoples, and the development of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Authors will include Charles Brockden Brown, Benjamin Franklin, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Royall Tyler, and J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur.

ENG 482
Prof. Marty Rojas
M 7-9:45

Providence Campus only


This course examines the cultural history of the Enlightenment in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century America. Through readings of legal, literary, political, religious, scientific, and visual texts, we ask what "enlightenment" meant for various inhabitants and figures of the United States.  We will investigate the physical spaces of Enlightenment (clubs, coffeehouses, colleges, churches, salons, libraries, museums, statehouses, and charitable societies) as well as the material manifestations of the "republic of letters" (periodicals, pamphlets, books, prints). We will survey recent theoretical and historical accounts and critiques of the Enlightenment that address topics such as the concept of a deliberating public, the place of feeling in the age of reason, the valorization or denigration of "primitive" peoples, and the development of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Authors will include Charles Brockden Brown, Benjamin Franklin, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Royall Tyler, and J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur.

ENG 493.01/494.01
Prof. Karen Stein

(By Override Only)

These courses offer 3 credits each for successful completion of a supervised internship experience.  The courses are designed to provide practical job experience related to your English major.  They are intended to help you identify career skills, explore career goals, learn job search techniques and explore a particular work environment.

The first step in this process is to fill out an application for the course(s).  Applications are available in the Advising Office, INDP 139.  You will be expected to find your own job placement.  Lists of possible placements are available at the UYA office in Taft Hall.  You may consult with the UYA Program in Taft Hall or with a member of the English Department advising staff for assistance (The UYA Program offers a 15-credit internship).  You are expected to work at the placement for 120 hours over the semester (approximately 10 hours/week).

Course requirements:

1.  A journal of work experience:  what you do at your job, what you are learning about office management and politics, how you fit in, what you are learning about your own capabilities and interests.

2.  Evaluation by your supervisor at the job site.

3.  Your final report.

4.  Other class assignments.

ENG 499.01
Prof. Peter Covino
Tu 4-6:45                                                                                        


This intensive workshop-based course is geared for advanced creative writers of all genres who are eager to explore the often confounding possibilities of publishing their work.  Course work will focus on revising and evaluating students’ work with the specific goal of articulating one’s style(s) and identifying/establishing sympathetic writing communities where your efforts can thrive.  Class readings will focus on contemporary poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers at different stages of their publishing career.  Since this course is offered with consideration of the Read/Write Series and local reading venues, students will have ample opportunities to hear work read aloud/performed and to meet with visiting writers.  Critics and appreciators of all forms of contemporary writing are encouraged to take the class and may substitute creative writing assignments with critical essays, and/or reviews. At least one anthology of contemporary poetry and one of contemporary prose will be consulted as source texts, as well as several copies of contemporary literary journals of varying styles.

HPR 202.01                                                                                          
Prof. Naomi Mandel &
Prof. Alain-Philip Durand
T 4-6:45                                                                                              

This seminar investigates an element that is currently emerging in contemporary literature across the globe: the contemporary extreme. Novels of the contemporary extreme are set in a world both similar to and different from our own -- a hyperreal, often apocalyptic world progressively invaded by popular culture, permeated with technology, and dominated by destruction, a reality in which time and space are zones to be inhabited, not obstacles to be overcome, and in which the subject is composed of fragments, dissected by difference, and evacuated by affect. In this world violence -- often the most stable element -- operates as ethos. In the course of this semester, we will read contemporary extreme novels from the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. We will meet authors of these works, talk to scholars who write about them, and investigate some of the philosophical issues they engage. By the end of this semester, you will have acquired the critical and conceptual tools you need to contribute to a global discussion about some of the most compelling and timely issues in contemporary literature and culture.

Prerequisite: students must have a 3.2 minimum GPA to enroll in this seminar.

HPR 319.01
Prof. J. Jennifer Jones                                                                                                                   
T Th 2-3:15


In the twenty-first century, notions of immersion associated with virtuality and digital technology have become deeply significant to the discourse of aesthetics.  In the face of computer-generated virtual reality, the term immersion is most readily defined as the collapse of critical distance between the subject and object of the gaze by force of the subject’s sensual involvement with the given object. According to media theorists, the question that needs to be asked is whether there is still any place for distanced, critical reflection in this new world of immersive aesthetics and virtual-reality illusion spaces.  Theorists worry that the intellectually-creative mechanism of distance is threatened by the immediate proximity of immersive art. 

This preoccupation with the question of what distance (or not) we should assume toward art, and to what degree enjoyment is predicated on distance/proximity are not, however, new questions.  This course will study the various ways in which literary theory and literature itself has addressed the issue of encounter and relationship between reader/viewer/consumer and artwork.  This class will give students the opportunity to take the time to think carefully about the dynamic of text/reader — how we fantasize about that relationship, theorize it, and experience it.  Careful study of the relationships among technology, media, and genre will inform our work, such that students can learn to ask questions such as the following: Does it matter whether I consider myself a reader or a viewer or a consumer?   Does it matter whether I am reading lyric poetry, a Shakespeare play, a science fiction novel, watching a film, viewing a painting, reading a graphic novel, or playing a video game?  What does it mean to be absorbed by an artwork?  What does it mean to be immersed?  What does it mean to “lose oneself” in an artwork, and do I want to be lost?  What is the pleasure of reading, viewing, or playing?  Does an encounter with an artwork become more, or less, pleasurable when the critical act of thinking about that encounter disappears, or is imagined to disappear?  Can I love an artwork?

Prerequisite: students must have a 3.2 minimum GPA to enroll in this seminar.

ENG 511.01
Prof. Stephen Barber
Th 4-6:45

(1.5 credits, S/U grading system)

ENG 514.01
Prof. Josie Campbell
Th 7-9:45                                                                                             


This course is designed to explore a cross-section of critical theories and to examine significant contemporary debates in literary and cultural studies within the last several decades.  It is a course, generally speaking, from semiotics to (post) structuralism.  The focus will be based broadly on what I take to be Saussure's reading of the linguistic signifier: that meaning is not inherent in words or things but is discovered in social and contextual negotiations of differences.  We see this being worked out every day in terms of a subject.  Who we are is not a given but dependent upon a variety of things, for example, gender, race, ideology, culture, and so forth.  If we want to have any understanding of what something (or somebody, ourselves included) means, then we have to understand as best we can the production of meaning.

We will explore texts ranging from Kaja Silverman's THE SUBJECT OF SEMIOTICS to Beverley Skeggs's CLASS, SELF, CULTURE.  There will be class presentations with short papers, a midterm exam, and a final project.

ENG 550.01
Prof. Travis Williams
T 7-9:45                                                                                                


This is a readings course in (primarily) literary texts of (primarily) the English Renaissance. Readings will fall into three broad categories: (i) texts not originally in English that nevertheless had the effect of defining the English literary mindset in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Erasmus, More, Castiglione, Montaigne); (ii) literary and other texts written in
English (Elyot, Sidney, Lyly, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, Bacon, Milton); (iii) critical, historical, and theoretical texts that tend to answer the question “What do we talk about when we talk about the Renaissance?” (Burckhardt to Greenblatt and others). These author lists are indicative, not exhaustive. The reading for this courses will be heavy, to an extent that we will not be able to discuss everything we read. Conversely, this is not a seminar and no long seminar paper will be assigned. Writing assignments will include a couple shortish-to-longish essays (5 to 12 pages) and a steady stream of short informal response papers and in-class presentations.

ENG 555.01
Prof. Carolyn Betensky
M 4-6:45

Providence Campus only


Since the 1980s, the influential writings of Michel Foucault, updated Marxist theories of Frederic Jameson, and innovative contributions of American scholars such as Stephen Greenblatt and Catherine Gallagher have led historicist approaches o the forefront of literary and cultural interpretation. Especially in nineteenth-century British studies, Jameson’s inerpretation. Especially in nineteenth-century British studies, Jameson’s once-iconoclastic injunction “Always historicize!” has gone decidedly mainstream. Reading foundational texts of historicist criticism and theory along with recent works that have contested some of their goals and outcomes, this course will consider different ways of contextualizing nineteenth-century British cultural projects. Nineteenth-century texts to include works by Austen, M. Shelley, C. Brontë, Dickens, Kingsley, Tennyson, Rosetti, Arnold, and Eliot.

ENG 605.01
Prof. John Leo
T 4-6:45      


We ask lots of questions in this seminar, including the major one: What do I want out of this course—intellectually, in terms of curiosity and passion, as a writer wondering about dissertation directions, perhaps a chapter, a conference paper, or a foray into other forms of self-expression? And inflected with other questions. How do we engage the key cinema concept “genre” across a variety of practices, in view of multiple and complexly differentiated audiences, at different historical moments and places? Within conflicting or competing institutional and also aesthetic contexts (e.g. the “commercial aesthetic” of Hollywood and, say, the emergence of the gangster film or contemporary “remakes” of film noir; Socialist Realism, centralized state production and, say, the “Great War” [WW2] combat/war film)? How do we describe and analyze the impress of different storytelling traditions and modes—and radically incommensurate experiences of what seems to be the “same”—across world cinemas? Japan, China, and East Germany (DDR) all made “westerns” (in Berlin these were called “easterns”), Star Wars and Kill Bill are considered at the least as “hybrid” or cross-over “westerns.” Most likely the major genres we’ll focus on include, melodrama and/or film noir, war or combat film, sci fi and/or horror, the thriller (or gangster film), and the documentary. Examples are drawn from US and world cinema, e.g. Come and See (Idi i smotri USSR 1985), Paths of Glory, Le Grande Illusion (French 1937) or The Best years of our Lives (US 1947) would be candidates in the war film genre. The documentary is incredibly rich, and possible selections range from Tongues Untied to Triumph of the Will, from the layered films of Frederick Wiseman to those of Max Ophuls, and more. Some studies we’ll be reading or consulting (these aren’t necessarily textbooks): Susan Hayward’s Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts; Geiger and Rutsky, Film Analysis; McGee, From Shane to Kill Bill: Rethinking the Western and Doherty, Projections of War; Miller and Stam, A Companion to Film Theory.

ENG 610.01
Prof. Martha Rojas
Th 4-6:45    


Through an examination of selected works from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries from and about the Spanish, French, English colonies in the West Indies and the American continent, this course will provide an introduction to the literary and cultural artifacts produced alongside and against the historical phenomenon of New World imperialism.

ENG 660.01
Prof. Naomi Mandel                                                                                                 
W 7-9:45                                                                                         


"The contemporary extreme" has been defined as the confrontation of irreconcilable differences, most notably the difference between reality and art.  "The extreme contemporary" has been characterized by the relation of narrative practices to a contemporary moment increasingly informed by technologies of the visual.  Both recognize that we live in a world informed by images, permeated with technology, and dominated by violence. In this world, the truth is as urgent as it is elusive; reality is as irrelevant as it is indispensable.

This course explores the nature of extremity in fiction. After examining the concept of fiction (in its various definitions of fashioning, fabricating, and molding, as well as illusion and delusion), we will turn to extremity as narrative technique and social critique, as content and as form. We will focus its relation to the sublime, its location in the body, and its operations in politics and law. We will look at extremists and extreme situations. And we will address fiction and extremity as characteristic of contemporary reality and as the locus of our increasingly mediated access to this reality. What does it mean to live in a world in which "the truth" is indissociable from the fact of its fabrication, and in which reality is produced by visual regimes? What are the implications for aesthetics, ethics, activism and critique?








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