Topics Courses

Spring 2019

Each quarter, the English Department offers variable topics courses such as English 315 (Studies in a Literary Genre), English 324 (Studies in Literary Topics) and English 515 (Senior Seminar). Because the topics change each quarter, the courses may be repeated for credit . Those scheduled for Spring 2019 are described below. 
ENG 319: Asian American Literature TR 10:00 (Jason Magabo Perez)
This course introduces students to various themes in contemporary Asian American literatures and cultural productions. Through an interdisciplinary and relational study of race, class, gender, sexuality, war, colonialism, migration, diaspora, and transnationalism, students will analyze poetry, essays, fiction, performance, and film by contemporary Asian American authors and artists. Engaging critical and creative texts, students will interrogate the politics of representation and static constructions of Asian American identities, histories, and literatures. 
ENG 319: Post-Colonial/Caribbean Lit TR 4:00 (Yumi Pak)
This course will examine postcolonial and decolonial Caribbean literatures of the 20th century. Taking colonialism as an event which stretches, rather than a moment that occurred, students will read literature produced by several key Caribbeanist writers that engage with such a framework, including, but not limited to, Aime Cesaire, Marlon James and Patricia Powell. 
ENG 441: Steinbeck MWF 12:00 (Cynthia Cotter)
In this class, we will study some of the fiction and nonfiction of John Steinbeck, one of America's most prolific and beloved authors.  We will consider the social and political events which moved him to write and how his writing influenced America.  Students will compose a major analytical essay and, using Steinbeck's 'Travels with Charley: In Search of America' as a model and inspiration, will embark upon and write about their own search for America.
ENG 441: Edgar Allan Poe and the Death of Genre TR 10:00 (Chad Luck).
This class will focus on exploring Poe’s body of work in relation to evolving theories of literary genre.  Poe is himself an origin point for several literary genres (detective story, short story, etc.), his own work spans multiple genres (poetry, prose, horror, hoax, literary review, etc.), and his work has been appropriated and adapted across a wide range of media and genres.  As such, he presents an especially rich point of entry into a discussion of the role and theory of literary genre.

ENG 463: Plotting the Unconscious: Literature and Psychoanalysis (TR 10:00 PDC) (Stephen Lehigh) 
 Who are we? What do we want? How did we become what we are? Psychoanalysis suggests that the answers to these as to most interesting questions about human existence will be stories.  Psychoanalysis might be described as the search for the story of ourselves that makes life better; to find this story, we’ll end up rejecting any straightforward accounts of who we are. In place of the usual stories, psychoanalysis proposes complex and deeply poetic accounts of human experience and consciousness. The centrality of the story for psychoanalysis, and of psychoanalysis for the ways we now imagine stories, will shape this course. We will explore complex intersections of psychoanalysis and literature, the ways in which story-telling, figuration, language and desire are revolutionized by psychoanalysis, and by the literary responses to it.
ENG 513: World-Building in Fiction and Poetry MW 4:00 (Chad Sweeney) 
Whether we write realistic urban fiction, science fiction or fantasy, poetry of imagism, traumatic memories or ecopoetics—whether we write coming-of-age memoirs or zombie invasions—the art of WORLD BUILDING is essential to the fulfillment of our writing projects. In this writing workshop, students will discuss how master writers create the world of their stories, novels and poems, and will explore and experiment with new writing techniques in order to heighten the sensory and imaginative experience for readers living inside their created worlds, which may include poetry, realistic fiction, magical realism, non-fiction, science fiction and fantasy.
ENG 513: Screenwriting TR 4:00 (James Brown) 
Students in this class will explore the art and craft of the screenplay and teleplay.  From the elements of story to the basics of form and technique, this course is an introduction to writing for film and television.
ENG 513: Hybrid Forms (MW: 6:00 PDC) (Julie Paegle)
This course will explore the possibilities of the first person plural in lyric poetry, prose fiction, prose poetry, and narrative verse. We we will read, write, and have dazzling chats, toward exploring the question:  Who or what (if not me) speaks in my writing?
Rather than merely philosophizing about this question, this course will refract and restate it at the level of craft. For example: What possibilities does prose fiction hold for the first person pTR 6:00 lural? What possibilities does lyric poetry hold for the first person plural, or for implicit forms of solidarity as poetic theme? How and when does the chorus of Classical Greek Drama haunt contemporary works, and to what end? We may find (I hope we do) that such questions are only the beginning of those posed by a plural conception of composition, one that moves beyond the familiar reifications of the self.  Toward accommodating this plurality, we will explore the margins where poetry and prose meet. Readings in the course may include Poems from Guantanamo, Britt Bennett’s The Mothers, Justin Torres’s We the Animals, Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides, Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain and others.  
ENG 515: Adaptation Studies TR 6:00 (Renee Pigeon)
This seminar will provide an introduction to Adaptation Studies, a rapidly growing scholarly field which investigates the process of adaptation across a range of media. We will use Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation (Routledge 2006) as a core theoretical text, along with more recent work by scholars such as Kamilla Elliott and Thomas Leitch. In order to practice methodologies associated with this field, we’ll explore together some case study examples of various kinds of adaptation, beginning with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet and the BBC series Sherlock.  Students will write a seminar paper on an adapted work or works of their choice.    
ENG 515: Literatures and Lenses of Alchemy (MW 4:00 PDC) (Julie Paegle)
Toward the end of his life, the Swiss analytic psychologist Carl Jung developed a theory of the human psyche predicated on the relationship between individuation and the “living allegory of alchemy,” in which the human psyche is mined in search of the mother lode of the unconscious to bring the discovered treasure to light. Famously, in “The Psychology of the Transference:  Interpreted in Conjunction with a Set of Alchemical Pictures” (1946), Jung offers a unique interpretation of what he called “the last and greatest work of alchemy:  Johann Goete’s Faust.”  He writes, “Goethe is really describing the experience of the alchemist who discovers that what he has projected into the retort is his own darkness.”
Taking Faust as our starting point, we will engage a number of theoretical and literary texts in which the Jung’s understanding of the the development of the self, as reflected in the allegory of alchemy, is central. Readings may include excerpts from Jung’s The Red Book and Psychology and Alchemy, Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s works, Northrop Frye’s “The Archetypes of Literature,” Paolo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!,  Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate, and Isabel Allende’s The House of The Spirits.