Announcement of Classes: Summer 2020

There are no special instructions for Summer 2020 English Department courses, other than to note in which session each course is offered.

The following courses are offered in Session A (May 26 - July 2):  English R1B section 1, R1B section 3, 117S, and 133T.

The following courses are offered in Session C (June 22 - August 13):  English R1B section 2, R1B section 4, 125E, 143A section 1, 143A section 2, 166 section 1, 166 section 2, and 166 section 3.

The following courses are offered in Session D (July 7 - August 13):  English R1A section 1, R1A section 2, 166AC, 180Z, and 198BC.


Reading & Composition: The Making of Americans

English R1A

Section: 1
Session: D
Instructor: de Stefano, Jason
Time: TWTh 12-2:30
Location:


Description

Americans are not born but made, and who they become is bound up with what they make. This course explores the long and varied history of these linked assumptions, with a particular focus on the nineteenth century. It was in this period that a broad fascination with making became associated with the national character: from the constitution of the Early Republic and the rise of the nation as a world economic and political power; through the effort to reconstruct, in the wake of civil war, the nation's political community as a multiracial democracy; to the advent of the factory and assembly line, the automation of labor, and a national obsession with productivity and work. We will study how nineteenth-century writers sought to create a national literature adequate to make sense of these developments and to make sensible the diverse experiences of those who lived them. What did it mean to make a uniquely American work of art, and how did such works inform what it meant to be American? In what ways did Americans find in materials of their work a set of conceptual resources for imagining their role as citizens? We will also investigate problems posed by these preoccupations. What kinds of making were possible or proscribed for African Americans under and after slavery? How was labor, particularly creative labor, wielded both for and against segregation and exploitation? Finally, we will reflect on our own making, finding in the nineteenth century the historical roots of our own "maker culture" and of how we came to believe, in the words of the poet Frank Bidart, that "we are creatures who need to make."

R1A is designed to engage students in their own making through extensive writing. In this course you will develop your writing practice and hone your skills in critical thinking, rhetoric, and interpretive analysis by writing essays. To that end, we will ask: what is an essay, how do essays work, and what does it mean to create them? An essay is not only an exercise in composition but also "a trial, testing, proof"—an "experiment" (OED, "essay," n. 1a.). Assignments in this course will allow students to experiment with different kinds of writing, from informal reflections on course readings and concise prospectuses to longer argumentative essays. We will also test our work, as it were, through continuous and thoughtful peer review. The goal is to create an open and engaged conversation about writing well and how to make our writing better.

Book List: The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume B (9th edition)


Reading & Composition: Psychedelic Experience in the Literature and Culture of the 1960s and '70s

English R1A

Section: 2
Session: D
Instructor: D'Silva, Eliot
Time: TWTh 2:30-5
Location:


Description

This course surveys the experimental literature of the late 1960s and early 1970s, situating it in relation to both the psychedelic discourses of the period and the wave of countercultural demands for a new kind of society. We’ll read texts that engage directly with weird visions, hallucinations, messages from aliens and telepathy, considering these experiences not merely as esoteric subcultural practices or escapist gestures but as exuberant attempts to tell stories in a culture where there is no longer a shared rational narrative. If psychedelics have enabled writers to analyze their mental conditions and express them in writing, the course also encourages students to reflect on these writers’ social and political responsibilities for the worlds they construct in both real and visionary realms. 

Over the course of the session, writing, peer-reviewing, and revising short papers will ensure that students learn how to patiently develop arguments that reveal the fruits of careful reading, accumulated analysis, and scholarly research.

Book List:  Philip K. Dick, VALIS; Allen Ginsberg, Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems; William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience; Terrence McKenna, Food of the Gods: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution; Ann Taves, Religious Experience Reconsidered


Reading and Composition: Girls, Misunderstood?: "Deviant" Women in Literature

English R1B

Section: 1
Session: A
Instructor: Ghosh, Srijani
Time: TWTh 10-12:30
Location:


Description

Recent psychological thrillers such as The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train have made the figure of the unreliable female narrator-cum-protagonist very popular, and the plots of these stories are driven by the seeming mental instability of the narrator. This trope of female instability has a long literary history and has its roots in deeming women "mad" or "hysterical" when they deviate from the established sociocultural norms of a given time period or community. What drives women to madness? Is a woman mentally sound only when she exhibits "proper" feminine behavior? How does society punish a woman when it considers her an Other? This will be a reading- and writing-intensive course where we will examine short stories and novels, focusing on the way gender, class, and race contribute to the definition and treatment of mental illness.

We will focus on developing the writing, reading, research, and critical thinking skills that you will need throughout your college career. The class will build on the reading, analytical, and composition skills that you already have, and prepare you for writing longer and more complex papers, improve your research skills, and teach you to incorporate source material effectively.

Possible readings: Kate Chopin, The Awakening; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye; Susanna Kaysen, Girl Interrupted; Charlotte Perkins Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper"; chapters from: Chesler, Women and Madness; Elaine Showalter, The Female Malady

Note the change in instructor and modifications of the course content of this section of English R1B (as of February 13).


Reading and Composition: The Literature of Aotearoa/New Zealand

English R1B

Section: 2
Session: C
Instructor: Sutton, Emily
Time: TWTh 4-6
Location:


Description

This course will focus first and foremost on the practice of academic writing and the skills needed to research, plan, draft and revise writing at a college level. More specifically, it stages the problem of scholarly research through an encounter with the culture and literature of New Zealand. We will work our way from the canonical modernism of Katherine Mansfield to the contemporary comedy of Flight of the Conchords while exploring questions of national identity and what it means to read New Zealand writing in an American context.  

The primary writing assignments for this course will be a shorter analytic essay that will build on your existing skills and a longer research essay that will focus on integrating secondary sources into your own writing. Both of these papers will be developed through a series of shorter exercises and revisions. You will be encouraged to think carefully not only about your own writing and the texts on our syllabus, but also the work of your classmates.


Reading and Composition: The Marriage Plot and Its Afterlife

English R1B

Section: 3
Session: A
Instructor: Mittnacht, Veronica Vizuet
Time: TWTh 10-12:30
Location:


Description

The marriage plot novel is seen as a thing of the past, but its influence very much lives on today in our movies, our music, and our notions of romance. This course will examine a series of genre-defining marriage plot novels from the 19th century, as well as contemporary films and other media, with an eye to identifying the conventions and the emotional logic which govern them, and learning to assess these narratives critically going forward.

Students will also learn to write persuasive reserch papers and craft original arguments.

Texts:  Austen, Jane: Emma; Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice; Gissing, George: The Odd Women; and Sayers, Dorothy: Gaudy Night

Films:  Clueless; Bridget Jones' Diary; How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days; and The Thin Man


Reading and Composition: Love and Race in American Film

English R1B

Section: 4
Session: C
Instructor: Hu, Jane
Time: TWTh 4-6
Location:


Description

This class examines the history of popular American cinema through its representations of love and race. We will consider the often entangled—and frequently troubling—portrayals of race and romantic love as it appears across a range of popular film genres (romantic comedy, musical, melodrama, thriller, and horror). In exploring how love and race have been linked throughout the history of Hollywood film, we will also study how these cinematic representations reflect and respond to broader shifts in American politics.     

The purpose of R1B is to advance the critical reading and essay writing skills learned in R1A, as well as to develop students’ research capacities in order to analyze and incorporate secondary sources. In addition to mandatory film screenings online and weekly viewing journals, students will also rigorously draft, peer-edit, and revise toward writing a final research paper.    

Possible films will include: The Cheat (1915); Broken Blossoms (1919); Gone With the Wind (1939); Imitation of Life (1959); The Crimson Kimono (1959); West Side Story (1961); Flower Drum Song (1961); Moonlight (2016); Get Out (2017); The Big Sick (2017).    

A selection of readings will be made available to students over bCourses.