Advanced Placement: A score of 4 or 5 in Literature earns college credit and counts toward the literature common area requirement; a score of 4 or 5 in Language & Composition earns college credit but does not meet any common area requirement. Students with AP credit in English do not receive credit toward the major or advanced standing in the English curriculum.
Majors: Students who are considering an English major should enroll in ENGL 130: Poetry and Poetics during the first year. Those seeking to sharpen their skills before entering Poetry and Poetics may begin with ENGL 100: Introduction to Literary Study.
Introduction to Literary Study
Common Area: Literature
How does literature matter? What use is figurative language? What truth can literature offer? This course teaches students how literary texts produce meaning through genre and form. Through frequent analytical writing assignments based on the readings, the course helps students learn to present complex arguments with clarity, logic, and persuasive style. Maximum enrollment in each section is 19.
ENGL 100-01 and -02: The Fiction of Connection
We live in a world where being “connected” feels like a necessity, even an unquestionable good. Yet what connection actually entails is often taken for granted. Whom are we connected to? How are we connected? What forms of responsibility do different forms of connection require? What are the costs, and benefits, of disconnection? As it happens, these questions are at the heart of modern fiction. Fiction not only represents the shifting relations between self and other, the circulation of stories also helps stitch together the social fabric. This course will focus on important and engaging works of fiction that imagine the possibilities for connection in the modern world, while also probing the limits of sympathy and community. In addition to becoming better readers of fiction, you will have the opportunity to develop your abilities as writers through regular essay assignments.
ENGL 100-03: Journeys, Family, Home
This Introduction to Literary Studies section explores fiction about journeys, family loyalties, and the importance of creating (or defending!) a home. The unofficial questions unifying these readings are: What are we willing to do for our families? How are we shaped by our family traditions? How do we define what “a home” truly means? We will examine different genres and forms of fiction through short stories, novellas, novels, and film. Texts may include The Book of Unknown Americans, Typical American, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
ENGL 100-04: Drama
This course introduces the fundamentals of drama, theater, and performance in the western tradition through the practices of critical reading, writing, and spectatorship. In addition to the formal aspects of drama as a literary genre, we also interrogate the historical, cultural, and political contexts of live performance. We discuss dramas that span from classical antiquity to the contemporary theater, tracking generic commonalities and transformations across historical periods. Additionally, we attend to the conditions of drama’s realization in the theater by watching live performances and film adaptations, as well as performing scenes in class (no acting expertise required!). Through our investigations, students will hone their ability to read and watch plays critically, to express themselves persuasively in writing and discussion, and to appreciate and enjoy the many captivating aspects of drama and performance.
ENGL 100-05: Science Fiction & Society
The power of science fiction writing to imagine brave new worlds does not mean those worlds are somehow disconnected from our own. On the contrary, these worlds often feature metaphorical, symbolic, or satirical commentary on our own. As the Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction argues, science fiction “shows readers futures in which the present has shifted or metamorphosed: they mirror our own world but in a distorted way” (xv). While this description cannot encapsulate ALL of science fiction, it nonetheless frames our own engagement with this body of literature. We will examine how our chosen writers use the conventions of the genre to craft their messages – messages we will uncover and interpret through our writing!
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ENGL 100-07: Fiction
Course topics are the elements of fiction: narrative structures, various aspects of style, and point of view. This course is also devoted to the writing of student essays on the literature.
ENGL 100-08: Symbols and Signs
This course will introduce students to different strategies and methods for reading and writing about literature at the college level. In it, we will ask: how does literature work? What kinds of meaning can it produce or reveal and how does it do so? To this end we will read novels, short stories, and poems by both classic and contemporary writers and we will explore the ways they use narrative, voice, point of view, plot, figurative language and rhetorical effects to create meaning. More generally, the texts we read will ask: how do memory and history haunt the present? How do signs, symbols, and portents encourage characters to interact with their literary worlds as we will with the texts in which we find them: as sites of mystery, investigation, and interpretation? Using these themes, this course will help students develop the vocabulary and ability to analyze and write critically about a variety of literary texts.
ENGL 100-09 and -11: Reading Fiction
This course will train students in the practice of reading and analyzing works of fiction, including both novels and short stories. We will take up the following questions: How might words on a page offer insight into the world beyond that page? How might stories about made-up people strengthen our understanding of the lives real people have led, the struggles they have faced, and the joys they have experienced? By reading stories about people who are not us, how might we come to understand other perspectives and to appreciate larger truths about the human condition? More specifically, our course texts will explore the relationship between the individual and the community. We will consider what forces or factors enable certain figures to achieve broader cultural or communal acceptance, while others remain isolated or excluded. In addition, the course will study the importance of narrative point of view, examining how writers have made use of techniques including omniscient narration, unreliable narration, the epistolary form (in which a story is told through letters or diary entries), and 2nd-person perspective (in which “You” are the main character!). Specific authors to be discussed include: George Eliot, Nella Larsen, William Faulkner, Katherine Mansfield, Richard Wright, Sylvia Plath, Jorge Luis Borges, Alice Sheldon, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, and Tommy Orange.
ENGL 100-10: Ireland
In this course, we'll study selected prose, poetry, and drama produced by modern and contemporary Irish writers. We will learn how to closely and critically read works of literature, and we'll rehearse those critical skills as you learn to craft papers that offer a compelling and convincing argument. Writers covered include early-twentieth-century writers such as W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, J. M. Synge, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett, as well as more contemporary writers including Paul Muldoon, Nuala ni Dhomhnaill, Kevin Barry, and Marina Carr.
Introduction to Academic Writing
Common Area: None
This course is devoted to improving the student’s writing ability through the preparation and revision of academic essays and other forms of academic and personal expression. Focusing on the student’s own writing rather than the reading and analysis of literature, the course will benefit students of any major who are looking to develop an effective academic writing style. This course is not recommended for students who have received AP credit in English.
Maximum enrollment in each section is 12.
Poetry and Poetics
Common Area: Literature
The study of poetry is central to the study of literature, since it is in poetry that the power of language-play is at its most intense. This course investigates how poetry produces emotional and intellectual effects through language, sound, and form. Examining poems from a broad range of writers and periods, students will hone close reading skills as they engage with the devices poets use to prompt imaginative work in their readers. All sections will be writing-intensive, using the drafting process to develop and refine literary analysis and ultimately to present it in the form of persuasive critical arguments. Maximum enrollment in each section is 19.
Poetry and Poetics is the initial course in the English major sequence. Students considering the major may wish to enhance their skills by first enrolling in any section of Introduction to Literary Study. Prospective majors who feel prepared to enter Poetry and Poetics directly are encouraged to do so.