Fall 2012 Undergraduate Course Listings

And here are the Undergraduate Course Offerings for this fall:

FALL 2012

Eng. 2200 (76412)/ Hon. 2250 (76413): Introduction to English Studies

MR 9:05-10:30 a.m.

Dr. Steven Mentz

This course introduces students to the “toolkit” of skills and practices necessary for every English major.  All the major elements of the course point toward a single goal, teaching students to write informed, imaginative, analytical essays responding to works of English literature.  We’ll read works in a variety of genres and historical periods, with a concentration on poetry.  Students will write different kinds of papers, including a short “close reading” analysis, a contextualizing essay, and a performance review.  Authors covered include Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, John Keats, T.S. Eliot, and Anne Carson.  The class involves weekly student postings on the course website and one trip to see a play.

Eng. 2200: Introduction to English Studies (76043)           

M. 3:25-4:50 p.m.; Thursday, on-line

Dr. John Lowney

This course introduces the critical reading and writing practices that constitute the English major.  Through the reading, interpretation, and criticism of primarily modern and contemporary prose fiction, poetry, drama, and literary nonfiction, it will foster an understanding of the methodologies of literary and cultural studies.  While the course will introduce important theoretical problems and terms, it will emphasize the practical experience of writing within the English major, from the composition of brief essays to the development of a more extensive research paper.  Writing assignments will include informal creative exercises as well as formal papers.

[See more after the jump]

Eng. 2200: Introduction to English Studies (76044)

TF 9:05-10:30 a.m.
Dr. Angela Belli
A foundation course required of all English majors and minors as a means of introducing them to the disciplinary practices of the English major.  Readings will concentrate on important works illustrating the major genres of English literature.  In addition, emphasis will be placed on writing several short papers and a long critical essay on a chosen work.  The MLA style manual will be reviewed as a guide.

Eng. 2300: Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism (76030)
TF 9:05-10:30 a.m.
Dr. Gregory Maertz
An immersion in the history of criticism and theory from classical antiquity to the late twentieth century.  Through discussion and analysis of assigned texts, we will examine fundamental antagonisms in Western thought—between art and life, freedom of expression and political control, tradition and originality, pleasure and didacticism, canonical elitism and the recovery of marginalized texts.

Eng. 2300: Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism (74828)
MR 3:25-4:50 p.m.
Dr. Elda Tsou
This introductory level course to literary theory covers the major poststructuralist theorists and their philosophical antecedents. It offers an intensive exploration of the range of texts called contemporary theory, and covers ground in several disciplines: linguistics, psychoanalysis, philosophy, sociology are just a few examples. Beginning with Plato, Saussure, Marx and Freud, the course segues into the recent theoretical schools that have extended or revised these early thinkers, such as postcolonial theory, ethics, and theories of race, gender and sexuality. Other theorists we will cover: Foucault, Spivak, Bhabha, Butler, Hall.

Eng. 3130 (76036)/Hon. 3130 (76414): Elizabethan Shakespeare:
Machiavellian Politics in and after Shakespeare
MR 12:15-1:40 p.m.
Dr. Steven Mentz
On the occasion of the 2012 Presidential election season, this course uses Shakespeare’s plays to think about what makes a successful political leader.  Understandings of politics in Renaissance Europe had been shocked by Niccolò Machiavelli’s scandalous The Prince (1532), which made “Machiavellian” into the buzzword it is today.  With an eye toward the Machiavellian combination of skill and ruthlessness, we’ll read The Prince, several of Shakespeare’s political plays including Julius Caesar and the Henriad, a four-play cycle about the political education of King Henry V, and Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, which contains probably the most visible representation of Machiavelli on the English stage before Shakespeare.  Final projects will explore how, and with what consequences, modern American politicians employ Machiavellian and Shakespearean tactics.

Eng. 3190: Special Topics in Renaissance Literature (76041)
TF 12:15-1:30 p.m.
Dr. Nicole Rice
This course introduces a range of texts from the twelfth to the fifteenth century, including poems by male and female troubadours, The Art of Courtly Love (a tongue-in-cheek guide to seduction), bawdy French tales (fabliaux), the letters of star-crossed lovers Abelard and Heloise, selected Chaucerian Tales, and the autobiography of self-styled mystic Margery Kempe. We will read the medieval works together with critical writings on medieval misogyny, marriage, sexual practices, and anatomical theory. How did various medieval writers define, confront, or subvert assumptions about sex difference and gender roles? What forms of power were available to men and women in different social, religious, and political settings? Most fundamentally, we will investigate how medieval women and men defined themselves and each other in literary conversation and struggle.

Eng. 3230:  Nineteenth-Century Novel (76045)
MR 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Dr. Amy King
Few cultural forms have achieved such a balance between mass popularity and aesthetic complexity as the novel of the nineteenth century.  Our goal in this course will be to examine in detail five English novels from across the century— ranging from Austen to Hardy— and to come to an understanding of what “the novel” is, why it managed to hold such a dominant place in British culture, and how various techniques and topics it introduced persist today. We will be considering the following topics, among others: the subjects of a middle-class world, such as manners (class) and money (economics); what the bourgeoisie was and is, and why it found its best expression in the novel; the increasingly large, bewildering facts of society in the modern context, and how the novel explained, mapped, and made sense out of the forms of a mobile, economic, and increasingly secular society; the psychologies of the novel, and its interest in descriptions of mood, intimacy; how the novel represents the modern individual self or subjectivity; the novel’s expression of tragedy and moral trial. Finally, we will be learning to read novels as such— to acquire a vocabulary and set of skills for grasping the details of how novels are built, what they are made of, and how they work, in order to become better readers of modernity’s most characteristic literary form.  Authors may include Austen, C. Bronte, E. Bronte, Gaskell, Eliot, Dickens, Trollope, Hardy.

Eng. 3240: Romantic Literature (76026)
TF 12:15-1:40 p.m.
Dr. Gregory Maertz
An introduction to the literature and culture of the Romantic Period (circa 1775-1830). Aesthetic theory, politics, and art will be considered alongside poetry, prose fiction, and literary criticism. Featured authors will include Blake,Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, the Shelleys, and Keats.

Eng. 3350: American Women Writers (75171)
MR 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Dr. Jennifer Travis
This course will investigate the constructions as well as the challenges to the “Cult of True Womanhood”: the cult of purity, piety, submissiveness, and domesticity that largely defined the acceptable boundaries of female behavior from the nineteenth into the early twentieth centuries.  The sentimental novel, written primarily by women in the mid-nineteenth century, sought to train readers how to be good Christians; obedient daughters; selfless; yet, self-reliant; as well as good consumers in a growing American marketplace. Yet, domestic ideology and the literary conventions that expressed that ideology often excluded working women and women of color from the very definition of woman.  Essayist Margaret Fuller argues precisely this case in her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845):  “Those who think the physical circumstances of Woman would make a part in the affairs of national government unsuitable are by no means those who think it impossible for negresses to endure field work, even during pregnancy.” Fuller offers insights into the contradictions of womanhood in antebellum America; we will carry the questions she raises into our reading of the sentimental tradition as well as the residual responses of several women writers through the early twentieth century.  The authors we will read may include: Zora Neal Hurston, Kate Chopin, Fanny Fern, Harriet Wilson, Harriet Jacobs, Zitkala-Sa, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Eng. 3370: International Contexts for Early American Literature (76070)
MR 9:05-10:30 a.m.
Dr. Granville Granter
This is a new class responding to current scholarly interest in globalization. Rather than presenting the work of Emerson and Whitman as creating a “world elsewhere,” (in Richard Poirier’s words), a literature completely separate from European precedent, this class will look at the intersections among U.S. and other national literatures in the nineteenth century. We will examine the influence of the European romantic movement on Emerson and Thoreau by reading the philosophy of Rousseau and the poetry of Novalis (and time allowing, Emerson’s influence on Nietzsche). We will read Scott’s Waverly, the inspiration for U.S. historical fiction from Cooper to Hawthorne. We will also read Victor Hugo for his influence on Harriet Beecher Stowe. At the end of the course we will read two texts from California, The Life of Joaquin Murieta, and Who Would Have Thought It?, which address the interrelationships of Indian, Mexican, and U.S. identity in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Eng. 3400: Modernist Literature (76031)
MR 12:15-1:40 p.m.
Dr. Stephen Sicari
Modernism in the arts, including the literary arts, is a period of radical experimentation in theme and technique.  Modernism is roughly the period between 1900 and 1950, and the literature produced in English on both sides of the Atlantic can be seen as various and diverse responses to what we can refer to as “modernity.”  That is the central distinction shaping the course, watching how “modernist literature” responds to the new and powerful conditions of “modernity.”  We will read as “background” some texts by Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche and Freud; and then read literary texts, starting with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in 1900 and ending with texts written during and after the Second World War.  The list of authors to be read will include Joyce, Forster, Woolf, TS Eliot and Wallace Stevens. 

Eng. 3460: Contemporary Drama (76033)
TF 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Dr. Angela Belli
This course explores currents in contemporary drama that reference a post-modern era through an examination of relevant, selected plays. We will consider the response of current drama to socio-political cultural contexts.  Paying particular attention to the forces that have shaped the world of the twenty-first century—economic, political and scientific—we will consider how the theater assesses life in our time.  In examining representative dramas, we will consider the function of tragedy, of comedy and of the absurd in presenting a valid reflection of current life. Our study will consist of close readings of the texts as well as a consideration of the theoretical and critical points of view that inspired their creation. Dramatists studied will include English, Irish, and American playwrights. We will examine the works of  Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, David Mamet, Seamus Heaney,  Brian Friel, Bernard Pomerance, Harold Pinter, August Wilson, Cheryl West, and Neil Simon.

Eng. 3480: The Harlem Renaissance (76034)
MR 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Dr. John Lowney
This course is an introduction to the literature of the Harlem Renaissance.  The Harlem Renaissance (or New Negro Renaissance) was a remarkably prolific period of African American literature, music, art, and scholarship that followed World War I and lasted into the 1930s.  In this course we will examine the Harlem Renaissance as a cultural movement in relation to both international modernism and African American literary history.  The primary emphasis of the course is on intensive study of important African American writers, with attention to parallel developments in music and the visual arts.  Readings include W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk; Nella Larsen, Quicksand; Claude McKay, Home to Harlem; Langston Hughes, Not Without Laughter; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Richard Wright, Uncle Tom’s Children; and selected poetry by McKay, Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Helene Johnson.

Eng. 3500 (76039)/ CLS 3500 (76422), Classical Literature in Translation
MR 7:30-8:55 a.m.
Dr. Robert Forman
The course will document though literature the changing conceptions of power in the Greek and Roman worlds, many of which bear uncanny similarities to the recent history of our own.

We will begin by comparing Homer’s Agamemnon with that of Aeschylus; then Homer’s Odysseus with that of Euripides.  As the semester progresses we will introduce the societal-minded Aeneas, and ultimately consider the effect of religion in the antithetical relationship of secular business as it appears in Petronius’s Satyricon (first century C.E.) and the imported cult of Isis as portrayed in Apuleius’s The Golden Ass (late second century).  

The course will conclude with extracts from St. Augustine, representing Neoplatonism and late fourth-century Christianity, compared with selections from the Saturnalia of Macrobius (early fifth century), noting his attempt to reassert classical Roman moral and aesthetic standards.

Eng. 3580: Postcolonial Literature (76040)
TF 3:25-4:50 p.m.
A critical introduction to the study of postcolonial literature through selected readings from contemporary African, American, Australian, Caribbean, Indian and Latin American writers.

Eng. 3700: The Teaching of Writing (76183)
Prof. Christopher Leary
In theories of writing, the concept of “editing” occupies a complicated place. 20th-century writing theorists commonly listed editing as the final stage of the writing process, after pre-writing, drafting, and revising. In the 21st century, however, when composing on the web, writers often begin with edition, taking the work of others and bringing it together into a cohesive whole. Editing is an equally complicated topic in the St. John’s University Writing Center. Students sometimes walk into the St. John’s University Writing Center with the question “Can you edit my paper?”  Since writing consultants are trained to engage in peer mentoring — not peer editing — writing consultants need to contend with the question of editing in nuanced ways. This online course will use the concept of editing as a device to investigate both writing and the mentoring of writing. The course is aimed toward students who are interested in working in the Writing Center as peer mentors, people who already work as peer mentors, as well as students with a more general interest in editing, writing, and textual theory.

Eng. 3710 Creative Writing: Nonfiction Prose (76027)
TF 1:50-3:15 p.m.
Dr. Anne Geller
How much truth is in nonfiction?  How much fiction is in nonfiction?  What does it mean to tell our own experiences and the experiences of others in writing? What is the relationship between storytelling and research? Over the semester we’ll read and write our way to answers through a variety of nonfiction forms (for example, narrative journalism, memoir, travel writing, profiles, political nonfiction). We’ll also consider cross-genre and non-print nonfiction (for example, nonfiction prose mixed with poetry, audio and graphic nonfiction). Students will develop their own non-fiction – shorter exercises in the early part of the semester and a longer text through the second half of the semester — and will regularly read and respond to one another’s work.  Required reading will include texts about the craft and ethics of nonfiction from Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers Guide. This is a writing course for those interested in storytelling and those interested in research and journalism.

Eng. 3720: Introduction to Creative Writing (76029)
MR 3:25-4:50 p.m.
Prof. Gabriel Brownstein
This is an introductory course in creative writing and also an introduction to the creative writing minor. This semester’s class will focus on voice—mimicking other people’s voices, imitating other writers’ voices, and trying to discover a voice of your own. We will read Shakespeare, and we’ll read Dickinson, and we’ll read some contemporary playwrights, short story writers, and poets, including Suzan-Lori Parks, Junot Diaz, and Louise Gluck.  In addition to their creative writing, students will be required to write a critical essay exploring the literary voices that we read this semester.  Expect to read and to write every week of the class.

Eng. 3720: Introduction to Creative Writing (73048)
W. 1:50 p.m.-4:40 p.m.

A course designed to help develop creative writing skills, with emphasis on traditional and contemporary forms of poetry, fiction, drama.

Eng. 3730: Poetry Workshop (76035)
TF 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Prof. Lee Ann Brown
Individual and collective attention in shaping serial or extended works of poetry will be emphasized in context of a continuing exploration of contemporary world poetry and poetics as models for our own writing.  Students will be required to write and revise 2 multi-sectioned long poems, as well as prose essays on poetry.
Opportunities will be had to organize and attend poetry readings and performances on and off campus, to learn about the current state of print and web publishing, and to create our own publications and performances.  The goal is to allow students to enter the literary arena both on campus and in the larger culture.  Service learning components will be developed, and the place of “poet as citizen” will be examined and enacted.

Eng. 3740:  Creative Writing: Fiction (76042)
MR 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Prof. Gabriel Brownstein
This is a fiction workshop for anyone interested in writing stories.  Students will explore their language and their imaginations first in a set of storytelling exercises and then in original short stories.  They will read and critique each other’s fiction, and at the end of the course they will put together a portfolio of their best writing.  As we work on our own fiction, we’ll read some great writers—a varied set of readings that will help us consider basic problems and difficulties that face writers of stories and novels—and these writers’ works will help us imagine and discuss our own.

Eng. 3810:  The History of Silent Film (76037)
MR 10:40-12:05 p.m.
Dr. Scott Combs
This course provides an intensive introduction to the history of silent film from the late nineteenth-century until the early sound era of the late 1920s.  We will focus on the development of film aesthetics and the institutionalization of industrial practices, mainly in the US and Europe.  We should resist the temptation of reading silent cinema as a “primitive” form compared to modern movies.  Instead, we will try to understand the distinct aesthetic possibilities and modes of address contained within these films, a task more challenging and rewarding.  Screenings will include films by Edison, Lumière, Méliès, Griffith, Lang, Murnau, Eisenstein, and Vertov.

Eng. 4991: Seminar in British Literature (76038)
Cultures of Sexuality in Eighteenth-Century Britain
TF 1:50-3:15 p.m.
Dr. Kathleen Lubey
In this senior seminar, we will examine how sexuality, intimacy, and desire were understood to intersect with polite and public life in eighteenth-century Britain. We will read extensively in theories of early modern sexuality, literary texts, personal correspondence, and literary-historical scholarship to discover the extent to which erotic culture was thought to participate in or conflict with major developments of this period, such as the book trade, definitions of English literary history, Enlightenment conceptions of the individual, and emerging feminist discourse. Reading diversely in this way, we will exercise the analytical, historical, and theoretical skills you’ve developed throughout previous coursework in the major, drawing especially on the methods of English 2300. Students will be expected to undertake focused, independent research in conjunction with our collective readings for class; to take active leadership positions in class discussions; to show genuine curiosity about the subject matter of the course; and to contribute energetically to the collective thinking we’ll undertake on the role of sexuality in literary culture and public life. Readings will include theoretical work by Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, Thomas Laqueur, Frances Ferguson, and Joan Scott, and literary and manuscript texts by Daniel Defoe, Eliza Haywood, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, John Cleland, Elizabeth Inchbald, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Evaluation will be based on participation, several short writing assignments, and a 12-15 page seminar paper.

Eng. 4994:  Seminar in Themes/Genres:  The Art of Murder (76028)
MR 5:00-6:25 p.m.
Dr. Scott Combs
In this seminar we will discuss the importance and difficulty of representing murder as a comprehensible act.  Looking closely at examples from drama, literature, film and television, as well as reading a number of historical accounts, we will consider the formal problems that attend the translation of murder into language and image.  Two elements of murder narrative will be questioned:  first, the need to create a two-party dyad of assailant and victim;  and second, the tendency to stage murder in the past in order to speculate about another past even further removed in time from the perspective of the detective (i.e., motive).  Time and again, these narrative strategies fail to convey, and to conceal, an excess that emerges in the very act of representing murder.  Our close readings and discussions will be grounded in literature (Poe, Chandler, Highsmith), film (Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, Morris’s The Thin Blue Line, Antonioni’s Blow Up), and television (Columbo, Law and Order, selections from Investigation Discovery).  Our discussions will often focus on the figure of the detective and the relationship between the time of the crime and the time of its investigation.  Students will write a seminar-length paper due at the semester’s end that will be shaped by peer-review and independent research.

About Steve Mentz 1262 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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