Fall 2021 Undergraduate Course Offerings



Please note: All courses are on campus unless noted as online or hybrid.

ENG. 2100: Literature & Culture (74894)

Dr. Gregory Maertz
Email: maertzg@stjohns.edu

ENG. 2200: Reading/Writing for English majors (73950)

TF 12:15 – 1:40 PM
Dr. Steven Mentz
Email: mentzs@stjohns.edu

This entertaining online fall course will examine three classic British novels that have recently

been made into successful movie and TV adaptations: Jane Austen’s Emma, Mary

Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In the process of comparing texts and films,

the course will fill in gaps and sharpen critical reading and writing skills. With brief weekly

essay assignments, a midterm, and a final exam.

This introductory course teaches the skills and practices English Majors need to succeed. We will self-consciously explore multiple modes of “reading” and “writing” to cultivate a variety of skills that will provide practical value in and beyond the classroom. Short writing assignments will include close textual analysis, speculative thesis-construction, techniques of research and “lit review,” poetic criticism, and creative extensions (also known as “fan fiction”). We will engage with a variety of genres and modes including Maria Dahvana Headley’s new punk-rock

translation of Beowulf, contemporary African-American writing by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Claudia Rankine, Ta-Nahesi Coates, and Audre Lorde, a play by Shakespeare (the class can choose which one!), and Peter Kuper’s graphic novel rendition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

ENG. 2200: Reading/Writing for English Majors (74885)

M: ONLINE & R: 12:15 – 1:40 PM (FACE TO FACE) Dr. Anne Geller
Email: gellera@stjohns.edu

This course will include qualitative literacy research to help us learn more about

what “English” means, and what it could mean, within the context of the varied communities in which we live,

read, and compose. We will ask: What is (your) disciplinary identity in English? How have (your) knowledge and experiences in the discipline been shaped and how would you like them to develop? When and how are (your) literacies expanded or constrained? Why? In this section of Reading and Writing for English Majors we will consider how reading, writing, languaging, and literature work in contexts beyond education and beyond English as a discipline, major, minor, and concentration.

ENG. 2210: Study of British Literature (74893)

Fantasy from Beowulf through Harry Potter

Dr. Steven Mentz
Email: mentzs@stjohns.edu

these nov

For millions of readers and fans worldwide, the best–known products of the British

literary imagination are works of fantasy literature, especially J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the

Rings (1937–49), J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels (1997–2007), and the twenty–first century

films made about each one (LOTR 2001–2003; HP 2001–2011). Though widely beloved,

els are also controversial, in particular for their racist and sexist depictions of

human and nonhuman figures in their imaginary worlds. This course traces the

literary and cultural origins of characters we know from fantasy, including wizards,

dragons, monsters, and kings who mysteriously return to reclaim the throne. We will consider

the long histories behind the blockbuster successes of Tolkien’s and Rowling’s

worlds, and also explore how contemporary writers are re–imagining these legacies in anti–racist

and feminist ways. The main texts will include classics works of British literature such as

Beowulf, Shakespeare‘s The Tempest, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as well as modern

fantasies by authors such as N.K. Jemison and Maria Dahvana Headley.

ENG. 2210: Study of British Literature (75292)

Dr. Gregory Maertz
Email: maertzg@stjohns.edu

A course on three classic British novels and their representation in film and television, starting with James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and moving into the present. The novels we will examine, along with their transmutability and continuing cultural relevance, are Jane Austen’s Emma (1815), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).

ENG. 2300: Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory (74882)

MR 3:25 – 4:50 PM
Dr. Elda Tsou
Email: tsoue@stjohns.edu

This course is an undergraduate introduction to the key concepts, thinkers, and intellectual movements called literary theory. What we term “theory” is a diverse a group of texts drawn from various disciplines like philosophy, psychoanalysis, linguistics, history, anthropology and sociology. The goal of this course is less about mastery than familiarity with a set of thinkers and their key concepts. Since this course takes the position that theory is not a set of formulas to be applied to various texts but a critical way of thinking, our emphasis will be on understanding these thinkers and comprehending their relationship to the conversations that preceded them. Our ultimate goal will be to try to understand theory as a way of thinking about the activity of thinking itself. We will try to view theory as a series of questions about the activities of thinking, interpreting, and meaning-making as they apply to different objects of study: the human subject, literature, language, sex, gender, race, society. In our readings, we will learn to think critically and carefully about the object of our scrutiny, and to examine our ways of knowing that object, and what that knowledge entails for us as knowing subjects.

ENG. 2300/CRES. 2000: Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory (75047/75874) Methodologies in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies

W. 1:50 – 4:40 PM
Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls Email: smalls@stjohns.edu

This course will introduce students to the fundamental methodologies and techniques in the fields of critical race and ethnic studies that foster the seeing and knowing of the world from the perspectives of racial and ethnic minorities across the globe. These research methods support

epistemologies that foreground the histories that link the experiences of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States with those of the peoples of Latin America, Africa, Indigenous lands, Pacific Islands, and Asia. Students will become familiar with how to apply these research methods to provide an inclusive rendering of the life experiences of people from these areas of the world or who trace their background to these areas of the world. Students will also learn critiques of the foundational histories, theories and techniques of traditional quantitative and qualitative methodologies to develop an awareness of the role of some of these traditional techniques in empire-building, colonization, and other forms of oppression and control. The course materials will include reading, practicums, and media.

ENG. 3130: Shakespeare: Elizabethan Plays (72852)

Shakespeare after Catastrophe

TF 9:05 – 10:30 AM
Dr. Steven Mentz
Email: mentzs@stjohns.edu

Hoping that Fall 2021 represents a post-Covid reality, this course investigates Shakespeare’s fascination with the aftermath of catastrophic events. Drawing inspiration from scholars and artists who connect Shakespeare’s plays with human responses to catastrophe, we will look at three pairs of plays, each responding in the opposed genres of tragedy and comedy to three distinct kinds of human catastrophe. Responses to plague, painfully relevant after the year-plus of Covid, appear in the comic Midsummer Night’s Dream and the tragic Romeo and Juliet. Crises of political succession, which we may remember from late 2020-21, focus the imagination in both Hamlet and the uneasy comedy All’s Well that Ends Well. The catastrophe that war leaves behind appears in the romantic comedy of Much Ado about Nothing and the grim Roman tragedy Titus Andronicus. Students will have the option to write one or more creative or multi- media projects, and we will – I hope! – attend a public Shakespeare performance together, the present catastrophe willing.

ENG. 3190: Special Topics in Medieval Literature (75293) Sex, Gender and Genre in Medieval Literature

TF 12:15 – 1:40 PM
Dr. Nicole Rice
Email: ricen@stjohns.edu

This course introduces a range of texts from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, including bawdy French tales (fabliaux), the life of holy woman Christina of Markyate, the lais of Marie de France, the romance of the cross-dressed heroine Silence, and selected Chaucerian tales. We will

read the medieval works together with critical writings on medieval anatomical theory, misogyny, marriage, religion, and sexual practices. How did medieval writers use different literary genres to define, confront, or subvert assumptions about sex difference and gender roles? What forms of power were available to men and women in particular 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. 3250: Victorian Literature (75294)

MR 9:05 – 10:30 AM
Dr. Amy King
Email: kinga@stjohns.edu

The Victorian age (1838-1901) is marked by enormous social change, technological innovation, imperial rule, and urbanization. Like our own society, Britain in the Victorian age was an urban industrial society— indeed the first in history— and subject to its own form of shock from information overload and technological change. Our own middle-class, economic, mobile, complex and interwoven world, increasingly urbanized and organized, was first described and mapped in this period— hence, perhaps, our moment’s continuing interest in the literature of the period. The course will take in a number of genres, including Victorian poetry, journalism, science, and children’s literature, with a particular focus on the period’s dominant genre: the novel. We will consider a number of economic and social contexts, such as the modern city, industrialism, the newly powerful factors of advertising, the newspaper, transportation, social mobility, empire, and labor and humane reform. We will also consider intellectual contexts of the Victorian age, especially the thought of Malthus and Darwin and the particular influence of science and philosophical pessimism. We will put particular pressure on ideas of the middle (including class), domesticity, intimacy, and normality, and how these texts work towards or against these newly powerful concepts. Our largest intellectual task will be to explore the ways in which these texts mark the complex inauguration of our own modern consciousness: this will be our theme, tracked through various texts, various genres, and various geographical sites (including London, the suburbs, the country, and the empire).

ENG. 3560: American Ethnic Literatures (74880) Comparative Racializations

MR 12:15 – 1:40 PM
Dr. Elda Tsou
Email: tsoue@stjohns.edu

Does race and racialization operate uniformly or homogenously? This course will explore this question and its theoretical and political consequences by examining processes of race-making across different racial groups in the United States—Asian American, African American, Native

American, Latinx, white. We will consider the concept of differential racialization in the context of empire, indigeneity, gender/sexuality, labor history, whiteness and class. We will also consider whether race and racialization, typically understood as processes of other-making, might also function in alternate modes, ones that foreground affinity, proximity and inclusion instead of difference, alterity and exclusion. Class readings will be drawn from legal cases, literary texts, digital art, and theories of race.

ENG. 3590 : Literature & The Other Arts (75693) Performance and Performativity

M. 5:00 – 7:50 PM
Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls Email: smalls@stjohns.edu

This course introduces students to the field of Performance Studies, especially focused on the concept of “performativity,” or the embodiment of words and other discourses. Performance in this context is not just what happens “on stage,” but also what happens in the classroom, on social media, TV, film, on the sports field, in politics, business, daily life, and in ritual. We will investigate what it is “to perform” as we focus on three key areas related to performativity: social media & new media, racial performance, and gender performance. This class is targeted at students interested in the intersections of aesthetics, media, communication, literature, social movements, embodiment, and rhetoric. The course will include readings, film and tv, music, social media, and students will make a final performance or project.

ENG. 3590: Literature & The Other Arts (75787)

W. 10:40 – 1:30 PM – ONLINE SYNCHRONOUS Dr. Stephen Paul Miller
Email: millers@stjohns.edu

This course considers chains of direct influence and useful interfacing within various art forms,

implying them to issues that are relevant to the students. For instance, the Korean film director

Lee Chang-dong based his 2018 film, Burning, upon William Faulkner’s short story, “Barn

Burning” and Japanese author’s Haruki Murakami’s fictive response to Faulkner’s story,

“Burning.” The class will evaluate the three works’ treatments of work, youth, family, class, and

other subjects. Similarly, Japanese director Akiru Kurosawa based his film Ikiru upon Leo

Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilych. How do the themes of the two works differ? A similar

“chain of representation” occurs among Allen Tate’s poem “Ode to the Confederate Dead,”

Robert Lowell’s poetic response, “For the Union Dead that also responded to sculptor Augustus

Saint-Gaudens’ sculptural relief “Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts

Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The class may also consider the visual narrative techniques of

Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series, compare Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” Frank

O’Hara’s poem “The Day Lady Died,” relate the film My Dinner with Andre with philosophical

dialogues, and discuss “ekphrasis” through analyzing Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and

Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.” The class will be explorative, and students will

also select interdisciplinary objects of study.

ENG. 3600/CLS. 3600: Classical Epic in Translation (75295/75496)

TF 9:05 – 10:30 AM
Dr. Robert Forman
Email: formanr@stjohns.edu

More than ever, people use the word “hero,” so much so that it has been applied to everyone from professional athletes to commuters braving the Long Island Expressway. Paradoxically, the heroes of classical epic are frequently not especially heroic; witness Agamemnon, angry Achilles, or Jason. Our course will focus on developing a reliable, timeless definition of what constitutes a hero.

Readings include Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil’s Aeneid, and Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica on the search for the Golden Fleece

ENG. 3630: Utopian Fiction (75295)

TF 10:40 – 12:05 PM
Dr. Granville Ganter
Email: ganterg@stjohns.edu
This class will discuss a few representative texts of the utopian tradition—More’s Utopia (1516); Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance (1852); Gilman’s Herland (1915); and Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring (1998)—but it will rely on student research to create the syllabus. (In fact, the sample texts suggested here may not make the cut!) Utopia, an imagined place and a type of speculative writing, is part of the language of “culture criticism” of each author’s present time; and it often poses tough questions about the potential dangers of materializing an idealized future (ie: utopia/dystopia). We will examine the entanglement of utopian writing with the history of new world colonization and the Euroamerican fantasy of starting afresh (with slave labor). The class will also explore the relationship between utopian writing and fantasy in general—the difference between science fiction’s attempt to speculate on the future and the utopian impulse. Early in the class, students will asked to choose course texts that interest them and we will create our syllabus around the student knowledge base.

ENG. 3650: Caribbean Literature (75297)

The Sacred, the Spiritual, and the Social in Caribbean Literature

MR 9:05 – 10:30 AM
Dr. Raj Chetty
Email: chettyr@stjohns.edu

This course examines how religion, spirituality, and the sacred emerge in 20th and 21st century

Caribbean literature across prose fiction and drama, from the English-, Spanish-, and French-

speaking regions of the Caribbean (all works will be in English) and the Caribbean diaspora.

With a specific focus on representations of Afro-Caribbean spiritual and religious life, the course

explores how questions of the sacred have animated Caribbean writers’ engagement with broader

social and political issues. A central question framing the course is: How have the sacred, the

spiritual, the religious been mobilized in Caribbean literature to oppose oppressive systems

(racism/colorism, colonialism/imperialism, class, gender, sexuality) from across the last century

and into this one?

All works will be read in their respective Englishes; however, students who are able are welcome

to read works in their original French or Spanish languages.

ENG. 3680/CRES. 1000: Introduction to Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (75302/75866)

MR 3:25 – 4:50 PM
Dr. Raj Chetty
Email: chettyr@stjohns.edu

This class will introduce students to fundamental concepts and debates within the fields of critical race studies and critical ethnic studies. Students will learn about the emergence of critical race studies and ethnic studies as distinct academic fields of study. Students will become familiar with the particular ways in which these fields analyze the phenomena of racial formation, ethnic group formation, racism and racial discrimination, ethnic life, and ethnic stratification as central features of global modernity. The processes of racialization and ethnic group formation will be viewed as components of overlapping historical processes of social stratification that are fundamental features of the modern world-system. Large-scale forms of group-differentiated marginalization will be examined through the lens of “structural racism.” Students will explore

the role that ethnic and racial stratifications play in dominant economic and political systems and institutions, and the role they have played throughout the world.

This course will root itself in Indigenous Studies and Black Studies as foundations for thinking about global forms of racism, anti-racist struggle, and international solidarity movements. In addition to the course texts listed above, we will engage two major relevant journals to Critical Ethnic Studies: The Black Scholar and The Journal of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association. We will also read excerpts of works by mid-century writers, thinkers, and activists whose works

are now central to these interdisciplinary fields: Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, the Combahee River Collective, June Jordan. We will read contemporary scholars who take up those earlier thinkers, and the revolutionary movements in which they participated: Gary Okihiro, Vijay Prashad, Jean Casimir, Laurent Dubois, Joseph Pierce, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, among others.

ENG. 3690 : Special Topics in Cultural Studies (75692) Race and the Environment

MR 10:40 – 12:05 PM
Dr. Dohra Ahmad
Email: ahmadd@stjohns.edu
Race and the Environment
This class will use literary and cultural documents (fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, film, and visual art) to investigate how colonialism, plantation slavery, and racial capitalism generated the environmental crises that we know today. Authors may include Sefi Atta (Nigeria/USA), Charles Chesnutt (USA), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Jamaica/USA), Mohandas Gandhi (India), Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan), Joy Harjo (Muscogee Nation/USA), Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya), Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria/USA), NourbeSe Philip (Trinidad+Tobago/Canada), Emily Raboteau (USA), Arundhati Roy (India), Ken Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria), and Evie Shockley (USA). Student work will include short writing assignments, work-in-process presentation, and an independent final research project.

ENG. 3710: Creative Writing Across Genres (75299) *COUNTS FOR WRITING MINOR*

MR 10:40 – 12:05 PM
Dr. Steven Alvarez
Email: alvares1@stjohns.edu

This course will introduce the fundamentals of storytelling in prose and verse, specifically

digging into aspects of narratology. As we learn more about narrative structuring, we’ll deepen

our understandings of description, point of view, the study of time, place, and characterization.

We will experiment with different modes of creative writing across genres as we generate new

work, respond to the writing of our peers, and learn about the basics of submitting work for


ENG. 3730: Poetry Workshop (74859) *COUNTS FOR WRITING MINOR*

MR 3:25 – 4:50 PM Professor Lee Ann Brown Email: brownl@stjohns.edu

Linked readings in contemporary poetry and poetics lead to the member’s new poems and individual statements of poetics.

Course materials include on-line resources, videos, anthologies as well as single author volumes. Required texts include The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms, internet resources

writing of workshop

such as https://poets.org/ and https://www.poetryfoundation.org/ plus other readings TBA.

Playing with a range of traditional and experimental poetic forms, students will develop original

manuscripts of at least 22 pages by end of semester, as well as a short poetics statement, and a

response paper on a “live” poetry performance via Zoom or on-line link.

Willingness to try out and share new forms and modes of writing in a participatory setting


ENG. 3770: Writing the Short Story (75300) *COUNTS FOR WRITING MINOR*

TF 3:25 – 4:50 PM
Professor Gabriel Brownstein Email: brownstg@stjohns.edu

This is a creative writing class focused on the short story. This semester, we’ll explore the intersection of the visual and the literary imagination, both in literary metaphor, and in the creative process. The exercises we work through will come from Lynda Barry’s genre-defying book, Picture This. Simultaneously, we’ll read and study stories by Franz Kafka. Students will write a series of exercises, culminating in the creation of their own, original short fiction.

ENG. 4991: Seminar in British Literature (75301)

Literature of the City

*SENIOR CAPSTONE* MR 12:15 – 1:40 PM
Dr. Amy King
Email: kinga@stjohns.edu

From the melancholy lyricism of William Wordsworth as city-dweller—“But oft, in lonely rooms, and ‘mid the din/ Of towns and cities…”— to the hectic urban walks of the detective Sherlock Holmes, urban experience provided no end of material for nineteenth-century British literature. Fiction and poetry alike registered the new fact of the modern metropolis. During the nineteenth century, London was unrivalled as the world’s largest city and capital of empire, transforming from a city of one million in 1800 to almost seven times that by the start of the twentieth century. In this course, we will discuss how the modern city came to be represented variously by literature and how writers made the experience of living in a city perceptible to their readers. We will also consider what Georg Simmel in “Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903) described as “the deepest problem of modern life”: the city-dweller’s attempt to maintain their “independence and individuality against the sovereign powers of society.”

Our primary focus will be on British Romantic and Victorian writing, but we will also read Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “Man of the Crowd” (1840), Walt Whitman’s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” (1856), and Honoré de Balzac’s novel of Paris, Le Père Goriot (1834). We will examine how the city takes shape in various fictions—most notably, Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (1852), Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton (1848), as well as the short fictions of Arthur Conan Doyle (“The Sign of the Four”), Amy Levy (“Romance of a Shop”), and James Joyce (selections from Dubliners). We will focus on a set of poems about London, including selections from William Blake, William Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold, and T.S. Eliot, as well as selections from two other poets of urban experience: Charles Baudelaire and Gwendolyn Brooks. Our focus throughout will be the paradoxes elicited by the new fact of the city: scenes of unity and of alienation, of new freedoms and new forms of oppression, of total knowledge and impenetrable mystery, of the enforcement of social norms as well as their violation. Throughout the semester, we will simultaneously read a city novel from our own time and place: the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole’s Open City (2011).


ENG. 4903: Internship In English (74088) ENG. 4906: Internship In English (74089) ENG. 4953: Independent Study (75694)


English 2200: Reading/Writing for English majors
English 2300: Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory

The English Major and Minors in English and Writing

The major in English is a 36-credit program.
Core Courses (9 credits) English 1100C: Literature in a Global Context

Courses Prior to 1900:

Select any 3 courses.
Courses that qualify are indicated on the course description flier as Pre-1900

Additional Electives

to be drawn from any SJC English courses

Senior Capstone (3 credits)

(9 credits)

(15 credits)

Total credits in the English major: (36 credits)

Please note: the credit requirements for the English and Writing Minors has changed from 18 credits to 15 credits for all students:

Minor in English: 15 credits

Students wishing to minor in English must 15 credits in English. 1100c may count toward the total number of credits.

Minor in Writing: 15 credits

Students who minor in writing must take the following courses:

* Four writing courses
* Any additional course in the SJC English Department. 1100c may count toward the total number of credits.

Note: English majors who minor in writing must take four writing courses plus one additional English course (fifteen credits in all) in addition to their major coursework.

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

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