An introduction to the cross-cultural study of American literatures, with special attention to the multiple points of connection, conflict, dialogue, and exchange that characterize American writings. Texts may be drawn from a broad range of periods, regions, and cultures. One lecture, two classes.
Professor/InstructorRuss Leo, Sophie Graham Gee
An introduction to English literary history. Centered on four great writers--Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Pope. Two lectures, one 50-minute preceptorial.
This course introduces students to the range of the essay form as it has developed from the early modern period to our own. The class will be organized, for the most part, chronologically, beginning with the likes of Bacon and Hobbes, and ending with some contemporary examples of and reflections on the form. It will consider how writers as various as Sidney, Hume, Johnson, Emerson, Woolf, C.L.R. James, and Stephen Jay Gould have defined and revised The Essay. Two lectures, one 50-minute preceptorial.
Professor/InstructorTamsen Olivia Wolff
Emphasis upon the preparation and delivery of expository and persuasive speeches before audiences composed of the speaker's fellow students. Consultations with the instructor, readings in textbooks, and written analyses of speeches supplement frequent practice in speaking. One 90-minute lecture, two classes.
Studies in the Classical Tradition
A classical genre or literary theme will be studied as it was handed down and transformed in later ages, for example, the European epic; ancient prose fiction and the picaresque tradition; the didactic poem. Two 90-minute seminars.
Origins and Nature of English Vocabulary
Professor/InstructorJoshua Timothy Katz
The origins and nature of English vocabulary, from proto-Indo-European prehistory to current slang. Emphasis on the Greek and Latin component of English vocabulary, including technical terminology (medical/scientific, legal, and humanistic). Related topics: the alphabet and English spelling, slang and jargon, social and regional variation, vocabulary changes in progress, the "national language'' debate. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Contemporary Theories of Gender and Sexuality
We will take as our primary text the new translation of Simone deBeauvoir"s landmark volume The Second Sex, one of the most significant origin points of current understandings of gender. In our sustained consideration of The Second Sex, we will explore Beauvoir's ideas about the influence of sex and gender on childhood, the family, sexuality, relationships, aging, work, the social order, and the philosophical imaginary. We will also consider contemporary writing alongside that text, taking Beauvoir as our tour guide as we encounter and interpret contemporary representations of gender.
Junior Seminar in Critical Writing
Students learn to write clear and persuasive criticism in a workshop setting while becoming familiar with a variety of critical practices and research methods. The course culminates in the writing of a junior paper. Each section will pursue its own topic; students are assigned according to choices made during sophomore sign-ins. Required of all English majors. One three-hour seminar.
Comparative History of Literary Theory
Professor/InstructorSandra Lekas Bermann
A historical introduction to literary theory from Plato to the present. By reading philosophers, critics, and creative writers, students consider issues such as mimesis, imagination, religion, sexuality, and ethics, noting how each casts light on our understanding of literature and its cultural roles. Past terms and current problems are related to an inquiry into the nature--and the power--of literature through the ages. Students will read critical works from Plato and Aristotle, through Nietzsche, Beauvoir, Benjamin, Derrida, and Achebe, as well as poetry and plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Eliot, and Brecht. One three-hour seminar.
The Gothic Tradition
An exploration of the cultural meanings of the Gothic mode through a study of its characteristic elements, its origins in 18th-century English and German culture and thought, its development across Western national traditions, and its persistence in contemporary culture, including film, electronic media, clothing, social behavior, and belief systems, as well as literature. Films, artifacts, websites, and electronic publications will supplement readings. One three-hour seminar.
Contemporary Literary Theory
Fundamental questions about the nature, function, and value of literary theory. A small number of strategically selected theoretical topics, including exemplary literary works as reference points for discussion. Two 90-minutes seminars.
History of Criticism
A study of particular developments in criticism and theory, from Aristotle to Nietzsche. The course will also consider the relation of contemporary criticism to movements and issues such as deconstruction, feminism, psychoanalysis, and cultural materialism. Two 90-minute seminars.
The Old English Period
Professor/InstructorSarah M. Anderson
An intensive introduction to the English language spoken and written in the British Isles approximately 500 to 1100 C.E., leading to a critical survey of the literature. Attention is paid both to linguistic questions and to the cultural context of such poems as Beowulf and the Dream of the Rood. Two 90-minute seminars.
The Medieval Period
Professor/InstructorDonald Vance Smith
A study of the Middle English texts that span the period from the Norman Conquest to the Tudor Renaissance, with attention paid to Middle English as a language. Readings will be chosen from verse romance, drama, political and religious writings, romance and/or lyric. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
A study of Chaucer's art with reference to the intellectual, social, and literary conventions of the Middle Ages. The course introduces the student by this means to the characteristically medieval aspects of Chaucer's poetry. Two 90-minute seminars.
A study of Shakespeare's plays, covering the first half of his career. Emphasis will be on each play as a work of art and on Shakespeare's development as a poet and dramatist. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Professor/InstructorBradin T. Cormack
A study of Shakespeare's plays, covering the second half of his career. Emphasis will be on each play as a work of art and on Shakespeare's development as a poet and dramatist. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
A study of the development of the epic romance from Vergil to Spenser through a reading of the Aeneid and the three great Renaissance epic romances: Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, and Spenser's The Faerie Queene. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
The 16th Century
The study of 16th-century literature, both prose and poetry, in order to define the achievement of the English Renaissance. Literary accomplishments will be placed in the more general context of Elizabethan culture and Renaissance intellectual history. Readings in Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spenser, Donne. Two 90-minute seminars.
Professor/InstructorNigel Smith, Russ Leo
A study of Milton's poetry and prose, with particular attention to Milton's poetic style and development and his indebtedness to various classical traditions. Emphasis will also be given to Milton as thinker and to the place he holds in 17th-century thought. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
The 17th Century
A study of the interaction of literature, culture, and politics during the 17th century. The course will focus on the nature of political work done by literary texts, the representation of changing gender relations, and the evolution of literary forms. Authors include Jonson, Herbert, Donne, Marvell, Hobbes, Milton, Dryden, and the Cavalier Poets. Two 90-minute seminars.
The English Drama to 1700
Professor/InstructorMichael William Cadden
A study of English drama from its medieval origins to Restoration comedy, with special attention to the astonishingly vital commercial theater of the Renaissance. The course will consider the aesthetic and cultural power of dramatic texts and the theater's characteristic production of social anxiety. Two 90-minute seminars.
Topics in the Renaissance
Professor/InstructorBradin T. Cormack
An intensive study of various aspects of Renaissance literature. Topics may include sex and gender in the Renaissance, Shakespearean comedies, Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, Renaissance lyric poetry. Two 90-minute seminars.
Topics in the Renaissance
An intensive study of various aspects of Renaissance literature. Topics may include sex and gender in the Renaissance, Shakespearean comedies, Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, Renaissance lyric poetry. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
English Literature of the 18th Century
Professor/InstructorClaudia L. Johnson
A study of major figures from the Augustan Age through the Age of Johnson: Swift, Pope, Fielding, Boswell, Johnson, Sterne, and Blake. Selections include a wide range of literary types from Gulliver's Travels and Joseph Andrews to Boswell's London Journal and Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Two lectures, one preceptorial.