department of english

Featured Courses


AML 4930: The Western
Professor Blakemore

Methodology:lecture and discussion, four exams, one option research paper

This course entails the study of the classic Western. We will be studying four Western novels published from the end of the 19th century through the mid-20th century. Special attention will be placed on the Western as a unique American genre, and the historical contexts comprising its development will be elucidated. By the end of the semester, you will have an understanding and appreciation of the Western's place in the evolving canon of American literature. In addition, you will be able to tap into your inner cowboy, cowgirl, or Indian.

Texts: Owen Wister,The Virginian; Zane Grey,Riders of the Purple Sage; Jack Schaefer,Shane; Louis L’Amour,Hondo.

[This course satisfies category II]

Professor Ulin

Modernism’s creators and its critics continually refer to exile and rootlessness as dominant characteristics. Despite this aesthetic sense of what one critic has called its “transcendental homelessness,” much of modernist writing is rooted in real cities and real places.  Today tourists may take walking tours of London’s Bloomsbury district, travel with Leopold Bloom through Dublin every June 16th, and follow expatriates through the cafes of Montparnasse in Paris.  Joyce himself boasted that if Dublin were ever destroyed, it could be rebuilt brick by brick using his fiction. How might we reconcile modernist exile with its almost obsessive devotion to sense of place? This course will consider the relationships among four modernist cities (New York, Paris, Dublin, London), the circulation of writers in these cities and the resulting art that explores modernist crises within these spaces. The course moves from the Harlem Renaissance in New York to the expatriate salons of Paris to colonial and then postcolonial Dublin and closes in anxious post-War London.  Focal writers will include Wright, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Woolf, Pound, Eliot and Joyce. We will consider the complex networks of artists (Bloomsbury Group, Imagism, American expatriates, Irish Literary Revival, Harlem Renaissance) and their energetic experiments in literature, art, music and film.  We will also view selected films as visual counterparts to modernist representations of these spaces. 

[This course satisfies category II]


ENL 4930: Renaissance Lyric Poetry
Professor Low

In examining the Renaissance tradition of short poetry, we study evidence of a swiftly changing culture.  We begin by examining the indications that a new sense of self evolved at this time.  Some scholars say that the very idea of the individual as separate from his community developed during the Renaissance; others disagree, saying that the very term “Renaissance” lends a false importance to a moment in time.   Derived from the tradition of courtly love, the Renaissance lyric nonetheless offered something new:  something new and simultaneously something very old, as it drew on the rebirth of classical learning. Though we will be reading our texts in rough chronological order and considering a line of development, this course seeks to redefine both “the Renaissance” and “the lyric.”  Its focus will be the development of the sonnet and the love-lyric.  Texts will include poems by Francesco Petrarch, Thomas Wyatt, Sir Philip Sidney, and William Shakespeare.

Two papers, a research project, and a final.  Class participation counts.

[This course satisfies category II and pre 1800]


LIT 4001: Lyric Poetry
Professor Golden

Lyric poems display language pushed to the breaking point of expressiveness—sometimes past that point. This course introduces students to a wide range of memorable British and American lyric poems from the past several centuries in order to develop a sensitivity to the many levels at which an apparently simple set of words can operate. We will discuss the emotional and intellectual meanings implied by patterns of sound clusters, of syntax, of imagery, of scene and character, of agency, of music or rhythm, of ideas, of rhetorical posture, of historical or literary allusions—and of any other aspects that a poem seems to make resonant. How does a poet capture an experience, feeling, or set of ideas in a way no one has before? What does each poem tell us about personal experience, about a cultural moment, and about our linguistic resources? The course presupposes no prior knowledge but asks for a keen and rapt attention to the nuances of language.

[This course satisfies category II]


 Last Modified 7/17/14