IN ENGLISH Occasional Newsletter of the Whittier College Department of English Language and Literature Volume 14, #2, April, 2014 Charles S. Adams, Editor
On-Line Presence Some of you may be aware that the Whittier College English Department has a Facebook page. Librarian and information guru Mike Garabedian, and Professor Andrea Rehn have been managing it, and they ask that those of you who are into such things “like” it. And we think there is a lot to like. Your editor finds that sometimes the links work and sometimes they do not. Most of you know how to find the stuff without them. https://www.facebook.com/WhittierCollegeEnglishDepartment Last year, as part of our outreach to alums and friends, we created a small, possibly temporary site managed by our colleagues in the alumni/advancement offices. It is now out of date, but still exists. It has a number of bits of amusement not found elsewhere: http://poetsforpoets.wordpress.com/ And our regular college-based site is: http://www.whittier.edu/Academics/EnglishLanguageAndLiterature/ This Newsletter will be up on that site and will be updated as more information comes in and your editor gets around to it.
Annual Scholarly Writing Prize Winners 1st place – Hallie Gayle “The Spiritual Romance: Paradise as the Embodied Love of God” 2nd place – Kelsey Kwong “The Female Biological Clock is Ticking…but Doaon’t You Worry About a Ching, Mama” 3rd place – Kellen Aguilar “A Moveable Beast: from Satan to Satire”
Annual Poetry and Fiction Writing Prize Winners Poetry
1 place – Carsen West “Flunking out of Flirting” st
2nd place – Shirley Thao “Into worlds you never dare enter alone. A life” 3rd place – Alexa Pegues “You Are My Sunshine” Honorable Mention – Michelle Gamboa “Ambassador” Honorable Mention – Joe Waugh “Story”
1 place- Robert Cristo “A Day in the Life” st
2nd place – Carsen West “Keeping Score is the Worst Kind of Habit” 3rd place – Derek Blankenship “Expectations”
The English Department Writing Awards (This Means Money and Everlasting Glory) Every year we offer a set of prizes for the best work submitted by students in the areas of poetry, fiction, and scholarly writing. Be sure to stay tuned for the announcements asking for submissions for next year’s awards—the deadlines will be fairly early in Spring Semester. You cannot win if you do not enter. All Whittier students are eligible to enter. The submission dates are always in early spring semester. The prizes are cash (well, checks actually). You could win more than some of your professors have made on their books and articles!
College Writing Program News from Charlie Eastman, Director First Year Writing Contest Winners!
1st Place: Kelcey Negus, "The Prevention of Genocide: Global Solutions for a Global Problem" 2nd Place: Kai Gentille, "Female power and Male Insecurity" 3rd Place: Nikki Wester, "Preventing Genocide in the 21st Century" and Stacy Yamasaki, "A New Trend to Follow"
Whittier Writer’s Festival, Writer in Residence, and More Later this month we welcome several writers. You will hear more via e-mail, but the schedule is more or less as follows: April 8th: Anna Leahy and Roy Mash reading poetry, Library at 7 p.m. WRITER IN RESIDENCE: Jennifer Clement will be our Whittier Writer in Residence from April 22-29. All students are welcome to visit her at Dezember House and show her their poems / fiction / creative nonfiction for critique. WRITERS FESTIVAL (Summary Schedule) - Shannon Center ◦ April 23 Jennifer Clement 4 p.m. Craft Talk; 7 p.m. reading & Q+A (poetry + fiction) ◦ April 24 Izmet Prcic, 4 p.m. Craft Talk; 7 p.m. reading & Q+A (fiction) ◦ April 25 Joy Harjo 4 p.m. Craft Talk; 7 p.m. reading & Q+A; (Memoir and Poetry) ◦ April 26 Dave Alvin 4 p.m. Craft Talk; 7 p.m. reading & Q+A; (song writing and poetry) ◦ April 29 Ron Carlson 4 p.m. Craft Talk; 7 p.m. reading & Q+A; Followed by class visit (poetry and fiction)
Faculty News We will start of this section by mentioning that Charles S. Adams, Tony Barnstone, Wendy Furman-Adams, Sean Morris, and Andrea Rehn are all doing things next year that take them somewhat out of the usual English Department orbit. That is the way empires work. Tony Barnstone in on sabbatical fall semester. Andrea Rehn is aiding in directing the Whittier Scholars Program (only next year she assures us). The rest of the list will be teaching some classes not listed under ENGL that students might well take a good look at. Charles S. Adams will team-teach INTD 260/261 with Joseph Price (Religious Studies). This two-semester sequence is called American Intellectual and Cultural History. It is specifically designed for Sophomores. Students who complete both semesters, in sequence, complete their CON1 requirement of the
Liberal Education Program. It also covers the CUL4 requirement. See below for a longer description. Sean Morris will teach INTD 100, College Writing Seminar and INTD 285, Leadership as a Liberal Art. Wendy Furman-Adams will teach INTD 290, Section 1, Classical Greece and Rome, another team-taught (CON1) sequence (this one Fall/January) with David Hunt (Philosophy). You can find further descriptions in the course listings below. Joining us next year as a Visiting Professor is Tess Taylor, who some of you met when she interviewed with us earlier this semester. She reports: “I'm thrilled to be joining the Whittier Faculty next year! In my life outside Whittier, I work as a poet and as a journalist, and I'll be teaching poetry and non-fiction as well as a special class about Sherlock Holmes. Part of what I'm doing these days is writing essays and reviewing books, but the other part of what I'm doing is planning those courses, so I'm reading lots of things that come my way- I am the Beggar of the World, a series of oral poems that are spoken by women in Afghanistan, Northanger Abbey and Frankenstein for a course I'm teaching at Berkeley this summer. I've also been traveling a lot giving readings from my book The Forage House. In the spring, there are a lot of book festivals, and this week I got to read in Oxford Mississippi, at a festival that also had celebrations of the blues and Robert Johnson, and terrific music. I picked up a copy of Kevin Young's The Grey Album which is a book about the blues and about call and response forms. I'm thinking of incorporating it into my class REMIX, which will examine how different literatures copy, borrow, echo, imitate and steal. In Mississippi, I also bought a few great CDs to listen to. And I made a pilgrimage to sit in William Faulkner's home and see his office. He's one of my favorite authors of all time, so that was absolutely terrific. I'm so excited to spend the summer reading, writing, and going to the pool with my son--and then to see you all in the fall.” Some of you may also know of Tess through her regular pieces about poetry on NPR. We are privileged to have her with us. Tony Barnstone’s new book of poems, Beast in the Apartment, appeared in January with Sheep Meadow Press. In April he will be giving a reading at the University of Evansville and giving a talk on translation at the Center University in Danville, KY. He will be featured twice at the LA Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 12 –he’ll be giving a reading of his poems and also will appear on stage with singer-songwriters Connie Lim and Ariana Hall, who will be performing songs from his music CD Tokyo¹s Burning. His anthology of poems, Dead and Undead Poems (Everyman Press, 2014) will appear in the fall, just in time for Halloween, and will include poems by Whittier students Krystal Valladares and Carsen West. The best news of all is the birth of his son, Blake Barnstone, in January! He will be on sabbatical in Fall, 2014, working on a textbook, and a critical book, and ushering several completed books into print. Katy Simonian reports: “I had the opportunity to co-teach a Jan Term class with Professor Mike McBride, entitled INTD 290-Baseball, Literature and Film. Our course took a critical look at the history of baseball, the players and managers who changed the dynamic of the sport and the contextual, socio-political and cultural history that corresponds with the great changes within the sport that have transformed over time. We use a great deal of literature from Jackie Robinson's personal story and the history of the
Black Sox scandal to the compelling rivalry of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and the current clash between methods of scouting and sabermetrics. Our course compliments each literary source with films, from features to documentaries to bring the words on the page to life and allow students to see the faces of the many people who continue to transform America's favorite pastime. We plan to offer the course again and hope to welcome students to the class and to the Baseball Reliquary, a growing archive of the sport which may soon find its home at Whittier College. Fans of baseball, film, and/or literature, sign up and let's play ball!” Jonathan Burton: “In early March I gave the keynote at the Cal State Shakespeare Symposium, sharing a paper entitled “Christopher Sly’s Arabian Nights.” That piece will be published this June in The Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies. Students who’ve taken my “Why Read?” will find the material very familiar! I continue to enjoy outings to see theater and dance with my wife and daughter, as well as our continued exploration of Los Angeles’ wonderful cultures of eating. We recently went on a food tour of Downtown LA featuring pupusas, barbecued brisket, escargot, Belgian waffles with Nutella, and green papaya salad. What a marvelous place to live and eat! I’ve also spent some time working with a solar energy company to convert our house entirely to solar energy: the panels are on and the city inspectors have given their approval. Any day now we’ll be able to throw the switch and do our small part in moving away from fossil fuel dependency. Now about those cars . . . Hmm?!” dAve pAddy: “In early January I was set to fly to England to deliver my paper, “The Worldliness of The Adventures of Tintin,” at an international conference on Tintin at the University College London when I was told by a doctor that I couldn’t fly and had to go in for surgery to have my gall bladder removed ASAP. After the pain-making bladder was removed, I somehow managed, a week later, to deliver the paper over Skype at 2 in the morning at my kitchen table. Even if I temporarily became Roald Dahl’s Mike Teavee and pixelated my academic form, I think the paper went well, and I am hoping it will get a second life in a published volume linked to the conference. Wait and see. My book on J. G. Ballard is still there with my publisher. It’s been proofread and approved by the editor and we’re just waiting for some formatting matters to be addressed. I have also submitted a book proposal (topic to remain mysterious) and should hear in the next few weeks if that will be going forward or not. Waiting is the name of the game.” Michelle Chihara: “In February, I attended the Association of Writers’ Programs conference in Seattle for the first time, which was exciting but overwhelming – there were twelve thousand people there. But it was wonderful to catch up with some poet and writer friends from graduate school at UC Irvine. This is the year of the conference, for me: I’m presenting on a panel about interdisciplinary scholarship and transnational studies, in April, at the Association for Asian American Studies conference in San Francisco. In May, I’m presenting a paper entitled “The Promise of One Such House: Ramona, Real Estate and Native Décor,” at the American Literature Association conference in Washington, DC. And I just heard that two panels that I co-proposed will
go forward next November at the American Studies Association conference in Los Angeles. Here at Whittier, my Chicano / Chicana studies class has been working on a blog called Pride & Culture, as part of the DigLibArts grant, which has been exciting. We are exploring what for me is somewhat uncharted territory, but I have been enjoying my conversations with my students and learning a lot about the institutional history of Whittier College.” Scott Creley: “My book of poetry, Digging a Hole to the Moon, is being released from Spout Hill Press in May, 2014. I am the founding chair of the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, an annual arts and literature festival held in February. Every year we have prominent authors like Poet Laureate of LA, Eloise Klein Healy, Suzanne Lummis, B.H. Fairchild, Aimee Bender, and Christopher Buckley. Visit sgvlitfest.com for details and an event blog. " Andrea Rehn: “As you may have noticed from the sign on my door, I am on sabbatical this semester—which appears to mean that I’m busier than ever. During this sabbatical, I’ve been focused on a few things: writing a couple new articles; getting our new Digital Liberal Arts Center established on campus; and luxuriating in the bucolic beauty of southern England and the fascinating archives of Chawton House Library. I’m delighted to report that I recently published an article on digital pedagogy in Persuasions On-Line, the journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). Digital pedagogy is part of a larger field sometimes called the Digital Humanities (DH) and sometimes called Digital Liberal Arts. I am also working on two additional articles, due out next year. I’ll tell you more about them as they approach publication. Due to a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Whittier now has a Digital Liberal Arts Center (DigLibArts)! The “center” is actually quite “decentered”—in fact, we work with faculty and students from every discipline and division of the college, and collaborate with staff in the library, IT, and Student Services. If you’d like to know more about us, please visit our website: diglibarts.whittier.edu, or email me. So what is the Digital Liberal Arts (DigLibArts)? DigLibArts is a field located at the intersections of technology and liberal education, which seeks to both apply traditional scholarly methods to the new questions created by our digital media world, and to make use of the new affordances of digital techology to continue to explore traditional scholarly questions. The field is also sometimes called Digital Humanities (DH), but we prefer DigLibArts, a term which emphasizes the undergraduate-learning focused, public scholarship, collaborative, transdisciplinary ethos of digital scholarship today. While I’m excited by the opportunities that digital scholarship opens for students and
faculty, I continue to be pursue my own slow learning via deliciously old smelly books. As I write this entry, I am sitting in the window seat of my room in the Chawton House “stables”. Chawton House is the Elizabethan manor owned by the Knight family from the 16th through the 20th centuries. Jane Austen spent the last few years of her life living here. In fact, she published all her novels from Chawton. Her mother and sister are buried in the churchyard a few steps down the hill. (Austen herself is buried in Winchester Cathedral, a few miles down the road.) in the 1990s, the Knight family sold the property to a wealthy American philanthropist, Sandy Lerner, who restored the house and made it a center for the study of early women’s writing. It is now run in partnership with the University of Southampton, where I am a visiting Fellow for the period of my sabbatical. So now I get to live in this gorgeous Elizabethan home and read rare books while peering outside at the pheasant, chickens, sheep (each with two baby lambs), and swans floating by. Life is pretty good. See you in the fall!” Charles S. Adams: I have been spending a great deal of time on family matters. One of these is working with my father, Hazard Adams, on what to do with his extensive library as he downsizes to a retirement apartment (he, too, was an English professor, specializing in British Romanticism, especially Blake; Irish literature, especially Yeats, Joyce, and Lady Gregory; and literary theory). His intention is that much of it will come to the Whittier College Library, but at the moment it is in many boxes in my garage. I head to Chicago to the annual meeting of the Popular Culture/American Culture Associations, to chair a panel on baseball. Kate Durbin: My book of fiction and poetry, E! Entertainment, is hot off the printer. An early review from Bitch magazine says: "By recounting the actions of women from Lindsey Lohan to the Basketball Wives in matter-of-fact, objective language, Durbin actively does not make judgments about them—and in doing so calls attention to the types of criticisms regularly lauded at women in the public eye." The trade edition of my collaborative poetry book Abra is available for pre-order from 1913 Press. The iPad app and artist's book will be available in the next couple of months, from the Apple store (free!) and Center for Book and Paper Arts (expensive!). I recently began a new project, Antigone 3000, with painter Alexandra Grant. I will be creating texts inspired by Antigone, for Grant's latest series of paintings. Grant's previous collaborators are Keanu Reeves, Helene Cixous, and Michael Joyce, so I was honored to be asked to work with her.
Sigma Tau Delta Congratulations to all of you who qualified/will qualify this year to be members of the Whittier (Jessamyn West) chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national honorary society in English! Well done! (Note: you’re not really a member until you get initiated. And the national folks say you are not really in until you have paid a membership! See Professor Furman-Adams, Professor Rehn, or Angela Olivas in the department office if you have questions.) 7
Alumni and Study Abroad News We get notes, phone calls, bricks through windows. From some of you. We see people, when they remember to stop by. Sometimes we hunt them down, when we know where to look. We are not printing any notes this time, however, as we have found that Google does include this letter, and some folks seem not to want to be found. If you want to send us information about yourself that you would like others to hear, please send it, but tell us specifically that you do not mind our printing it.
What Have We Been Reading Lately? Wendy Furman-Adams: “Since our last edition, I've managed to read only one book having nothing (at least on the surface) to do with my courses: The Birth of Pleasure by feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan. Gilligan, who often works on the borders of literature and philosophy, has analyzed the Cupid and Psyche myth in the context of her research on little boys and adolescent girls. She demonstrates--through both case studies and literary texts--the ways in which both sexes, even today, are tragically limited by social expectations. Then, using those same texts, she goes on to offer ways in which we all, male and female, can recover our ability to "know what we know"-- recovering, in the process, our connection with ourselves and with others. At Whittier College, however, everything connects; and I found this book becoming even more fascinating in the context of The Faerie Queene, Book III--Spenser's 1590 meditation on gender and entrapment by both our psyches and our social roles. And what a semester of great "required" reading: Beowulf, Tristan and Isolt, Moll Flanders, Joseph Andrews, Gulliver's Travels, Veronica Franco, Mary Wroth, Aemilia Lanyer, and a whole lot more. Who could possibly complain, even though it's true, about ‘no time to read’?” Katy Simonian reports: “At the end of last year, I read Salmon Rushdie's Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an autobiographical account of the ten years he spent under the guard of the British Secret service in the wake of the fatwa that was issued for his life by the Ayatollah Khomeini in response to The Satanic Verses. I also re-read a favorite by Ian McEwan, called Amsterdam, which I am convinced will and should be adapted for film. I am currently reading a series of short stories by William Saroyan, called My Name is Aram, which offers an imaginative, at times childlike perspective of a young child living California who describes life within his Armenian family who live outside their motherland, having immigrated to America after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. His work is always a pleasure to read and I find I am able to appreciate its complexity more since I first became aware of his writing when I was a child. I am also considering weaving his work as well as the works of other Diasporan authors into my course on postcolonial short fiction as a way to showcases different experiences of exile, faith and self discovery that occur within multiculturalism and the creation of such stories which speak to us all.”
Jonathan Burton: “When English professors prepare classes we often compile lists of books that don’t ever make it onto the syllabus. In considering the reading list for my current class on Transcultural Literature I thought about Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, but it wasn’t until this past spring break that I had an opportunity to actually read the book. Nafisi’s book is a memoir describing the experiences of a reading group she convened in her home in Tehran, following her dismissal from The University of Tehran and the University of Allameh Tabatabei. Nafisi was a Nabokov scholar (hence the title), but her group’s readings also included Henry James, Jane Austen, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The section on Gatsby offers a wonderful transcultural meditation on marriage. Sometimes we read an author and feel like we should read every word she has put into print. For me that was the case after reading Lorrie Moore’s luminous novel, A Gate at the Stairs. But a few years passed before I returned this spring to Moore and picked up her most celebrated collection of short stories, Birds of America. Moore’s stories are not particularly joyful, but they repeatedly articulate for me the feelings that I thought were mine, the literary equivalent of déja vu. Thus even as I read, for example, the story of a woman with social phobias asked to lecture nationally about SAT preparation, I find something mysteriously familiar and even consoling. Moore’s stunning facility with language means that her stories are not only gorgeous but often hilarious. Indeed, it may just find its way into the next incarnation of my Transcultural Literature course. Next on my list is The Forage House, a poetry collection by incoming professor Tess Taylor.” dAve pAddy: “Recovering from surgery over January meant that I was locked in at home, not going anywhere and ready to devour a boatload of books. That situation made Eleanor Catton’s 835-page Booker-winner The Luminaries a perfect read. I’m not one who usually reads for plot (odd, I know), but this proverbial page-turner about a nineteenth-century New Zealand gold-rush town was a real stunner. Well worth the scale of the thing. During that period I also read Leo Damrosch’s excellent biography of Jonathan Swift, R. S. Thomas’s Uncollected Poems and Julian Barnes’s hilarious take on being a fanatic cookbook collector, The Pedant in the Kitchen. Currently I’m in the middle of Daniel Heller-Roazen’s brilliant Dark Tongues: The Art of Rogues and Riddlers, a hard-to-classify account of the way human societies have generated secret languages deliberately designed to be obscure. It helps illuminate some of the secret links between the language of literature and the language of thieves. But you knew that to be true already. Reading Boel Westin’s biography of Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson has led me to some intense binge re-reading: some of Jansson’s children’s books (The Moomins and the Great Flood, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll); some of her collected Moomin comic strips; and some of her novels for adults (just re-starting The Summer Book and hoping to get to The True Deceiver and Fair Play soon). A number of one-off reads include Robert Crawford On Glasgow and Edinburgh, Kevin Dettmar’s book on one of my favorite albums of all time, Gang of Four’s Entertainment!, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and, finally, Jodorowsky and Moebius’s graphic novel series The Incal.” Michelle Chihara: “I have been starting to think about the pair I'll be teaching in the fall, which has to do with economic crises. It's not boring! I promise! There are actually many, many novels that touch on or are set during economic booms and busts, so I’m
starting in on some of those. I read Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic, which centers around a rogue trader at a powerful financial firm. It’s fascinating; I’m now hoping to teach it. I’m also reading the French economist Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty First Century, and it’s actually quite riveting, although it is largely about capital to income ratios. A nonfiction book, Far From The Tree, by Andrew Solomon has also proved captivating and hard to put down. The topic might sound dry at first, but it’s not (do you sense a theme here?). Broadly, it’s about children who are born very different from their parents. The first few chapters each focus on a particular disability or mental illness: Down syndrome, deafness, dwarfism, autism, schizophrenia. But Solomon writes with such intensity and such deep wells of empathy, that the book comes to seem like a spiritual exercise, and in that, it can be uplifting. Intense, but uplifting. I’m also enjoying the book of one of my committee member’s from graduate school, American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique by Catherine Liu, about anti-intellectualism in the unlikeliest of places, within the academy.” Andrea Rehn: “I’m currently reading Emily Eden’s complete works. Eden is sometimes called the second Jane Austen, as her style and subjects closely follow Austen, and she wrote about a generation after Austen (though her books weren’t published until much later). Eden’s works include two novels and a voluminous collection of letters written while she lived (very unhappily) in India for six years as the hostess for her brother, then Governor General. In addition, I just finished Jo Baker’s Longbourn, a reimagining of Pride and Prejudice from the points of view of the Bennet’s housemaid and groom. It’s very entertaining—I highly recommend it for those Austen lovers out there. Also on my nightstand I have Daphne du Maurier’s wonderfully fun Frenchman’s Creek; a local history of the area Jane Austen spent her last years titled Jane’s Alton: The story of Alton in Jane Austen’s time by Peter Cansfield; and finally Lloyd Jones’s Booker-nominated Mister Pip, a reimagining of Dickens’s Great Expectations narrated by a child living on an (unnamed) Caribbean island in the midst of a war. Finally, I’m reading Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart, a brilliant discussion of strategies for using digital media as a thoughtful participant rather than as a passive (and endlessly distracted) consumer. I think I might teach this in my Whittier Scholar’s course for the fall.” Charles S. Adams: “I am trying to finish the last volume of the Game of Thrones series, but I last looked at it back in January. As my colleagues say, reading as a job is pleasurable, but during the year sometimes requires dropping things other than course materials. I will mention, as I usually do, that I try to keep up with The New York Review, TLS, The London Review, and The New Yorker. Sometimes Harper’s, and sometimes The Atlantic. Most of that is a story of letting them pile up at the moment.”
English Department Courses (Plus some others)
Fall 2014, January and Spring 2015 (All subject to some change)
Below is supplemental information from most of the faculty about the departmental courses scheduled for the 2014-2015 academic year. It is in the nature of our subjects that a course description in the catalog rarely says exactly what any given offering will cover. There are always big choices faculty members have to make, and these change over time. The details are, again, always subject to change, but we hope this will help. As we acquire more information and make changes, we hope to adjust the on-line versions of this document. Please see or e-mail the instructors, the department office, or our department chair, Tony Barnstone, for answers to questions these descriptions might raise. In the fall, Wendy Furman-Adams will take over the chair duties while Tony is on sabbatical. We note as well that some instructors may be teaching courses in the Interdisciplinary (INTD) category or are based in other departments, and their descriptions may not all appear here. Students should consult the Whittier College Catalog concerning prerequisites for all courses. In particular, many courses require ENGL 110 or 120 or their equivalent for enrollment. ENGL 110 note (only offered in Fall): This course is designed for first-semester, firstyear students with a strong background and continuing interest in the study and writing of literature. While it counts toward the requirements of the English major (as an alternative to ENGL 120), it does not fulfill the COM 2 (writing intensive) requirement as ENGL 120 does. But do not despair—we have worked to designate many of our other courses to fulfill this requirement, which should be reflected in the schedule of courses. ENGL 120 note: Many sections of “Why Read?” will be available next year. Instructors will organize the course around specific themes of their own devising, though all sections have the same goals. All of them count for the COM 2 Lib Ed requirement and will enable a student to then take upper-level English courses. Where there is no extended description, the instructor is still thinking about it. It is always possible that if a particular section does not draw enough students in preregistration it could be cancelled. If this happens, students should see their advisors, the registrar’s office, or any member of the English Department and we will do our best to find an open spot in another section.
Fall 2014 INTD 260 (fall) / 261 (spring): American Intellectual and Cultural History (Charles S. Adams and Joseph L. Price) While these courses cannot be used directly for the English major, they are designed to be very useful as a foundation for the major, as well as others. Thus we take the liberty of advertising them here. This is a two-semester team-taught sequence that fulfills the CON 1 (paired courses requirement) and the CUL 4 (North American Culture requirement). Both courses must be taken, in sequence, to be used for the CON 1 requirement. For those who have been around for a while, these courses are a rethinking of those that used to go by the same name but with lower numbers. The courses are now designed principally for Sophomore level students. First-year students can take them, but current rules do not allow first-year students to complete the CON1 requirement.
The courses are an historical examination of significant ideas that we believe have been important in American culture (in the short-hand of academia, American refers to The United States). While there is a discourse in academia about whether there even is such a thing as an American culture, we operate on the premise that there is, and that it can be talked about. We will take a case-study approach in which we will use significant texts to represent larger movements. Among many things, we will focus on ideas concerned with and represented in nature, region, religion, literature, race, gender, music, sports, education, science, food, and anything else we might find interesting. What is the American “take” on such things, and how have ideas shifted over time? Our title is meant to suggest that we are not as interested in events or politics as we are other matters, but those certainly show up as well. We hope that this sequence will provide foundational knowledge and analysis useful for many different majors. INTD 290 A (Fall) B (January): Classical Greece and Rome (Wendy FurmanAdams and David Hunt) This course provides a remarkable grounding in the humanities by taking us back to the beginnings of Western civilization in ancient Greece and Rome. The time period covered is roughly the ninth century B.C.E. to the fourth century of the common era: the so-called "classical" period. It is classical because so much of what is best about us derives from this period, and because we return to it over and over again as a touchstone for our own efforts (out of the flux and multiplicity of life) to create something that is beautiful, good, and true. As we explore classical Greco-Roman civilization, we will engage with a history at least as bloody, uncertain, and cynical as that of our own time. But we will also find some of the world's most remarkable writers—among them Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Virgil, and Augustine—seeking wisdom and solace in the composition of works that still possess their edge and relevance. Our engagement with written culture during the fall semester will prepare us for our January trip (INTD 290 B) and an on-site encounter with the material culture of classical Greece and Rome: the statues and frescoes, temples and sanctuaries, law courts and marketplaces, theatres and stadiums, houses and cemeteries, that contributed as much as any literary or philosophical text to shaping ancient men and women. As we visit the Athenian agora where Socrates walked and talked, the Theatre of Dionysus where the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes were first performed, the cave at Cumae where Aeneas consulted the Sybil, the Roman Forum where Cicero honed his oratorical skills, and the site of the Nemean Games celebrated in Pindar’s odes, we will be able to appreciate in a concrete and vivid way the ancient quest for wholeness in the life of the individual and of society. This team-taught course is open to sophomores and above, but only by application and only to those taking both the Fall and Jan-term segments. Application necessary. See Professor Furman-Adams or Professor Hunt. ENGL 110: Exploring Literature (Jonathan Burton) In this course for first semester students, we will talk about why books and literature may still matter in this day and age, and we will examine some of the critical skills and methodologies that can help us be better readers of texts and better writers about texts.
Think of this as an introduction to how literary authors, theorists and critics see the world. Our method will be to explore a few common tropes and story types as they travel across multiple traditions, weaving in and out of other geographies, languages and cultures. How do fundamental literary devices or narratives take on new and different meanings? Why should we bother to read them again, and how do we read them anew? One pathway we will trace will feature sections of The Arabian Nights, short fiction by Edgar Allen Poe, John Barth and A.S. Byatt, as well as Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Nobel Laureate Naghuib Mahfouz’s Arabian Nights and Days. Hang on to your magic carpet; there’s no telling where we might go next! ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 1 (Kate Durbin) “Exquisite Terror: Fairy Tales and Horror Stories.” Many historical folk and fairy tales can be read as precursors to today¹s modern horror narratives, stories that have something important to teach us about cultural fears, needs, taboos, and desires. While contemporary fairy tales are often lighthearted, and centered on contrived happy endings, in this course, we will study the scariest and most morally ambiguous of the fairy tales, from the terrifying torture chamber of Bluebeard to the cannibalistic witch of Hansel snd Gretel. We will look at these tales as windows into past cultural traumas. We will also trace the fairy tales traumatic legacy into modern horror novels from contemporaries of the horror genre such as Stephen King, Natsuo Kirino, Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, and others. In doing so, we will gain valuable insight into our current cultural condition. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 2 (Katy Simonian) “Can the Empire Write Back?” Critic and author V. S. Naipaul sees colonization as an overwhelming cultural experience that renders the colonized permanently disabled. By contrast, Salmon Rushdie claims that “those whom [the English] once colonized are carving out large territories within the language for themselves” (“The Empire Writes Back”). The title of this course, Why Read?, challenges us to appreciate the broader concerns of literature and the impact of language on the way in which we perceive, understand, and ultimately read the world. During the course of the semester, we will engage in the debate set up between the perspectives of Naipaul and Rushdie and identify where some selected works of fiction fall within the spectrum of critical interpretation set up in their work. The course is not meant to be a survey of twentieth century English literature, but rather a detailed look into varieties of postcolonial fiction from some of the different corners of the former Empire which dominated the literary world for the last century. By reading works of fiction from Ireland, Africa, the Caribbean, and India, we can gain a stronger understanding of the complexities of language, which is the connective thread between each of these writers and their works. By the end of the course, we will ask ourselves the question of whether or not voices of the Empire can indeed write back, and in doing so examine the impact language plays on identity in the context of the colonial experience and recognize the power of literature as a means of conveying an understanding of these issues to readers. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 3 (Logan Esdale) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 4 (Scott Creley) “Life During Wartime”
“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt” – Kurt Vonnegut This class will explore why we read by studying texts that expose the surprising tenderness with which we humans behave during even our darkest hours. The texts selected for this semester are all stories people at war who are struggling to survive and craft meaning during the most difficult eras of recent human history. The texts we'll study include Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and David Benioff's City of Thieves. These novels give vast, sweeping events in American history a ground-level, personal perspective. They help the reader become involved in the moral struggles that define human beings and create meaningful lives. The assignments for this class will focus on the big ethical questions and philosophical ideas embedded in the texts. These well-loved novels will make this class a fun but intellectually stimulating endeavor, and even those who don't think of themselves as “readers” will find a new love for literature in these novels. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 5 (Logan Esdale) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 6 (Scott Creeley) See description for section 4 above. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 7 (Katy Simonian) See description for section 2 above. ENGL 201: Introduction to Journalism (Thomas Caswell) Introduction to Journalism is a three-credit survey course that covers the fundamentals of journalistic writing and editing as they apply to print, the Internet, television and radio. Emphasis is on the practical and practice, and students are required to write at least six articles for the college's student newspaper. The course, which meets from 7 to 10 p.m. Mondays, is intended to teach students how to collect and organize information and then write clearly, compactly and persuasively in academic, business or personal life. It also offers critical insight into the mechanics of written and broadcast news and the roles of the media in modern culture. Events of the world -- local, state, national and global -- are addressed each week in classroom group discussions. Students are urged to detail and analyze news stories they have encountered in their daily lives and to offer opinions about them. In keeping with the common-sense construction of journalistic practices, class members figure out how to achieve certain results, such as attracting reader interest and then retaining it throughout a news article. The instructor draws on his workplace experience -- more than four decades at print and Internet outlets including the Los Angeles Times -in guiding this process. The textbook is "Inside Reporting: A Practical Guide to the Craft of Journalism," Third Edition, by Tim Harrower, which takes a modern and at times humorous approach in laying out the elements of journalistic reporting and editing.
ENGL 202: Writing Short Fiction (Michelle Chihara) ENGL 203: Writing Poetry (Tess Taylor) ENGL 220: Major British Writers to 1785 (Wendy Furman-Adams) The very ambitious purpose of this partially team-taught course (required for all English majors) is to introduce you to the major themes and writers in British literature from its beginnings, in the seventh century, until about 1785--in sequence and, insofar as time allows, in context. We'll begin with Beowulf and selections from The Canterbury Tales, the two most important (and utterly contrasting) works of the English Middle Ages, moving on to selected texts from the Renaissance, Restoration, and Eighteenth Century--ending with Samuel Johnson on the threshold of the Romantic Age. We will attempt to define some of the continuities and discontinuities in British literature, as well as to develop a clear sense of the movements and ideas that shaped its first 1000 years. In the second semester of the sequence--English 221--you will become acquainted with the second half of the story: British and American literature from about 1789 to the present. By the time you have completed the sequence, you will be ready for the study in depth provided by our 300-level courses, and should have some idea of the areas you will want to explore most fully. All majors or prospective majors should take the sequence during their sophomore year. All English majors sophomore and above who need the class should go to see Dr. Furman-Adams--or even just turn up on the first day with an add sheet--if the course is full. Sheets will be signed regardless of the size of the class. ENGL 222: Literature of the Bible (Wendy Furman-Adams) Along with Greek and Roman texts, the Bible is one of the two great well-springs of European music, literature, and art. Biblical narratives have been given color and form by countless Jewish artists, as well as by Christian artists as diverse as Giotto, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Bernini; and "secular" modern artists like Mark Rothko and Paul Klee. Literary works ranging from Milton's Paradise Lost to Toni Morrison's Beloved are best understood in a biblical light. Moreover, the Bible is itself a work of art: a compendium or anthology of literary texts of incredible richness and variety. Within its covers we will find cosmology, epic, heroic and domestic tales, tragedy, lyric, and wisdom literature; narrative, parable, epistle, and apocalypse. Thus we will be looking at biblical narrative and images through two complementary lenses. Primarily, we'll look closely at the biblical texts themselves--a large and representative sampling from both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament-placing them in as full an historical context as possible. But at various points throughout the course, we also will be looking at literary reflections of those texts, and/or at images created in response to those texts by musical or visual artists. In doing so, we will be grappling with several questions: What are the points of similarity and contrast between visual and verbal ways of "seeing" divine (or any) reality? How have familiar biblical
stories been understood at different points in history and in different countries--and how have those different understandings produced different works of art? What biblical texts have seemed most important and revelatory to artists at different points in art and literary history? And how have visual and verbal traditions influenced and affected each other, as artists in both have sought to convey their experience of an eternal, invisible God who has acted, visibly, within the ever-changing stream of human time? Because a biblical background is so important to the study of literature, this course is suitable for students of any class level, including first-semester first-years. No prerequisites. ENGL 310: Linguistics (Sean Morris) ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. Lewis Carroll invented half the words in “Jabberwocky” himself, yet you still know how to say, correctly, “That mimsy rath loves to see a gimbling tove,” even if you don’t know what you mean. How is this possible? And how can we understand people who say, “This man is a tiger,” or “That course is a bear”? While we’re at it, where do different languages come from in the first place? And why is it so hard to learn a new one when you didn’t have any trouble learning the first? Does someone who speaks another language think differently? And what’s with English spelling? How come “knight” and “bite” rhyme, but “police” and “ice” don’t? Want to know? Tune in to English 310 and find out! Paired with PSYC 352, Social Psychology! (And no, you don’t have to be in the pair to take Linguistics.) ENGL 328: Shakespeare (Jonathan Burton) Have you ever noticed that the various portraits of Shakespeare don’t really look like the same guy? There’s the fellow with the sunken eyes and bulbous forehead; there’s the dapper one with the fancy silk collar; and let’s not forget the dude with the earring. In this introduction to Shakespeare studies, we will acknowledge multiple visions of Shakespeare by approaching his works with three interanimating methodologies. First, we will examine the language of the poetry, familiarizing ourselves with Shakespeare’s idiom before engaging in close readings of the plays’ rich, figurative language. Next we will consider the plays in their historical contexts, concentrating on issues of monarchy, gender, and cultural difference. Finally, we will approach the plays as performance-scripts, confronting various dilemmas of theatrical production raised by Shakespeare's plays from the 16th through the 21st centuries. Assignments will combine expository and creative writing as well as student performances and a review of a local production. ENGL 353: James Joyce (dAve pAddy) In the year 1999, millennial fever seemed to make people go list crazy. Everywhere we were being asked about the greatest songs of all time, the best TV show, and even the best novel of the twentieth century. In poll after poll, two books rose to the top of that last list: Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and James
Joyce’s Ulysses. Given that far fewer people have probably read Joyce’s book than Tolkien’s trilogy, what does this say about the significance attributed to Ulysses? This class will give you a chance to see what all the fuss is about. The course provides an intensive study of the writings of Irish author James Joyce, one of the leading figures of European modernism. In addition to reading about Joyce’s life, his relationship to Ireland and his historical era, we will read three of his four major works: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and the aforementioned Ulysses. We will also take a look at samples of Joyce’s final work, Finnegan’s Wake. Given the length and difficulty of Ulysses, most of the semester will be devoted to the careful reading of that text. Come and join us if you are ready to delve into some of the most incredibly challenging, but rewarding literature, and learn the importance of the word “Yes!” ENGL 362: American Realism and Naturalism (Charles S. Adams) This course will examine American fiction of the period roughly between the Civil War and World War I. The title comes from two related American literary movements that many of the writers of this period are associated with (whether they knew it or not). As we might expect in a country traumatized in many ways by the horror of war and the heritage of slavery, our authors may all too often find that the optimism of the “transcendentalists” is perhaps mistaken, especially the optimism about the capacities and possibilities human beings. We find writers taking a new look at social, philosophical, political, moral, and aesthetic issues in the light of the experiences of the war, the development of the frontier, industrialization, and the increasing voices of women and African Americans. Among a variety of possibilities, we will probably consider Davis, Jackson, Crane, Chesnutt, Twain, James, Gilman, Norris, Chopin, and Wharton. The reading load will be pretty substantial—these are the American “Victorians,” so (setting aside some important ideological and cultural concerns) if you know something about the traditions of fiction in the U.K. of the period concerning length, you know something about those in America. ENGL 371: Contemporary Poetry (Tess Taylor) This is a course in poetry of the postmodern tradition from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. Students will read such authors as Robert Lowell, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Allen Ginsberg, James Wright, Theodore Roethke, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Some international poets might be covered as well. In addition, students will read the work of living poets who will be visiting the college. Though this is a survey class, it is one in which students will become extensively familiar with a small, representative group of poets through whose work a portrait of the larger movements of postmodern poetry will be sketched. ENGL 377: Autobiography and American Culture (Charles S. Adams) In the last few decades, autobiography has been increasingly recognized as a literary form of considerable significance. It has been around a long time, but we have only really just started to try and understand it. This course starts from the premise that autobiography has been particularly important in American literary culture. We will read a variety of texts from writers with very different conceptions of how one should approach one’s own life history. I have not determined exactly which ones we will do yet, but in the past I have looked at people like Bradford, Franklin, Jefferson, Edwards, Knight, Rowlandson,
Jacobs, Douglass, Whitman, James, Adams, Malcolm X, Kerouac, Rodriguez, Angelou, Kingston, Conroy, and a variety of others (these are just examples, not a reading list). This should suggest the wide array of interesting things one can find in the American version of the genre. I know we will be taking a look at Harvey Pekar’s graphic work and the film about him called American Splendor. We will do a little theory as well to try to figure out how it all works. This course may be of special interest to students with interdisciplinary interests in history, psychology, and related fields. ENGL 385: Celtic Literature (dAve pAddy) The Celts continue to hold an astonishing power over us to this day. You may find yourself strolling through a bookstore, CD shop, New Age boutique, or even a stationary store, and you might find a strange variety of objects labeled “Celtic.” But what might this mean? What is Celtic? Who are the Celts? (Or should the question be reserved solely for the past tense?) This semester we will examine the history and legacy of the Celts. Covering an impossibly large span, we will begin by reading about the earliest archeological records and move on through to the present day. How much connection there is between the original Celts of mainland Europe and the people now congregating at the fringes and extremities of Britain is still a source of scholarly debate, but, in this course, we will accept the term as it applies to the literature of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and Brittany. The course schedule will be divided in two halves. In the first, we will examine the origins of the Celts, and read samples of the earliest surviving literature of the British Isles, with a focus on the Irish Táin, the Welsh Mabinogion and a collection of Scottish folk tales. In the second half, we will look at Celtic revivalism, from the novel uses made of the Celts by the Romantics to their appropriation by modernist and postmodernist writers. By the end of the semester, we may hope to have some sense of the complex set of concepts, histories, and literatures that we have come to call Celtic. ENGL 390: Bubbles, Plots, and Panics (Michelle Chihara) Economic booms and busts have been a part of American history since its inception, but few people understand them. Economists themselves still argue about the role that the media and mass psychology do or don't play in bubbles. This class sets out to understand how the culture is involved when, for example, American housing prices go way up and then crash so hard that they bring the global economy to its knees. The Nobel Prize winning economist and historian Robert Shiller calls finance the “life-blood of our economy.” So what happens in the wider culture when that life-blood dries up, as it did in 2008? For many of us, finance seems to function behind the scenes. But when a crisis or a panic hits, it suddenly becomes clear how badly we need to understand these systems. This class will explore American culture during financial crises, and the role culture plays in financial crises. Shiller also writes that "every bubble tells a story." During a bubble, narrative plays a particularly crucial role in the economy. So how do feelings, stories, and ideas affect bubbles, busts, and plots to rig the market? When economic panic hits, novelists and other cultural producers start to depict economic realities in new ways, like “seismologists converging on the epicenter of a recent earthquake." We will read American novels and other media (pamphlets and movies and TV shows) in order to explore the intersection of the culture and the
economy. We are paired with a class on the history and nature of “Financial Crises in Business & Administration” with Prof. Radiniqi. Through this pair, we will ask not only how the culture responds to financial crises, but also how culture affects and even shapes the economy. ENGL 390: Remix: The Arts of Adaptation (Tess Taylor) “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." T.S. Eliot's famous observation refers to a long tradition of literary and aesthetic borrowing- but what does it mean to borrow well? Starting with some very old examples (Ovid, Chaucer, Shakespeare) and moving into the digital age (parody, fan fiction, pastiche)- we’ll talk about ownership, imitation, borrowing, vamping, reinvention- and aesthetic theft. While we look at why and how writers borrow from each other (and how to steal well) we’ll also look at examples across cultures, like call and response and the blues, or oral poetry from Afghanistan. In addition, we will read various essays that treat theories of the copy. As we go, we¹ll practice being copyists ourselves. As well as writing critical essays we will embark on our own imitations and thefts in a range of creative projects. ENGL 400: Critical Procedures (dAve pAddy) Reading a novel, poem, or play may seem a fairly fundamental skill for you by now. But how do you go about making an interpretation of a literary text? What kind of questions should you be asking? How do you find meaning? How do you know if your interpretation has any validity? Throughout this course we will encounter a vast array of critical essays by literary theorists who have raised difficult questions and offered compelling ideas as to what or how a literary text means. Many of these theories are difficult if not mind-boggling, but they will all help you become a more thoughtful reader, careful critic, and, perhaps, sophisticated teacher of literature. We will read essays from a wide range of approaches—formalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, gender studies, reader response, structuralism, poststructuralism, historicism, ethnic and postcolonial studies and cultural studies. Be ready for a difficult class, but one, as a senior capstone course, that should dramatically influence how you think about literature. The writing of the Paper in the Major for this course will enable you to put some of these theories into practice. In addition, practicing such theories in your own writing and responding to what other critics have said are ways to learn what literary scholars do and may help show you what it means to be part of that wider community of literary scholars. ENGL 410: Senior Seminar: Race in the Renaissance (Jonathan Burton) The Renaissance is often considered as the crucible of modern Western culture. It might also be identified as the crucible for contemporary forms of racism. In this course we will trace notions of difference from classical and medieval materials through the Renaissance. We will discuss how concerns over gender and class, the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans, and the larger Renaissance drive for empire added dark skin and lasciviousness to degeneracy, religious error, monstrosity and other terms in Europe’s growing racial lexicon. Keeping in mind the fact that Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote at a time when Europe was working to establish imperial networks that would eventually involve 90% of the world, our readings will be divided between
traditional literary works (plays, sonnets and an epic), and archival materials related to race. These will include travelers’ narratives, histories, medical texts, biblical commentaries, and royal proclamations, as well as pamphlets on cosmetics, conversion, monstrous births, witchcraft, and zoology. We will thus consider how literary scholars read literary works in relation to cultural contexts, and what, if anything, distinguishes literary texts. ENGL 420: Preceptorships (Various Faculty) This course is for advanced students who will act as assistants to faculty in some of the courses above. See individual faculty members concerning what might be involved. Instructor permission required.
January 2015 ENGL 204: Playwriting Workshop (TBA) ENGL 389: Lord of the Rings: J.R.R. Tolkien (Sean Morris) “All those long years… you knew this day would come.” You’ve seen the movies. You’ve read the books. You may even have dressed up in the costumes. And now you have a chance to sit in a room with 30 people and talk about it. Tolkien was recently voted the most important author of the twentieth century, and in this course we will try to find out why, through discussion of his major works and their significance, and also through an investigation of the vast array of medieval sources on which he drew. We will also consider and evaluate the recent film adaptations, and take a brief look both at those languages that inspired Tolkien and at those he created himself. Required coursework includes daily readings and reading quizzes, an oral presentation, and two papers. The reading list for this course is very substantial, and I strongly advise getting a head start. The Fellowship of the Ring, at least, must be finished before the first day of class. Works by Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, The Return of the King (plus some of the Appendix material), The Hobbit, “Farmer Giles of Ham” (in The Tolkien Reader), several chapters of The Silmarillion, 1 chapter of the Unfinished Tales, and selections from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Works by other authors: Humphrey Carpenter’s J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Sir Orfeo; Beowulf; Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale”; Shakespeare’s Macbeth; Snorri Sturluson’s Edda (some 100 pages); The Kalevala (a few chapters); The Volsungasaga (less than 100 pages); and “Fafnismal” (less than 10 pages). A preliminary syllabus is posted on my office door, and I have a sign-up sheet in my office, Hoover 209, where you’ll need to come have your card signed, as instructor permission is required. Don’t despair! The readings are long, but also fun. “All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given you.” See you in January. “Forth, Eorlingas!” ENGL 390: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy (Scott Creley) ENGL 390: Japanese Ghost Stories (Mary Yukari Waters) This course introduces students to the basics of Japanese ghost lore. We will read stories, watch films, and
discuss them in terms of psychology and culture. This course also has a creative writing component: each student will write an original ghost story or scary story (it doesn’t need to be Japanese), which will be shared with the class.
Spring 2015 See note above for a discussion of the ins and outs of 120 registration. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 1 (Scott Creley) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 2 (Scott Creley) See above, Section 1, for description. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 3 (Kate Durbin) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 4 (Kate Durbin) See above, Section 3, for description. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 5 (Katy Simonian) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 6 (Katy Simonian) See above, Section 5 for description. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 7 (Logan Esdale) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 8 (Logan Esdale) ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 9 (dAve pAddy) “Reading, done properly, is every bit as tough as writing—I really believe that. As for those people who align reading with the essentially passive experience of watching television, they only wish to debase reading and readers. The more accurate analogy is that of the amateur musician placing her sheet music on the stand and preparing to play. She must use her own, hard-won, skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift she gives the composer and the composer gives her.”—Zadie Smith “Fail Better” In the essay quoted above, novelist Zadie Smith speaks of the “talented reader.” What might she mean by such a thing? Surely, once one has learned to read, one is a reader. So, what might it mean to be a talented reader? We must assume that rather than being a skill one has or does not have, reading is a life-long practice that requires skill, work and practice that may help bring a written work to life in more nuanced and layered ways. The question this course asks, Why Read?, is not, then, as simple as it might seem, especially when we extend the question to ask, “Why read literature?” In this course, we will confront these dilemmas head on so that we may begin thinking about the purpose of literature today, particularly as we think about the role of literature in the liberal arts. Mark Edmundson, whose book title inspired this course,
urges us to open literature so that we may think about some of the great matters of life, and we will build on his book by reading a great variety of texts that contemplate one of the biggest questions of all, “What does it mean to be human?” In this way, this class will serve as an introduction to the aesthetics and critical reading of literature. (Our introductory survey courses, ENG 220 and 221, provide you with the opportunity to study literature from a historical perspective). The primary goal of this course is to help you become a better reader of literature with an enhanced ability to analyze, discuss, and write about literary texts. Think of it as an introduction to how literary authors, theorists and critics see the world. By the end of the course, you will have hopefully garnered new skills or intensified old ones to help you appreciate the joy and complexity of literature. ENGL 120: Why Read? Section 10 (Tess Taylor) ENGL 221: Major British and American Writers From 1660 (Charles S. Adams) This course continues the survey of literature begun in ENG 220. One of the big differences from the previous course is that in addition to looking at the development of British literary history we will also consider the trajectory of American literary history. The course will in fact begin with some of the foundations of American literature. Moving back and forth between British and American literature, we will examine Romanticism, the Victorian Age, Realism, Modernism, and conclude with some directions taken in contemporary literature. As we investigate the intellectual ideas and aesthetic premises that guide each era, we will also address such issues as the rise and fall of the British Empire, the building of the American nation, the historical importance of revolution and industrialization, and the roles of race, class, and gender. As we consider shifting notions of aesthetics, we will also consistently ask: What is the relationship between national identity and literature? We will read a wide range of poems, stories, essays, and excerpts, and we will read several full length works. ENGL 290: Writing Dramatic Monologues and Documentary Poetry (Tony Barnstone) This is a brand new course in poetry writing and I plan to spend part of my sabbatical trying to figure out how to teach it. The concept behind the course is to use translation, transformation and adaptation techniques in poetry writing, and we’ll be reading poets who have written work based on historical research into topics such as the Salem witch trials the history of slavery and racism in the South, working from oral histories, diaries, letters, interviews, trial transcripts, and so on. The course will be paired with THEA 392, Performing Nonfiction, taught by Jennifer Holmes, which uses similar research techniques to culminate in a one-person show. Note that co-enrollment with THEA 392 is a requirement for entry into the course and I don’t plan on being very flexible about that. Luckily, the creative writing offerings for the year are quite rich, so chances are you can take another kind of poetry workshop, even if you don’t get into this one. ENGL 302: Advanced Fiction Writing (Michelle Chihara) This course is an advanced creative writing workshop. We will focus primarily on reading and critiquing each other’s work. We will also read a wide range of short stories and excerpts of other work,
in order to expose ourselves to an array of idiosyncratic voices, creative approaches and techniques. The class assumes a serious commitment to writing fiction, and some experience with both the workshop format and the short story genre. I hope to approach the workshop as a working writers’ group, where we assume a love of language and a drive to write in our peers, and focus on pushing each other to discover the strongest expression of our individual voices. ENGL 303: Advanced Poetry Writing (Tony Barnstone) This class is an advanced workshop for those who have learned the basics of poetry writing. You are expected to enter the class with a strong understanding of what makes for a powerful free verse poem, how to craft the amazing image, how to take a poem through rhetorical and conceptual "turns," how to create exciting line breaks that create interesting tensions with the sentence rhythm, and of course how to revise a poem to make it better and better. In this class, you will learn the essentials of metrics, from accentual meter to syllabics to accentual-syllabic meter, and you will write in those meters, often in fixed forms, such as the haiku, the pantoum, the sestina, the quatrain, the villanelle, the sonnet, terza rima, blank verse, and such other meters as Chinese regulated verse and the Persian ghazal. ENGL 305: Screenwriting (Sean Morris) You know you’ve always wanted to write your own movie, and here’s your chance! This course will give you the tools you need to write for the silver screen—including plot structure, character development, scene building, dialogue, and screenplay format. Our methods and assignments will include short writing exercises, outlining, discussions, workshops, readings, and a weekly film lab (time and day to be fixed when the course begins). For your major project, you will submit a detailed outline for a feature-length film, and a complete first act (30 pages in screenplay format). Readings will include Robert McKee’s Story, Denny Martin Flinn’s How Not To Write a Screenplay, Syd Field’s, Screenplay, a few professional scripts like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sense and Sensibility, and The Illusionist, and your fellow students’ drafts. ENGL 306: Creative Nonfiction (Tess Taylor) The Lyric Essay and the Long Form: A Nonfiction Workshop Calling all worldly observers: What does it mean to craft the truth? How do we report at length? How does a writer carve what he or she sees and reports into something artful but also revealing? How- using the forms of both reporting and the exploratory essay- can we learn to use the world around us to reveal our thinking to ourselves? We will look at work by writers like Lawrence Weschler, Eula Biss, Joan Didion, and Ted Conover- all masters of building literature out of reported truth. And we¹ll examine the traditions of the exploratory essay and of lyric reporting looking reporting by Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman and Ryszard Kapuscinski. In the process we¹ll look at innovative voices, structures, and points of view, as well as discussing reportorial technique. Examining how long-form reporting uses the formal tools of literary fiction to carve graceful narratives out of observed truth, we too will imitate the projects we find. In this class we¹ll embark on several critical essays- and also several reported projects of our own.
ENGL 311: History of the English Language (Sean Morris) This is your language 1000 years ago: “Hwæt! We gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon, hu þa æþelingas ellen fremmedon.” What happened?!?! How did we get here from there? And while we’re at it, we still want to know why “police” and “ice” don’t rhyme, but “knight” and “bite” do. And why can you have two dogs, but not two sheeps or oxes? And why do they talk funny in other states, calling a “soda” a “pop” and other crazy things? Why? I will tell you why, if first you sojourn with me through… the History of the English Language. Welcome to H-E-L! ENGL 321: British Literature 700-1500 (Sean Morris) Monsters and heroes and saints, oh my! This course is part “Greatest Hits of Medieval England” and part “Secret, Shocking, Fun Texts of Medieval England.” We’ll read such classics as Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Morte d-Arthur, possibly some Canterbury Tales alongside lesser-known works like The Owl and the Nightingale, Havelok the Dane, William and the Werewolf, and even Anglo-Saxon handbooks on punishment. These texts will give you the usual modern understanding of the Middle Ages, and will also show you where this paradigm falls short. Some texts will be read in Middle English—don’t worry, we’ll get you through it! (Who thought “getting medieval” could be so fun?) ENGL 323: Dante (Wendy Furman-Adams) Even in our era of a vastly expanding canon, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is one of a handful of writers who make up the virtually undisputed "greats" of European literature. In a still-important twentiethcentury essay, T. S. Eliot exaggerated only slightly when he wrote, "Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third. . . . The majority of poems one outgrows and outlives, as one outgrows and outlives the majority of human passions. Dante is one of those which one can only just hope to grow up to at the end of life" ("Dante," in Selected Essays [Faber and Faber, 1932]). Dante's epic journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise is most profoundly a journey inward, a journey in which all human beings are in some sense engaged. But if Dante's Commedia is (at least from an "essentialist" perspective) in some sense perpetually "relevant" to our lives, it is also the supreme literary reflection of a particular time and place: Florence, Italy, ca. 1300. Its huge cast of characters includes the popes, emperors, and nobles both of the past and of the poet's own day; and all three canticles are full of allusions to parties and debates, quarrels, schisms and battles that were of immediate importance to Dante himself. In the midst of nearly perpetual turmoil, Europe was undergoing a great cultural renaissance. And Dante was immersed not only in its politics, but also in its welter of secular and religious ideas. The Commedia is a fourteenth-century poetic Summa Theologica, a love poem, and a political manifesto. It is also a poetic cathedral with a place for both gargoyles and rose windows; deep darkness and unfathomable light. All aspects of European civilization illuminate Dante's thought and work, and the Commedia demonstrates vividly what a brilliant fourteenth-century mind made of the political, intellectual and aesthetic data of his time and place. But we will also explore the poem's canticles as Dante explored Hell,
Purgatory, and Paradise: as places on a journey into the remarkably familiar human mind and heart. ENGL 325: Literature of the English Renaissance (Wendy Furman-Adams) This course on the English Renaissance represents a kaleidoscope of perspectives and interpretations. Even the name Renaissance—invented in the nineteenth century—is itself an interpretation of what we now often call the "early modern" period. The early modern period introduced such cultural phenomena as the rise of nation states; the development of a stable monarchy; the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the rise of literacy, a money economy, and a vastly expanded middle class. This period, dated roughly 1400 to 1660, is also the "age of exploration"—and the first truly global era. The Renaissance is an intellectual movement that took place at the very same time: the rise of Neo-Platonic Humanism and the reform of education along humanist lines; the shift from a courtly to a Petrarchan model of romantic love; and a new interest in the natural world as a subject for study in and of itself. All of these perspectives will come into play, as we the works of Wyatt, Castiglione, the Sidney circle, Spenser, Marlowe, Ralegh, Shakespeare, Southwell, Jonson, Donne, Wroth, Philips, and Milton. ENGL 326: Topics in Shakespeare Studies: Shakespeare in American Life Jonathan Burton) In this class we will focus on the methods of historicism and reception studies to examine Shakespearean drama in a range of geographic, temporal and political contexts. Following an intensive reading of several of Shakespeare’s plays, we will consider how those same texts have taken on new forms and meanings in American culture from the 18th century up to the present. Our exploration of the American afterlives of Shakespearean drama will feature a range of contexts, including literary and political life, education, performance, and business, before concluding with Shakespeare on Youtube. More specifically, we will consider how Shakespeare has been harnessed to various projects in American life, such as defining an independent nation, incorporating (or ostracizing) new citizens, making a profit, and educating leaders. ENGL 336: The European Novel (dAve pAddy) This course is paired with Elizabeth Sage’s HIST 363 Socialism and Revolution in Modern Europe, and together we will explore some of the literature, art and history from the end of the 18th century through the end of the twentieth century, a period rife with revolutionary sentiments in Europe. Think of this as a set of classes in the relationship between art and revolution. My readings will have us think about the changing ways that literature in the modern period has attempted to represent or wrestle with ideas of social and cultural change. We will look at works that attempt to address revolutionary moments directly through content, as well as avant-garde works that make claims to the revolutionary nature of artistic forms in and of themselves. Readings will be heavy and exciting. [I do not know yet what I will use, but some of these are possibilities: Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, Emile Zola’s Germinal, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, and Herta Müller’s The Appointment, as well as avant-garde manifestoes and political essays by Theodor Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Gyorgy Lukacs and Guy Debord.]
Note: Students wishing to enroll in this course will be required to take the pair. Please contact me and Professor Sage for signatures. ENGL 355: Contemporary Drama (Jonathan Burton) ** This course is paired for CON 1 credit with Theater 340, Scenic Design Drama and theater have always been anxious, narcissistic forms; writing from ancient Greece to the present make claims about the impact of theatrical expression on the life, mind and morality of its practitioners and spectators. Accordingly, an inordinate number of plays exercise a self-reflexive interest in the possibilities and responsibilities of playwright, actor, and audience. From medieval morality plays through to postmodern pastiche, we can find actors breaking through fourth walls, plotlines penetrating narrative frames, playwrights staging themselves and their audiences in powerful and compromised positions, and performers performing performance. This course will consider a variety of examples of meta-dramatic moments, concentrating primarily on late 20th-centrury British and American playwrights. Playwrights will include Tom Stoppard, Suzan-Lori Parks, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Caryl Churchill, Derek Walcott, Michael Frayn and Tony Kushner. ENGL 363: Modern American Novel (Charles S. Adams) This course is designed to give some focus to what is happening in the American novel from about World War I into the 1950's, and the relation of those literary developments to cultural issues. It is a prolific period, filled with important work by many writers. The relationship of literature to ideas of nation, race, gender, aesthetics, morality and everything else are rethought once again. I am still considering the exact direction it will take this year as far as specific texts are concerned, though, as usual, my interests are pretty historical. Here is my thinking so far: in the past we have started with some Willa Cather and Gertrude Stein. We then should move on to some Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and John Dos Passos. I feel an obligation to F. Scott Fitzgerald, but time begins to be an issue. We should look at Zora Hurston and Jean Toomer and end up with people like Ralph Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jack Kerouac. So, we will be looking at perhaps ten books. Yes, it is true. ENGL 375: Chicano/Chicana Literature (Michelle Chihara) ENGL 382: History of Literary Criticism (Jonathan Burton) Have you ever noticed how rarely your professors talk about the beauty of literary works? How many times have you spent a class discussing how reading a particular text makes you a better person? Why do we ask some questions about texts more than others? Has this always been the case? What questions will we be asking about texts ten years from now? In this class, we will trace the history of scholarly inquiry into literary works, from Platoâ€™s call to ban poets from his Republic up to Googleâ€™s new tools for literary analysis. Students will measure the effects of changing methods and tools for analysis by considering how two or three short works have been (or might have been, . . . or might be) received in various historical moments. This is a course that will help to prepare English majors for Critical Procedures and Senior Seminar, though it can certainly be taken concurrently with either of those. It is also highly recommended for students considering graduate 26
school. ENGL 390: After the End: the Post-Apocalypse in Contemporary Film and Literature (TBA) ENGL 390: Elementary: A Study in Sherlock (Tess Taylor) Ever since the Scottish physician turned writer Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes and his physician sidekick Watson in 1887, Sherlock (and Watson) have fascinated readers alike. In this class we¹ll delve into Doyle¹s famous stories, examining what they can tell us about Victorian England, about the history of science, about popular fiction, about detectionand just possibly - what Sherlock Holmes and John Watson can tell us about our lives as readers. As well as reading a great many Sherlock stories, we¹ll examine a few precursors and also look at later reinventions of Sherlock itself. The class will include film screenings, several essays, and the chance to invent your very own mystery. ENGL 400: Critical Procedures (Andrea Rehn) “Question Reality.” This may be the only advanced literature course best described by a bumper sticker. As you know, writing about literature begins with asking questions. But how do we come up with our questions? What tends to go without question? How are our questions related to each other? How have questions changed over time? How do questions reflect on the questioner? In this course we will read “theory,” a body of texts from many disciplines that dispute common-sense explanations in favor of speculative analysis. Assignments will include fearless participation in course discussion, regular reading responses, and presentation to the department of your senior project, which you will develop over the course of the semester in consultation with me. Is the course difficult? Yes. Theory is notoriously challenging to read and write about. Mind-bending? Hopefully. Productive of fascinating senior presentations? Absolutely. ENGL 410: Senior Seminar (dAve pAddy) Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the major figures of contemporary British literature. Most famous perhaps for The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro creates novels that are models of elegance, insight and restraint. He is a master at creating reticent characters who find themselves psychologically shipwrecked and oftentimes on the wrong side of history. As a writer who has explored a wide range of genres and forms, Ishiguro also raises important questions for the reader about topics as far ranging as ethics, memory, history, music, nation, identity and the struggle and mystery of being human. We will read all of his books, from his first novel A Pale View of the Hills up through his latest work, the collection of short stories Nocturnes, as well as a range of critical materials (some directly on Ishiguro’s work and others related to the issues found in his work). Instructor’s permission required. ENGL 420: Preceptorships (Various Faculty) This course is for advanced students who will act as assistants to faculty in some of the courses above. See individual faculty members concerning what might be involved. Instructor permission required.
Why Did You Get This? The purpose of this newsletter is to keep students, faculty, and friends informed about the wide variety of activities the Whittier College English Department is engaged in. If there are events of a literary nature that could use a bit of publicity through this vehicle, send information about them to the English Department office. We cannot guarantee when or if they will appear, but it never hurts to try! If you get this and do not want it, or if you did not get it but see a copy and want future issues, please let our Department Secretary, Angela Olivas (x4253 or see e-mail list below), in the department office know.
Ways to Help While we all live for art alone, other things do matter. There are lots of ways to help us, and we welcome conversations with anyone who wants one. We are all interested in collaborations with alums in various ways, just as a starting point. But money is always useful too. We have two funds that support English Department activities in particular— one for Student Prizes in Literature and the other called Poets for Poets. The first supports writing prize contests all students at Whittier can enter. We have been giving prizes for fiction, poetry, and prose. Most of the winning work has been published in our Literary Review, edited by our students. The Poets for Poets fund will support general activities of interest and importance to the department (we need it to grow a bit more to start using it in the best ways possible). If you are interested in making even very small gifts, “it is all good.” Just tell the office of Advancement (on line or in person) what you want to do.
The Whittier College Department of English Language and Literature and Affiliates Charles S. Adams: email@example.com Professor (American Literature, American Studies, Autobiography, Romanticism, Popular Culture, Literary Theory) Tony Barnstone: firstname.lastname@example.org Albert Upton Professor of English Language and Literature (Creative Writing--Poetry, Modern and Postmodern American Literature, Asian Literature, Translation) Jonathan Burton: email@example.com Assistant Professor (Shakespeare, Early Modern Studies, Music Writing, Comparative Literature) Wendy Furman-Adams: firstname.lastname@example.org Professor (Milton, Early Modern Literature, 18th Century Literature, Women’s Studies, Literature and Visual Culture, The Bible, Classics) Sean Morris: (Department Chair): email@example.com Associate Professor (Linguistics and English Language, Medieval Literature, Creative Writing, Fun) dAvid pAddy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor (20th Century British, Modernism, Postmodernism, Welsh and other Celtic Literatures, Literary Theory, Creative Writing) Andrea Rehn: email@example.com Associate Professor (19th Century British, Postcolonial Studies, Womenâ€™s Studies, Travel, Literary Theory) Visiting Assistant Professor (Through 2014-2015 academic year) Tess Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org Mellon Fellow (Through 2014-2015 academic year): Michelle Chihara: email@example.com Adjunct and Visiting Faculty for 2014-2015: (These links may or may not be ones our adjunct and visiting faculty use most of the time. Please contact the department office if you cannot make contact using these) Scott Creley: firstname.lastname@example.org Kate Durbin: email@example.com Logan Esdale: firstname.lastname@example.org Katy Simonian: email@example.com Mary Yukari Waters: firstname.lastname@example.org Director, College Writing Programs: Charlie Eastman email@example.com English/History/Writing Program Departments Secretary: Angela Olivas: firstname.lastname@example.org