This course will help students develop an understanding of Creative Writing through critical reading, the drafting process, and class workshops. Drafting and revising will be a major component of our creative work. We will read and analyze popular works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry with specific attention to craft elements, such as setting, characters, point of view, symbolism, description, and tone. The course will focus on creating original works, workshopping peer writings, and studying published literature. Assigned class readings will provide inspiration for student work and opportunities to hone analytical skills. Class activities include reading discussion, online activities through Canvas, digital research, and attendance at creative reading events. This coursework will prepare students to write a personal essay, a work of fiction, and a series of poems. Students are encouraged to practice presenting their work at public readings, explore possible venues for publication, and work together in writing groups.
This class will explore three genres of creative writing: poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Class periods will focus on the building blocks of all creative work—images, voice, character, setting, conflict, structure, and perspective. We’ll learn about these topics from reading, discussing, and critiquing professionally published work.
Over the semester, you’ll submit drafts in our three different genres. Everyone will have an audience for these drafts in our class workshops: students will read and spend time discussing what you’ve done well and how to make your draft even better than it already is, building up the work rather than knocking it down. Reading and responding to the work of other students will help you see other successful pieces, practice your writing vocabulary, and think through all the possibilities for a draft. In addition, you’ll be part of a supportive writing community.
Based on these workshops, you will revise all of your drafts and submit the revisions in a portfolio at the end of the semester, a point at which you should have developed an understanding of the basic elements of craft.
Participation in workshops and class discussions
Short written responses to assigned reading
Short craft-building exercises
Three original poems
One piece of original creative non-fiction (7-15 pages)
One original short story (7-15 pages)
A portfolio of revised work to include three poems and one piece of prose
We will read online poetry selections by Maya Angelou, James Arthur, Margaret Atwood, Linda Bierds, Billy Collins, Joy Harjo, David Lee, Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, George Santos, Arthur Sze, Natasha Tretheway, and Kevin Young.
We will read short stories by Denis Johnson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tim O’Brien, Daniel Orozco, and Leslie Marmon Silko. These will come from The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction.
And we’ll read Creative Non-fiction by Kelly Gray Carlisle, Annie Dillard, Dinty Moore, and Ryan van Meter. These will come from The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Non-Fiction.
This is an introductory study of the craft of creative writing. We will be working in the genres of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Extensive writing experience is not a requirement. The emphasis of the course will be divided between the students’ own writing and the study of published works. Good readers make good writers, but this is not a literature class; the focus of our reading will be on the elements of craft, the techniques and strategies used by these more experienced autique peer work with a particular focus on supporting the execution of the writer’s intention and discovering what is “right” about a piece as means to understand what is lacking.
What does writing look like across varied professional contexts? How should we study it, and how can we learn to produce more rhetorically effective documents as professional writers? As the gateway course to the Public and Professional Writing track within the English major, ENGL 2010 seeks to answer these questions, introducing you to the rhetorical principles, professional practices, and research skills that will inform your work in the track and beyond. To do so, this course will center around understanding how various discourse communities function and will ask you to both analyze and enter into a specific professional discourse community of your choice. You will learn about and apply key concepts in professional writing and rhetoric as you conduct research on and produce a variety of documents for this professional discourse community. This work will culminate in a final ePortfolio which will showcase your identity and skills as a professional writer.
English 2020 introduces students to the academic study of literary texts in English with an emphasis on formulating an argument about a text, developing goals and strategies for research, and managing the different stages of the writing process. In this course, we will develop a set of skills that will serve us as students of literature across a range of upper-division (3000 and 4000 level) literature courses. We will learn how to engage with literary texts and the critical conversations surrounding them in focused, strategic, and scholarly ways. Some of the questions we will consider include: How do we talk about literature, both in class and in other academic environments? What is literary research and how is it produced? How do we use research to help a writing project evolve? How do I begin to think critically and reflectively about my work and development as an English literature major? How do we see a literary text as a document that speaks from and speaks to a culture of readers?
As a shared platform for exploring these questions, we will read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Frederick Douglass, Narrative in the Life of Frederick Douglass, and The Awakening, a novella by Kate Chopin.
This is a course whose content includes theoretical approaches to law and justice, the representation of some of those approaches in literature, and the more practical applications of those approaches by studying, and writing about, actual legal judgments.
Assignments will include two papers and a final exam.
Our readings will include Supreme Court cases, Sophocles’ Ajax, Electra, and Philoctetes, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Michael Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do?; and David Edmonds’ Would You Kill the Fat Man?
Reading theory is a bit like reading a foreign language, the language of advanced literary and cultural analysis. In this course, we will discuss readings from a broad (though far from exhaustive) range of theoretical schools. We will practice explicating theory in clear and accurate terms, applying it as a framework for textual analysis, and considering which approaches make sense when. No prior knowledge of literary theory is necessary. By the end of this course, you will be able to: Identify, define, and use concepts from literary and cultural theory; Apply strategies that will help you understand and respond to difficult pieces of writing; Use concepts and ideas from our readings in order to make an argument about a text; Justify the use of one framework over another or a synthesis of multiple theories.
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism; Jonathan Culler, A Very Short Introduction to Literary Theory; Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Epic
This course is for students who have some writing experience while being eager to learn more about the dynamic and expansive world of fiction writing. We will read a mix of contemporary and classic short stories to explore elements of craft including plot, character, dialogue, and setting and will discuss how to build rich characters, worlds, and premises. Students will submit two short stories to workshop and will also work on short skill-building exercises along the way. Toward the end of the course, we will work on significantly revising your work for a final portfolio as well. Students will be encouraged not only to polish their work, but also to experiment with a variety of writing styles and genres on the never-ending journey to finding their voices.
This course aims to explore the concept of influence. Our readings will be focused on contemporary American poetry. The class will generally alternate between days of workshop and days dedicated to the study and discussion of published work. Students can expect to workshop six to eight poems over the semester, along with composing regular reading responses. The class work culminates in a portfolio of revised poems and an Essay on Influence in which students will map out their literary influences across the course curriculum.
This class will serve as an introduction to the genre of literary nonfiction. We will cover both memoir (writing from your personal experience) and literary journalism (writing from reporting and research). We will consider various questions as we write, chief among them how we shape our personal experiences into stories, and what meaning we bring to bear on those stories. We will learn different modes of research—interviewing, observation, archival research—and how to synthesize all the material you gather into a cohesive essay. We will learn and use the technical elements of writing craft: Scene versus summary, point-of-view, plot, dialogue, etc. The readings assigned for this class will include sports writing, personal essays, science writing, lyric essays, and other kinds of writing that fall under the vast umbrella of literary nonfiction. You will be assigned a few short writing assignments (one to two pages) and then you will each write and workshop one memoir essay and one literary journalism essay, each ten to twelve pages. No experience in writing necessary.
"The gay revolution," remarked the novelist Christopher Bram, "began as a literary revolution." But what exactly constitutes an LGBTQ+ literary history, and how have the evolutions of LGBTQ+ identity been prepared for, described, and transformed by it? This course seeks to examine this question, paying special attention to how LGBTQ+ writing tries to shape a common history for a diverse community--a community which is itself always being reshaped by the culture around it. We will begin by examining the "pre-history" of LGBTQ+ writing--works by authors who lived and wrote before the modern understanding of alternate sexualities and genders as distinct identities was framed--as a way of envisioning how a template for describing a lived experience might be formed. Then we will examine several key texts by Anglophone writers that explore that lived experience in light of shifting cultural and social norms. Topics within that historical chronology might include the dynamics of repression and acceptance; political opposition and activism; family and religious expectations; the AIDS crisis; the enlarging of the gay and lesbian spectrum (and the internal divisions within the community); the role of humor and camp in LGBTQ+ representation; and the growing body of LGBTQ+ literary representations for children and young adults.
As befits such a broad focus, this is a course that is also very "universal" in spirit: it doesn't presuppose anything about students' own identities, backgrounds, or political sympathies--just that they are interested in seeing how one community has tried to reflect its experience, in part, through the things we read.
The reading list is still evolving, but likely candidates would include fiction (long-form and short) and drama by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Peter Gill, Tony Kushner, E.M Forster, Bernardine Evaristo, Sarah Waters, and Carmen Maria Machado. We will explore Alison Bechdel's memoir, Fun Home, as well as poetry by authors such as Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Phillips, Thom Gunn, Adrienne Rich, Rick Bardot, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Lee Mokobe.
Popular Literature & Culture
ENGL3760: Popular Literature & Culture
Dystopian literature emerged not long after early utopian literature and has evolved alongside its optimistic kin. The popularity of this genre grows during periods of rising authoritarianism, as evident in its response to Soviet communism and European fascism in the mid-twentieth century. Social engineering, eugenics, and religious intolerance are among the fears that this genre has addressed. The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have seen dystopian literature rising again, even in young adult fiction series such as The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. This class will center its study of this genre on seven novels, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), George Orwell’s 1984 (1949), Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), P. D. James’ The Children of Men (1992), Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower (1993), and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006). Additionally, we will read scholarly articles and short stories to further contextualize the evolution of the genre.
This course will broadly survey contemporary literature written in English but produced outside the Anglo-American core to explore how theoretical dimensions of globalization, migration, gender and sexuality, and natural disasters engender or refute notions of worldliness. Some of the debates that we will ponder include but are not limited to: the centrality of English as the lingua franca for peoples/writers from different parts of the world, how those writers oscillate between the standard English and multiple “englishes”, the impossibility of reading “world literature” without contextualizing the imperial project of Europe, and many others.
To anchor these overarching topics, we will look at several core literary texts from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In this course, we will be able to build connections between politics, language and representations. Some of the writers that we will read are Laila Lalami, Amitav Ghosh, Saleem Haddad, Michelle Cliff, Athol Fugard, Ahdaf Soueif, and others.
ENGL4000: Advanced Composition
AI and the Future of Writing
In a recent article from The Atlantic, Matthew Kirschenbaum asks, “What if, in the end, we are done in not by intercontinental ballistic missiles or climate change, not by microscopic pathogens or a mountain-size meteor, but by…text?” This question would have made very little sense five years ago, but today, it feels appropriate. It captures the ominous mood around writing and technologies of literacy. With the mass uptake of so-called generative artificial intelligence (AI), including large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT, our relationship with writing is changing. And it’s changing fast. As has been the case historically in moments of significant literacy change, this paradigm shift has been met with a range of different reactions: from a panic anticipating the next “literacy crisis” to an almost utopian enthusiasm for a more efficient and democratic writing future. In this class, students will work to understand this moment in writing history by both studying past literacy crises and working to unpack the implications these new technologies have for their own present and future as writers. As we experiment with these emergent writing technologies, and document the impact they are having on our writing processes, we will collectively theorize the future of writing and of writing studies. To that end, students can expect to: produce consistent short writing assignments, with and about LLMs; compose major papers on AI and literacy crises; compile and present on a multimodal study of writing processes; and contribute to a course soundtrack.
Grammar? Punctuation? Sure, but there’s a whole lot more to technical editing. Come find out! You will, of course, learn the principles and practical applications of copymarking, print and electronic copyediting, and comprehensive editing. But you'll also learn how to be an advocate for the reader, manage projects, create in-house style guides, and work tactfully and effectively with authors. We'll work with a variety of technical writing pieces; these pieces may include professional writing from technology, business, and science, as well as texts intended for academic publication. We’ll cover the standard details you expect, but this course will take a broad approach to editing. NOTE: We’ll also break myths. For instance, you can split an infinitive and end a sentence or clause with a preposition! (E.g., "You’ll learn to effectively use references that editors rely on.”)
Assignments may include the following: reading quizzes, short editing assignments that focus on specific facets of editing, a presentation on a concept in editing, a midterm, and a longer editing assignment
Readings likely will include the following, plus resources linked from Canvas: Saller, C. F. (2016). The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226240077 (Kindle edition available), Cunningham, D. H., Malone, E. A., and Rothschild, J. M. (2019). Technical Editing: An Introduction to Editing in the Workplace. Oxford, UK: Oxford U Press. ISBN 978-0190872670
Document Design in Technical & Professional Communication
ENGL4030: Document Design in Technical & Professional Communication
A document conveys meaning in many ways. In most cases, the extra-textual components are as important, or even more important, than the written words. Picture a round, green sign with the word STOP on it, for example. Would you be confused? Design matters, particularly when there are cultural associations attached to shapes, colors, and more.
This course will approach document design as a rhetorical practice with the understanding that a document is any place where one agent may mark information for later use. This situates a document broadly as a container for meaning in a variety of media. Here, we will focus on physical and non-web-page design. We will consider a variety of material and cultural artifacts over our studies, and engage with scholarship on ethics, visual and cultural rhetorics, perception, and accessibility, among others. You will study real-world scenarios and users and produce documents under a variety of use constraints.
This course will entail both hands-on and analytic work. By the end of the course, you should be able to apply and discuss principles of design; apply and discuss theories of design; discuss how differences in design shape your message; and use tools in document design to create rhetorically savvy documents.
In this course, students will learn about language structure, language in society, and language acquisition. Throughout the semester, students will study and analyze linguistic patterns from several languages that will, in turn, allow them to gain insight into the structures of a specific foreign language that they are studying, know, or are interested in.
Rhetorical Theory & Practice
ENGL4180: Rhetorical Theory & Practice
Ecological Rhetoric & Rhetorical Ecologies
The concept of “ecology” appears widely in contemporary scholarship, and over the past two decades, has emerged as a critical site of research and theory building in the field of writing and rhetoric studies. Among its varied uses, scholars have drawn on ecological perspectives both to define the scope of rhetoric (as material, discursive, affective, and relational) and to engage with complex environmental problems (as a site of rhetorical intervention). In this course, we will explore rhetoric’s “ecological turn,” and through focused reading, writing, and research activities, we will consider the affordances and limitations of using ecological models to inform our work as professional communicators. The course will begin by familiarizing students with established and emerging approaches to rhetorical inquiry centered around the theme of “ecological rhetoric and rhetorical ecologies”; we will in turn use those approaches to examine environmental issues, broadly construed, through discourse- and field-based research methods. Complementary to these aims, assignments will focus on the development of term-length projects that reflect student interests and contribute to a portfolio of work that represents their expertise in different areas of professional and public writing.
Texts for the course will include Bridie McGreavy, Justine Wells, George F. McHendry, and Samantha Senda-Cook’s Tracing Rhetoric and Material Life: Ecological Approaches, Candice Rai and Caroline Gottschalk Druschke’s Field Rhetoric: Ethnography, Ecology, and Engagement in the Places of Persuasion, and Kenneth Walker’s Climate Politics on the Border: Environmental Justice Rhetorics. The course will also draw on a diverse set of readings that develop variations on the concept of “ecology” as a theoretical and practical orientation to research, writing, and advocacy.
The course should be of interest and value to students who are looking to develop their expertise in professional and public writing and related areas of language and rhetorical study. Anyone with an interest in these themes is welcome to email the course instructor, Dr. Chad Wickman, for additional details: email@example.com.
This is a class in the writing of short stories. Students will write two short stories each. We will workshop them in class. Students will read the stories that their peers write, and be expected to write short responses to every one. We will emphasize editing, revising, rewriting, and reworking these stories: not just writing first drafts, but polishing them up to the point where they are ready for publication. Finally, students will research the literary marketplace, prepare cover letters, and submit their work to literary magazines for publication.
This offering of Poetry II focuses on the techniques used to craft poems, as well as the content from which their ideas originate. We’ll study collections of poems informed by history, inspired by the natural world, and drawn from images in fine art. And we’ll investigate how these poems’ authors employ lines, stanzas, diction, syntax, musicality, and other poetic elements in critical responses and discussion. We’ll find material to use in writing original poems in visits to Auburn’s archives, arboretum, and art museum and practice combining exploration of sources outside ourselves with introspection. And we’ll refine class members’ poems through the process of workshopping and extensive revision.
The course approaches poetry both critically and creatively. You must read published texts and analyze them in group discussions and informal essays. You must also compose poems, participate in peer workshops, and revise a selection of your poetry for inclusion in a final portfolio. Many of our activities take place outside of the classroom and readings by visiting writers, which class members are required to attend, are held in the evenings.
Our texts are The Galleons by Rick Barot, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and A Girl by Diane Seuss, and The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck.
Creative Nonfiction II
ENGL4250: Creative Nonfiction II
Forms of Narrative Nonfiction
This course aims to familiarize students with the intricacies of the genre, with a primary focus on work that falls under the broad label of Narrative Nonfiction. The course will look both at early practitioners of the genre and contemporary innovators to help establish a useful lineage for one’s own creative work. Narrative Nonfiction is commonly defined as fact-based writing that uses the techniques of fiction to bring its stories to life—including such craft elements as description, dialogue, character development and scene. Our workshop will center on three sub-genres of Creative Nonfiction: literary journalism, creative criticism, and nature/travel writing. While writers in these forms often incorporate personal elements into their work, all strive to also transcend them, consistently turning to outside research and cultural meditations that extend far beyond the self. Students will study a wide range of such professional work and attempt to emulate it in their own creative essays. End of the semester portfolios will consist of work from each sub-genre, and an ongoing critical component will also factor into student grades.
Renaissance English Literature
ENGL4310: Renaissance English Literature
Environmental Literature in Early Modern England
Have you ever wondered how your environment affects what you think and create? or how the stories that we tell about a place influence its fate? Such questions have fascinated scholars and poets long before the genre of “nature writing” became popular or words like “eco-criticism” and “environmentalism” became a part of our academic vocabulary. In early modern England, as new technologies and scientific discoveries began to change the nation’s physical and ideological landscapes, expressions of concern over the environment also began to change its literary culture. Country estates became focal points of interest as a growing number of landowners began transforming their properties into extravagant works of green art, full of rare and costly hybrids. These large-scale transformations, in turn, prompted poets and writers to describe the landscape in ways that were increasingly less symbolic and more realistic. This course will focus on early modern descriptions of the green world from an eco-compositional perspective. We will begin with two classical works that deeply influenced early modern literary culture: Plato’s Phaedrus, with its famous rendition of the locus amoenus (or pleasant place) as an inspiration for poetry, and Horace’s second Epode with its iconic celebration of the Sabine estate. From there, we will range through a number of early modern genres known for their descriptions of the green world, from gardening manuals to country-house poems, from pastoral fantasies to landscape poetry. As we explore these genres and their contexts, we will keep returning to the connections they make between environment and creativity, botanical cultivation and literary composition. Our class discussions, in particular, will center on how early modern concepts of the environment can provide useful points of departure for analyzing our own present relationship with the green world.
Note: This course is cross-listed with the Sustainability Studies program; if you would like to learn more about the requirements of the Sustainability Studies Minor, feel free to send questions and comments to Becki Retzlaff, the program director of Sustainability Studies, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekly discussion posts, three short writing assignments, a final 10-page research essay, and two exams (midterm and final).
Our primary reading list will include selections from the work of Philip Sidney, Ben Jonson, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Aemilia Lanyer, Katherine Phillips, and Abraham Cowley. Secondary texts will focus on key voices in the study of early modern ecology, including Raymond Williams, Diane McColley, Ken Hilter, and Robert Macfarlane, among others.
Although Irish Literature and its bardic traditions stretch back centuries, this course will begin with the Irish cultural revival of the late 19th century, a time in which literature participated in cultural, political, and sporting movements that sought to distinguish Ireland from Great Britain and thereby advance the cause of political independence. We’ll begin by examining the work of two major figures from this colonial period—W.B. Yeats and James Joyce—then proceed on to writers, such as Colm Toibin, who portrays Irish life under the Catholic theocracy of the Republic and, later on, Anne Enright, who documents the sudden prosperity of the “Celtic Tiger” economy, and end with contemporary writers such as Sally Rooney, whose characters inhabit a more global Ireland. Our readings in literature will be augmented by some other significant recent cultural highlights, such as Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inishirin, scenes from Derry Girls, and music by Fontaines DC and Lankum.
Two papers (7-8 pages), presentations, final exam.
19th Century American Literature
ENGL4410: 19th Century American Literature
Early African American Literature and/as Theory
In her foundational essay, “The Race for Theory,” Black Feminist critic Barbara Christian writes that “people of color have always theorized—but in forms quite different from the Western form of abstract logic.” Black writers, Christian continues, theorize through “narrative forms, in the stories we create, in riddles and proverbs, in the play with language, because dynamic rather than fixed ideas seem more to our liking.” Taking Christian’s insight as our jumping off point, this class will explore how Black authors in the 18th and 19th-century United States theorized through literary form. We will read poetry by writers such as Phillis Wheatley (Peters) and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, fiction by Julia Collins and Frank Webb, and selected other works. Alongside these primary works we will read a carefully curated selection of foundational and recent secondary works from writers including Hortense Spillers, Fred Moten, and Christina Sharpe. Throughout the semester, we will focus on teasing out and exploring the theories that early Black writers offered through their literature, and use contemporary writers to help us better understand some of those theories.
Students will complete a series of short writing assignments including a paper abstract and two annotated bibliographies, as well as a longer research essay.
This course explores American literature published during the earlier 20th century. Focusing primarily on works of fiction, we will examine how these texts and their authors responded to the major social, political, and cultural transformations, including the emergence of modernist literary styles, upheavals caused by two world wars, Jim Crow-era racial discrimination and a growing civil rights movement, and the increasing influence of women’s writing. Students will have opportunities to learn about scholarly approaches to American literature of this period, while receiving regular guidance and practice in literary research and advanced expository writing.
Weekly writing exercises, oral presentation, midterm and final examinations.
Readings will include works such as: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903); Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905); Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926); William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1930); Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937); James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953); Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
Topics in African American Literature
ENGL4450: Topics in African American Literature
Cartographies of the Fantastic: Selected Works of Octavia Estelle Butler
In a draft of an unpublished manuscript, black speculative fiction writer Octavia E. Butler wrote, “there is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” It seems rather fitting that Butler devoted her writing career to exploring the possibility and potential of these new suns. Her pathbreaking oeuvre foregrounds the interior lives of black protagonists, the generative potential of multicultural, and multigenerational, communities, and alien intervention as a corrective to human hubris. Butler’s speculative fiction seriously attends to matters of apocalypse, worldbuilding, mutualistic symbiosis, and survival. In conversation with scholars in the fields of black (literary) studies, dis/ability studies, environmental studies, posthumanism, black feminism, black studies of the human, and OEB studies more broadly, seminar participants prioritize the practice of close, and sustained, reading as a primary method for developing, and strengthening, a critical understanding of Octavia E. Butler’s work.
This course will explore the emergence of a new form of prose fiction, the novel. As a literary genre, the novel is a response to revolutionary shifts in conceptions of identity and significance brought about by concurrent consolidations of modern, secular culture, capitalistic socio-material forms of life, and the nation-state. The course presents competing models for a “novel” form of narrative fiction depicting and reflecting upon social affections and economic relations, on the one hand, and interior, private, intimate emotional-affective experience, on the other hand. The course will explore how this dual focus reshapes the framing of questions about religion, politics, ethics, class, material power, and gender.
two papers (the first 4-5 pages, the second 6-8 pages, typewritten, double-spaced); a midterm; a final exam; three writing exercises; reading quizzes; a 15-minute presentation on an optional eighteenth-century work of fiction; class participation and class attendance.
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? This class will consider the many ways that contemporary drama recreates, arranges, adapts, and mashes up U.S. history. Our central readings will be plays from the past thirty years or so. The history that they reference, though, goes all the way back to the eighteenth century. We will discuss musicals, documentary dramas, realistic plays and fantastic ones. They all consider the ways that personal history intersects with larger cultural and political trends, using their staging to meditate on what it means to retell a story.
Course objectives: By the time you finish this class you should be able to: 1. Evaluate an essay's argument, 2. Apply an essay's argument in a different context, 3. Use digital sources for research and source management, 4. Analyze theatrical texts and productions, 5. Revise and expand on earlier writing, 6. Devise and carry out an extended research project.
reading journal, short research and writing assignments, annotated bibliography in Zotero, research paper (12-15 pages), artistic response.
Arbery, Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Kaufman, The Laramie Project, Kushner, Angels in America, Miranda, Hamilton, Parks, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, and 3), Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me, Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Weidman and Sondheim, Assassins
ENGL4630: British Author(s)
J.R.R. Tolkien, Or An Elf-Help Manual
Following the respectable success of The Hobbit, a novel directed toward clever children, J. R. R. Tolkien, Professor of English Language at Merton College, Oxford, was asked by his publisher, Allen & Unwin, to provide a sequel. The result twelve years later was The Lord of the Rings, the best-selling English-authored work of the twentieth century. This course will be a slow walk through what has been considered the greatest example of epic fantasy. First, we will read one of the medieval English works that Tolkien translated and which did not leave his intellectual universe throughout the composition of the Lord of the Rings: Beowulf. In essence, we will read Tolkien’s epic through the lens of the earliest English-language epic. We will conclude the term by reading The Silmarillion, a book whose concept he was greatly interested in but could never finish, strangely predictive of his audience’s experience with it as well. We will also approach Tolkien through a theoretical lens of Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas of the habitus since Tolkien went to great lengths creating a habitus for every race in his epic. In the course of the semester, we will explore the intersections between sociological theory and medieval texts on Middle-Earth, perhaps discovering how, with Tolkien, such an examination is hobbit-forming.
Opus Minor paper (6-8 page), Opus Major (15-20 page revision), Creative Project, Group Projects, Final Exam, an irrepressible appreciation of the pun
Beowulf, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion
Myths created by the cultures around the world are some of the most powerful stories that we look to for the insights into the human psyche, meaning of life, significance of historic events, and more. Joseph Campbell, one of the most prominent mythologists, said that we look to myths to experience our own lives meaningfully. We also look to myths for entertainment and inspiration. As students of literature and culture, we find in the multicultural myths the underlying frameworks that, throughout the human history, have been present in the stories across cultures. In this course, we will explore the logic of myths; we’ll look for wisdom, beauty, and psychological potency of the stories and ponder how they resonate and transform in literature, art, film, and even branding to this day. As always in my classes, your individual interests will be an important factor in class discussion, research, and creative projects.
Requirements will likely include faithful attendance, response papers, short essay (5 pp.), research essay (10 pp.), creative project, final exam, and enthusiastic and meaningful participation.
Reading list will include a selection of Greek, Norse, Slavic, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese myths and their later reimagining in various media.
Seminar in Literature
ENGL4800: Seminar in Literature
Postmodernism - Literature, Aesthetics, History
From the 1970s through the first decade of the 21st century, postmodernism was arguably the most vital and significant movement energizing literature (and the other arts), critical theory and Western philosophy. Among other thing, postmodernism questioned the idea of a final, ultimate and irreducible truth and meaning; interrogated conceptions of History that were premised on the idea that History unfolded like a master narrative with a definite beginning and end, possessing an inherent meaning that determined the nature of the events we find intelligible; it rejects an aesthetics based on the principle of realism, that is, the principle that we can unproblematically know and have direct access to “reality,” instead advocating more surreal and experimental artistic forms in order to represent/create the real. This is only a very introductory definition for purposes of a course description. Our seminar will work towards a fuller understanding of postmodernism both by reading sections of Brian Nicol’s wonderfully informative book The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction and by examining six novels—three works of American literature, two works of English literature, and one work of contemporary Indian literature. Like all sections of Seminar in Literature, we will devote attention to learning the skills necessary for writing an effective and successful research paper; such a research paper will be the major assignment in our seminar.
a 20-page research paper (50%), a 4-5-page essay (20%), lively and consistent participation (20%), and an oral presentation on your research paper (10%)
TEXTS: J. G. Ballard, High-Rise; Wayne Booth, The Craft of Research; William Burroughs, Naked Lunch; Angela Carter, The Passion of New Eve; Don DeLillo, Players; Toni Morrison, Tar Baby; Brian Nicol, The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction; Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown.
This course is designed for majors in Professional and Public Writing (PPW) to reflect and expand on the work they have done up to this point. As we read, discuss, and write, we will develop a more robust understanding not just of PPW as a discipline, but also of our own relationship with it: where we situate ourselves within the field; what we’ve learned; and how that work might translate to other rhetorical contexts, professional, public, or otherwise. In this specific section of 4810, we will ground this work in a close examination of core curricular and extracurricular documents that have shaped, or will shape, our place in the field. Our entry into this work will be “genre,” or more specifically, rhetorical genre studies. Since Carolyn Miller’s groundbreaking article “Genre as Social Action,” scholars of writing have attempted to build on a notion of genre not as a static set of textual conventions, but rather as “typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations.” That is to say, increasingly scholars and teachers of writing have become more interested in what a genre does as opposed to what it is. In this course, we will begin by describing, discussing, and debating this turn towards a rhetorical understanding of genre. Once we have developed this vocabulary, we will turn our attention to genres we have encountered in PPW. We will ask: Who/What/When/Where/Why is a discipline? How do individuals in the field use genres to produce, mediate, and challenge disciplinary knowledge and identity? What are their limitations? What assumptions are embedded in disciplinary genres? To get at these questions, students can expect to: produce consistent short writing assignments; compose major genre papers; compile and present a multimodal portfolio of disciplinary work; and contribute to a course soundtrack.
This Capstone course focuses on poetry and creative nonfiction. As a member of the class, you will rigorously examine and revise the poems and essays you have written during your time at Auburn University with the final goal of creating a portfolio of your highest-quality work. Along the way to this culmination, you will participate in workshop, study books by visiting writers and attend their readings, and reflect on techniques and concepts you have learned from influential texts and courses in a craft essay to accompany your portfolio. Other activities will include classes on submitting work for publication in literary journals and a public reading by you and the other graduating creative writers.
Our special project in Spring ’24 will be designing, printing, and displaying letterpress broadsides featuring excerpts of your writing. Creating these broadsides will be another exercise in examining each word of your composition and the finished product will showcase our poets’ and essayists’ accomplishments for the larger campus community.
This course will introduce students to the elements of creative writing. We will study the genres of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry, both by analyzing published works and holding rigorous workshops where students will share creative work of their own. We will discuss the fiction elements of plot, character, setting, dialogue, and more, and will consider how creative non-fiction can include many of the elements of fiction while also focusing on research, memory, and the tricky distinctions between truth and speculation. Our discussions of poetry will include standard craft elements such as line and stanza breaks, diction, and various poetic devices. The goal of the course is to give students a deeper understanding of the various genres of creative writing, to hone their skills of literary analysis, and to begin the long journey to finding their voices. Students will be expected to participate in hearty discussions, to give meaningful feedback to their peers, to turn in thoughtful work, and to focus deeply on revising their work throughout the course.
Introduction to Literary Studies
Online asynchronous - 1st mini
ENGL2020: Introduction to Literary Studies
The Afterlives of Literature
English 2020 introduces students to the academic study of literary texts in English with an emphasis on formulating an argument about a text, developing goals and strategies for research, and managing the different stages of the writing process. Unlike other 2000-level literature courses offered at Auburn, ENGL 2020 is not a historical period survey or an introduction to a specific form such as poetry, fiction, or drama. Rather, in this course, we will develop a set of skills that will serve us as students of literature across a range of upper-division (3000 and 4000 level) literature courses. We will learn how to engage with literary texts and the critical conversations surrounding them in focused, strategic, and scholarly ways. Some of the questions we will consider include: How do we talk about literature, both in class and in other academic environments? How do we begin to answer the question that interests us about the text? What is literary research and how is it produced? How do we use research to help a writing project evolve? Our course title, in effect, gives the binding idea to this set of focuses. How do we continue to give lives to literary texts, even perhaps long after they were written? How does our work as readers and writers demonstrate the hold that literature exerts? And how does our work of interpretation make texts live again and live in a different way?
Readings will include Joanna Wolfe & Laura Wilder's Digging Into Literature, and a sampling of representative literary texts.
For more than 20 years, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has taken over popular culture leading to a major theme park, pilgrimages to King’s Cross station (complete with a platform 9 ¾ sign and props for us to imagine we are en route to Hogwarts), and countless other cultural objects and products. Additionally, conversations about Harry Potter’s impact on issues such as race, class, gender, ethics, and heroism have permeated cultural discourse—Rowling herself having engaged in these conversations on platforms like Twitter. In this course we will read Harry Potter as literary and cultural critics, joining the burgeoning scholarly conversation about the texts, using these texts to think critically about our past, present, and future. Students will be sorted into houses and work in these groups (houses) to help the larger class explore, children’s and young adult fiction, textual themes, fans, mythologies, technologies, politics and issues of class, race, and gender in the Potterverse. In order to better be part of the Harry Potter fan community, our class will create one of our own, using Twitter to engage in public-facing discourse.
Our central course questions will include: What makes these books so successful? In what ways are they traditionally literary and imaginative? How or why should we read Harry Potter (or popular literature in general) as “serious literature”? What does it mean to do so? Why do these texts resonate so deeply for recent generations of students? How do they change/develop over the course of the series? What are the major issues, topics, and ideas they address, and how do they respond to them? What does it mean to read these texts a cultural objects that comment on and critique social, political, and cultural codes? What is the impact of the fan culture on our understanding or interest in these texts and the “Potterverse”?
This course is an introductory creative writing workshop that encompasses the composition of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Students will study work by established authors, experiment with new techniques and practices, and participate in the workshop model. This course will introduce students to workshop expectations, behavior, and how to be a supportive and active member of a creative community.
English 2010 is designed as an introduction to professional writing and a gateway to the Professional and Public Writing track within the English major. Informed by contemporary scholarship and trends in workplace communication, the course will emphasize three related areas of focus: students will read about and engage with key issues and approaches in the field; they will develop practical strategies for researching, analyzing, and composing texts for a range of audiences and situations; and they will develop projects that both reflect their interests and contribute to their emerging expertise in writing, editing, design, user advocacy, and content and community management.
Any student who wishes to learn more about these themes is welcome to email the course instructor, Dr. Chad Wickman, for additional details: email@example.com.
Students will be asked to read, analyze, and draw on conventions of professional genres throughout the course. Assignments will include the following: reflective writing, discussion posts based on assigned readings, brief reports that engage with issues and approaches in the field, project management documentation, deliverables for a collaborative project that engages with a local community issue, and multimedia presentations.
Students will read a variety of texts that introduce them to concepts, principles, methods, and practices related to the work of professional and public writing. Readings will reflect current scholarship in the field (focused generally on areas of writing, rhetoric, and technical communication) and will be made available through the Auburn University Bookstore and AU Canvas.
The aims of ENGL 2010 are to introduce you to the rhetorical principles, professional practices, and research skills you will need as a professional writer in a variety of industries, fields, and contexts.
Assignments will include instructional texts, user research reports, and presentations.
English 2020 introduces students to the academic study of literary texts in English with an emphasis on formulating an argument about a text, developing goals and strategies for research, and managing the different stages of the writing process. Unlike other 2000-level literature courses offered at Auburn, ENGL 2020 is not a historical period survey or an introduction to a specific form such as poetry, fiction, or drama. Rather, in this course, we will develop a set of skills that will serve us as students of literature across a range of upper-division (3000 and 4000 level) literature courses. We will learn how to engage with literary texts and the critical conversations surrounding them in focused, strategic, and scholarly ways. Some of the questions we will consider include: How do we talk about literature, both in class and in other academic environments? How do we begin to answer the question that interests us about the text? What is literary research and how is it produced? How do we use research to help a writing project evolve? How do I begin to think critically and reflectively about my work and development as an English literature major? How do we see a literary text as a document that speaks from and speaks to a culture of readers?
regular attendance and well-prepared participation in class, a notebook of research exercises, short writing assignments, and reflections; a research proposal, a presentation, and an e-portfolio.
Wayne Booth, The Craft of Research; Joanna Wolfe & Laura Wilder, Digging into Literature; The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story; The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry
In this class, you will learn to analyze different communication situations and to write, revise, and design medical and health-related information to meet the needs of different readers (experts and non-experts) through several document genres: reports, magazine articles, and scientific posters. This course is designed for students pursuing careers in medicine and health-related fields as well as English majors interested in learning how to write more effectively in these scientific areas. Students will be encouraged to adapt assignments to their specific area(s) of subject matter interest and to share and discuss their work in class.
Languages vary greatly across cultures and times, but language is fundamental to our humanity: it is implicitly present in every situation we find ourselves. Linguistics doesn't ignore the differences among languages, but its principle inquiry explores the nature of language in general, aiming to make explicit its characteristics, to establish techniques that enable us to analyze it, and to grasp the ways it enables and influences our understanding and experiencing of the world. As such, its reach, questions and methods are wide and diverse. This course surveys that enormous range, aiming to provide familiarity with the basic concepts of scientific linguistics, the key philosophical debates about language, and some of the most important extensions the field has produced. We’ll ask how words are structured and how they combine into sentences, how language means, and just what is the meaning of meaning anyway? We'll also explore animal language and talking computers, how and why languages vary and change, what happens when languages meet, and what language can tell us about the brain and the mind.
This class introduces students to the major theories of rhetoric, dating back to classical times, and to study the ways these theories have been applied. Students will get a chance to see these theories in action and to use them as tools of analysis of rhetorical performances. Although the class will number about 25, we’ll depend heavily on discussion.
Students will write two papers, each about 6-8 pages in length, and take a final exam.
This course will introduce students to major currents in critical theory, with a particular focus on the schools of thought that influence contemporary approaches. Towards that end, we will be concentrating on structuralist theory from its foundations in the early 20 -century to its manifestations in contemporary theories of race, gender, culture, and the environment.
This is a class in the writing of short stories. You will write two short stories. We will workshop them in class. You will read the stories that your peers write, and you will write responses to those stories. Every one. We will emphasize editing, revising, rewriting, and reworking your stories: not just writing first drafts, but polishing them to the point where they are worthy of publication. Finally, you will research the literary marketplace, prepare cover letters, and submit your work to magazines for publication.
This course will help students develop an understanding of Poetics through critical reading, the drafting process, and class workshops. Drafting and revising poems will be a major component of our creative work. We will read and analyze published poetry with specific attention to craft elements, such as diction, syntax, line, stanza, meter, form, point of view, symbolism, sensory details, and tone. The course will focus on creating original poems, workshopping peer writings, and studying published poems. Assigned class readings will provide inspiration for student work and opportunities to hone analytical skills. Class activities include reading discussion, online activities through Canvas, library and digital research, and attendance at poetry readings. This coursework will prepare students to write three series of poems, culminating in a final portfolio of comprehensively revised poetry. Students will be encouraged to practice presenting their work at public readings, explore possible venues for publication, and work together in writing groups.
Our class will read and explore ample selections from the Bible, one of the most influential collections of texts in the Western world. Although we will examine selections from both the Hebrew Scriptures (which Christians often refer to as the “Old Testament”) and the New Testament, the course will not be a “Bible study” in the sense of that phrase perhaps most current in America today. Rather, we will adopt approaches prevalent within literary studies, considering, for example, how knowledge of the specific cultures, historical periods, and places within which the books were initially produced might influence how we interpret them. We will also explore literary strategies used within the Bible (for example, metaphor, allegory, irony, word play, symbolism, and hyperbole) and apply other strategies commonly used in literary studies, such as analysis of rhetorical devices and of literary forms or genres (prophecies, creation myths, histories and chronicles, legal codes, wisdom literature, proverbs, apocalypses, gospels, parables “acts,” and doctrinal letters). As part of this approach, we will at times consider the influence of non-biblical literature upon various biblical passages. Our class will study as well canon formation, or the process by which major versions of “the Bible” as readers today know them took shape. As time permits, we will take into account some later commentary upon and exegesis or interpretation of relevant passages from the Bible.
This course should enhance students’ appreciation of the Bible’s literary dimensions and deepen their understanding of the meanings of various books of the Bible for some of their earliest audiences. Of course, learning more about the Bible’s stories and their themes should also help students to better understand numerous later works of art and literature influenced by these scriptures.
Topics in Creative Writing
ENGL3700: Topics in Creative Writing
The Art of Dialogue
Too often, we treat dialogue as a secondary concern to other craft elements such as character, story structure, setting, descriptive writing, and narration. In this course, we will put the study and practice of effective dialogue writing front and center. Students will read fiction and creative nonfiction by authors notable for their skill in imagining and capturing human speech in writing (Charles Chesnutt, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Henry Green, Joan Didion, Richard Price, and Lydia Davis, among others). Students will also read contemporary teleplays and watch corresponding television episodes to gain a deeper understanding of how popular episodic TV (widely considered a “writers’ medium” compared with the “directors’ medium” of feature-length film) is grounded in expertly crafted dialogue (shows might include Stranger Things, Euphoria, White Lotus, Succession, Andor, and Righteous Gemstones). Students will write and submit for peer review feedback exercises in fiction and creative nonfiction that require them to write extensive dialogue, and they will write and receive peer review feedback on an example of “spec” teleplay writing, in which the students will write dialogue in the voices of already existing characters. The course will culminate in a longer final project in the student’s chosen genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, or teleplay).
ENGL3750: Cultural Studies
Women in Sport & Literature
Fifty years after Title IX was passed, marking a significant increase in the opportunities and resources available for women to demand, women now make up 41% of college athletes. Yet, women’s sports receive only about 5% of the total coverage in media, according to a 30-year longitudinal study. While sport is a highly visible and influential aspect of modern culture, women’s stories in sport remain few and far between. This course will look to literature to investigate how we think about sport as a social and cultural phenomenon – as well as how those ideas are bound up in our concept of women as athletes. Sport both reflects and shapes our society, which means studying the literary texts produced around sport allows us to unpack essential dynamics about modern culture, especially at the intersection(s) of gender and other interwoven identities. We will explore narratives from the worlds of track & field, soccer, tennis, baseball, field hockey, squash, and gymnastics.
 Cooky, C., Council, L. D., Mears, M. A., & Messner, M. A. (2021). “One and Done: The Long Eclipse of Women’s Televised Sports, 1989–2019.” Communication & Sport, 9(3), 347–371. https://doi.org/10.1177/21674795211003524
Texts will come from a variety of genres and modalities, including scholarly writing, literary works, film, television, journalism, and memoir. Examples may include:
In the 2015 documentary Sneakerheadz, the rapper Wale considers what sneakers mean to him. “Sneakers,” he notes, have always reflected “who you wanna be, who you believe you are, or where you come from.” Sneakers, in other words, are not just material objects that cushion your feet from the ground. They are biographical, telling a story about the wearer. They are persuasive, making arguments as they step. They are significant, creating meaning as they move through different cultural spaces. We might, therefore, consider sneakers an example of “wearable rhetorics,” sartorial technologies that augment, and are augmented by, our experiences of everyday life.
In this course, we will consider this rhetorical and cultural potential of the things we wear. Together, we will read work on objects like sneakers, Apple Watches, jeans, baseball caps, and other everyday things. As we read, we will interrogate our own relationship with wearable rhetorics. Once we’ve developed this framework for understanding the relationship between wearing and rhetoric, students will select a specific object and conduct a sustained study on it: its rhetorical history, its cultural circulation, and its impact on different social contexts. We will pay particular attention in this class to writing about wearable rhetorics, the challenges of designing and executing a writing project on a seemingly mundane, everyday object. As we discuss and practice this research, the hope of this course is that students leave considering rhetoric not just as something we do or make, but also as something we wear.
Students in this course can expect to: read and discuss key work on wearable rhetorics; produce regular short writing; conduct field research on different wearable rhetorics; design, execute, and present on a study on one specific rhetorical object; and contribute to a course Spotify playlist.
In this class, you’ll learn how to edit and revise documents from three different perspectives: substantively, at the sentence and paragraph level, and in terms of copyediting and proofreading. You’ll also learn how to work effectively with authors as well as revise and edit your own writing by working in peer review groups. We’ll work with a variety of documents created in subject matter disciplines that may include technology, business, and science as well as texts intended for academic publication.
Professional writers not only compose a range of documents—including memos, letters, reports, slideshow presentations, web pages, brochures, flyers, forms, instruction sets, documentation and help files, and many others—we also design these documents. A document’s visual elements are often as important as the written words themselves. This course, then, will equip you to analyze how the design of documents creates meaning, and will ask you to design a number of your own rhetorically-informed documents.
In this course, you can expect to: • Discuss and apply theories and principles of design • Understand how design elements work within different types of documents • Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the impact of visual rhetoric on society • Utilize various tools in document design to create rhetorically savvy documents • Consider the ethics of document design • Describe, analyze, and justify your design decisions
ENGL4040: Public Writing
Strategies for Web Content
How do you choose what to write and share online for an organization? What to remove? How to reach different audiences? How to make sure that the content you include is engaging, relevant, useful, ethical, and a pleasure to interact with? This course will teach you strategies to create written content and help you make those decisions. Throughout the semester, we’ll use a case-study approach and work on a focused project.
If you like to write and analyze . . .
If you want to apply your critical thinking to reaching specific public audiences . . .
If you want to be a decision-maker who can guide an organization’s public writing . . . this course is for you.
You will use established techniques to research a site’s content. You will write short-form content that is engaging, relevant, useful, ethical, and, as much as possible, a pleasure to read and use. You also will develop a strategy for an organization to manage their content in the future.
Tentative selections: Gawande, A. (2011). The checklist manifesto: How to get things right. Picador. (~$9), Halverson, K., & Rach, M. (2012). Content strategy for the web (2nd ed.). New Riders. (~$21 for electronic), Redish, G. (2012). Letting go of the words: Writing web content that works (2nd ed.). (starting at ~$18 for electronic), and Selected short essays.
Technical Literacy & Culture
ENGL4160: Technical Literacy & Culture
Narrative Play: Storytelling Games at Home & on Screen
We are quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, over a decade of the streaming platform Twitch and indie games website Itch.io, and the ninth generation of video game consoles. The most successful TV/film Kickstarter of all time funded the animated series for D&D livestream Critical Role. Game Studies has existed as an interdisciplinary field for over three decades, with its own subfields and debates.
This course will explore tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) as storytelling engines. We'll read academic articles, games journalism, and video essays, and think about what makes for successful writing about games. We'll think about the new narrative frames introduced by Actual Play (performed TTRPGs) and livestreaming as well as games as transmedia phenomena, influencing and being influenced by television, film, comic books, and many other genres and modes. We'll examine representation in games: both what is depicted and who creates them. And of course, share a lot of games, big and small, with one another. For those not already familiar with TTRPG and Actual Play, recommended preparatory listening/playing will be provided after Registration.
Students will gain knowledge of the fields of narratology (the study of the structure of stories), ludology (the study of actions and events in games), and other related fields, and have opportunities to participate in ongoing research.
This is an advanced study of the craft of fiction writing. Successful completion of Intro to Creative Writing and Fiction Writing I are prerequisites for enrollment. The emphasis of the course will be divided between the students’ own writing and the study of published works. The major assignments for the course are 2 fiction stories (12 pages min.) which will be submitted for workshop
Poetry Writing II
ENGL4230: Poetry Writing II
Origins and Revision, Range and Concision
The course is about learning how to draft and refine original poetry through reading, discussion, and workshopping. When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: An Anthology of Native Nations Poetry and A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia will be the central texts in this offering of Poetry 2, and the sources from which we will draw ideas for your writing practices. The contents of these two anthologies are very different. One collects indigenous poetry and groups it by geographic areas across the continent and beyond. The other collects poetry about the natural world by a range of writers, all of whom live in the bioregion of Southern Appalachia. What the books have in common is that both encourage us to think about place, identity, and various forms of categorization, representation, breadth, and focus. Whether or not it seems the themes relate to your writing, you will encounter diverse models and poetic styles to inspire your decisions about what to include, omit, and other elements of craft.
About half of class time will be devoted to discussing exemplary published poetry, and about half will be devoted to workshopping student poems. The course will also incorporate writing prompts, critical response assignments, and activities such as participating in events with poets including Joy Harjo, former Poet Laureate of United States and editor of the anthology of Native poetry. You will be expected to attend several evening readings and class meetings outside of the classroom.
The course will culminate with a pair of projects. For the critical project, you will have the opportunity to choose an anthology with a focus that interests you, such as A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry, Black Bone: 25 Years of Affrilachian Poets, Vinegar and Char (an anthology of verse about Southern food), What Things Cost: An Anthology for the People, literary field guides to other regions, and more.
Your creative and ultimate goal as a member of the class will be to revise the poetry you generate during the semester into a polished final portfolio.
Building off the groundwork that was laid in Creative Nonfiction 1, this workshop will focus on essays that reside more toward the lyric end of the Creative Nonfiction spectrum. The content of the essays we will focus on in class will traverse the familiar ground of literary journalism, creative criticism, and place-based writing, yet all will take on a markedly lyric or experimental approach. While the terms lyric and narrative in regard to the essay are not mutually exclusive, most of the creative work we will be studying looks to resist, complicate, or distract the reader from narrative, making use of such techniques as associative leaps, fragmentation, and/or other formal inventions to de-center a linear narrative structure. At the end of this class, we will also move to consider more extended forms, looking at two complete books that operate as sustained lyrics.
Students will study a wide range of professional work and attempt to emulate it in their own creative essays. End-of-the-semester portfolios will consist of two substantially revised essays. Regular Reading Responses and quality peer feedback are also required of the course.
Medieval Literature in Translation
ENGL4300: Medieval Literature in Translation
Imagining London in Medieval Literature
In the beginning of the medieval period, London was the large Roman town that grew up north of the only bridge that spanned the River Thames until the sixteenth century. By the end of the medieval period, London was the principal city of the Kingdom of England and, arguably, the whole island of Britannia. It has not lost this significance. How did London gain its pre-eminence over other political and economic rivals, such as Colchester, Tamworth, Winchester, and even York? How did writers of the medieval period describe life in this city? In this course, we will examine some texts that create cities as cultural space with its own laws and accepted behavioral practices. In other words, how did the English invent London? Our texts will be largely drawn from England but may include both translations and material in an earlier form of the language known as Middle English. Texts in Middle English will be in heavily glossed, friendly editions. Our objective will be to see how texts reflect the culture of an early urban space. Or, how medieval London fits English culture to a tea.
Semester-long Research project (c. 20 pages), Interactive Game, Final Exam, Vibrant Discussion, and a healthy sense of humor
Readings will include texts by Giovanni Boccaccio, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, Thomas Hoccleve, and others.
21st Century British Literature
9:00 am online
ENGL4360: 21st Century British Literature
“Building Jerusalem in England’s Green and Pleasant Land”
The topic for this course comes from a line by poet William Blake, considered by many the father of British Romanticism. Blake’s poem “Jerusalem,” from which the line is taken, sharply critiques England’s fall into the ravages of industrial capitalism (what Blake calls the “dark Satanic mills”) while holding out hope that there is still the possibility of overcoming the violence and exploitation of capitalism in order to transform England into a new Jerusalem, an harmonious and socially just social order. Jerusalem is also the name of one of the most significant British plays of the 21st century, that updates Blake’s social criticism and dreams of social change to our present historical moment. Going back to Shakespeare (even further if you like), British drama has been a vital, energetic and significant part of British literature, as it offers withering social criticism—often through comedy—of the way we live now. Not content with stopping at critique, the best of this drama has explored the possibility of change at the social, cultural and political levels. American drama is certainly more well-known in this country, but if you take this course you’ll find yourself introduced to a wide array of writers running from the comic to the tragic, from mainstream realism to more adventurous forms of writing, and whose subject matter ranges from the ethics of cloning to how the development of major cities creates disenfranchised people. Since many of our courses cover African-American literature, we’ll be doing a unit on African-British drama. While you may not know most of the playwrights coming into this course, I can promise you their writing is thought-provoking, rewarding and exciting.
A 4-page essay (20%); a 10-page essay (30%); 5 reading responses 1 ½ pages (20%); hour exam and final exam (15% each).
Alan Bennett, The History Boys; Jez Butterworth, Jerusalem; Caryl Churchill, A Number; Martin Crimp, In the Republic of Happiness; David Hare, Straight Line Crazy; Natalie Ibu, Contemporary Plays by Black British Writers; Martin McDonagh, The Lieutenant of Inishmore; Tom Stoppard, Leopoldstadt; Kate Tempest, Wasted
As readers, most of us rely on the judgements of others to navigate the expansive world of new books and literary writing. We might be guided by the number of stars on Goodreads or Amazon, by interviews and reviews we read, or by recommendations from others whose perspectives we care about or whose judgment we respect. Some of us are also happy to join the reviewing fray, sharing our assessments with others. It is easy, and often accurate enough, to attribute our literary preferences and reading pleasures to “taste,” for which there is, as the saying goes, no accounting. Over the last few decades, many literary critics—Feminist, Marxist, New Historicist, Postcolonial, Cultural alike--have thought about individual reading preferences in light of cultural and economic forces that form us as readers, shape our reading practices, and hold sway over the production and reception of literary writing. Such culture-focused approaches represent a turn away from aesthetic concerns, which have to do with how we experience literary texts, how we think about their value to us as individuals and to the world, and how we frame and defend judgements of them. The past four or five years have brought evidence of a counter-turn, a renewal of interest in how we experience literature and talk about its value, with the publication of books like Timothy Aubry’s Guilty Aesthetic Pleasure (2018) and Michael Clune’s In Defense of Judgment (2021) and a special section devoted to aesthetics in a recent issue of PMLA. In this class, we’ll consider these questions of pleasure, use, and value in a selection of short novels and a range of poems, all written between 2012 and the present.
well-prepared attendance and participation; regular, brief reading responses; two shorter essays (1200-1500 words); and a longer essay (2400-3000 words) or a final project.
Likely readings include novels by Jenny Offil (Department of Speculation), Ben Lerner (Leaving the Atocha Station), Danielle Dutton (Margaret the First), and Maggie Millner (Couplets: A Love Story) and poems by C. D. Wright, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, Robin Coste Lewis, Rose McLarney, Nikki Finney, and others.
19th Century Novel
ENGL4520: 19th Century Novel
Parents and Children in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction
This course explores a broad range of nineteenth-century British fiction with a focus on parents and children and the related social concerns that shaped their portrayal. As we will soon discover, supposedly stable, two-parent households and nuclear families were the exception, not the norm, in nineteenth-century fiction, which is overrun with orphans, adoptees, single mothers and fathers, stepparents, guardians, and other varieties of non-traditional and surrogate families. Families were thus a central concern of the time period, as well as the public side of family life and whether the impulses that connected parents and children could be cultivated on a larger societal scale in the in the interests of the ‘Great Human Family,’ as Charles Dickens was fond of remarking. We will begin with the idea of the ‘Romantic Child’ as developed in the early nineteenth-century and its afterlife in Victorian fiction, considering also how ideas developing in the biological sciences and the still new field of psychology influenced fiction of the time. The course examines related issues and themes such as marriage, education and schooling, and changing attitudes toward nature and the environment and their impact on education. Other questions we will consider include: in what ways did family identities in turn shape different gender roles and expectations—and potential resistance to these expectations? How did British imperial identity and objectives influence notions of child development and education? The course also devotes special attention to the place of fiction in the wider Victorian literary marketplace, including the development of serialized publication. We will read Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby in its original monthly parts (with the original advertising) while also examining the magazine context in which his later novel Great Expectations was published, dwelling alongside poetry and a range of nonfiction essays and articles. By the end of the course, students will have developed a strong understanding of nineteenth-century British fiction in its wider literary, social, and cultural contexts.
research essay; midterm exam; final exam; response papers; reading quizzes; group project
Major texts studied (subject to change): Jane Austen, Persuasion; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; George Eliot, Silas Marner; Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island; Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure; Ella Hepworth Dixon, The Story of a Modern Woman
Manuscript, Print, and Theater Cultures
Shakespearean theater came into its own during the period of transition from a predominately manuscript culture to the steady advance of print. How was manuscript culture adapted to serve the functions of communication, record-keeping, and legal documentation, along with writing and dissemination of literary texts? What were the materials of this culture, and what can we learn from the process of making and using these materials? What were the attractions and anxieties associated with the culture of print? How did the technologies of writing and reading mark and imprint Shakespeare’s works? We will examine manuscript and print materials in the library’s Special Collections, experiment with making our own ink using a 16th-century recipe, writing with quills, and creating letters according to early modern practices. About 4-5 weeks of the semester will be dedicated to playing a role-immersion game from Reacting to the Past series in which two theater companies will advocate for a play and compete for a theater license (the knowledge of manuscript and print cultures, and especially the skills of letter-writing and printing your own strategic writing will surely come in handy). As always in my classes, your individual interests will be an important factor in class discussion and research projects.
Requirements will likely include faithful attendance, response papers, short essay (5 pp.), research essay (10 pp.), short position paper and speech (3 pp.), short assignments related to the reacting game, final exam, and enthusiastic and meaningful participation.
Reading list may include a selection of manuscripts, writings of Elizabeth I, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Shakespeare’s selected Sonnets, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Cymbeline, as well as secondary readings.
ENGL4640: American Author(s)
Faulkner, Youth, and the New South
“So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble … William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer.” – Toni Morrison
In this course we’ll aim for a richly nuanced apprehension and a commensurately nuanced appreciation of William Faulkner and his work. Organized around a representative survey of his fiction, the course will take as its focus the implications of this inspiring, disturbing oeuvre upon what it means to be a young person alive in the New South and striding toward a wider world -- including all the pitfalls, pressures, and possibilities at play in that liminal subjective dynamism. Our Yoknapatawpha drive-by offers particular promise to future writers, filmmakers, musicians, actors, artists, activists, attorneys, and teachers committed in their professional practice to a critically astute engagement with a culture in social and political flux. As always, the professor will rely upon the informed generosity of his students to promote a spirit of enthusiastic collaborative inquiry.
a midterm exam, a final exam, a term paper (3000 words), weekly contributions (500 words each) to the Canvas discussion forum, consistent in-class participation.
The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931), Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), Go Down, Moses (1942), Intruder in the Dust (1948)
This course explores literary engagement with issues surrounding gender from the High Middle Ages to contemporary times, starting with entanglement of culturally dominant attitudes toward sexuality and cultural views of women. Movement from associating heterosexual love (amor) with sin or selfishness (cupiditas) to associating it with ennobling spiritual piety and civilizing social virtues may be seen in the letters of Abelard and Héloïse, and in Chrétien de Troyes’ chivalric romance, Lancelot. We will then turn to the depiction of self-assertive, playful female agency, and of courtship as a contest of wits and education of desire, in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, before looking at nineteenth-century contractions and marginalizing of gendered agency as depicted in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss. The course then addresses the emergence of literary evocations of heteronormative gender identities in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando before exploring intersections of gender and race in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions.
one short page; one longer paper; midterm; final exam; reading quizzes; class participation.
The Letters of Abelard and Héloïse; Chrétien, Lancelot; Shakespeare, As You Like It; Eliot, The Mill on the Floss; Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Mann, Death in Venice; Woolf, Orlando, Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions.
Seminar in Literature
ENGL4800: Seminar in Literature
Coloring the Prize: African American “Prestigious” Literature
In her 1993 Nobel Prize speech, Toni Morrison shared, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Black folks have always done language, have always found ways to aestheticize articulations of Black life and living. Yet, despite this doing, despite this practice of sublime creativity, the merits and measures of Black art remain fraught by the fictions of race. This seminar quietly beckons the questions of what we read, how we read, and who we read. It places readers within the presence or pretense of “prestige,” asking of them, of us, a daring to delve into the depths of African American writings that have won Pulitzer, National Book Award, or Nobel Prizes. Coloring the Prize occasions a meditation on how Blackness and Black literature muddled or muddied the conception of literary merit. This seminar will survey works of poetry, drama and fiction that were able to achieve prize-winning recognition in spite of the absurdity of race. More importantly, it invites us to complicate our orientations to a literary world undone by African American writers who, through the doing of language, were able to curate disruption.
Seminar in Literature
ENGL4800: Seminar in Literature
“Reading the University Wits of Elizabethan England”
This course will explore the celebrated “university wits” of sixteenth-century London—a group of innovative young writers whose plumes one glib critic accused Shakespeare of stealing! Imagined by Stephen Greenblatt as a “fraternity of restless, hungry writers” in a rapidly evolving print marketplace, these talented young authors experimented with a wide range of genres, including poetry, plays, proto-novels, and journalistic pamphlets. Reading and discussing key selections from their prolific output alongside scholarship on this formative literary period will provide a shared frame of reference for exploring current conversations taking place around matters of form, gender, reading practice, social satire, and material book culture. The ultimate goal of our readings will be to help you discover a research topic that contributes directly to your career goals. Thus, close attention will be paid throughout the semester to the cultivation of research-related interpretive skills, specifically those needed for the crafting of a 20-page scholarly article. For example, we will strategize together on how best to use library resources in finding material, how to formulate an effective critical methodology for our chosen topic, or, more generally, how to manage the various stages of a substantive research project. Ultimately, this intensive research seminar, required for the completion of the Literature Track, serves as excellent preparation for anyone planning to go to graduate school.
Prerequisite: the successful completion of ENGL 3130: Survey of Critical Theory
Attendance and well-prepared participation; regular, short writing assignments; a seminar paper (20 pages); one presentation, and a final ePortfolio.
Tentative readings include Thomas Watson’s Hecatompathia, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Lodge’s Rosalind, Peele’s The Old Wives’ Tale, Greene’s Menaphon, Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveler, and a selection of pamphlets and paratextual material.
The Capstone Class will focus largely on revision as you prepare your e-portfolio. We will assess the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry you have written during your undergraduate career at Auburn with the goal of assembling a creative portfolio that is representative of your work as a writer. The basic requirements for the Capstone portfolio will remain the same (consisting of heavily revised work from two of our three genres), but the assigned texts, the class visits, as well as aspects of the professionalization component of the Fall Capstone, will focus on Fiction.