Fall 2017 Courses

ENG 230-006: Introduction to Literature: Monsters, Freaks, and Geeks

This semester we'll be gripped by texts that turn the spotlight on individuals who, by either choice or force, inhabit the margins of mainstream society. Through an ensemble of texts that mix horror, fantasy, tragedy, and humor, we will explore how writers over the past four centuries have used stories of monsters, freaks, and geeks to ask profound questions about differences among humans, as well as differences between humans and other beings: What are the limits and excesses of the human? How have bodies been markers of otherness? How are feelings of strangeness and wonder connected with social othering? In this class we will pay special attention to how cultures have constructed anomalous social categories in order to define or secure membership in a common group. We will be equally concerned with how race, class, sexuality, gender, and disability factor into these designations and divisions. Along the way we will carefully consider similarities and differences among those who have been disparagingly categorized as monsters, freaks, and geeks. Two essays, presentation, class participation, take-home final.

ENG 352-001: American Renaissance: Above, Beneath, Beyond

The American Renaissance refers to a moment of extraordinary literary expression in the mid-nineteenth century. Our course will begin with the authors originally associated with America's artistic awakening: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman. From there, we will delve beneath the masterworks in the AR tradition to the seedy, seamy, and unseemly works of sensation and gothic literature, from Poe to Alcott. In the second half of the semester we'll travel above and beyond these writings to sentimental fiction and the literatures of slavery and reform; our aims are to examine the aesthetic and social factors that initially excluded women and African Americans from the literary renaissance and to recast writers like Martin Delany, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Keckley, and Frederick Douglass within the American Renaissance framework. Throughout the course we will pay close attention to the process of canon-building according to an ideology of individual excellence, a work's aesthetic merit, and its originality and authenticity. Two essays, take-home midterm, research presentation, class participation.


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