CoursesSenior Seminars

Spring 2022

Senior/Capstone Seminars for American Literature and Culture Majors

TWO by Willa Cather: A Reading and Writing Intensive for Fiction Authors

Topics in 20th and 21st-Century Literature
English 182F / Prof. Huneven

In this class we will do intensive, close readings of two Willa Cather novels, My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop to see what we, as aspiring fiction writers, can learn from her style, her technique, and her writing life. Student presentations, creative writing prompts, final project.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Topics in 19th Century American Literature
English 183B / Prof. Colacurcio

With some interest in the biography, we will attempt to trace Hawthorne’s developing career: from the obscurity of Salem in the 1820’s and early 30’s, when he wrote, anonymously, some the most brilliant historical tales in the language; through the more sociable “Concord Period” (1842-45), when his attention turned to the liberal and transcendental reforms of his own agitated age; to that so-called “Major Phase” in which he wrote his three American Romances in just under three years. Emphasis at first on response to historical (Puritan) sources, then on the attempt to tell the history of his own time.No final exam. Course assumes perfect, punctual attendance, careful preparation, two in-class presentations on an assigned topic, and a critical/analytical paper of 12-15 pages–which must enter into significant conversation with published criticism.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Our So-Called Present: Studies in Very Recent Contemporary U.S. Fiction

Capstone Seminar
English 184.2 / Prof. Huehls

How do we turn our experiences in the present into a conception of the present? In an attempt to answer that question, this course will read U.S. fiction published in the past two years. The majority of the texts chosen by the students. We will read one novel per week. Weekly response papers, thorough participation, and final project required.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Contemporary Asian American Short Fiction

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C / Prof. Ling

In this seminar, we are going to close-read a range of Asian American short fiction (including a novella) produced from the pre-WWII period to the present. We will explore their subject matters, writing styles, social implications, and contributions to the diversity of the American literary canon. The reading assignments in the class are determined with an eye to their artistry, readability, and the breadth of their representation of Asian American issues or experiences. Graded work in this seminar includes: 1) participation (10%); 2) an in-class oral presentation (10%); 3) a take-home paper of 4 double-spaced pages in lieu of the midterm examination (30%); and 4) a course paper of 12 double-spaced pages (50%).

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

 

Senior/Capstone Seminars for English Majors

What We See When We Read

Topics in Genre Studies
English 181A / Prof. Bistline

What do we see when we read? Words on the page? Images in our minds? Something in between? Using concepts from material textual studies, comics studies, and the phenomenology of reading, this course explores the relationship between the words we read, the images we see, and the fictional worlds we imagine. We will study texts that range from 18th-century broadsheets and Victorian illustrated novels to contemporary graphic narratives and memes. Topics for discussion may include: What can words represent that visual images cannot and vice versa? What kinds of meaning happen when we combine words and images? How do words or pictures on the page conjure compelling fictional worlds? And, how does an awareness of seeing and reading affect our understandings of visible and invisible differences including, but not limited to, disabilities, race, gender, and sexuality?

The Literature of the Law

Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies
English 181B / Prof. Shuger

The seminar will read selections from the classic texts of British law, from Bracton in the thirteenth century to Blackstone in the eighteenth. We will explore a variety of topics: contract, oaths, the jury system, sexual regulation, murder, equity, suicide, censorship, contempt of court, and (my favorite) stellionatus. The readings tend to be long and hard—and therefore wonderful preparation for law school (especially since 90% of modern American law is rooted in the English common law)—although we will also read some utterly electrifying trial narratives. Although the course has obvious relevance for prospective law students, it should also be of great value for those intending to do graduate work in English history or literature. . . . I strongly recommend reading J.H. Baker’s Introduction to English Legal History over spring break. There will be weekly short papers on the readings, but no exams.

Shakespeare’s Second Tetralogy

Topics in Renaissance and Early Modern Literature
English 182B.1 / Prof. Dickey

This course will undertake a detailed study of the four works that make up Shakespeare’s second tetralogy of English history plays: Richard II, 1 and 2 Henry IV, and Henry V.  Along the way, we will acquire some familiarity with Shakespeare’s chronicle sources and dramatic precedents; competing early modern historiographical models and methods; genre theory; performance theory; the political situation and social concerns of England in the late 1590s when the plays are written (i.e., not just the early 1400s, when the plays are set); and the needs of a harried property manager.  We will also sample some of the many filmed treatments of these plays.

Engendering Whiteness in Shakespeare’s Henriad

Topics in Renaissance and Early Modern Literature
English 182B.2 / Prof. Wagner

This seminar will examine the interplay of gender and race in Shakespeare’s Henriad: Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Shakespeare frequently depicts women at the center of competing racial, national, and religious forces. How can Shakespeare provide a framework for thinking about intersectional feminism, and how can we use Shakespeare to challenge the biological aspirations of white supremacy? Although intersections of race and gender will ground our study, we will use our readings to stage discussions of religion, nation, myth, and genre, and read Shakespearean scholarship invested in a variety of critical and theoretical approaches, including disability studies, ecocriticism, feminism, book history, and premodern critical race studies.

TWO by Willa Cather: A Reading and Writing Intensive for Fiction Authors

Topics in 20th and 21st-Century Literature
English 182F / Prof. Huneven

In this class we will do intensive, close readings of two Willa Cather novels, My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop to see what we, as aspiring fiction writers, can learn from her style, her technique, and her writing life. Student presentations, creative writing prompts, final project.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Topics in 19th Century American Literature
English 183B / Prof. Colacurcio

With some interest in the biography, we will attempt to trace Hawthorne’s developing career: from the obscurity of Salem in the 1820’s and early 30’s, when he wrote, anonymously, some the most brilliant historical tales in the language; through the more sociable “Concord Period” (1842-45), when his attention turned to the liberal and transcendental reforms of his own agitated age; to that so-called “Major Phase” in which he wrote his three American Romances in just under three years. Emphasis at first on response to historical (Puritan) sources, then on the attempt to tell the history of his own time.No final exam. Course assumes perfect, punctual attendance, careful preparation, two in-class presentations on an assigned topic, and a critical/analytical paper of 12-15 pages–which must enter into significant conversation with published criticism.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Dracula and Other Vampires

Capstone Seminar
English 184.1 / Prof. Bristow

This capstone seminar focuses on the narrative complexity of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) before turning to some of the main influences that shaped this powerful novel. The syllabus includes discussions of John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) and Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872). Toward the end of the quarter, students will have the opportunity to consider the legacy of Dracula in such works as F. W. Murnau’s silent film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922), Jewell Gomez’s queer rewriting of the vampire myth, The Gilda Stories (1991), Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). If time permits, our discussion will engage with more recent reworking of the vampire myth—such as Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (2014).

Our So-Called Present: Studies in Very Recent Contemporary U.S. Fiction

Capstone Seminar
English 184.2 / Prof. Huehls

How do we turn our experiences in the present into a conception of the present? In an attempt to answer that question, this course will read U.S. fiction published in the past two years. The majority of the texts chosen by the students. We will read one novel per week. Weekly response papers, thorough participation, and final project required.

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.

Contemporary Asian American Short Fiction

Topics in Asian American Literature
English M191C / Prof. Ling

In this seminar, we are going to close-read a range of Asian American short fiction (including a novella) produced from the pre-WWII period to the present. We will explore their subject matters, writing styles, social implications, and contributions to the diversity of the American literary canon. The reading assignments in the class are determined with an eye to their artistry, readability, and the breadth of their representation of Asian American issues or experiences. Graded work in this seminar includes: 1) participation (10%); 2) an in-class oral presentation (10%); 3) a take-home paper of 4 double-spaced pages in lieu of the midterm examination (30%); and 4) a course paper of 12 double-spaced pages (50%).

 

Reserved for American Literature & Culture majors only on first pass. Open to English majors on second pass.