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Undergraduate Program

Advanced Seminars


ENG 380 Literary Style

Instructor: E. Tawil
CRN: 24762, Fall 2017
W 1650-1930

This seminar will focus on the fascinating but somewhat murky idea of “style” in literature.  Often described as the how rather than the what of writing, the notion of style as a particular feature of literary texts is an attempt describe how different artists can use the same basic materials (for example, the same lexicon, genre conventions, character types, or basic plot points) and yet put these common elements together in a unique way.  This principle of style is easier to recognize than to define.  We know when we are in the presence of a distinctive style (think of famous literary stylists like Ernest Hemingway or William Faulkner), but to define it clearly is a different matter.  In this class, we will look at a broad range of literary examples (from the Renaissance to the twentieth century), as well as some works of criticism that have attempted to theorize style (D.A. Miller’s Jane Austen, or The Secret of Style, Edward Said’s On Late Style among others).  

This course fulfills the advanced seminar requirement for majors in English, but is open to students across the divisions (space permitting).

ENG 380 The Politics of Television

Instructor: J. Burges
CRN: 26310, Fall 2017
TR 1815-1930

In this class, we will explore the politics of television from three primary directions. First, we will look at traditional political programming such as news reporting, debates, morning shows, and late night satire alongside series such as The West Wing, Homeland, Occupied, and Law and Order. Second, we will explore the cultural politics of television, considering how it tackles issues of race, sexuality, and gender directly and indirectly across different genres of television. Finally, we will consider the relationship of television to political economy, asking how television functions as a culture industry; how it makes visible (or not) the relationship between the political and the economic in the stories it tells; and how it narrates class and capitalism in non-fiction and fiction television alike. Priority to junior and senior English majors, and to FMS majors. Email the instructor to inquire about enrollment.

ENG 380 Assimilating Literary Language

Instructor: D. Bleich
CRN: 24560, Spring 2017
TR 1105-1220

The seminar considers the extent to which people assimilate the language of literature into ordinary usage. As we read, language, fantasy, and thought in literature combine in a social and political gesture. For most literature, we remember stories and characters, but rarely words. Literary language acts on us mostly without our awareness. With attention to a variety of genres of fiction, poetry, drama, and popular song lyrics, the seminar estimates the social and political speech action of literary language. Seminar members are invited to re-use the language of the works on the reading list by placing this language in new contexts and then comparing the new usages with those experienced in reading. Works on the reading list, which raise issues of language action, suggest how such actions appear in any literature. Authors studied include Dickinson, Kafka, Lawrence, Morrison, Olds, Orwell, Pinter, and Shakespeare. Obscene language is considered as a model of how literary language is politically active.

ENG 380 Nobel Prize Literature

Instructor: B. London
CRN: 24571, Spring 2017
MW 1525-1640

This course will provide an opportunity to sample an exciting body of contemporary literature, some written by authors already widely acclaimed at the time they received the Nobel Prize and some by writers suddenly catapulted into fame and international recognition. While a central focus of the course will be the literature itself, we will also look at some of the particular controversies and debates the prize has generated and at how receipt of the prize changed writers' lives and literary reputations. In the U.S., where less than 5% of the literature published each year is literature in translation, Nobel prize-winning literature is often the only modern literature Americans read in translation. We will therefore consider the question of translation and the role of the Nobel Prize in creating and promoting an international literature. We will also consider the special challenges this literature poses for its readers in speaking to both local and global audiences.