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Undergraduate Program

Advanced Seminars


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.

ENG 380 The Horror Film

Instructor: J. Middleton
CRN: 25172, Fall 2016
TR 1400-1515

This course examines major critical issues surrounding the horror genre, through close study of Classical Hollywood, post-classical, and international horror films, and readings in critical theory. Issues to be explored include boundary transgression and bodily abjection in the construction of the horror monster; gender, pregnancy, and the monstrous-feminine; social Otherness (race, class, sexuality) as monstrosity; the figure of the serial killer and the shift from classic to modern horror; the grotesque and the blending of comedy and horror in the zombie film. As a research seminar, the course will involve the development of a substantial research project.

ENG 380 Power, Sex, Suicide: Dido and the Shaping of Feminine Identities

Instructor: T. Hahn
CRN: 80755, Fall 2016
MW 1525-1640

For 2000 years, Virgil’s African Queen was the most studied and most familiar woman of antiquity for all schoolboys (and many schoolgirls). A contradictory emblem of power (monarch, empire builder, colonizer), sex (gracious host, crazed lover), and suicide (powerless victim, noble sacrifice), Dido has re-shaped male fantasies and female identities across an astonishing spectrum of images and media. Dido absorbs the traits of other mythic women – Medea and Cleopatra – and is revised, revisited, and “translated” by later writers and artists (for us, Augustine, Chaucer, Christine de Pisan, Marlowe, and Shakespeare to A. S. Byatt, African post-colonial fictions, and more). We close by studying her star turn in experimental art (theater, dance, opera) in the 21st century. Students will work with nearly 2000 digitized images on the course website, ranging from manuscripts thru’ museum paintings to internet improvisations, editing files, adding metadata, and improving design. In-class presentations and final paper.