Books that Cook
Professor of English Jennifer Cognard-Black's new book, Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal, is being published by NYU Press this August.

Program Information

Ben Click, Chair
Professor of English

Office staff: 240-895-4225

Alumni—where are they now?

Monica Powell

Monica Powell (class of 2011) graduated with an English major and a WGSX minor. She currently lives in Washington DC, where she works in theatre education with the Young Playwright's Theatre and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.


Student Spotlight

Maria Smaldone

Maria Smalldone finds doors opening for her in Oxford, while studying at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Fall 2011 Courses

English Major Core Courses

ENGL 281.01: Literature in History I: BCE–1700 MWF 9:20, Bates

ENGL 282.01: Literature in History II: 1700–1900 TTh 8:00, Cognard-Black

ENGL 282.02: Literature in History II: 1700–1900 MW 2:40, Richardson

ENGL 283.01: Literature in History III: 20th Century TTh 6:00, O'Sullivan

ENGL 283.02: Literature in History III: 20th Century TTh 2:00, Richardson

ENGL 304.01: Methods in Literary Studies MW 2:40, Chandler

ENGL 304.02: Methods in Literary Studies TTh 2:00, Click

An excellent choice for sophomore majors:

ENGL 204.01: Reading and Writing in the English Major TTh 10:00, Click

The goal of ENGL 204 is to teach students reading and writing skills particular to literary study, to enable them to better manage the historical and topical content of 200 & 300-level literature classes. In this course: (1) Students will hone and refine their ability to do close readings of both primary and secondary texts. (2) They will learn to identify formal elements that contribute to a text’s meaning (such as symbolism, meter, etc.). (3) In order to write better literary analyses, they will learn to pose questions about a text that are both worth asking, and also answerable in the time they have allotted. (4) They will learn to formulate a literary argument; to support their argument with evidence from their reading of a primary text (and secondary texts, if appropriate); and to revise their work in response to critiques. Prerequisite: ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, or CORE301.

100 & 200 Level Literature

ENGL 106.01: Introduction to Literature: MWF 12:00, Baumgartner

ENGL 130.01: Introduction to Shakespeare MW 2:40, Charlebois

In this introductory course in Shakespeare we will study representative plays from Shakespeare’s canon which are in an interesting and provocative dialogue with one another, the culture of Renaissance England, and our own times. We will pay close attention how Shakespeare’s work reflects the dramatic and poetic traditions and the cultural preoccupations of early modern England. In addition we will examine how our own culture continues to interpret and Shakespeare by attending a life performance and taking a look at several contemporary film adaptations of the plays. Plays will be selected from the following list of titles: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, 1 Henry IV, Henry V.

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in the Arts.  Prerequisite: ENGL 102, CORE 101, or CORE 301.

300 & 400 Level Literature

ENGL 355.01: Couples Comedy TR 10:00, Bates

We will look at relationship comedies from the British Restoration and 18th century, concluding in the Regency period with Jane Austen’s first novel. The works will include bawdy poetry by “the libertine,” John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester; Restoration comedies by William Wycherley (Country Wife) and Aphra Behn (The Rover); poetry by Alexander Pope (Rape of the Lock), Jonathan Swift (the bedroom poems), and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; neo-Restoration comedies by Oliver Goldsmith (She Stoops to Conquer), Thomas Sheridan (School for Scandal), and Hannah Cowley (The Belle’s Stratagem); and novels by Henry Fielding (Tom Jones), and Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility). Under girding the course will be two theories of comedy, the hard view of Thomas Hobbes (comedy as attack) and the soft view of the Earl of Shaftesbury (comedy as sympathetic identification). Since comedy today continues to fall into these two camps, we will compare the above works with contemporary television and film comedy.

Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. English 281 recommended.

ENGL 355.02:  Renaissance Drama TTh 6:00, Charlebois

In this course we will study ten plays written by English Renaissance playwrights from approximately 1590-1633. Attention will be paid to how the theater as a controversial institution both reflects and participates in debates about hotly contested issues of the early modern period including sex, gender, marriage, politics, and religion. While the emphasis in the course will be on how the plays might be understood as cultural expressions of the English Renaissance, we will attend a live production, view a film adaptation, and experiment in the classroom with performance as means of exploring how dramatic literature is intimately linked to the stage. While we may study one Shakespeare play for purposes of comparison, the focus of the course will be on non-Shakespearean drama including plays by Kyd, Marlowe, Webster, Middleton, and Ford.

Prerequisites: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. English 281 recommended.

ENGL 380.01: Mythology in Literature  MW 6:00, Richardson

There are many ways to study mythology: “scientific,” anthropological analysis of the common human experiences implied by the myths of technologically primitive peoples; psychological theories about archetypal myths in the individual or collective subconscious, and Myth Criticism in literary studies, which claims that all views of the world (including science) are imperfect fictions we create to give more structure to the universe than it has. All these methods reduce what were once unique, specific, and consciously-elaborated traditions of distinct cultures into one universal set of similar “myths”—and then treat these myths as something primitive that we, as advanced post-Enlightenment people, find either false or less self-aware than our own world-views. This course treats mythology in a different way. It explores how several well-developed mythic traditions in the West—the Celtic/Irish, the Nordic, and above all the Greek—have been used in major literary works to represent world-views different from, and not necessarily less true than, the schizophrenic science-versus-subjective-imagination “myth” under which the West has been laboring since the Enlightenment. Put simply, myth is metaphor on a cosmic scale, which reveals the way the forces in the universe (the gods) are understood and the relation of humans (the epic and tragic heroes) to that universe. We will attempt to see the world through truly different perspectives that nevertheless still underlie our own. Works studied will include The Iliad (in Fitzgerald’s poetic, not prose, translation), the Oresteia, Medea, The Bacchae, a bit of Greek sculpture, Lady Gregory’s translation and compilation of the ancient Irish Cuchulain stories, her friend W. B. Yeats’ poetry and plays about Cuchulain, and (relatively) short selections from the Wagner Ring operas (Die Walkure). Assignments will include journals due for each class session and two roughly 5-10 papers (probably one close reading, one involving some context/research).

Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor.

ENGL 390.01: Hysteria to Hysterectomy: Women's Health Care in America TTh 2:00, Baumgartner

This course will examine issues surrounding women´s health care in America. Beginning with the diary of an eighteenth-century Maine midwife, we will explore the changing conceptions of women as health care providers and recipients of health care through the mid-twentieth century. Using popular writing, scientific/medical articles, letters, diaries, and fiction, we will explore the cultural construction of women’s bodies across race, class, sex, and time. Some of the questions we will consider will be: How has gender ideology shaped the construction of medical knowledge? How do political, economic, and social factors affect women as providers and recipients of health care?

Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor.

This course may be used to fulfill the requirements of a WGSX minor

ENGL 390.02: The Other Side of September: Literary and Cinematic Representations of 9/11 TTh 8:00, Coleman

This course is intended to help commemorate the ten-year mark of the 9/11 attacks and will explore how artists from various cultures and countries have responded to one of the most tragic events to ever occur on American soil. As a collective, these artists address how one fateful September morning seemingly altered America’s sense of national identity, including its relationship to national security, civil liberties, principles of democracy, and the value of international collaboration. Furthermore, the artists examine 9/11’s emotional impact on America’s citizenry, an impact that unfortunately led to jingoism, xenophobia, conspiracy theories, and inhumane treatment of others. Likewise, several of the books and films investigate how 9/11 contributed to the dichotomization of America into purported Red and Blue States. Many of the works also deal overtly or covertly with the initiation and execution of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, often from the perspective of individuals in those countries. On the other hand, the required books and films depict acts of tolerance, perseverance, and the ability of many to resist irrational impulses. Indeed, some of the novels, poems, short stories, essays, and films celebrate the ability of Americans to practice the ideals on which the country was founded. Students will determine how the required readings and viewings function as aesthetic and ideological texts, and how they function as “history” in addition to literature and film.

Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. English 283 recommended.

ENGL 390.03: Landscape and Literature TTh 10:00, Chandler

From Christopher Marlowe to Leslie Marmon Silko, a deep interest in the relationship between humanity and the natural world has been a concern of literary artists. In this course, we will look at how that concern permeates all aspects of literary art, from genre to form. Using “pastoral” as our focal point, we will survey the variety of modes of writing about nature, from ballads, fables, odes, and travelogues to short stories, nonfiction, even novels and drama. We will move from pastoral to anti-pastoral to post-pastoral, examining various conceptions of “Arcadia” along the way as well as differences between British and American notions of pastoral. We will read from four centuries of British and American literature—among others, Shakespeare and Pope, Cooper and Whitman and into the twentieth century with Woolf, Cather, Wright, and Hogan.

Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. English 283 recommended.

This course is crosslisted with ENST and may be counted towards an ENST minor.

ENGL 410.01: Scribbling Women: 19th-Century American Women Authors MW 2:40, Baumgartner

In 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote to his publisher, William Tichnor, that “America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash." In this class, we will examine works of those scribbling women of the nineteenth century. We'll read one of the best selling novels of the century, one that was only published with the help of abolitionists, along with others that have garnered more attention in our time than their own. In addition to focusing on these women writers, we'll also explore questions about the canon and American literature: What makes literature "good"? What constitutes American literature? How does an author get in the canon--and stay there? Finally, in this writing intensive course, there will be frequent writing assignments and a strong emphasis on the essential writing process of drafting and revising.

Prerequisites: English 304 and one English 300-level literature course or permission of the instructor.

This course is crosslisted with WGSX and may be counted towards a WGSX minor.

ENGL 430.01: Scream and Shout!: American Literature and Music as Social Protest TTh 2:00, Coleman

This course will examine protest-oriented 20th and 21st Century American literature and music. Various socio-historical topics will be addressed, including the rise of Rock 'n Roll in the 1950s, the multiple movements of the 1960s, the pre-war opposition to the occupation of Iraq, and the current relationship between art and social forces. These issues will be examined through the writings and performances of, among others, Dorothy Allison, Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, John Coltrane, Common, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Louise Erdrich, Betty Friedan, Aretha Franklin, Nikki Giovanni, Allen Ginsberg, Joy Harjo, Incubus, Jack Kerouc, Malcolm X, Toni Morrison, Mos Def, Marge Piercy, Public Enemy, Radiohead, and Rage Against the Machine.

ENGL 430.02: On Beyond Empire: Postcolonial Literature TTh 12:00, Feingold

In 1900, the British Empire spanned the globe, encompassing tremendous swaths of North America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific. A century later, all that remained were a few tiny chunks of rock, scattered across the most remote corners of the world’s oceans. In place of the empire were dozens of new nations—and dozens of new literatures belonging to them. This class will study several of those literatures, along with the histories and cultures of the countries that gave birth to them. Special attention will be paid to the legacy of Empire: the complex relationship between colonizer and colonized; the role of the English language and British culture in the former colonies; questions of national identity and belonging. All texts will be in English. Literatures from the Caribbean, South Asia, Southern Africa, and Oceania may be on the reading list.

Prerequisites: English 304 and one English 300-level literature course or permission of the instructor.


Writing Courses

ENGL 101.02: Introduction to Writing TTh 10:00, Staff

ENGL 101.02: Introduction to Writing TTh 12:00, Staff

ENGL 101.01: Introduction to Writing MWF 10:40, O'Sullivan

ENGL 102.01: Composition MWF 9:20, Gabriel

ENGL 201.01: Writing about Science MWF 10:40, Gabriel

This course will be an introduction to writing about the sciences for a general audience. We’ll analyze the way science is written about in the popular media (comparing, for instance, a scientific journal article to its representation in publications like New Scientist or The New York Times)—and we’ll try our own hand at converting scientific papers into news stories. The main project for the course, however, will be writing a science-based feature article or profile. This will most likely entail doing research and interviews in the field. In preparation for this project, we will look at examples of this sort of work from writers like Malcolm Gladwell, Diane Ackerman and David Quammen, paying close attention to the ways in which they bring science to life for non-scientists. Both science majors and non-science majors should feel equally comfortable in this course; that is to say, no specialized scientific knowledge is necessary. What will be necessary is a willingness to make sense of scientific research and a determination to “translate” that work in an engaging way for those not familiar with it.

This course may be used to fulfill the requirements of an ENST minor.

Prerequisite: ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, or CORE301.

ENGL 201.02: Writing Arguments MWF 12:00, Click

Writing effective arguments involves understanding the rhetorical principles that aid and inspire an audience to believe a claim. This course examines those principles in depth by studying what classical through modern rhetoricians, writers, and philosophers show us about writing effective arguments. We will apply those principles by writing papers on various topics, most of which the student will chose. In addition to examining the argumentative essays, we will investigate how argument functions in poetry, dramatic literature, transcribed speeches, cartoons, and print advertisements. Course requirements include writing four papers (5-8 pages each) and actively participating in discussion. This course is open to students interested in improving their thinking and writing skills.

Prerequisite: ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, CORE301 or permission of the instructor.

ENGL 270.01: Creative Writing TTh 10:00, Anderson

ENGL 270.02: Creative Writing TTh 12:00, Cognard-Black

ENGL 270.02: Creative Writing TTh 2:00, Cognard-Black

ENGL 395.01: Topics in Writing: Advanced Poetry TTh 12:00, Coleman

In this intensive poetry-writing workshop, advanced poets will learn to create, refine, and critique more constructively, deepen their relationship to the creative process, and read collections by emerging and established contemporary poets and critics. Most of class time will be spent discussing student writing or experimenting with creative/imaginative techniques, but coursework also requires attending outside readings, maintaining a notebook or journal, conferencing with the instructor, and preparing a final portfolio of well-polished poems. This course will also explore the use of traditional and modern forms of poetry and contemplate the multiple ways in which poetry can be experienced, inhabited, and comprehended.

Prerequisite: one 200-level writing course and/or the permission of the instructor. ENGL 270 strongly recommended.

ENGL 395.02: Topics in Writing: Advanced Fiction MWF 1:20, Gabriel

English 395 is an advanced course in the theory, practice, and reading of fiction. We’ll read a lot of (mainly) short fiction—both published work and our own exercises and short stories—for all the reasons people usually read: to be entertained, to be surprised or inspired, to learn about the world, to participate in our own print culture. But as writers of fiction, we will also be reading with one eye always peaking under the hood, attempting to glean what we can, to understood how and why an author employed a particular technique or device—and to what effect. Nobody, the truism goes, can teach you how to write: writers learn for themselves how to do it—from example (reading good work), from experiment and practice, and from feedback (listening to and responding to the comments of others). So, in a nutshell, those are things that will happen in this course.

Prerequisite: one 200-level writing course and/or the permission of the instructor. ENGL 270 strongly recommended. 

ENGL 395.03: Topics in Writing: Creative Non-Fiction MW 6:00, Hammond

Creative nonfiction, as the name suggests, is both “creative” and “nonfictive.” Creative nonfiction enacts an imaginative engagement with the real: it combines the shaping presence of the imagination with a deep and honest exploration of factuality. The imaginative element demands a strong and consistent point of view, as in all first-person prose. But in its factual dimension, creative nonfiction goes beyond memoir in order to make a point, convey knowledge, and/or deliver an insight. This course offers extensive study of and practice in the genre.

Prerequisite: one 200-level writing course and/or the permission of the instructor.

Cross-listed Classes

Many classes offered by other departments may be used, with limitations, for the English major. Please see the English department catalogue copy to determine which courses are eligible.