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
240-895-4253
baclick@smcm.edu

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.

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Student Spotlight

Maria Smaldone

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

Spring 2012 Courses


English Major Core Courses

ENGL 281.01: Literature in History I: BCE–1700 MWF 9:40, Bates

ENGL 281.02: Literature in History I: BCE–1700 MW 6:00, Charlebois

ENGL 282.01: Literature in History II: 1700–1900 MWF 10:40, Wooley

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

ENGL 283.01: Literature in History III: 20th Century TTh 2:00, O'Sullivan

ENGL 304.01: Methods in Literary Studies TTh 12:00, Click


100 & 200 Level Literature

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

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in the Arts. Prerequisite:  ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, or CORE301.

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:  ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, or CORE301.

ENGL 130.02: From Thoreau to Obama: Democracy, Civility, and Community in American Letters TTh 12:00, Coleman

This course examines the rich relationship between literature and civic engagement in the United States.  Thoreau’s writings on democracy and the environment and Barack Obama’s writings on his experiences as a community organizer and public servant will serve as bookends for the course.  We will explore a wide range of American letters, from essays to poems, in order to grapple with issues of freedom, equality, civility, labor, and democracy.  In addition to works by Thoreau and Obama, readings may be selected from Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Walt Whitman, Toni Morrison, and others.  We will determine how these diverse expressions function as aesthetic, performative, rhetorical, and ideological texts within specific cultural contexts.  We will also determine how the works have contributed to America’s exemplary tradition of social engagement and social change. 

Students will be required to act on the ideals presented in the course.  Community involvement—campus or otherwise—is central to the overarching concerns of the class.  Direct and significant social involvement with existing environmental, literary, or public service organizations is expected.  

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in the Arts and counts towards the Democracy Studies minor. Prerequisite:  ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, or CORE301.

ENGL 130.03: Introduction to Reading Poetry TTh 2:00, Richardson

Did you grow up reading poetry with your family and treasuring the memory of your favorite poems? Probably not, since most people nowadays get very little exposure to poetry, especially pre-1950 poetry, except the Poetry Boot Camp of AP English (memorizing terms and trying to guess the “hidden meanings” locked in the little box the teacher received at graduation). To read and enjoy poems, you don’t need special abilities or British parents. Reading poetry is like playing the guitar or playing a sport: it requires learning the basics (literal reading of what the speaker says on the page) and practicing them until they come naturally. Your reward is that you can share profound, moving experiences and ideas that have enriched the lives of readers for years (sometimes hundreds). Not to mention that, if you can read poetry, you can read anything else in literature and hone your skills in language from top (critical thinking) to bottom (syntax and vocabulary). We will read short poems including everything from Shakespeare to rap music (yes, they are poetry, too). This course is intended for nonmajors but also provides great background for those who think they might want to major in English.

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in the Arts. Prerequisite:  ENGL102, CORE101, NITZ180, or CORE301.

ENGL 204.01: Reading and Writing in the English Major MW 2:40, 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.

ENGL 235.01: Struggle, Survival, and Subversion: African-American Expression in American Culture TTh 8:00, Coleman

This course will examine the multiple roles of African-American creativity in the expressive arts. Theater, fiction, poetry, music, and film from the 1800s to the present will be explored in order for students to gain a deeper cultural understanding of how American artists and writers of African descent have inscribed the African presence and played essential roles in shaping America's identity, history, thought, and culture. 



This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Cultural Perspectives, and counts for credit in the Africa/African-Diaspora Studies Program and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies ProgramPrerequisite: ENGL 102, CORE 101, or CORE 301.

Writing Courses

ENGL 102.01: Composition: Humor and Satire MWF 12:00, Click

ENGL 201.01: Intro to Creative Non-Fiction MW 2:40, Hammond

Creative non-fiction combines the shaping presence of the imagination with a deep and honest exploration of factuality. While the imaginative element demands a strong and consistent point of view, creative nonfiction goes beyond memoir in order to make a point, convey knowledge, and/or deliver an insight. This course introduces students to the genre.  

Prerequisite: ENGL 102, CORE 101, or CORE 301.

ENGL 270.01: Creative Writing MWF 9:20, Gabriel

Prerequisite: ENGL 102, CORE 101, or CORE 301 and one college-level literature class.

ENGL 270.02: Creative Writing TTh 10:00, Anderson

Prerequisite: ENGL 102, CORE 101, or CORE 301 and one college-level literature class.

ENGL 350.01: The Study and Teaching of Writing (Peer-tutoring) MWF 1:20, O'Sullivan

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

ENGL 395.01: Topics in Writing:  Nature-Writing Workshop MW 2:40, Chandler

This course will provide an opportunity to develop and refine writing skills.  You will have four months to immerse yourself in writing, reviewing, and reading what is re-emerging as an important and popular literary prose genre in America—the nature essay. While we will turn to books and essays as models for content, form, and style, this is a writing course; that means that you will write or rewrite for every class meeting.  Writing will be our primary activity and the focus of our discussions.  Since this is a workshop, you will also be expected to comment constructively aloud and in writing on each other’s pieces.  And, since writing about the natural world must be based on your experience, past and continuing, you will keep a field journal of nature observations, working to discover the value of your own perceptions through writing. 

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

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

ENGL 395.02: Topics in Writing: Creative Non-Fiction MW 6:00, Hammond

Creative non-fiction, as its 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 workshop offers extensive study of and practice in the genre. 

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

ENGL 495.01: Advanced Topics in Writing: The Novella MWF 10:40, Gabriel

In this course, we will examine what makes a novella tick. We’ll spend some time talking about what a novella even is—and how it’s different from the novel and short story. To this end, we’ll read a number of exemplary novellas, a provisional list of which includes William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow, Earnest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel, James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, Andrea Barrett’s Ship Fever, Tim Krabbe’s The Rider, Katherine Ann Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, Richard Bausch’s Peace, Christine Schutt's Florida, and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. We’ll also of course write our own novellas; along the way, we’ll do exercises that will help in this endeavor. And, through regular workshops, we will provide one another with useful feedback on our works-in-progress.

Prerequisite: English 304, one 300-level literature course, plus one writing course beyond English 102, or permission of the instructor. ENGL 270 strongly recommended.


300 & 400 Level Literature

ENGL 355.01: 

The Romantics MW 6:00, Richardson

The years after the French Revolution and during Napoleon’s reign sparked a revolutionary change in the basic philosophical, religious and political world-view of the West. A small number of radical-thinking British poets were instrumental in creating this view: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. Like the major philosophers of the Enlightenment, they questioned the basis of traditional authority in the form of church and state. But they believed these philosophers overprivileged rational, scientific thought, and their ambition was to improve upon philosophy by adding to it the emotional, imaginative side of human nature (dramatizing vs. just talking about perceptual experience). Did they succeed? Which of them is more successful? You decide, as we study in depth poems of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats (possibly Coleridge and Byron, depending upon student interest) to see how they redefined literature, politics, gender, culture, nature from the roots up, so to speak. 

Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. English 282, interest/background in philosophy/history of the era, and/or enthusiasm/background in reading poetry are pluses.

ENGL 355.02: Renaissance Poetry and Prose TTh 2:00, Charlebois

During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, English writers with incredible imagination, skill, and sheer audacity forever changed our language and literature.  In this course we will read the verse of such innovative poets as Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Donne, and George Herbert as well as provocative and sparkling prose by writers such as Sir Thomas More and Sir Francis Bacon. In addition to reading the works of these famous “men of letters,” we will see how several amazing Renaissance women -- including Anne Askew, Aemilia Lanyer, Mary (Sidney) Herbert, Mary Wroth, and even Queen Elizabeth herself – added new perspectives and innovations to the literary landscape.  While exploring the vast array of genres and voices of the English Renaissance, we will focus on several provocative themes that preoccupied the writers and thinkers of the period, including the status and nature of women, the battle of the sexes, love, marriage, and friendship, religious faith in a time of change, the exploration of new worlds, and the relationship between art and nature.  While examining these defining questions of the Renaissance, we will also consider the ways in which our own time continues to wrestle with similar issues. In addition to sonnet sequences, other lyric poems, and shorter prose works, readings may include, More’s Utopia, Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, Marlowe’s Hero and Leander, Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender and Book III of his epic The Faerie Queene, as well as selections from Sidney’s Arcadia and Donne’s Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.   If you liked English 281 and want to delve more deeply into the literature and culture of the English Renaissance, this class is for you!  Prerequisites: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. English 281 recommended.


ENGL 365.01: Before Thelma and Louise: American Women's Adventure Stories MW 2:40, Baumgartner

American literature is filled with adventurers and adventure stories, but not everyone knows that some of the most exciting tales were written by women. Their real life and fictional adventures include Mary Rowlandson´s seventeenth-century autobiographical account of her capture by and life with Native Americans, E.D.E.N. Southworth´s novel about a nineteenth-century heroine who rescues imprisoned maidens and fights duels, and a memoir by Sarah Emma Edmonds who cross-dressed and fought for the Union during the Civil War.  In addition to looking closely at the historical and cultural conditions in which the narratives were written, we will examine the ways that these writers conformed to and rebelled against cultural prescriptions about femininity. Finally, we'll explore questions about the canon and American literature: How does an author’s sex impact his/her place in the canon?  In literary history?  How does an author get in the canon--and stay there? 

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

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

ENGL 365.02: Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom! F 2:30–4:00, Urgo
Please note that this is a 2-credit class! 

The class will read Faulkner’s great novel of history, memory, and imagination. We’ll also review supporting materials, letters, and manuscripts relating to the novel’s composition, as well as documents from American history and literature that illuminate the text. Students will complete short research projects on historical events and figures mentioned in the novel. A brief, weekly writing assignment follows each class meeting, and each class meeting will have a student leader to help facilitate discussion.
 
Prerequisite: ENGL 281, 282, or 283, or permission of the instructor. Recommended: coursework in 19th- and 20th-century American literature and/or American history, particularly southern history.

ENGL 365.03: Civil Rights Literature TTh 2:00, Coleman

This course introduces students to poems, short stories, novels, essays, and plays that specifically address the most transformative social movement of twentieth-century America.  Students will discover how the literature of the period reflects the complex and often tumultuous social climate of the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s.  Students will critically engage perspectives on the relationship between social equality and cultural production by conducting research, writing essays, and presenting their conclusions orally during the course of the semester. Readings will consist of works by James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nikki Giovanni, Sam Greenlee, Lorraine Hansberry, Martin Luther King, Jr., Alice Walker, Malcolm X, and others.  

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

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

ENGL 410.01: Whitman/Dickinson TTh 12:00, Anderson

Why, in 2012, do we still care so passionately about Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson? We’ll answer this question by examining the love and the loathing they have inspired in over a century of creative and critical writing.  First, we’ll ask how these poets’ work inspired heated arguments about how experimental poetic form is connected to cultural, racial, sexual and national identity. In the second part of the course, we’ll be looking at how contemporary writers have found ways to follow and break with the traditions established by these two icons of American poetry. 

Prerequisites: English 304 and one English 300-level literature course or permission of the instructor. English 281 highly recommended.

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

ENGL 420.01: Theories of the Reader  TTh 10:00, Bates

First a warning: this is a theory class so you will be assigned a number of difficult theoretical articles and book chapters.  On the lighter side, we will put reader response theory to use in interesting ways, including exploring your own charged reading experiences and examining heated censorship battles.  Among the questions we will address are: “What is the role of the reader in determining what a work means?” “If all interpretations have a subjective dimension, how do we determine whether an interpretation is good or bad?” “Can literary masterworks change our lives, whether for better or worse?” Among the theorists we will examine are Aristotle (catharsis), Wimsatt and Beardsley (the affective fallacy), Roland Barthes (textual pleasure), Wayne Booth (ethical criticism), Wolfgang Iser (the implied reader), Hans Robert Jauss (horizons of expectation), Stanley Fish (interpretive communities), Norman Holland (identity themes), and Kenneth Burke (identification). For the final project, students will explore a significant literary reading experience of their own choosing. Possibilities include the 18th century’s suspicion of novels; the relationship between Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Civil War; the censorship of Huckleberry Finn; the enduring popularity of Catcher in the Rye; the hostility of rightwing Christian evangelists to Harry Potter

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