Fall 2014 English courses.

Undergraduate Courses

English 19:   Introduction to Literary Analysis

There are courses in speed reading. This is a course in slow reading, for reading works of literature is a reading that never quite finishes. A good reader has a hard time getting to the end. There is so much to pay attention to along the way: a surprising word or comparison, a distracting digression by the narrator ... Why won't that narrator get out of the way?

 Although primarily designed as an introductory course for English majors, this course is open to all lovers of literature. It will give more experienced readers a chance to perfect their analytical skills and less experienced readers a chance to acquire new skills. We will concentrate on learning how to pay the kind of attention that literature demands and how to ask and answer fruitful questions. We will begin to master the language of literary criticism, the technical vocabulary that makes it possible for a reader to ask and to answer interpretive questions with clarity and precision.

 ENGLISH 19-1: 

Instructor:  Br. Ron Gallagher, FSC                                  MWF 2:45-3:50

Texts:  Scholes, et al., Elements of Literature; Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms

Requirements:  Careful reading and rereading, active participation in class discussions,three short essays, midterm, and final exam.


Instructor:  Jeannine King                                                 MWF 9:15-10:20

 Text:    Michael Meyer, The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature

 Requirements:   Active participation in class discussions, group presentation, three short essays and three quizzes.

 English 23: American Voices—The Outsider

Much of American literature is written from the perspective of the “outsider,” a figure who stands on the margins of society.  The value of this perspective was articulated by such nineteenth-century writers as Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau, whose visions were shaped by feelings of alienation from mainstream values. But what of those who are outsiders by definition and not by choice—women, recent immigrants, African-Americans and ethnic minorities?   In this course, we will trace the development of the figure of the outsider from the blossoming of this tradition to its contemporary manifestations.

Requirements: Lively class participation, weekly reading responses, two essays, and final essay.

Readings:  Selections from Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau

Twentieth Century Outsiders will include: Hard-boiled detectives in film and fiction

The Beats: including Howl by Allen Ginsberg, the Graphic Novel by E.  Drooker

African Americans:  Sula by Toni Morrison; Native Americans: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Recent Immigrants:  Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Instructor: Janice Doane                                                        MWF 10:30-11:35

Satisfies Requirements for:  Artistic Understanding and American Diversity; English Elective (upper division credit with permission of instructor), Women’s Studies Elective.

ENGLISH 25:  Creative Writing: Multi-Genre

We will study and practice the craft and techniques of four genres of creative writing: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and drama. For the first half of the semester, we will focus on short readings and writing exercises to help us define various elements of craft, and to become more comfortable utilizing them in each genre of writing. The second half of the semester will focus on the writing workshop, for which you will submit a completed piece of writing to be critiqued by the group. By the end of the term, you will have written one short story, a set of poems, a personal essay, and a short dramatic scene.

Needless to say, this is a jam-packed course which will require us to shift gears quickly from genre to genre, while at the same time employing techniques applicable to all good writing – sharp imagery, precise and meaningful language, sharp sentences that bring life to the page. Keeping this in mind, your patience, stamina, commitment, and good humor are essential for this course. It will be a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

Requirements and Grade Breakdown

One short story (maximum five pages)—10%

One set of poems (three to five)—10%

One personal essay (maximum five pages)—10%

One short dramatic scene (maximum five pages)—10%

Completion of writing journal—10%

Completion of all homework and exercises—10%

Workshop critiques—20%


Instructor:  Lysley Tenorio                                                       T/Th 1:15-2:50

 This course is open to all majors and fulfills the Core Curriculum Requirement of Artistic Understanding and Creative Practice.

 English 26:  Creative Writing Reading Series (.25)

“You are young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and tot try to love the questions themselves…” So the poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes to a friend, a young writer who asks him about the writing life.  From writers we hear about bringing language to the unsolved questions.

Every semester, some of our finest contemporary writers visit Saint Mary’s to read from their work and to discuss their writing processes. English 26 is a quarter-credit class designed to give students an opportunity to be more active members of the audience. The student will attend the events in the Creative Writing Reading Series, read the work of some of the writers, and have a chance ask the visitor questions about the life of a writer.

Requirements: Regular attendance at all events in the Reading Series; brief reviews of two events and a longer review of one writer’s book.

Instructor:  Wesley Gibson                                            Wednesdays   7:30-9:00 p.m.

English 27: Book and Film Club (.25 credit course)

    “Your only duty is to write a really good screenplay with the same title as my book.”
                                                                                                                                  -Kazuo Ishiguro

What exactly is the relationship between a book and a screenplay? Between what is found in the pages of a novel, biography, autobiography, or play, and what is later illuminated on the screen? In this book club, we’ll explore the transformation of different genres into film and develop our own theory of adaptation along the way.

If you’ve ever wanted to be a film critic, this is the book club for you. Students will have the opportunity to shape the reading/viewing list on the first day of class (the books/films to the right are just some of the possibilities).

All are welcome. Join us!

Grading: P/F grading based on attendance, completion of reading assignments, and participation in class discussions.

Instructor: Kathryn Koo                                Wednesday 2:45-4:20

Films: 12 years a slave; The Descendants; Unbroken; The Butler; August: Osage County; The Bell Jar; The Hobbit; Sideways; Life of Pi; On the Road; The Constant Gardener; Ghost World; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Cosmopolis; The Road; A Beautiful Mind

English 29-1: Issues in Literary Study

 This is an introductory course for English majors and minors, and also for any student who wants to know what concerns those who study literature in college and beyond. 

In English 19, or other introductory English courses, you learned to value reading a text closely for its form and aesthetic features.  In this course, we’ll start with a brief review of this formal (text-based) approach to literature.  Then we’ll read a range of literature and learn how different interpretive approaches can enrich our reading and writing about texts.  We’ll ask many questions:  Is it possible (or desirable) to read a text “objectively”?  Why might we want to read familiar literature “against the grain’?    Can we really say that some texts embody “timeless values” and teach “universal truths”?   What’s the role of ideology in interpretation?  What does it mean to say that texts and readers are “situated”?  Why do we read and discuss certain texts in the classroom and not others?  What’s the distinction between “serious” and “popular” literature?  Is the distinction meaningful?

By the end of the course, you’ll be a more sophisticated reader, with new reading strategies: new questions to pose about texts, new ways to answer those questions.  You’ll understand why and how serious readers of literature can disagree.  With the new perspectives you’ll develop, you’ll find literature a richer field of exploration.

 Requirements:  Careful reading and re-reading, scrupulous attendance, active participation in class discussion, short essays, final exam.

Readings:  Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory by Steven Lynn; a variety of literary texts

InstructorSandra Grayson                                                    M/F 1:00-2:40

English 100: Advanced Composition

This course is designed to improve students’ analytical, persuasive and expository writing as well as to help them develop voice and style. Students will build on their research skills with the aim of producing effective upper-division college papers on complex topics. In addition, the course will cover motivation and commitment to writing and revising, appealing to specific audiences, developing and organizing ideas.

Prerequisites: English 4 and 5. In some cases, transfer students with advanced standing may take this course in lieu of English 5. Students must petition the Director of Composition for this exception.


Cheryl Strayed, Best American Essays

Katherin Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers

William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction


Attendance; active preparation and participation; assorted exercises; three essays taken through draft and revision process.

 Instructor: Rosemary Graham                                    MWF 11:45-12:50

 This course satisfies a Creative Writing Minor requirement  and the SMPP Core Studies Writing Requirement.

 ENGLISH 101-1:  Writing Adviser Training – BEGINNING  (.25)

We explore ways of helping peer students express themselves during all stages of the writing process – from discovering and organizing ideas to editing drafts. By learning practical techniques, we strengthen our own writing and develop confidence in working with others. We also will learn strategies for helping peers write in diverse genres, situations, and academic disciplines.

 This training is especially valuable for those who are considering working as teachers, counselors, lawyers, business executives, or other positions that involve mentoring and professional communication.

 After this course, students are eligible to apply to work in the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum.  If interested, please contact the CWAC Director for details of the application process.

Readings:  Ryan, Leigh, and Lisa Zimmerelli. The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors

Requirement:    One class hour per week (l hour/.25 unit)

Instructor:        Tereza Joy Kramer                                 Tuesday 3:00-4:35

ENGLISH 101-2:  Writing Adviser Training – ADVANCED (.25)

This is a weekly Staff Workshop taken by students who already have passed ENGLISH 101-1, have been hired, and currently work as Writing Advisers in CWAC.

 Through the Learning element of our Service-Learning work, we are always building our repertoire of skills to offer peer writers and simultaneously improve our own writing and empathic skills.

 We explore various facets of Writing Center work, weaving in ideas from scholarly research and our practical experiences in CWAC. We reflect upon and discuss these topics, and we work on collaborative projects that enhance our learning and benefit writers of all disciplines across the college.

Readings:            As assigned

Requirement:  1.5 workshop hours per week (l hour/.25 unit)

Instructor:             Tereza Joy Kramer                             Monday 6:30-8:05

Enrollment:           By permission of instructor       

English 102—Creative Writing: nonfiction

The Volcano of Self:  Personal Essay & Memoir

 The inexperienced writer, says Jeanette Winterson, believes sincerity of feeling will be enough while the experienced writer knows that feeling must give way to form.  “It is through form, not in spite of it, or accidental to it,” she writes, “that the most powerful emotions are let loose over the greatest number of people.”  This course will start with a series of close readings so you can begin to develop a vocabulary for turning feeling to form.  Writing exercises will be designed to encourage you to dive into what Phillip Lopate calls “the volcano of self,” extracting – then shaping – hot coals of autobiography into formal work of beauty, intelligence, and grace.  You’ll be asked to experiment with form, creating personal essays, for example, that play with time (distilling large amounts of time on the page, fracturing time into fragments, creating mosaic forms). Toward the end of the semester, we will workshop one another's pieces so you’ll receive the kind of feedback necessary to revise in a meaningful way. All of which should shed light on the possibility of the personal essay, which Tobias Wolff says is to “catch oneself in the act of being human.”

Required Texts:

In Brief:  Short Takes on the Personal edited by Judith Kitchen;

The Glen Rock Book of the Dead by Marion Winik; Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn; Course packet of essays by Virginia Woolf, E.B. White, George Orwell, Natalia Ginzburg, Joan Didion and others

 InstructorMarilyn Abildskov  M/F 1- 2:40 p.m.

 This course fills the core curriculum requirement for Artistic Understanding.

English 102-2:  Creative Writing:  Poetry

The question is not “How to write” but “How to say what you really mean,” the poet Ted Hughes says in his little book Poetry Is.  In this course you will be writing your own poems in which you try to “say what you really mean.”

You’ll present them to the group for comment, revise your poems as a result, and practice how to give comments to others in an atmosphere of consideration and trust, with a focus on enabling each one to fulfill his or her unique potential for writing poetry.  

Requirements:  The class will consist of weekly workshops; in-class writing exercises; reading, reflecting on and discussion of assigned poetry by established writers as well as handouts on the writing process.  At the end of the course you will turn in a portfolio of your best work and present some of it in a group reading. 

The grade will be based on your regular attendance, active and thoughtful participation in group discussions, completion of all written assignments, and development of your imaginative and creative writing skills. 

Course Fee $5

Instructor:  Jeanne Foster                                                      MWF 2:45-3:50

This course fulfills the core requirement of Artistic Understanding and of Creative Practice.

English 103:  British Literature I

 In this course we will survey thousand years of British literature, from its beginnings to 1700. We will start with the writings of the Anglo-Saxons, above all Beowulf, texts that look back to the world of Germanic tribes that had not yet migrated to the island of Great Britain. We will learn to read the Middle English of Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries. And we will explore the rich literary production of the English Renaissance, the period that gave us Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton. 

Readings will include Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, selections from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Everyman, lyric poetry by Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Donne, selections from Spenser's Faerie Queene, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Webster's The Duchess Malfi, selections from Milton's Paradise Lost, and Congreve's The Way of the World.

Reguired Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume I (latest edition).  

Requirements: Careful reading and re-reading, scrupulous attendance, active participation in class discussion, short essays, a take-home final.

 Instructor:  Robert Gorsch                                        MWF 10:30-11:35

English 104:  “The Center Cannot Hold”:  British Literature, Pre-Romantic to Modern

Dizzying changes in England during the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries infuse the literature of the time with excitement, hope, and pain.  As established ideas were challenged, questions about gender roles, love, marriage, wealth, work, social status, oppression, nature, art, truth, and where to seek meaning in life became subjects of debate in poetry, fiction, drama, and essays.

As we read texts by writers such as Jane Austen, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, Gerald Manly Hopkins, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, William Butler Yeats, and Thomas Hardy, we will learn about their world and about the forces that have shaped our past.  We will experience the power of writers to create thoughtful, beautiful, and moving literature from exciting or sad or perplexing experience.  We will discover what happens to literature in times of rapid change, as writers create new forms to construct new visions of what it means to be human.

 Readings: Norton Anthology of English Literature, Romantic, Victorian, Modern; Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility; Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge

Requirements: Good attendance, attentive reading, active class participation, three short essays, project, final exam.

Instructor: Carol Beran                                             T/Th 8:00-9:35 

Note:  This course fulfills a requirement for English majors.

 ENGL 125:  Alfred Hitchcock Presents: An Introduction to Film History & Film Analysis 

The Master of Suspense, whose career ranges from the silent period to the seventies, will be our guide through the history of American and European cinema.  His films have won over both popular audiences and film critics with their morbid sense of humor and ability to reveal the dark side of everyday life. His artistic career reflects the developments of 20th century cinema, and his innovative use of film techniques and his commitment to “shooting for the camera” have made him one of the most influential directors in the eyes of modern film-makers.  Each week we will view and discuss a Hitchcock film that is representative of a particular stage of film history. These films will serve as the basis for understanding specific aspects of film analysis. Readings from the required text will provide starting point for discussions and serve to introduce you to film analysis and film criticism.

Required Texts:Louis Giannetti.  Understanding Movies. Prentice Hall.

Marshall Deutelbaum & Leland Poague. A Hitchcock Reader.  Iowa State UP.

 This course fulfills the Core’s Pathways to Knowledge Artistic Understanding Learning Goal, which asks students to analyze, interpret and critique works of art, considering the role of formal methods and techniques, and historical contexts.  As part of this goal, students will be asked to analyze and interpret the form and meaning of selected films. You will learn to apply discipline-based critical vocabulary and theory to explore Hitchcock’s works, as well as learn about how these works fit into the history of film.

Grading Breakdown:

Participation (10%)

Film Notes and Questions for Discussion (10%)

Quizzes (10%)

Short Essays (20%)

Two In-class Exams (20%)

Comprehensive Final Exam (30%)

 Instructor: Lisa Manter                                                              MF 1:00-2:40

English 141: “Getting Medieval”: Middle English Literature & Postmodern Theory

Most people look at studies in medieval literature as the purview of stogy, tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking scholars.  Well, I’m here to tell you, there’s something else.  The New Medievalism, queer theory, and other approaches, which take a look at Chaucer & Co. from a postmodern slant.  We’ll be looking at texts that you’ve read in Major British writers I, and some new ones, as a chance to discuss issues of that are still very much in the spotlight today: politics, power, class, gender, sexuality, and identity.

Textbook list:

All texts are required except for Sarup.  I would highly recommend Sarup’s text if you would like a firmer understanding of postmodernism or intend to pursue graduate studies.  I have tried to put most of the texts on reserve just in case, but our library only carries some of them.

Primary Texts

Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales;

Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Kempe, Margery, The Book of Margery Kempe

Malory, Thomas, The Morte Darthur

Marie de France, The Lais of Marie de France

Secondary Texts

Aers, David, ed., Culture and History, 1350-1600: Essays on English Communities, Identities, and Writing, Wayne State UP, 1992.

Hubbuch, Susan M. Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum. 5th ed. Thompson, 2004. 

Hudson, Anne, ed., Selections from English Wycliffite Writings, U of Toronto, 1997.

Sarup, Madan, An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, U of Georgia, 1993. 

Films (though the list is open to revision)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Seventh Seal, Excalibur, Camelot, Anchoress, Sorceress, Beatrice

Instructor:Lisa Manter                             MWF 9:15-10:20 (and 3-4 film viewings)

 Pre-requisite: English 29

 This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major; students may petition the course to have it count for 170 credit.

English 151:  Nineteenth Century American Literature

 English 151 is a survey course in American literature written from 1800-1900.  This is an exciting century in American history and cultural formation, one in which a young nation explores new landscapes, redefines its borders, and debates the question of who will be considered an American. 

In this course, we will read authors as diverse as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charles Chestnutt.  Throughout our readings, we will examine how race, gender and class distinctions have been considered or ignored in the construction of the American identity. 

Readings:       Norton Anthology of American Literature vol. B

Requirements:  Two formal papers, weekly response papers, midterm, final exam.

Instructor:  Molly Metherd                                      MWF 9:15-10:20

***This course satisfies a literature before 1900 requirement.*** 

English 153:  African-American Women’s Literature

This seminar is an introduction to the diverse concerns of contemporary literature, criticism and theory written by African-American women.  Each unit will start with a work of fiction, poetry (and perhaps photography or film) and then go on to explore important critical and theoretical essays that share the concerns of the creative texts.  However, throughout the course our readings will challenge such strident boundaries between creative, critical and theoretical.  Questions of history, narrative, memory and resistance will guide our discussion of each reading.

Readings:  Writings by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Nella Larsen, Hazel Carby,  Hortense Spillers and others.

Requirements:  Class participation, prospectus for each paper, a short and longer paper, group presentation.

Instructor:  Jeannine King                                           M/F 1:00-2:4


English 162: American Odysseys

American novelists have long been drawn to the plot of Homer’s Odyssey as the model for their own stories. In this course, we will survey American novels that embark on odysseys of their own. We will follow modern day seekers as they make their way through hostile and even deadly territory. Some are intent on finding a lost identity or connection to the past, while others are in search of something far more elusive – a destination that even they cannot identify. Their journeys will bring us to different parts of the country: the deep South, the Dust Bowl, the Southwest, the Ozarks. But these are more than just regions on the map. In the hands of American novelists, they become metaphysical territories that must be navigated and traversed in the search for meaning, connection, and understanding. In our study of these novels, we will address not only thematic concerns, but also formal and stylistic ones. Join us as we embark on these remarkable American journeys.

Reading List:

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying (1930)

Steinbeck, John. Grapes of Wrath (1939)

Kerouac, Jack. On the Road (1957)

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon (1977)

Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony (1977)

Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain (1997)

Woodrell, Daniel. Winter’s Bone (2006)

Course Requirements:

Careful reading, active participation, presentations, position papers, and three essays.

Instructor: Kathryn Koo   T/Th 11:30-1:05

English 163:   South African Fiction

What is it like to fall in love and plan a future in a world threatened by the chaos of civil war, or the bitterness of racial hatred?  What does it mean to stay in school when your "bright future" seems to threaten your connection to your family and your sense of who you are?  How does it feel to live in a white family sympathetic to the plight of South African black people, yet fearful of the loss of all they own if the black population is freed?  Does writing in English, the language in which you learned to read, mean that you are continuing the cultural oppression of your own people?  Issues like these, raised by the dramatic changes in post-colonial Africa, lie at the heart of contemporary South African stories and novels.

Twenty years ago, the brutal system of Apartheid crumbled and South Africa held the first election in its history in which people of all races and backgrounds could vote -- the ballot was printed in all 11 of the national languages. The dramatic changes have made everyone in the country think about the stories they tell themselves about their past, about how they live, and how they want to live in the future. 

Literature can help people understand the confusing changes of their times, and to understand the selves they create to meet the demands of their moment in history.  That is what makes the stories we will read in this course so vital and so interesting. That is also one reason that two of the writers we will read have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. 


Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm

Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country

Peter Abrahams, Mine Boy

Zoe Witcomb, You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town

Nadine Gordimer, July's People

J. M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K

J. M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

Andre Brink, Imaginings of Sand

 Requirements:  Active participation in class discussions, two essays and a final exam.

NOTE: This course may be taken for credit by students who have previously enrolled inEng.163 on a different topic.

 Instructor:  Ed Biglin                                                                  MW 4:00 – 5:35


Over time, critics change their approaches to literature and reading. Do we read to discover the author's intention? To analyze the ways in which a writer has created a unified work of art? To understand the writer's view of the society? To encounter timeless truths? To see how the assumptions of a particular time and place are inscribed in the text? Do we pay primary attention to themes, to images, to plot, to language, to our own reactions? Do we expect literature to provide answers, or to pose new questions?

Literary Theory and Criticism is a course designed to cope with these questions and others.  It is for the student who is uncertain about or even frightened by such labels as "New Criticism," "New Historicism," "Feminism," "Post-Colonialism," "Deconstruction," etc.  The only prerequisite is openness to considering new, sometimes foreign ideas or ways to study and think of literature.  The aim of the course is to break down the fear and resulting mistrust or mysticism that grows up around these terms and to encourage a more sophisticated reading of text than that based on mere common sense and impression.

Readings: M.H. Abrams. A Glossary of Literary Terms, K.M. Newton.  Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader, Essays of Practical Criticism (Handouts), Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Milder Robert, Critical Essays on Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor  (Handouts), Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Anchee Min, Red Azalea, David Henry Huang, M Butterfly, Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


 Careful reading and re-reading, diligent marking of the texts, active participation in class discussions, and two papers.

 Instructor:  Ben Xu                                               T/Th 11:30-1:05

 English 175:  Shakespeare

 By the 1800s, a consensus had emerged that "Shakespeare"  was one of the greatest writers ever, ranking with Homer, Sophocles, and Dante--maybe even the greatest writer who had ever lived.  It was also in the 1800s that people, including writers such as Mark Twain, Henry James, and others, started arguing that some truly great genius--not this fellow Shakespeare, just some actor from Stratford-upon-Avon with a modest education--must have written Shakespeare's plays.   Could it have been Sir Francis Bacon?  The Earl of Oxford?  Maybe some committee of the Elizabethan best and brightest?

Shakespeare's cultural impact over the past four hundred years has been so great that many people have been unable to believe that his plays were not the creations of some mysterious and hitherto unidentified genius.  Shakespeare is so great that he could not have been Shakespeare.

And yet he was spoken of in his time and in the generation after as a friend and a colleague and a real person.  Shakespeare's contemporary Ben Jonson  eulogized him as  "Soul of the age!/ The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!"  But Jonson also spoke of him as a real life colleague, someone who had weaknesses as a craftsman:  "I remember, the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out line.  My answer hath been, 'Would he had blotted a thousand!' . . .  [H]e flowed with that facility that sometime it was necessary he should be stopped. . . . His wit was in his own power; would that the rule of it had been so too." 

Similarly, the late seventeenth-century dramatist and poet John Dryden remarked about Shakespeare:  "He was the man who of all Modern, and perhaps Ancient Poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.  All the Images of Nature were still present to him .  . .  when he describes any thing, you more than see it, you feel it too. . . .  I cannot say he is every where alike; . . .  He is many times flat, insipid; his Comic wit degenerating into clenches [puns—ed.]; his serious swelling into Bombast. But he is always great when some great occasion is presented to him: no man can say he ever had a fit subject for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high above the rest of the Poets."

 In this course we will examine Shakespeare's (supposed) supremacy among the poets.  We will pay attention to the controversy over authorship (Did William Shakespeare really write the plays ascribed to him?), to the sonnets which promise so much in the way of self-revelation (Do we really know who he was?), and to select plays and, in some cases, to the sources he relied upon in writing these plays (Just how original was he as a writer?). 

Course Requirements:  Faithful attendance, careful reading, engaged participation in class discussion, two short papers, and a take-home final.

Readings:  Sonnets, selected plays, readings in the authorship controversy.

 Instructor:  Robert Gorsch                                                  MWF 11:45-12:50

 English 180:  Milton

It is impossible to understand the development of English literature without knowing something about John Milton’s life and work; he was a giant who stood at the end of the seventeenth century and cast his shadow over all who came after.  Over a hundred years after Milton’s death, Wordworth’s agonized cry, “Milton!  Thou shouldst be living at this hour:/English hath need of thee,” reminds us that he was the “patron saint” of later English poets and English rebels.

In this class we will read and discuss Milton’s poetry, prose, and life.  We will try to discover what makes his work so wonderful and formidable.

ReadingsSelected Prose and Poetry of John Milton, A biography of Milton

RequirementsTwo papers, class participation, and a final exam

 Instructor:  Clinton Bond                                        MWF  10:30-11:35

English 184: Race/Gender/Identity and the Politics of Social Change in Contemporary Drama

Theater is action! It is a rehearsal for revolution. –Augusto Boal

 What is the relationship between theatre and social change? Augusto Boal called theatre “the rehearsal for revolution,” but over the last half-century American theatre has been repeatedly proclaimed a dead art. In this seminar-style course we will take the pulse of today’s American theatre scene as we explore trends in social and political drama with special attention to the last 55 years. In order to understand how theatre can react to, reflect, and challenge sociopolitical conditions we will read plays by a diverse population of playwrights. As the voices and experiences of women, persons of color, LGBTQ, and other formerly marginalized populations find their way onto U.S. stages, playwrights are experimenting with new dramatic models to serve those voices and give shape to their experiences. This course will offer a study of several contemporary writers and their dramatic responses to the question of how race, gender, and the politics of personal identity are reshaping the way we think about plot, character, and theatrical style.

To help us think about the drama as a live, staged event, class work will include attendance at two theatrical performances or screenings, including one trip to an off-campus local theater. By studying both canonical and radical, vanguard theatres of the U.S., we will interrogate the most influential formal conventions of contemporary American drama, while simultaneously piecing together a counter-narrative of experimentation. Ultimately, this framework will allow us to address larger questions about the role of art in times of social and political unrest.

Readings will include plays, videos, and essays by such contemporary playwrights Caryl Churchill, Suzan-Lori Parks, Migdalia Cruz, Wendy Wasserstein, Rebecca Gilman, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Luis Valdez, Tony Kushner, Cherrie Moraga, Amiri BarakaAnna Deavere Smith,Tectonic Theatre, Ntozake Shange, Lorraine Hansberry

Requirements: Daily attendance, evidence of careful reading, active participation in discussion, several short responses, one creative midterm project, a final research paper, and a trip to a local off-campus theater.

Instructor: Emily Klein                                                    11:45 M/W/F

Note:  English 184 is cross-listed with Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies and fulfills the Core Curriculum requirement for Artistic Understanding.

 English 198: Senior Honors Thesis (Independent Study

Directed reading and research under the supervision of a department faculty member, culminating in the writing of an academic thesis.


  1. Senior standing in the English Major (for the semester in which thesis is to be undertaken)
  2. 3.70 GPA in the English Major

Exceptions must be pursued with the Department Chair. 

Application and Deadlines 

To undertake an Honors Thesis in Fall 2014, apply by April 28, 2014.

Students are responsible for contacting and proposing projects to potential faculty supervisors. They must then submit a proposal containing the following to the Department Chair by the above deadline.  Final approval rests with the Dept. Chair

  1. a page-long description of the academic project to be undertaken
  2. the signature of a faculty supervisor for the project, to be solicited by the student
  3. evidence of 3.70 GPA in major

 Course Credit

Students will receive 1 course credit for English 198. The course must be taken for a grade and may not be repeated for credit.


  1. Regularly scheduled meetings with faculty supervisor to establish a reading list, organize research, and confer on progress and on drafts of the essay.
  2. To equip the student with the skills necessary to complete a significant research study, the student will meet early in the semester with the librarian subject specialist (Sharon Walters) who will assist the student in formulating a search strategy, and in identifying, using, and evaluating appropriate sources of information.
  3. The final project for this course will be a scholarly research essay of at least 20 pages, in addition to a Bibliography or Works Cited list. The essay must conform to MLA citation procedures. The faculty supervisor must approve and grade the final project.

 Graduate Level Courses: MFA

English 300: Foundations of Contemporary Literature

This course allows all first-year MFA students to become familiar with selected core texts in all three of the program’s genres.  The course covers several literary movements and periods and will offer approaches to numerous foundational texts, including novels, stories, poems, and essays by Jane Austen, James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats, and others.


Course Reader

Jane Austen, Persuasion

James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

James  Joyce, Dubliners

Maxine Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Requirements: Regular attendance and participation, 1 research paper (15-20 pages)

Instructor:  Christopher Sindt                               Tu/Th 1:15-2:50


The aim of this course is to allow for as much freedom as possible to produce and revise original work, no matter what category of nonfiction the work falls into:  memoir, criticism, personal essay, lyric essay, travel writing, nature writing, humor writing, the autobiographical novel, political reportage, or even (and wouldn’t this be a delight?) vital work that no one yet has had the nerve to name. We will review issues of scene, structure, form, tension, voice, character, plot and more as they emerge from individual manuscripts during workshop sessions, attempting to describe as well as evaluate.  Plan on contributing to a workshop that aims to be both supportive and rigorous.  That some workshops wind up being one without the other is a shame.  Because let’s face it:  we all know how easy it is to announce a thumbs-up or thumbs-down verdict on a piece of writing (or how straightforward it is to copyedit a manuscript) and as tempting as that may be to do at times—and essential as it may be to do in another setting—such a blunt verdict-only style offers little back to writers. Or readers. A more sustained and intelligent conversation, by contrast—an illumination of what the work is so far and what, when revised, it might be about—this is the more difficult but worthy goal.  Such a critique can feed writers and respondents equally for years, giving writers a chance to begin to understand their work better and giving readers a chance to consider many more possibilities than a snap judgment of “good” or “bad” or “mediocre” allows. And so, this is what we will strive to articulate:  what a given piece is; what the piece is aiming toward; what it wants to become; what it may be about.

 INSTRUCTOR:   Marilyn Abildskov                                     Wednesday  4:00-7:15

English 321:  Fiction Workshop

This course is an intensive exploration of the ideas, techniques, and forms of fiction, such as the short story, novella, and novel, with primary emphasis on the careful analysis and discussion of student works-in-progress.  Students will grapple with the questions of voice, point of view, dramatic movement, structure, rhythm, and imagery, as well as with any and all issues of art and craft that arise from the individual manuscripts. By the end of the course, the students should develop the terminology and the critical skills for revising fiction, and should develop a good understanding about issues and trends in the genre. 

Instructor:  Rosemary Graham                                        Wednesday 4:00-7:15 p.m.

English 341:  Poetry Workshop

The purpose of this course is for the student to generate new and original writings in the genre of contemporary poetry; to learn editing and revision skills to improve existing drafts; to learn vocabulary terms for discussing poetry at an advanced level; and to make analytical and intuitive assessments of the writings of others. The student will be asked to generate new writing and to revise existing work.  Time commitment should include work in tutorial sessions with the instructor.   Students may also be encouraged to write poetic statements in which they will analyze their own poems---with particular attention to their development over the semester.

 Instructor:  Brenda Hillman                                  Wednesday 4:00-7:15 p.m.           

*English 361:  Creative Contemporary Nonfiction:  Reportage

In this course we will explore the forms and techniques of literary journalism.  We will do exercises in which we practice the interview, the profile, the place of the narrator, etc.  Students will ultimately be asked to complete a longer project, which they may do in conjunction with CILSA, St. Mary’s service organization.  However, they are also free to pursue a project of their own choosing.   Finally, students will be asked to bring in an example of reportage for the class to discuss. 

Instructor:  Wesley Gibson                                       Thursday 4:45-8:00   

English 381: Craft Seminar in Fiction

 In this course, students will read and discuss numerous short stories and novel excerpts, paying close attention to the elements of craft and the narrative strategies employed by various contemporary fiction writers.  How do these writers approach their material?  How do they negotiate the thematic concerns of their work with the more technical aspects of fiction?  These are some of the driving questions that will direct our readings and conversations throughout the term, in the hopes that they will help guide students in their own fiction.   In conjunction with readings and discussions, students will complete several writing exercises and one short story. 

Instructor: Lysley Tenorio                                               T/Th 3:00-4:35

*English 391:  Craft Seminar in Poetry: Everyday Creativity

 One of the truisms of writing is that you have to do it every day. Of course this isn't always possible, life interferes, but it is also the case that great periods of productivity and growth most often come from a daily engagement with the creative act. In this class we will explore various ways artists have worked on a daily basis, and how we might do it ourselves. We will read poetry and other related texts by a wide variety of poets and artists, including Dickinson, Rilke, Williams, Berryman, Bishop, O’Hara, Schuyler, Berrigan, Notley, Mayer, Hass, Hillman, C.A. Conrad, Rachel Zucker and others, as well as writings by Twyla Tharp, David Lynch, Lynda Barry and others on the creative process. Each student will make an individualized plan to work every day in whatever ways seem potentially interesting and productive, and present the results during the course of the semester. The goals of the course are: to deepen our understandings of the creative act and how it has resulted in a wide variety of great poetry; to experience what it means to put poetry at the center of one's life for an extended period of time; and to discover which particular ways of working are, for each of us, sustainable and productive.

Instructor:  Matthew Zapruder                                        Tuesday 4:45-8:00

*Open to Undergraduates with permission from the instructor.

Graduate Courses: Writing Across the Curriculum

ENGLISH 201-2: Writing Across the Curriculum: Training in One-on-One Pedagogy

 This course prepares students for working one-on-one with student writers of all disciplines and levels, as well as creating and presenting Writing in the Disciplines (WID) workshops. Students learn strategies for helping peers write in diverse genres, situations, and academic disciplines. Students will explore the pedagogy of collaboration and one-on-one teaching and do hands-on practice to see if this is something they are adept at and that interests them.

This meets for 1.5 hours a week during the first half of the semester; students then may apply and potentially be hired for paid positions as Writing Across the Curriculum Advisers in the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum (CWAC). If hired, they then join the weekly Staff Workshop.

Readings: Ryan, Leigh, and Lisa Zimmerelli. The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors               

Requirement:    1.5 class hours per week, through mid-semester only

Instructor:        Tereza Joy Kramer                                    Wed. 11:15-12:50

ENGLISH 201-3:  Writing Across the Curriculum: Writing Adviser Staff Workshop

 This is a weekly Staff Workshop offered continually, every semester, and taken by students who have passed ENGLISH 201-2, have been hired, and currently work as Writing Across the Curriculum Advisers in CWAC.

Through the Learning element of our Service-Learning work, we are always building our repertoire of skills to offer peer writers and simultaneously improve our own writing and revising strategies. We consider ideas from scholarly research into writing pedagogy, coupled with our practical experiences in CWAC; topics include empathic questioning, non-native speaker concerns, the demands of particular academic disciplines, grammar, and source integration for research papers. We collaboratively prepare trainings for each other, and we work on collaborative projects that enhance our learning and benefit writers of all disciplines across the college 

Readings:            As assigned

Requirement:              1.5 workshop hours per week

Instructor:  Tereza Joy Kramer                                    Tuesday 6:30-8:05



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Moraga, CA 94575
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