Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
Kathryn Moncrief, Chair
James Allen Hall
From classes in literature and creative writing to the welcoming environment of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, writers and students of literature alike will find Washington College home to a vibrant literary community. Each year, thanks to the endowment of the Sophie Kerr Fund, the College brings to campus a succession of distinguished writers, editors, and literary scholars. Billy Collins, Jane Smiley, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Franzen, Heather McHugh, Li-Young Lee, Junot Díaz, Colum McCann, Nick Flynn, Eamon Grennan, Claudia Rankine, James McBride, Jacqueline Woodson, Tim O’Brien, Lauren Groff, Natasha Trethewey, and Ted Kooser are just some of the writers and literary scholars who have come to campus in the last decade to teach, lecture, and conduct writing workshops. The Sophie Kerr Fund also provides money for scholarships, library books and student publications, and supports the justly famous Sophie Kerr Prize (at $65,770 in 2016, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the country).
To read, to think, to write, to communicate: these habits of interpretation and expression are fundamental to a liberal arts education, to the mission of Washington College, and to the study of English. The mission of the English Department is to develop students who can read the variety of literature in English broadly, think through ideas critically, analyze texts closely, gather and communicate information effectively, and write clearly, creatively, and articulately.
The English Major
The major in English is the study of the arts of literature. Although the emphasis is on the critical analysis of great works, students are expected to attain a general knowledge of the historical development of English and American literature by the end of the senior year.
A student majoring in English must complete a total of twelve courses plus the SCE in the English Department in the following areas:
100- and 200-level:
Three courses selected from English courses on the 200-level, including ENG 101 also. Excluding 103, 205, 206. (ENG 101 will not count for students who took the course prior to fall 2016 in order to fulfill the first-year writing requirement.)
Three courses in pre-1800 literature (ENG 205/206 Shakespeare I & II will also count here)
Three courses in post-1800 literature
Note: Students who both major in English and minor in creative writing may “double count” no more than two courses.
Senior Capstone Experience (SCE)
The Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) requires students to demonstrate the ability to think critically and to engage in a project of active learning in their major field of studies. In the SCE, required of all graduating seniors, students integrate acquired knowledge and skills in a senior project demonstrating mastery of a body of knowledge and intellectual accomplishment that goes significantly beyond classroom learning. Upon successful completion of her/his SCE, a student will receive a grade and four academic credits. These four credits will count toward the total needed to graduate from the College.
The SCE in the English department allows students the opportunity to pursue a substantive research project while working closely with a faculty advisor. English majors will bring their research and interpretive abilities, their writing skills, and their understanding of the literary tradition to bear on a long-term, independent project in the form of an annotated bibliography and an essay that will serve as the culmination of their literary studies at Washington College. The SCE for English majors exemplifies each student’s accumulated knowledge and mastery of literary analysis.
The English Minor
Any five courses at the 300/400-level, including those labeled as “special topics,” are required for a minor in English. ENG 205/206 Shakespeare I & II will also count for the minor.
Creative Writing Minor
The minor in creative writing can be achieved through the successful completion of five courses— ENG 103 Introduction to Creative Writing and then any combination of four 300/400-level creative writing courses including those indicated below, as well as additional “special topics” courses. Recent “special topics” courses have included The Screenplay, Poetry in Performance, Writing about the Natural World, Poetry and Book Arts, and Seminar of the Book.
ENG/THE 351. Playwriting I
ENG 352. Forms of Poetry
ENG 353. Contemporary American Literature: Living Writers
ENG 354. Literary Editing and Publishing
ENG/THE 451. Advanced Playwriting
ENG 452. Creative Writing Workshop: Fiction
ENG 453. Creative Writing Workshop: Poetry
ENG 454. Creative Writing Workshop: Nonfiction
Distribution Credit in English
Students who wish to fulfill the Humanities Distribution Requirement with one Humanities course may do so by taking any course listed below. Students who choose to take two courses in English to fulfill the Humanities Distribution Requirement are not required to take a sequence; they may take any two of the following:
ENG 101. Literature and Composition
ENG 205. Shakespeare I
ENG 206. Shakespeare II
ENG 207. History of English Literature I
ENG 208. History of English Literature II
ENG 209. Introduction to American Literature I
ENG 210. Introduction to American Literature II
ENG 211. Introduction to American Culture I
ENG 212. Introduction to American Culture II
ENG 213. Introduction to African American Literature
ENG 214. Introduction to African American Literature II
ENG 215. Bible as Literature
ENG 216. Classical Literature
ENG 220. Introduction to Fiction
ENG 221. Introduction to Nonfiction
ENG 222. Introduction to Poetry
ENG 223. Introduction to Drama
- Literature and Composition
This course develops the student’s capacity for intelligent reading, critical analysis, and writing through the study of literature. There are frequent writing assignments, as well as individual conferences on the student’s writing.
- Introduction to Creative Writing
A workshop introducing new writers to several forms of creative writing, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Students will use classic and contemporary literature as models for their own efforts. In the fall semester, this course is only open to first-year students. In the spring semester, beginning writers from all years may enroll in ENG 103.
- Shakespeare I
This course examines some of Shakespeare’s best known earlier plays (those written before the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603) both in the context of early modern English culture and as play scripts/performances. Using films and live productions (when available) it considers the plays as they have been and could be interpreted for performance.
- Shakespeare II
This course examines some of Shakespeare’s best known later plays (those written after the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603) both in the context of early modern English culture and as play scripts/performances. Using films and live productions (when available) it considers the plays as they have been and could be interpreted for performance.
207, 208. History of English Literature I and II
A survey of the development of English literature from Anglo-Saxon times to the present with attention to the historical background, the continuity of essential traditions, and the characteristic temper of successive periods. The second semester begins approximately with the Restoration in 1660.
209 (AMS 201). Introduction to American Literature I
Taught in the fall semester, the course is concerned with the establishment of American Literature as a school subject. Texts that have achieved the status of classics of American Literature, such as Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Thoreau’s Walden, and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will be read in the context of the history and politics of their achieving this status. Texts traditionally excluded from the canon of American literature, in particular early Hispano- and Franco-American texts, will be considered in the context of their relative marginality to the project of establishing American Literature as worthy of being taught and studied in the American academy. Other-than-written materials, such as modern cinematic representations of the period of exploration and colonization of North America, as well as British colonial portraits and history paintings, will be studied for how they reflect on claims for the cultural independence of early America. Other-than-American materials, such as late medieval and early Renaissance Flemish and Hispanic still lifes, as well as the works of nineteenth-century European romantic poets and prose writers, will be sampled for how they reflect on claims for the exceptional character of American culture.
210 (AMS 202). Introduction to American Literature II
Taught in the spring semester, the course is concerned with the establishment of American Studies as a curriculum in post-World War II American colleges and universities. Readings will include a variety of written texts, including those not traditionally considered literary, as well as a variety of other-than-written materials, including popular cultural ones, in accordance with the original commitment of American Studies to curricular innovation. Introductions to the modern phenomena of race, gender, sexual orientation, generation, and class in U.S. culture will be included. A comparatist perspective on the influence of American culture internationally and a review of the international American Studies movement in foreign universities will also be introduced.
211, 212. (AMS 201). Introduction to American Culture I and II
- Introduction to African American Literature
This course is a survey of African American literature produced from the late 1700s to the Present. It is designed to introduce students to the key writers, texts, themes, conventions and tropes that have shaped the African American literary tradition. Authors studied may include Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison and Walter Mosley.
- Introduction to African American Literature II
This course surveys African American authors from the Harlem Renaissance to the present. It is designed to expose students to the writers, texts, themes, and literary conventions that have shaped the African American literary canon since the Harlem Renaissance. Authors studied in this course include Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison.
- Bible as Literature
We will read and analyze the Bible as literature, covering as much of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures as a semester allows. Our focus will be in gaining familiarity with the major stories, characters, images, and diverse genres of biblical literature, with some attention to the historical and cultural context in which these texts were composed. This course will provide you with the background to appreciate later literary and artistic works that assume biblical knowledge, as well as understanding the Bible itself as a unique and influential literary work.
- Classical Literature
This course will survey representative texts of ancient Greece and Rome, focusing on the genres of epic poetry, the dramatic play, lyric poetry, and the philosophical fragment. It will explore aspects of classical mythology, civilization, and history, and it will trace how ancient Greece and Rome maintain a dynamic presence in post-classical art, literature, and culture. Authors to be studied may include Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sappho, Herakleitos, Catullus, Virgil, and Ovid.
- Introduction to Fiction
This course will survey the rich tradition of prose fiction largely, but not exclusively, in English. Emphasis will be placed on the enduring features of this genre as it evolved throughout the centuries as well as to the innovations introduced by individual writers. The literary works selected for this course will draw upon a variety of fictional forms and styles. Class discussions will include, along with close readings of the works themselves, an appreciation of the historical and cultural contexts out of which they arose and to which they gave a fictional rewriting.
- Introduction to Nonfiction
This course will offer students a selective overview of the “fourth genre” of nonfiction prose. Readings will be drawn from some of the principal subdivisions of this field, which includes autobiography and biography, documentary, the essay, literary journalism, memoir, and writing in new media.
- Introduction to Poetry
This course will provide an introduction to the study of various styles and forms of poetry. By reading a wide range of poetic styles from a number of aesthetic schools, students will consider the ways in which poetry has become a conversation across centuries, how the genre may act simultaneously as a personal and a political voice, and how it may be interpreted not only as intimate confession but also as “supreme fiction.”
- Introduction to Drama
This course will examine plays as literary texts, as play scripts, and as performances. It will investigate theatre/drama from a variety of styles and themes across several centuries (from ancient Greece to renaissance England to contemporary USA) to understand dramatic conventions and assumptions. The course will consider how writers from across the globe in various time periods consider, rework, and comment upon similar subjects and themes.
- Medieval Literature
In this course, we will focus on medieval texts and writers that shaped expressions of authority in two key ways: through their exploration of political authority and their formulation of literary authorship. After familiarizing ourselves with key political theories of the Middle Ages, we will acquaint ourselves with some well-known medieval figures—King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Robin Hood—to explore the theories of kingship, fealty, treachery, law, country and outlawry they came to embody. We will also read major representative writers from the period, including Geoffrey of Monmouth, Marie de France, Dante Alighieri, the Pearl Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer and Christine de Pizan. The course concludes with an in-depth look at a single popular genre, which will rotate among religious dramas, medieval romance, and debate poetry, depending on the year the course is offered.
Chaucer’s fellow poets hailed him as “the father of English poetry” for his ability to transform diverse genres and sources into a living tradition of English poetry that continues to this day. This course will focus on The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer’s most popular and beloved work, and its creation of fictional and real communities. We will become comfortable with Chaucer’s poetry in the original Middle English, and acquaint ourselves with current scholarly debates and the historical and literary context of the Canterbury Tales, observing how he transforms genres as diverse as Latin epics and philosophy, Italian novelle, French love poetry and fabliaux.
- Arthurian Literature
This class will examine the development of the Arthurian romance in the medieval literary tradition and its many genres, as well as gain as well as some insight into the longer trajectory of Arthuriana that continues in present day popular adaptations. The class is primarily structured around Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur,” for this fifteenth-century text unifies the stories about King Arthur, Guinevere, the knights of the Round Table, and their associates into an overarching narrative that has dominated retellings ever since. Alongside the Morte D’Arthur, we will read Malory’s sources and analogues to see their contrasting perspectives on these characters. As we study how these authors and texts reinterpret each other, we will read literary criticism and engage in scholarly research to produce presentations and essays.
- Women Writers to 1800
Early women’s writing, much of it highly popular in its contemporary moment and compulsively readable today, has a history of being forgotten. In this class, we will explore texts authored by women in the Euroamerican tradition before 1800, venturing from the continent into the “New World.” These gifted women lived lives as exciting as their texts: runaway bride Christina of Markyate, widowed traveller Margery Kempe, professional novelist and playwright Aphra Behn, and poet Phillis Wheatley, among others. The texts covered in this course represent only a small sampling of the female-authored works that have survived from this time, but our readings provide ample material for exploring how women and men have collaborated to create literature, the role of gender in authorial identity, and the contributions of women to the Western literary world.
- The Renaissance
The literature and culture of the Tudor period focusing on the age of Elizabeth. Poetry, prose and drama including Kyd, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Sidney, Spencer, More, and Whitney.
- The Seventeenth Century
A study of the literature and culture of the Jacobean period through the Restoration. Poetry, prose and drama including Shakespeare, Jonson, Webster, Middleton, Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Lanyer, Cavendish, Philips, and Milton.
- Renaissance Drama
This course examines early modern English drama, exclusive of Shakespeare, from the 1580s through the 1630s in its unique cultural, historical, and theatrical context. It explores plays by prominent dramatists including Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, John Webster and John Ford. Key issues will include the following: playing conditions (theatres and theatre companies), the relationship of the stage to the monarchy, the importance of the city (London), the relationship of the stage to dominant religious beliefs and practices, the impact of Puritanism and anti-theatricality, the effect of censorship and licensing, the role of gender and cross-dressing in theatrical representation and the staging of desire.
- The Eighteenth Century
The triumph and decline of the neoclassic ideal in the eighteenth century. The course concentrates on the great figures of Swift, Pope, Johnson, and Boswell.
The movement from the late eighteenth century to 1832 considered as a revolution in the aims and methods of poetry. Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.
- The Victorian Age
Major poets, novelists, and essayists including Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Rossetti, Carlyle, Newman, Mill, Pater, Bronte, and Gaskill will be studied in conjunction with the culture of the age of Victoria.
- 19th-Century English Novel
Major writers such as Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy will be studied. Attention will be given to the cultural and literary context of the novels.
- The Rise of Modernism
This course will trace the rise of what we now call modernism beginning with the decadent movement at the end of the 19th century, its emergence during World War I, and its flourishing during the 1920s by reading a range of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama by Henry James, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, H.D., James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, J.S. Synge, and Virginia Woolf among others.
- Modernism and Its Discontents
A study of the fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama from the 1920s to the late 1930s paying close attention to the after effects of the experimentation of high modernism and how it, coupled with the rise of fascism and World War II, led to the fracturing of the movement and a return to more traditional prose and poetic structures. Writers will include Djuna Barnes, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Marianne Moore, Flann O’Brien, Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf, and William Butler Yeats.
- Modern and Contemporary British Literature
This course will cover a range of British and American writing from World War II and the retreat to realism in the 1950s through the postmodern turn and the current literary landscape. Writers will include W.H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bowen, Angela Carter, Caryl Churchill, Graham Greene, Edna O’Brien, Graham Swift and Zadie Smith.
- James Joyce
This course will focus on the work of James Joyce, examining the forces—historical, sociopolitical, religious, artistic, and other—that helped shape his oeuvre. We will take stock of Joyce’s enduring legacy—his status as an author whose writing practices have reshaped ways of understanding the scope and nature of fiction itself— will explore, from multiple perspectives, the situation of Joyce’s work within the landscapes of modernist writing. The bulk of the class will focus on a close reading of the 18 episodes of his 1922 masterpiece, Ulysses.
- The Irish Short Story
The modern short story is part of an international tradition. The form is a relative newcomer to literature, and for various reasons that we will investigate, the Irish have taken to it with particular verve. Through lecture-discussions and response paper and essay assignments, the course teaches techniques for interpreting stories from the abundantly rich Irish imagination evident in its mythology and folklore to the modern agora of the written page. Writers include Maria Edgeworth, Elizabeth Bowen, Liam O’Flaherty, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain, Edna O’Brien, and William Trevor.
- Postcolonial Literature: Resistance, Recovery, and Renewal
This course will investigate the impact of British colonialism, national independence movements, postcolonial cultural trends, and women’s movements on the global production of literary texts in English. We will read a diverse grouping of writers including Mulk Raj Anand, Kiran Desai and Salman Rushdie from India, Jamaica Kinkaid, Una Marson, and Sam Selvon from the Caribbean, as well as the Kenyan Nugugi Thiong’o and the Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga among many others. Careful attention will be paid to ethnographic, geographic, and historical modes of understanding the multi-layered effects of colonialism and its aftereffects.
- Women’s Literature
Beginning with Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) in the nineteenth century and ending with Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, and Zadie Smith in the 20th, this course will cover a range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama by women up to the present. The course will also introduce students to a range of feminist theory.
- Native American Literature
This course will be a consideration of contemporary Native American prose and poetry. Most of the readings will focus on twentieth-century works and their sources in Native American and European American cultural and literary traditions. Students will consider how complicated the process of defining Native American literature can be; how works by native people relate to or depart from other ethnic American literatures; how indigenous speakers/writers respond to and resist colonialism; and how Native American perspectives and narratives continue today. Emphasis will be placed on the use of Native American myths and images of the natural world in the texts.
- Children’s and Adolescent Literature
Various genres will be treated with regard to historical, social, cultural, and contemporary perspectives. Readings for the course will be drawn from the folk tale, fairy tale, poetry, myth, fiction, and picture books. The art and practice of storytelling will be treated.
- American Short Story
Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, Twain, Crane, James, Hemingway, Porter, and Salinger are among the writers this course will consider. The study will be chronological and historical, placing emphasis upon the development of the genre.
- The American Novel
This course is a survey of nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels written by Americans. Writers include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Toni Morrison, and Tom Wolfe.
- African American Novel
This course examines the origin and development of the African American novel. We will begin with the earliest novels and conclude with an analysis of contemporary novels by African American writers. We will examine novels from multiple genres and give careful attention to the intersection of race, gender, class and environment in representative novels of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
- The Postmodern American Novel
The main focus of this literature course will be the careful reading and examination of seven ‘postmodern’ novels from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. We will look at historical fiction, memoir, realism, post-modernism, post-post-modernism, science fiction, and satire. We will discuss contemporary issues in the context of the stories and novels we read, but this is not a course in cultural studies; we will come back to the individual, the character, and his or her place, experience, and reflections upon cultural and psychological idiosyncrasies in the general context of contemporary America.
- American Environmental Writing
The study of writing from an environmental perspective is both an emerging field in literary criticism and a rich tradition in American literary history. What does it mean to be green from a literary point of view? This course explores that question in looking at classic and contemporary authors of American environmental writing, from Henry David Thoreau to Annie Dillard to recent examples of eco-criticism. Though the primary focus will be on nonfiction prose, the traditional home of nature writing, the course will also explore environmental perspectives in poetry, fiction, and film as well as cross-disciplinary connections with the natural sciences and social sciences.
- (THE 351) Introduction to Playwriting
Analysis and practical application of techniques and styles employed in writing for the stage.
- Forms of Poetry
This course explores the rich literary tradition of received forms in English and American verse. By studying a wide range of formal poems students will discover the adaptability of fixed forms like the sonnet, villanelle, and sestina. Class assignments will include both critical writing and creative “experiments” in poetic forms. Students are strongly encouraged to take Forms of Poetry in preparation for the “Creative Writing Workshop: Poetry.”
- Contemporary American Literature: Living Writers
This course focuses on the study of American poetry, fiction, and nonficion from 1945 to the present. (The course focuses on poetry one year, novels and short fiction the next, and nonfiction the next, rotating among them.) Emphasis includes an examination of the work of major American poets or fiction writers of the past half-century. The course is structured in a way similar to a traditional offering in literature with this difference: some of the writers whose work is studied in class will at some time during the semester come to Washington College to visit the class, discuss their work with course participants, and give a public reading
- Literary Editing and Publishing
The Rose O’Neill Literary House is home to Cherry Tree, a professional literary journal featuring poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers of national reputation and staffed by Washington College students. In this course, students receive hands-on training in the process of editing and publishing a top-tier literary journal. They analyze literary markets even as they steward into print work from the nation’s most prestigious emerging and established writers. This class includes extensive research and discussion of nationally recognized literary magazines and covers topics such as a publication’s mission statement, its aesthetic vision, and its editorial
practices. All students who wish to join the editorial staff and be included on the masthead of Cherry Tree must complete one semester of ENG 394: Literary Editing & Publishing.
- The Literature of the European Colonies of North America and of the Early U.S.
Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca, Père Jogues, Rowlandson, Marrant, Wheatley, Bradstreet, Franklin, Jefferson, Brockden Brown, Poe.
- Literary Romanticism in the U.S. I
Poe, Emerson, Thoreau. Stowe.
- Literary Romanticism in the U.S. II
Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson.
- The Gilded Age and American Realism
This course examines key prose fiction of the Gilded Age of American literary history and culture (roughly 1878 – 1901). Careful attention will be given to various treatments of “Big Business,” industrialization, urbanization, regionalism and social inequality in the work of Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, Frances E.W. Harper, Charles Chesnutt, and others.
- The Harlem Renaissance
This course examines the literature and intellectual thought of the Harlem Renaissance. It is designed to move beyond a cursory treatment of the movement and offer students the opportunity to study key figures and texts at length. Authors studied in this course include Alain Locke, W. E. B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Nella Larsen and Langston Hughes.
- Faulkner and Literary Modernism in the United States
The course will concentrate on the novels of Faulkner as exemplifying modernism.
- American Poetry Since 1945
A survey of the major American poets who have written and published their work in the post-World War II era. Lowell, Wilbur, Stafford, Brooks, and Hecht are examples.
- American Fiction Since 1945
A survey of major American fiction writers who have written and published their work in the post-World War II era. Salinger, Mailer, Updike, Cheever, and O’Connor are examples.
- Main Divisions in American Culture: Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Generation, Class
Ever since the Harvard-educated Midwestern American Studies founder V.L. Parrington identified the Main Currents in American Thought, the tendency of most influential scholars has been synoptically to emphasize the commonalities that unite “We, the people,” since even before the founding of the U.S. Conflictual approaches to American culture have been pursued mainly from the margins—by African-American, Latina/o, feminist, queer, and Marxian critics. Playing on the title of Parrington’s book, this course will pay attention to what divides us, still, approaching a century after Main Currents first appeared back in 1927.
- Body Language: Representation and Transgression from Theodore Dreiser and Claire Chopin through Nicholson Baker and Brett Easton Ellis
A study of how bodies have been transformed from soma into vox in modern and post-modern culture. Curriculum will be a catholic mixture of a variety of genres and media, including standard school texts, literary and feminist theory, popular music, still images and video, and journalism. Readings will include fiction that has been labeled transgressive, and in all but the very latest examples for a time banned in the U.S.; theory from De Beauvoir to Judith Butler; and various works associated with the pornography debate from Katherine MacKibbon and Andrea Dworkin through Madonna and Linda Williams.
- Culture of the Old/Cultures of the Young
Whereas what once seemed controversial topics—race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, borderlands —have become mainstream in college and university American Studies and English courses, one, arguably major category of cultural difference remains relatively understudied—at least in the humanities. The study of generation, like that of all of the topics listed above, is potentially subversive, and it may be neglected because of the fact that most college and university professors (admittedly with increasingly numerous exceptions) are members of the single, for some time now and for some time to come, dominant generation. The Baby Boom runs the same risks as do white people in the U.S., white Anglo-Saxon-Protestant people in the U.S., men everywhere, and heterosexuals everywhere when it acknowledges that the products of (sub)cultures other than its own are as worthy of becoming college and university curricula as its own traditional canon. The course will try to distinguish in a variety of ways the belated, frequently plaintive, cultures of the young from that of the Baby Boom.
- 2PACalypse Now! The Cult of Heart of Darkness among White Male Anglophone Intellectuals
There’s something about Heart of Darkness—neither the most readable nor the most teachable of books, even of Conrad’s books. And there’s something about Conrad, too, a native Pole for whom English was a third language, a third language that he evidently spoke so poorly that when conversing with his American literary friend Henry James they both reverted to what was for both of them a second language: French. The course will try to explore what it is that has attracted so many white male Anglophone intellectuals—and prompted the condemnation of one African writer, the mockery of one black rapper, and, perhaps, the rivalry of a prominent, brown, novelist—over the more than hundred years now since the original publication of Heart of Darkness in 1899 in England in Blackwood’s Magazine. Class texts will include Conrad’s novella, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Tupac’s 2PACalypse Now, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (which contains a prominent allusion to Heart of Darkness), Chinua Achebe’s essays, V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend in the River, a sampling of the blizzard of journalistic quotations of the novel’s title and of its most famous, four-word, speech, plus some theorizings of race and gender that might shed some light on why the book has managed to appeal so strongly to a relatively homogenous cohort of readers and adaptors.
- Shakespeare Now: Shakespeare and Contemporary Criticism
This course focuses on the advanced study of plays initially covered in the 200-level Shakespeare course in conjunction with the study of contemporary literary theory. The semester begins with an introduction to literary theory and methodology. Then, using plays as case studies, we will examine each play in relation to historical, seminal, or controversial criticism. Reading will concentrate on important critical approaches to the study of Shakespeare (i.e., New Criticism, Reader Response Theory, Structuralism, Post-structuralism, Psychoanalytic Criticism, Marxism, Feminism, New Historicism/ Cultural Materialism, Queer Theory, Performance Criticism and Post-Colonialism).
This course focuses on Milton’s poetry, especially his epic poem Paradise Lost, with some attention to his minor poems and prose. Emphasis includes study of the following: the formal elements of his poetry; the importance of his poetry in literary history; Milton’s biography, especially his experience of blindness and revolutionary defeat; Milton’s writing in relationship to his culture (regicide and revolution, the turmoil of the seventeenth-century Puritan experiment, the commonwealth government, and restoration of the monarchy.)
- Joyce, Eliot, and Beckett
An intensive study of James Joyce’s Dubliners, T.S. Eliot’s major poems, and Samuel Beckett’s major plays.
451 (THE 451). Advanced Playwriting
An advanced workshop in writing for the stage. Prerequisite: ENG 351 Playwriting I.
- Creative Writing Workshop: Fiction
Prerequisite: Introduction to Creative Writing. (Students who completed Introduction to Creative Writing or Intermediate Creative Writing in previous years are also eligible to register.) Primarily intended for juniors and seniors.
- Creative Writing Workshop: Poetry
Prerequisite: Introduction to Creative Writing. (Students who completed Introduction to Creative Writing or Intermediate Creative Writing in previous years are also eligible to register.) Primarily intended for juniors and seniors.
- Creative Writing Workshop: Nonfiction
This course will use a workshop approach for students who are interested in developing their skills in a kind of writing which combines elements of journalism, such as the feature article, with elements of the literary, such as the personal essay. In addition, students will also develop their essay skills in the form of the personal narrative and travel writing. In essence this course treats the various forms of the essay with a special emphasis on the creative ways the genre can be interpreted and rewritten. Readings of representative essays will be included. Prerequisite: Introduction to Creative Writing. (Students who completed Introduction to Creative Writing or Intermediate Creative Writing in previous years are also eligible to register.) Primarily intended for juniors and seniors.
- Toni Morrison
This course focuses on the works of Toni Morrison, the first African American and the eighth woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Students will study the important motifs, tropes and themes of Morrison’s writings, including her notable critical essays and short fiction. Students will become well versed in Morrison’s writings and develop an understanding of various contemporary critical approaches used to interpret her work.
190, 290, 390, 490. Internship
Internships in the English Department serve to give focus to a student’s prospective employment in the world beyond Washington College, and they aim to integrate and develop the writing, thinking, and communicative skills acquired in the course of completing an English Major. The specific conditions related to each internship will be developed among the faculty advisor, the representative of the institution offering the internship, and the student. This course may be taken only once for academic credit.
393, 493. Journalism Practicum
The purpose of this practicum is to introduce students to journalism by writing for a newspaper or magazine. Students will receive instruction on effective news writing, along with other topics including AP Style, interviewing, bias in the media, libel and ethics. They will also receive one-on-one feedback about their articles from the instructor. This practicum is 2 credits, pass/fail only. Students may not earn more than 4 credits for ENG 391/491 and may not count more than four journalism practicum credits towards the major in English.
194, 294, 394, 494. Special Topics
The intensive study of a selected figure, movement, form, or theme.
195, 295, 395, 495. On-campus Research
196, 296, 396, 496. Off-campus Research
197, 297, 397, 497. Independent Study
Courses offered in the Washington College Abroad Programs
- Literature and Landscape
This course is attached to the Kiplin Hall Summer Program. Literature connected to specific landscapes in Yorkshire and the Lakes will be studied in conjunction with firsthand experience of those landscapes by foot.
- Literature of London
London through the literature of Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, George Orwell, and contemporary writers; developments in literary movements (Romanticism, Realism, Modernism). Offered in the London program only, both fall and spring semesters. Three credits.
- Studies in the Drama
Special topics in author or authors, a type or types of drama, a period, or theme. Emphasis is on the development, function, and continuing development of the theater in London. Variable content: may be repeated for credit. Offered in the London program only, both fall and spring semesters. Three credits.
- English in Africa: West African Literature
This course offers, through the study of selected texts, an introduction to the modern literatures in English of sub-Saharan Africa, the theorization of colonial and postcolonial discourse, the politics of language, the question of African identity, and the relationship between art and social praxis. offered at Rhodes University, South Africa.
- English in Africa: East and Southern African Literature
Offered at Rhodes University, South Africa.