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ENGL 250-269 Thematic Studies (CORE—Methods of Inquiry/Aesthetic Appreciation/ Literature)

Prerequisite: ENGL 100 or 101 or 3 credits from ENGL 110-139. May be repeated with a different topic. (4 credits)

A study of a significant theme or subject in selected works of literature. May be repeated with different topic.

Topics for 2013-2014

  • ENGL 250 Avatars of the Past: Narratives of Rome and Britain
    This course considers two types of narrative writing: history and fiction. We will explore how these two terms are defined, where they overlap, and where they (should) diverge. The focus will be on the cultures of ancient Rome and late medieval/early modern England, as well as three figures that have come to represent these societies in the modern imagination: Julius Caesar, King Richard III, and Queen Elizabeth I. (H1, CT)
  • ENGL 252 The Modern Wasteland: Death and Rebirth in 20th Century English Literature
    A study of major works of modern English literature with an emphasis on the social, psychological and religious implications of the notion that modern life is a spiritual wasteland, a dead land calling out for rebirth. Texts may include works by Conrad, Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf, Forster and Auden. (H2)

  • ENGL 253 Revolting Peasants and Red-Hot Heretics: Medieval Literature of Power and Dissent
    A study of who had power in Medieval England, and how those on top stayed that way. This course will explore the ways in which medieval literature reflects the nature of power in medieval society, and also how literature itself was used to reinforce or to challenge the authority of the nobility and the Church. Sample areas of literary study: the disruptive power of women mystics, challenges to the Church and the persecution of heretics and non- Christians, accounts of the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 and the decline of chivalry and nobility. Texts will include works of major figures such as King Alfred, AElfric, Wulfstan, Chaucer, Wycliffe, Langland, Margery Kempe and Christine de Pizan, as well as a host of lesser- known writers. (H1, CT)

  • ENGL 257 The Romantic Impulse
    Romantic motifs in English literature of the nineteenth century. Readings will include both novels and poems. Texts may be selected from works by Scott, Bronte, Blake, Byron, and Wordsworth. (H2)

  • ENGL 258 The Victorian Mind
    A study of major themes in Victorian literature with emphasis on the impact of the industrial and scientific revolutions on society, religion and art. Texts may include novels by Dickens or Eliot, essays by Mill, Carlyle and Arnold, and poems by Tennyson, Browning and Arnold. (H2)

    ENGL 259 Medieval Magic and Mysticism

    In this course, we will explore the ways in which magic and mysticism were woven into the fabric of medieval society. We will consider the categories of magic, religion and science, and attempt to discover where they intersect and where they diverge. We will also reflect upon how medieval understandings of gender were integrated into these concepts. Finally, we will look at how medieval articulations of magic survive and continue to influence the popular culture of today. No previous experience reading early literature is required; however, this is a reading-intensive course, with texts in Middle English and Early Modern English as well as in translation. (H1)

  • ENGL 261 American Transcendentalism and Dark Romanticism
    A study of the major authors and themes of the American Transcendental and Anti-Transcendental or Dark Romantic movements. Texts will include essays by Emerson and Thoreau, novels and short stories by Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe, and poems by Whitman and Dickinson. (H2)

  • ENGL 262 Writing on Art
    A study of ekphrastic writing, or literature on, about, or inspired by works of art. The course will be geared toward an interdisciplinary exploration of the relationship between literature and the visual arts. Texts will include a range of classical to contemporary works by authors such as Homer, Keats, Wilde, Woolf, Auden, and Ashbery. (H2, CT)

  • AFEN 265 African-American Voices Before the 20th Century
    A study of how early African-American literary traditions have been formed not only by slavery, but also by community, geography, orality, politics and literature itself. Works may include slave narratives of Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, as well as 19th century fiction by Harriet Wilson, Frances Harper, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charles Chesnutt. (H2)

  • AFEN 266 The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond: 20th-Century African-American Literature
    Beginning with the energetic era of the Harlem renaissance, this course studies African- American writings in the 20th century. Themes discussed include the influence of folk elements and music, the appearance of the trickster and masking techniques as both a means of survival and art forms, the issue of audience address and language choices and the subject of dual consciousness. May include works by DuBois, Johnson, Toomer, Larsen, Hurston, G. Jones, Baldwin, Walker, C. Johnson and Morrison. (H2)

  • ENPL 267 Vice and Virtue
    Through analysis and discussion of selected works of great literature, students will examine themes of vice and virtue in four broad areas: (1) selfhood, community, and alienation; (2) human nature; (3) the quest for meaning and human fulfillment; and (4) ethics and evil. This course will consider such topics as the following: the relation between the individual and the community, the nature of evil, ends and means, personal agency, the good life, and moral conflict. May include works by William Golding, Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy L. Sayers, John Updike, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Albert Camus. (H2, CT)

    ENGL 269 Arthur: The Once and Future King
    This course will focus on the legend of King Arthur, the mythical King of the Britons who (it is said) will return to help his people in their hour of need. From the earliest mentions of Arthur in the chronicles and myths of post-Roman Britain through the films, novels, and television of today, we will explore key points in the development of the Arthurian legend. Readings may include texts by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, Alfred Lord Tennyson, T.H. White, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and others. We will discover how these stories helped to define what it meant to be "British" as Arthur's realm developed from a conquered and invaded island to the powerful Victorian Empire on which the sun was said never to set-and also think about how this narrative has translated to those of us living "across the pond." (CT)