100-Level Courses

ENG 101: College Composition

The Department of English offers multiple sections of ENG 101, College Composition, each semester.  This is the only course required of all University students for graduation and also the only course with an elevated grade requirement.   To fulfill the University’s ENG 101 requirement, students must earn the grade of C or above.  Throughout the semester, students work to develop reading and writing practices essential to their university careers.  They also work to develop a reflective understanding of those practices that will enable redirection and repurposing throughout their academic and professional lives.  Success in the course depends on completion of all assignments and the receipt of a positive assessment on a portfolio of work submitted at the end of the semester.   [The Portfolio Assessment Rubric is available by clicking here.]


Most University students fulfill the ENG 101 graduation requirement by taking ENG 101 during either the Fall or Spring semester of their first year on campus.   Students who have earned the grade of 3 or above on AP exams in high school will have credit for ENG 101 already on their transcripts.  Students enrolled in the two-semester Honors sequence (Honors 111 and 112) have the option of counting those courses as fulfilling the ENG 101 requirement.     Students who enter the University with extensive writing experience may attempt to challenge the ENG 101 requirement.  Information about the Challenge Exam process is distributed during the first class meeting of all ENG 101 sections.  It is also available from Ryan Dippre, Director of College Composition (Ryan Dippre@maine.edu).

Alternative Versions:

ENG 100/106 “Stretch.” Students differ greatly in the amount of time they need or want to spend becoming familiar with academic reading and writing practices.  Those who prefer to proceed deliberately may sign up for the two-semester, “Stretch,” version of ENG 101.  These students take ENG 100 in the Fall of their first year on campus and ENG 106 in the Spring.  They work toward the same outcomes as students in regular sections but spend more time revising and reflecting on their work.   In the four years during which the “Stretch” version has been available, enrolled students have had a better success rate with the end-of-year portfolio review than have students in regular sections; they have also been more likely to return to campus after their first year.  [A comparison of Stretch and regular sections of the course is available here.]

The Translingual Section.  This section is reserved for students who have a personal or professional interest in language difference and who want to prepare for the rapidly globalizing workplaces which will need people who can negotiate productively across languages.  Half of the seats in these sections are reserved for native speakers of English and half for native speakers of other languages.   These sections fill early.  Anyone interested in enrolling should contact Paige Mitchell  (Paige.Mitchell@Maine.edu) for permission.

ENG 100/106: College Comp Stretch Part 1/Part 2

ENG 100 (Part 1):  This course provides intense practice with habits of reading, writing, thinking, and revising essential to postsecondary academic work.  Designed for students who want to create a strong foundation for themselves in academic reading and writing.  Available only during fall semester. Students must complete both ENG 100 and ENG 106 with a grade of C or better in each course to satisfy the General Education College Composition requirement.  Neither course taken alone will satisfy the requirement.

ENG 106 (Part 2):  This course provides intense practice with habits of reading, writing, thinking, and revising essential to postsecondary academic work.  Designed for students who want to create a strong foundation for themselves in academic reading and writing.  Available only during spring semester.  Sections of 106 will be scheduled at the same time of day during spring semester as sections of 100 were in the fall semester.  We expect that cohorts will continue from fall to spring.  Students must complete both ENG 100 and ENG 106 with a grade of C or better in each course to satisfy the General Education College Composition requirement.  Neither course taken alone will satisfy the requirement.

ENG 129: Topics in English, First Year Seminar

Prerequisites: First-year students only; may be taken before or after ENG 101 or concurrently with permission. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

Travelers and Madmen (Fall, 2017, Le)

Travelers are forever abandoning complacent lives in search of experience and adventure. When their quests turn to obsession, however, what begins as a thrilling journey can turn into a nightmarish reality – and madness. This fast-paced course in British and American literature explores the remote and unfamiliar lands that fascinated these seasoned travelers, including those whose late-Victorian imperialistic convictions pushed them to “civilize” countries that had otherwise been culturally and geographically out of reach. We will explore the personal motivations, and the physical, political, and cultural barriers that pit travelers against their companions, family, and ultimately their own psyches as they try to reach such unknown destinations. Warning: danger lies ahead for those who seek what is over the horizon.

Writing About Film (Spring 2017, Wicks)

Writing About Film is an intensive writing course that uses films as the basis for student writing assignments. Film screenings, combined with supplementary readings such as reviews, analyses, and essays, will introduce students to the basic approaches to film study. Students will be able to appreciate films in historical, cultural, and theoretical context and understand how they make meaning through elements such as narrative structure, character development, and visual and sound effects.

The film aspects of the course form a useful foundation for advancing essential writing skills including creating a thesis, using supporting resources effectively, proper formatting, giving and receiving peer criticism, and revising.

Navigating Borders (Spring 2017, Le)

‘Navigating Borders’ is an examination of 20th and 21st century multicultural and transnational literature exploring the dualities and sacrifices that women and men experience as they attempt to balance — and, in some cases, merely survive — their commitments to family, heritage, and new surroundings.  Struggling with the ambiguities of boundaries and borders, these individuals are pushed to the limit, especially when family and safety are at risk.  Some of the experiences detailed in these texts depict the urgency to escape, the need for secrecy, and the meaning of personal identity. Each author weaves a tale — mostly inspired by true events — about the complexities of a micro-level identity within the larger meso, national, and global scopes of family, home, community, and country.  We will address international perspectives and the personal implications of what it means to navigate ‘borders’ as the characters face (un)certain obstacles, blurred boundaries, and the perilous spaces in between.

Required texts:
Catfish and Mandala Andrew Pham (Vietnam/America)
Girl in Translation Jean Kwok (Hong Kong/America)
M. Butterfly Henry David Hwang (China/Vietnam/France)
Woman at Point Zero Nawal el Saadawi (Egypt/Prison)
Sacred Country  Rose Tremain (England/America)

The Namesake Jhumpa Lahiri (India/America)
Rabbit Proof Fence Doris Pilkington (Australia)
Out of Africa Isak Dinesen (Kenya)

Film (Fall 2016, Wicks)

ENG 129 American History Through Film explores pivotal events and time periods in twentieth-century American history through major Hollywood movies. Students will screen approximately ten films in conjunction with selected supplementary readings and provide reflection and analysis  through weekly writing assignments and focused essays.

Murder, Mysteries, Detectives (Spring 2016, Le)

ENG 129 is an examination of the literature that tempts our fascination with murder mysteries and the detectives who solve them.  The course will focus on developing students’ understanding of texts that fall within the genre of mystery and detective fiction; the texts offered in the course reflect the century from 1841, the beginning of the genre, through WWII. We will focus on close literary analysis of the fiction of the time period and work with historical contexts so that students have a better understanding of the literature and the social and cultural influences of the period.

Required Texts:

Edgar Allan Poe                   Complete Tales and Poems
Arthur Conan Doyle            Complete Novels & Stories, Vol. I        
Oscar Wilde                          The Picture of Dorian Gray  
Graham Greene                   Brighton Rock       
P.D. James                            Talking about Detective Fiction         

Additional texts to be determined

Topics in Literature: African American Literature (Fall 2015, Ruddy)

This is an introductory course that traces the African American literary tradition as it emerged in the twentieth century. We will examine how authors including W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison can help us understand black America’s history and present through their essays, fiction, and poetry. From slavery and emancipation to the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights movement, we will see how literature has shaped both African American history and our current perceptions of it. This course is writing-intensive and web-based, and uses BlackBoard to deliver primary content and supplementary media materials.

Games (Fall 2015, Ellis)

Playing games is an innate characteristic of human nature, and characters in literature not only play games but are also part of the game played through them. Beginning with table and word games, this course will explore the relationship between a game and its players. Using classic and current game models, we will analyze and write about the formal and thematic elements of play and games of strategy, risk, chance, and skill in a wide range of literature and films. Readings will include two novels, Don DeLillo’s screenplay for Game 6, and short works by Carroll, Desai, Ellison, Lipsyte, Mamet,Tan, and others. 

Required Texts:

Paul Auster                The Music of Chance (novel)

Anton Chekhov         The Duel (novella)

Don DeLillo               Game 6 (screenplay)

Documentary Film (Fall 2015, Ruddy)

Offers small-group discussions of literature focusing on a common theme.  Each division takes up a different theme, such as utopianism, the quest myth, growing up in America and the like.  Students can expect to read texts closely and write regularly about them.  May be repeated for credit.

Gender and Fairy Tales (Spring 2014, Rasely)

Who is Prince Charming?~ What happens when “Little Red Riding Hood” is told by the wolf?~ Why is the proverbial damsel always in distress?~As one of the most widely circulated kinds of stories, fairy tales’ purposes have been adapted – even subverted – to serve new cultural agendas.  After all, who benefits from “Beauties” taming “Beasts?”~ What do we learn about being men or women from fairy tales?~ Or about being human?~ How is “gender” constructed and (re)produced in fairy tales?  From the 17th century to Grimm and Disney, this class will examine film, media, comics and written texts to discuss why cultures all over the world share and revise fairy tales.~ We will explore the relationship between people, their genders, their stories and what fairy tales mean to American culture in the 21st century.

Baseball in American Fiction, Poetry and Film (Spring 2013, Peterson)

In this course, students will examine how baseball fiction, poetry, and film reflect and resist key elements of American culture, including values, identity, and individual maturity. The course will focus on developing the student’s understanding of texts that span most of the Twentieth Century, a time of sweeping change in America and America’s pastime. Along with a close literary analysis of these texts, we will examine their historical contexts to gain insight about the intersection of literature and culture and write about them in a variety of ways to help determine what sport means to us on a number of levels.  ENG 129 satisfies the General Education Writing Intensive requirement.


DeLillo, Don, Pafko at the Wall (1992)
Harris, Mark, Bang the Drum Slowly (1954)
Kinsella, W.P., Shoeless Joe (1982)
Willard, Nancy, Things Invisible to See (1984)


Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)
Field of Dreams (1989)
A League of Their Own (1992)

Literature and Theories of Human Nature (Fall 2013, Callaway)

This course serves as a basic introduction to some of the major theories of universal human identity and to the ways in which literature can be used to enhance and to question our understanding of such theories.  The course will use accessible texts and films selected for their entertainment value, as well as for what they can add to our understanding of religious ideas of humanity vs the ideas of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Jean Paul Sartre, and B.F. Skinner.

Required Texts:

Flannery O’Connor.  Everything that Rises Must Converge
Jack London.  The Sea Wolf
Aldous Huxley.  Brave New World
Albert Camus.  The Stranger
John Steinbeck.  In Dubious Battle
& Various short stories, poems, and films provided by the instructor.

ENG 131: The Nature of Story

Prerequisite: None. Satisfies the general education Western Cultural Tradition and Cultural Diversity & International Perspectives requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2017, Rogers)

Exploring the fundamental act of storytelling, this class will study the way stories are put together and the way we interpret, discuss, and analyze them.  Texts will include stories from various cultures, in a variety of genres (fiction, nonfiction, film) ranging from nineteenth century to the present.

Evaluation will be based on exercises, short papers, quizzes, a midterm, and final.

(Spring 2017, Kail)

English 131 explores the fundamental activity of why and how we create, tell and read/listen to stories. Readings may include selections from folk tale and myth, saga and epic, drama and novel, film and song, poetry and essay–from the ancient world to the modern, from the western cultural tradition and from a variety of other cultures. The main goal of this division of ENG 131 is to help each student acquire and develop creative and constructive reading practices. Creative reading means to engage with literature as if one is the instrument of the text, not the other way around, in order to be able to release the energy of the story through its language. This practice of creative reading has many practical consequences, which we will take up in our class work. To read constructively means to learn to build an understanding of a story reflectively and in critical conversation with others: fellow students, teachers, and scholars.  We will be reading a variety of texts/films, both fiction and non-fiction, including fairy tales, sudden fictions (short, short stories), novels and film.  Here is a partial reading list:

Fairy Tales, Charles Perrault

Sudden Fiction International, Robert Shephard and James Thomas, Eds

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Hearts in Atlantis, Stephen King

The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

(Fall 2016, Kress)

As the title suggests, this course explores storytelling as nature:  both a living world and a world-making process; that is to say, in this class, you’ll encounter the basic features, qualities, and characteristics of stories as if we were exploring the flora and fauna of some new biome or ecosystem.  Some of your work will proceed from fundamental questions:  Just what is a story?  Why do we tell stories—and who is this “we,” anyway?  Is everything a story?  How does “story” work in our daily lives—and just what work does it carry out?  What are the relationships between these things we call stories and this other stuff we call reality?  Other parts of your work will involve dealing with the problems of stories:  some stories invite you in, but others try very hard to keep you out, and surprisingly, both approaches work equally well.  We’ll also confront at the basic level some aspects of stories as they impinge on our own experiences: we’ll look at philosophical problems as well: what does the reality or unreality of stories tell us about the reality (and the unreality) of our own lives?  In short, this course asks you to tackle a tricky—and tough—question:  are you really you or “just” a collection of stories?

ENG 170: Foundations of Literary Analysis

Prerequisite: ENG 101 is strongly recommended for all sections. ENG 170 is a required course for all English majors.

This course is designed as a close reading of literary texts for students preparing to become English majors. We will explore how conventions of genre, form and style work in literature and develop a vocabulary for understanding and communicating ideas about literature. We will write regularly throughout the semester to practice the critical discourse expected of English majors.


Course description: English 170, Foundations of Literary Analysis, introduces students to concepts and practices that are foundational to the discipline of English and commonly encountered in other disciplines in the humanities. The focus is twofold. We engage in close reading, a practice that includes paying careful attention to the formal and stylistic features of a literary text as well as its thematic content and generic conventions. We also develop a vocabulary to discuss the methods, practice, and politics of literary analysis. For example, a foundational concept for this course is that every time we respond to a literary text, we construct a “reading” of it. While there may be a multiplicity of possible readings of a literary text, this course stresses that for a reading to be convincing or illuminating, it must be well-supported by textual (and often contextual) evidence. To this end, English 170 teaches students how to produce specific readings that are as well-articulated as they are well-supported. This includes tracing motifs and themes in the texts we read, as well as learning how to recognize and explicitly articulate the perspectives and values that guide what we notice (and/or overlook) as a reader. Through regular reading, writing, and research assignments; active, well-informed participation in class discussion; and periodic one-on-one tutorials, students prepare themselves to excel in the English Major and throughout their wider course of university-level study.

Porter Abbott’s Cambridge Introduction to Narrative (2nd ed.), supplemented by excerpts from Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin’s edited volume Critical Terms for Literary Study (2nd ed.), is the central theoretical text for this course. Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, James Joyce’s Dubliners, and Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way are the principal literary texts.