300-Level Courses

ENG 301: Advanced Composition

Prerequisite(s): ENG 101, ENG 201 (formerly 212), ENG 315, or Eng 395

Satisfies the following General Education Requirement(s): Writing Intensive

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): 200-level literature course

Course Typically Offered: Spring

Credits: 3

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018,  Redington)

This iteration of English 301: Introduction to Writing Studies is organized into three units. In Unit 1: Writing and Creativity, we will focus on expressivism, a major trend in the history of writing studies that still influences the field today. In Unit 2: Writing and Politics, we will examine activist
pedagogy. We will address writing and politics in at least to senses. First, we will examine the work of writing studies scholars who, in the late 1960’s, began formulating the writing classroom as a site of political resistance. Second, we will examine how university politics influence the assessment of student writing. In Unit 3: Writing and Technology, we will examine the complicated transformation writing studies has undergone during the information age.

This class does not assume prior knowledge of writing studies scholarship, but it provides a thorough introduction. Preparation for each class period will require reading works of composition theory and/or documents that provide historical context. Unit 1 requires a minor writing project; Units 2 and 3 both require a major writing project.

(Spring 2017, Larlee)

A writing-intensive seminar that combines substantial reflective practice with an introduction to research and scholarship in literacy and writing studies.


ENG 307: Writing Fiction

Prerequisite(s): ENG 205 or 206 and permission of the instructor. Submission of writing sample required.

Satisfies the general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): May count towards the Creative Writing concentration; please check with your advisor

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2017, Lattari)

Admission to English 307 requires a 5-8-page emailed copy (doc, docx, pdf attachments — no .pages please!) sample of your best fiction, and a short note about your interest in pursuing the intermediate level of Fiction study. Please send all samples to katie.lattari@maine.edu.

Course description: The writing of fiction, for students of demonstrated ability.

(Fall 2016, Howard)

This course introduces you to the critical problems, questions, theories, and practices of fiction writing.   A challenging class that includes considerable amounts of reading and writing, it is designed to deepen your involvement with the practice and craft of writing fiction. We will discuss the different components of fiction—character, plot, narrative, evocation, and more than anything else, the sentence as the basic “stuff” of fiction. You will be asked to think about how things happen in fiction, to analyze technique, and to discuss effects. We will discuss the responsibilities of fiction and possibilities of form. In short, you will be encouraged and expected to work outside of familiar genres (fantasy, horror, sci-fi, YA, romance, and so on) and outside your comfort zone.


ENG 308: Writing Poetry

Prerequisite(s): ENG 205 or 206 and permission

Satisfies the general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): May count towards the Creative Writing concentration; please check with your advisor.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Moxley)

This is a class in the craft of poetry, designed to expand your sense of the possibilities for poetic form and experiment, as well as to provide you with the opportunity to write in many different ways. Though primarily a workshop, we will also discuss what it means to be a poet, read books of poems, and have poets visit.


ENG 309: Writing Creative Nonfiction

Prerequisite(s): ENG 201 (formerly 212) or 205 or 206 or permission of the instructor

Satisfies the general education requirement(s): Artistic and Creative Expression and Writing Intensive

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2018, Irvine)

Sometimes called “The Fourth Genre,” creative non-fiction uses the strategies of fiction (plot, dialog, characters, etc.) in writing about factual subjects: autobiography, biography, travel, science/nature, cultural issues, current events. We’ll read creative non-fiction and also write it.


ENG 315: Research Writing in the Disciplines 

Prerequisite(s): Junior standing and a declared major

Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Hartwell)

Builds on ENG 101 by preparing students for writing-intensive coursework and for senior capstone projects. This course focuses on similarities and differences among the types of peer-reviewed academic research articles that researchers and scholars use to advance knowledge in their
fields. Class projects will develop familiarity with and contribute to students’ own academic research writing in their chosen field of study.

(Fall 2016, Dryer)

This is an in-depth exploration of the genre of the academic peer-reviewed research article that will establish a strong foundation for students’ future writing in their disciplines, especially those intending to pursue postgraduate study or applied research.  Using a range of research articles from different disciplines, as well as other texts, class discussion, and in- and out-of-class assignments, the course strengthens students’ analytical reading and synthetic writing skills during the preparation of a research article relevant to and in the style of their chosen field.

Students will gain an awareness of some of the differences in audience, approach, authority, and research methods relevant to different disciplines and an understanding of how the genre conventions of the peer-reviewed academic research article contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the disciplines.

ENG 315 and ENG 201 are similar in their scope in some ways, but there are important differences.  A comparison of the two courses’ characteristics has been prepared to help you decide between one course versus the other.


ENG 317: Business & Technical Writing

Prerequisite(s): ENG 101 or equivalent; juniors and seniors in declared majors only

Satisfies the general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): May count towards the Technical/Professional Writing concentration; please check with your advisor

This course helps prepare students to communicate effectively in the workplace. Students become familiar with the processes, forms, and styles of writing in professional environments as they work on memoranda, business correspondence, instructions, proposals, reports and similar materials. Special attention is paid to the fundamental skills of problem-solving and analyzing and responding to purpose and audience. Some sections may be taught in a computer-equipped classroom and some may incorporate electronic communication, such as FirstClass


ENG 336: Canadian Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Ethics and Writing Intensive

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2017)

An intensive study of a major Canadian writer or small group of Canadian writers, or an examination of a major theme in Canadian literature.  Specific topic varies from semester to semester.  This reading-intensive course is designed to teach students about Canadian literature while giving them the opportunity to practice their reading and research skills in order to better prepare them for work in advanced seminars.


ENG 341: Colonial & Early National-American Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of literature (ENG 170 and ENG 222 highly recommended) or instructor permission.

Satisfies the General Education requirement(s): Ethics and Western Cultural Tradition.

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): 300-400 level literature course

Satisfies the capstone requirement for the Analytical Writing concentration. Please refer to ENG 499: Capstone Experience in English.


ENG 342: Native American Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission.

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition and Cultural Diversity and International Perspectives

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Yellow Robe)

(Spring 2016)

Surveys literature by Native American authors from a wide range of tribal backgrounds and culture areas.  Considers the development of written traditions over time in relation to oral genres, traditional themes and story forms, and situates writing by Native American people in the context of historical and socio-political events and trends in Turtle Island (North America).  Provides the opportunity to reconsider stories of colonization and the Anglo-American culture/nation in the light of indigenous perspectives and experience.  This reading-intensive course is designed to teach you about the history of Native American writing in English, while giving you the opportunity to practice your reading and research skills in order to prepare you for work in advanced seminars.

Required text may include:

A Son of the Forest and Other Writings, William Apess (Pequot) (ed. Barry OíConnell)

American Indian Stories, Legends, and other writings, Zitkala-Sa (Dakota) 2003 edition

Ceremony, Leslie Silko (Laguna Pueblo) 2006 anniversary edition

Life Among the Piutes, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (Northern Paiute)

Love Medicine, (Newly Revised 2009 edition) Louise Erdrich (Anishinaabe)

The Rez Sisters, Tomson Highway (Cree)

or a play by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr. (Assiniboine)

Red on Red, Craig Womack (Muscogee)

poems by Joy Harjo (Muscogee)

A Sermon on the Death of Moses Paul, Samson Occom

Personal Narrative, Samson Occom


ENG 343: Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2016)

An introduction to American literature and culture of the nineteenth century, a period of unprecedented violence, vision, and change encompassing some of the most storied names in poetry and prose. Because the historical events and social turmoil of the century is so crucial for an understanding of its greatest authors, the course may include writers and thinkers whose primary significance is not literary-men and women who witnessed or acted in the great events of the age. This reading-intensive course is designed to teach students about a rich, exciting epoch in literary history while giving them the opportunity to practice their reading and research skills in order to better prepare them for work in advanced seminars.


ENG 351: Medieval English Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): 300-400 level literature course; pre-1800 requirement; and British literature requirement

Course Description: An introduction to Medieval Literature which involves reading the wild, beautiful, idiosyncratic, and foreign yet strangely familiar works of Chaucer and his English contemporaries. The class will focus on understanding the nature of the medieval world and its expression in the literature of the time, and on developing reading skill in Middle English. This reading-intensive course is designed to teach students about a crucial epoch in literary and linguistic history while giving them the opportunity to practice their reading and research skills in order to better prepare them for work in advanced seminars. For more details see course descriptions on the English Department website.

Course Typically Offered: Alternate Years.

Credits: 3


ENG 353: Shakespeare & English Renaissance

Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of literature (ENG 170 and ENG 222 highly recommended) or instructor permission.

Satisfies the General Education requirement(s): Ethics and Western Cultural Tradition.

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): 300-400 level literature course; pre-1800 requirement; and British literature requirement.

Course Description: Renaissance suggests a rebirth of classical models, but this period (late 16th and early 17th centuries) is also one of startling innovation. The literature of Shakespeare and his contemporaries can be wildly comic and tragic, lyrical and grotesque, epic and domestic, rewriting the medieval and anticipating the modern worlds. Emphasis may vary among genres (drama, lyric, narrative poetry), theme (romance, revenge, rebellion, reverence), and authors (Shakespeare, Spenser, Marlowe, Donne, Milton for example). This reading intensive course introduces representative texts from a crucial period in literary history, and it provides students the opportunity to practice reading and research skills in preparation for work in advanced seminars.


ENG 355: 18th-Century Fiction, Satire, and Poetry 

Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of literature (ENG 170 and ENG 222 highly recommended) or instructor permission.

Satisfies English major requirement(s): 300/400-level British literature requirement and the pre-1800 requirement.

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Ethics and Western Cultural Tradition

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2015)

From sentiment to sadism, astounding change ignited the Restoration and eighteenth century, making this period a watershed that marks the transition from Renaissance to Modern.  This reading-intensive class will consider literature against the background of this historical change, inheritance, and influence. Works by Pope, Behn, Cavendish, Finch, Congreve, Dryden, Swift, Defoe, Richardson, Johnson, and Radcliffe, among others.  The focus on reading and research skills will prepare students for work in advanced seminars.


ENG 357: 19th Century British Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition General Education Requirement

Course Typically Offered: Spring, Even Years

Credits: 3

Recent offerings: 

(Spring 2018, Jacobs)

This reading intensive course introduces Nineteenth-century British literature in the context of larger political, technological, cultural, and social changes: The expanding publishing market, the growing influence of a literate middle-class, industrialization, urbanization, global capitalism and modern warfare, Britain’s imperial power. Because of the sheer variety of works and genres, emphasis will vary from instructor to instructor, but along with well-known writers like Wordsworth, Austen, or Dickens, students will be introduced to lesser-known authors, popular and influential in their day but too often forgotten since. This course provides students with the opportunity to practice reading and research skills and prepares students for work in advanced seminars.


ENG 361:  Modernism

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2016)

An introduction to Modernism, the revolution in literature and culture that took place during the end of the Nineteenth Century and the first half of the Twentieth Century. Because Modernism was an international movement expressed in multiple genres, this introductory course may include writers and artists from around the world working in poetry, prose, drama, and film. This reading-intensive course is designed to teach students about a crucial period in literary history while giving them the opportunity to practice their reading and research skills in order to better prepare them for work in advanced seminars.

ENG 361 is part of the English Department’s 300-level sequence in literature.  It is designed to acquaint students with the concept of modernism and some of its texts.  This semester we’ll be focusing on fiction, poetry, and essays by Irish, English, Scottish, Polish, and American modernist authors.  We will be studying the evolution of modernism from symbolism, decadence, and realism at the end of the nineteenth century through the height of modernism and into the 1930’s.

Required Texts (available at UMaine Bookstore; any edition of a work is acceptable):

W. B. Yeats, Early Poems (Dover)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

James Joyce, Dubliners

William Faulkner, The Big Woods

Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier

H.D., Selected Poems

T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland and Other Poems

Zora Neale Hurston, The Complete Stories

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


ENG 363: Literature of the Postmodern Period

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Recent offerings: 

(Spring 2017, Kress)

Always a source for heated discussion, the aesthetics, techniques, productions, politics, value and overall worth of the postmodern movement in American literature (1945-??) will form the basis of this course. By examining both the “greatest hits” of the movement as well as some lesser-known but equally important texts, and by looking at both classic and contemporary postmodernism, we’ll attempt to answer thorny questions concerning the continued importance of the movement or moment or postmodernity. Work: Since this is a reading-intensive course, you’ll be reading a significant amount of both primary and secondary material (see below). Additionally, each week you will hand in a short (1-2 pp) response paper. A research project will also be part of the writing component for this course.

(Spring 2015, Howard)

An introduction to literature of the postmodern period, roughly defined as 1945-1989.  To call the historical-literary period and writing styles that emerged after WWII “postmodern” can spark a lively argument.  But, whatever your position, the fact remains that during these extraordinary time poets, playwrights, and novelists responded to a world changed by WWII in intelligent and challenging ways.  Continuing modernist-period fluidity across national borders as well as genres, this reading-intensive course may include writers from around the world working in poetry, prose, and drama.  It is designed to teach students about a crucial period in recent literary history while giving them the opportunity to practice their reading and research skills in order to better prepare them for work in advanced seminars.  For more details, see course descriptions on the English Department website


ENG 364: Contemporary Literature 

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Credits: 3

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2016, Evans)

An introduction to literature after 1989 and up to the present. Studying the living tradition can be incredibly exciting. From writers working in our moment we can gain a unique perspective on our world, which may help us to develop a nuanced reading of the broader culture we both consume and participate in. Because contemporary literature often defies easy genre distinctions, and sometimes even the conventional idea of the book, this course may include multiple genres and cross-genre forms, and a variety of media, from sound files to digital literature. This reading-intensive course is designed to teach students about literature emerging in our time while giving them the opportunity to practice their reading and research skills in order to better prepare them for work in advanced seminars.

This semester we will be focusing on the work of writers in a variety of genres and styles who have visited the University of Maine as part of the New Writing Series since its inception in 1999. We will focus on works that were published after 1989, but will sample from the careers of writers who made their start before and after that eventful year. We will pay special attention to the ways in which the emergence of digital culture began to transform the horizon of literary practices from the early 1990s forward. In addition to reading widely, students will actively participate in the New Writing Series events programmed for the semester, where they will be able to test out their ideas and judgments in face-to-face dialogue with living writers.

Textbook title(s) and other required course materials:

Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media

Paul Hoover, ed. Postmodern American Poetry, 2nd Ed.

A New Writing Series Reader (course packet)


ENG 371: Readings in Literary Theory and Criticism

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Course Description: This reading-intensive course will acquaint you with a wider range of theoretical and critical texts, concepts, and perspectives than are typically covered in core requirement classes such as English 170 and English 271 (both of which are strongly recommended). Emphasis is given to theories of signification (semiotics), representation (mimesis), and interpretation (hermeneutics) that have informed the practice of literary analysis from antiquity on. The course also provides you with the opportunity to practice your reading and research skills in order to better prepare you for work in advanced seminars such as English 470.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2017, Brinkley)

Walter Benjamin: Critic, Translator, Marxist and Mystic

The course will be experimental and will explore ways in which students in the course can find ways to be theorists. What does it mean to be (or to act as) a theorist? How would each student like to do theory? What are the possible relationships between theory and practice?

The 20th century German critic, translator, Marxist, mystic with provide a touchstone for the course. We will explore how he does theory (or theories—Benjamin had many theories) and how theory (or theories) engage texts (literary and otherwise) in his work. As we work with Benjamin we will also work with a range of theoretical, philosophical, historical and literary works (those Benjamin would have read and some he would not have read) that can help illuminate his project. The goal of the course, however, will be finding—by engaging Benjamin—students becomes theorists as well because (as the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari insist) theory is fundamentally a creative art.

Benjamin’s friends Scholem and Adorno both told him that he was trying to be both a Marxist and a mystic and that each precluded the other; he should choose. Benjamin responded that they were right—Marxism and Jewish mysticism did not together—but that, in working with the incompatibilities between the complementary approaches (if you like the gap between), all his insights arose, perhaps inasmuch as neither could tell him what to think, inasmuch as the incompatibility also left him not knowing what to think. There is no likelihood as far as I know that Benjamin knew of Keats’s aside about “negative capability,” but it may offer an insight into his theoretical practice: theory as negative capability?

(Spring 2015, Kress)

The “Politics” of/in Alterity 

During the second half of the twentieth century, the term identity politics came to signify a veritable battleground of clashing ideologies as often-ignored and disdained “identities” fought for recognition and acceptance—in short, for power.  Because of this, “the other” became the focus for all sorts of social contention and encompassed identity centered issues as “different” as gay rights, feminism, the men’s movement, racial politics, disability rights, etc.  As literary theorist Jeffery Nealon wrote in the introduction to his Alterity Politics, “These days, it seems that everybody loves ‘the other’.”

But as Nealon points out, that “etc.” at the end of my short list above points to and points out the failure of identity politics, since it remains, always, as an “embarrassing” mark of the incompleteness of any “other.”  So, taking Nealon’s claim as a starting point, this semester in English 371 we will examine, explore, and read heavily in theories identity, difference, and alterity—and perhaps determine whether or not we even understand “the other” let alone love it.  

To get us up to speed theoretically, we will spend the first three weeks of the semester on an overview of the critical and theoretical landscape of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, trying to come to terms with theoretical positions on identify, authority, difference, history, ideology, and agency.  In the second part of the semester, we will focus specifically on the question and problem of alterity.  Using Nealon’s book as our central text, we will read extensively outwards from it, tracking down the ideas, theories, and disputes that inform it.

In the end, the course will try to make the case for two related points:  (1) that far from being an abstract pursuit, literary theory matters in our current world, and (2) that alterity rather than identity may form the basis of an ethical response to our world.

Note.  ENG 371 requires a significant amount of reading—reading that is, at times, quite difficult.  But there is also a distinct pleasure, joy, and even good humor in these texts—a heady cocktail, to say the least!

Required Texts:

Two books on theory and one novel are required for the course.  I will supply pdfs for additional readings, which you will be responsible for printing out and bringing to class.

Jeffrey Nealon, The Theory Toolbox

——————, Alterity Politics

Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo


ENG 381: Themes in Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Bicks)

Writing the Self 

In this course we will explore how life stories are curated to produce artful narratives of the self. What is the relationship between memory, truth, and imagination in this process? What is at stake in these productions of the self, and how do authors and characters negotiate competing ideas of who they are? What are the challenges of reaching one’s intended audience? We will consider how these questions inform a variety of genres and writers from different time periods: from the medieval mystic Margery Kempe to Shakespeare’s Othello, Tim O’Brien’s autobiographical “work of fiction” The Things They Carried, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, and Allie Brosh’s webcomic, Hyperbole and a Half.

Likely Book List: The Book of Margery Kempe; William Shakespeare, Othello; Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-century French Hermaphrodite, ed. Michel Foucault; Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried; Jeannette Wallis, The Glass Castle; Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me; Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half; Margaret Edson, Wit; Patricia Burke Brogan,Eclipsed.

(Fall 2017, Brucher)

Theme-Retribution/American Drama 

This course will consider themes and structures of discontent, agitation, liberation, and payback in a range of plays by Henrik Ibsen and Arthur Miller.  Ibsen pretty much invented modern drama in the late 19th century, and Miller helped re-invent it in the mid 20th century. Neither modern playwright presented fate or providence in the manner of the Greeks or early moderns, but Miller credited Ibsen with learning from the Greeks how to stage the past and how, consequently, to dramatize birds coming home to roost (as Miller liked to put it). We will read plays by Sophocles and Shakespeare to establish classical and early modern attitudes toward retribution—a just punishment for transgression against divine, secular, and/or moral law. The main thrust of the course, however, will be to read more widely in Ibsen’s and Miller’s modern examples of nature and society punishing transgressions of progressive, conservative, idealistic, cynical, unruly, and presumptuous women and men who rightfully (?) put faith in self-determination.

By the end of the course you should be able to 1) appreciate the variety and intensity of presentations of retribution in modern drama; 2) understand some of the moral, social, historical, environmental, psychological, and gender implications of transgression and payback across cultures; and build on wide reading and practice in writing to prepare for advanced work in textual and cultural analysis.

Likely Book List:  Probable texts include Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Antigone; Anonymous’s Arden of Faversham; Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure; Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, The Master Builder, Little Eyolf, and John Gabriel Borkman; and Miller’s All My Sons, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, After the Fall, The American Clock, Broken Glass, and Resurrection Blues.

Evaluation:  Grades are based are a series of one-page commentaries on bits of action, concepts, and/or problems in interpretation; and on (probably) three 5-6 page papers of a comparative nature. Class participation matters a good deal.

(Spring 2017, Billitteri)

Documentary Impulse in Literature 

The impulse to document reality, to give a testimony to one’s moment in history and culture, has been one of the most characteristic features of literary production, evident in documentary poetics, historical theater, and the novel’s fictionalized reportage. Indeed, we could locate this impulse at the very beginning of the Western canon, with Homer, whose Iliad relates the history of the Trojan war, and follow it forward through Dante, whose Inferno is populated with historical figures, and the Shakespeare of the history plays. In more recent times, the documentary impulse guides such diverse writers as Claudia Rankine, whose book of lyric prose, Citizen, explores the hidden racism in contemporary Western societies; Mark Nowak, whose poetry documents the harsh conditions of miners’ lives and communities; Rob Halpern, whose prose-poetry hybrid Common Place explores the embodied response to unending militarization and economic exploitation; and Susan Somers-Willett, whose Women of Troy, an intermedia collaboration with photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally and radio producer Lu Olkowski, narrates the hidden lives of women in poverty.

This class will explore ten of the most significant examples of the documentary impulse in twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature, encompassing works of fiction and poetry along with hybrid texts that bring the two genres together along with photography, journalism, memoir, and factual data. Though much of our reading will be in prose I place this work under the general heading of “documentary poetics” as the critical literature on our poetic examples has best theorized this impulse.

(Fall 2016, Jacobs)

Women Writing in the American West 

The settling of the American West is generally treated in popular culture (film, fiction, and television) as a world of “violence and masculine courage,” to quote Jane Tompkins’ West of Everything.  In the dominant versions of the national myth, women are generally relegated to minor roles as spectators, clinging wives, or sassy saloon girls. This course will explore the theme of the west and/or the genre of the western through readings women writers who engage and challenge this myth.

Sample Reading List:
A captivity narrative from the Colonial period
Selections from pioneer women’s diaries and letters
Isabella Bird, selections from A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879)
Sarah Winnemucca, Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1883)
Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona (1884)
Mary Austin, Land of Little Rain (1903)
Willa Cather, O Pioneers (1913) or My Antonia (1918)
Margaret Atwood, The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970 book of poems)
Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988)
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams (1990)
Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories (1997)
Film:  The Ballad of Little Jo (1993)

(Fall 2015, Neiman)
Romanticism & Aestheticism 

In 1833, John Stuart Mill famously portrayed the ideal poet as turning away from all outside influences (such as the literary market and politics). Mill modeled his ideal on two near contemporaries, William Wordsworth (who was middle-aged by this time) and Percy Shelley (who died young, in 1822). Mill’s ideal poet came to be synonymous with the movement later called “British Romanticism,” a period generally defined as beginning around 1790, with the French Revolution, and culminating in the 1820s.

This course defines Romanticism broadly, in order to discern the ways in which Romantic aesthetics and politics influence the work of male and female writers (note that this approach opens up the study of Romanticism from primarily poetry to a mix of poetry and prose). In the second half of the semester, we will turn our focus to the ways in which Romanticism influenced Victorian writers, most of whom remained preoccupied with the Romantics’ emphasis on the self, memory, and imagination. Some writers rejected Romantic poetics—and others embraced it—and we will track how Romanticism influences the work of two seemingly opposite literary movements of the late-nineteenth century:  aestheticism (and writers who gloried in the concept of “art for art’s sake”) and New Woman fiction (writers who used novels to bring forward new ideas about women’s role in larger society).

(Spring 2015, Evans)

Black Mountain College–Democracy, Art & Education 

Black Mountain College was founded in 1933 by a renegade band of faculty and students whose aim was to reinvent the experience of education in modern America. Inspired by the principles articulated by John Dewey in Democracy and Education  (1916), the members of the Black Mountain community sought to transform themselves and one another through interactive learning that placed the arts and humanities at the heart of an ever-evolving curriculum.

In this course, we will retrace the history of the college from its founding in the depths of the Great Depression, with authoritarianism on the rise abroad and at home, through a twenty-four year history that included a celebrated summer arts program, pioneering attempts at sustainable agriculture and community-constructed architecture (including the first geodesic dome), and a fiercely argued—and dramatically lived—debate about which forms of education best answer to the needs of a truly democratic society.

We’ll take our initial bearings from two classic accounts of the college—Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community by Martin Duberman and The Arts at Black Mountain College  by Mary Emma Harris—and then read, look at, and listen to a wide variety of texts, artworks, and musical compositions by figures such as Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Charles Olson, Ruth Asawa, Robert Rauschenberg, and many others.

Throughout the semester we will host guest speakers from on campus and around the country for class visits. And from the start, students will be encouraged to pursue research and creative activities growing out of their most pressing questions about their own education. As the University of Maine celebrates its 150th anniversary in the midst of a state- and nation-wide crisis in higher education, we will have ample opportunity to reflect on the relevance of the Black Mountain College experience to our own moment’s urgent challenges.

Additional courses on Black Mountain are planned for Fall 2015, when a major new art exhibition on the subject opens at the ICA Boston. Students who take this course will have the option of continuing their explorations in the fall.


ENG 382: Major Genres Historical Period

Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of English beyond 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Satisfies general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Course Description: Tragedy, comedy, lyric, novel, play or film: these are just a few of the divisions, called “genres” that we use to distinguish one kind of literary art from another. Continuing and deepening the work begun in 170 and/or 222, Major Genres in Historical Perspectives is a reading-intensive course on the thematic and technical developments of one specific genre within a broader cultural and historical framework. This theoretical approach to genre studies will allow students to spend more time reading in a genre they love, while giving them the opportunity to practice their research skills in preparation for work in advanced seminars.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2017, Rogers)

British Novel 

Focusing on the eighteenth century, this class will explore the development of the novel by studying a sequence of works in their historical and cultural contexts. We will consider such topics as postcolonialism, individualism, realism, gender, genre, and canonicity. Evaluation will be based on brief papers, reading quizzes, research exercises, presentations, a midterm, a final, and participation. Texts will vary but may include works by Behn, Defoe, Fielding, Richardson, Burney, Sterne, Radcliffe, and Austen.

(Fall 2016, Harlan-Haughey)

Viking Sagas 

The word “saga” was originally a Norse word. Viking sagas which describe the explorations and exploits of these early adventurers inform later British literature. The University of Maine Humanities Center will be hosting a series of programs about sagas of all kinds on the 2016-17 academic year. Students in this class will profit from campus visits of prominent literary scholars and historians.


ENG 395: English Internship

Prerequisite(s): ENG 101 or equivalent and at least one other writing intensive course, a recommendation from a faculty member, submission of writing sample and permission.

Satisfies the general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive

Capstone Note:  After successful completion of this course, students may tutor in the Writing Center the following semester to fulfill their capstone requirement for the Literary/Critical Writing concentration.  Please refer to ENG 499: Capstone Experience in English.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2018, Mitchell)

An advanced course in writing and collaborative learning. Students first experience collaborative work in essay writing, critical reading of peers’ essays, and rigorous practice in written and oral criticism. They participate in supervised tutoring in the English Department’s writing center.