400-Level Courses

ENG 402: Topics in Writing & Research

Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing or instructor’s permission.
Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive.
Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): None

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2017, Friedlander)

(Spring 2016, Dippre)

This semester’s 402 course focuses on the theoretical and practical foundations of the interdisciplinary study of writing.  We will look at the writing activity that individuals engage in, as well as the genres through which they engage in that writing.  To do this, we will build a theoretical understanding of writing that draws on phenomenology, sociology, anthropology, and psychology to greater or lesser extents.  We will be applying a range of research methods that build on the close-reading and historical contextualizing experiences that English majors are familiar with, including activity tracing and genre tracing.  These methods will help students in the class turn what they have learned back to their own contexts: literary studies, creative writing, education, etc.

(Spring 2015, Dryer)

This semester’s 402 seminar focuses on the communicative technologies that have enabled the postindustrial globalized workplace and the ways these technologies have also transformed the field of writing studies.  Contemporary scholars are arguing for flexible understandings of texts as “designs”—(re)configurations of data, words, and images that produce and reflect reconfigured reading and writing practices.  To this end, we will be reading and writing about recent scholarship in composition theory and professional/technical writing studies, and then turning those theoretical perspectives and research methodologies toward original field-research to help answer questions about our production and consumption of redesigned texts.  Specifically, those interested in education will encounter new work in ‘multiliteracies’; those interested in new media will have the chance to theorize ‘multi-modal compositions’; those interested in workplace communications will be equipped to work with textual/activity systems; and everyone will have a chance to see what’s at stake in the proliferation of ‘global englishes.’  We will be experimenting with a range of methods beyond (but that build on) close-reading and historical contexting skills English majors know:  ethnography, corpus analysis, process-tracing, and bibliometrics among them.

(Spring 2013, Ohge)

In 1929, George Saintsbury proclaimed that letter writing was nearly dead as a result of the penny-post. Yet many letter writers since then have flourished, and many letters editions continue to be published. Is letter writing a dying art? Into what genre do we put letters?

This course considers the art and history of correspondence as a means for primary humanities research; throughout we will examine the textual problems in editing these letters, the critical puzzles of contextualizing communiqués, and the means with which we produce narratives based on evidence such as correspondence. After a brief introduction to the epistolary tradition—Horace, Cicero, and Petrarch, to name a few—we will read a selection of exemplary letters and life-and-letters editions of writers, philosophers, historians, composers, artists, and political figures from the eighteenth century to the present. This course will emphasize the role of letter writing in the creative process––namely, how thinkers use letters as a forum to discuss their ideas and make sense of their place in history, suggesting T. S. Eliot’s saying about Keats’s letters that “fine things come … between trifle and trifle.”

ENG 405: Topics in Creative Writing

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor only. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

Playwriting (Fall 2015, Yellow Robe)

A senior level course designed to provide students with an opportunity to work intensively in a specifically defined genre, form, or method of creative writing.  May also address the broader issues of production and publication.  Sample topics: graphic novel, hypertext, mixed-media, electronic writing, translation, traditional poetic forms, the epic, publication, book-making, magazine editing, the serial poem, the long poem, collaboration.  ENG 405 and/or ENG 406 may be taken for credit up to a total of 6 credit hours.

Playwriting (Spring 2013, Yellow Robe)

The course will begin in a class setting on the Orono campus for a two day period, times TBA.  This is for first time students attempting to write a play.  The majority of class time will be conducted on-line.  The course is designed for students with an existing play. Each student is required to submit an existing play to the instructor that the student would like to develop.   The focus of the class is to examine the weaknesses and strengths of each play in order to improve structure, characters, conflict, theme, and plot.  The goal is to have a ‘working draft’ of a play (one-act or full-length, please: no ten-minute one-acts.)  Students writing a play for the first time are expect to complete a working draft of a one-act play.  Instructor provides information concerning structure, elements, and formatting of one-act play.

(Spring 2012, Yellow Robe)

ENG 407: Advanced Fiction Writing

Prerequisite: ENG 307 and permission of the instructor.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Kress)

(Spring 2017, Howard)

(Spring 2016, Kress)

This course is a fiction workshop at the advanced level. This is the advanced level course for fiction writers in the English concentration in creative writing, and may be taken in tandem with ENG 499 (capstone experience). May be repeated for credit.

(Spring 2015, Howard)

(Spring 2015, Kress)

(Spring 2014, Kress)

This course will maximize your potency and versatility as a fiction writer.  Because deeper reading from a wide range of styles should help you use language more artfully, we’ll spend a good chunk of our time reading published fiction and talking about what makes particular works of fiction effective.

To help you achieve linguistic precision and versatility, you will perform a variety of exercises on sentence structure and dynamics, style, figurative language, diction, tone, imagery, chromatic patterning, and so on.  For example, a typical might involve writing a snippet in a so-called minimalist style and then the same snippet in so-called purple prose.  After dallying with these two stylistic poles you should be more adept at texturing language for your own effects and purposes.  We will work with technical aspects, of course, but we will also explore thematic dynamics, genre-mixing, and more.  Most of all, we will pick at the language that produces these effects.   During this course, you will complete many small exercises, and hopefully some of these will blossom into larger works.   For example, when we discuss point of view, you will experiment with a variety of narrative voices and if one of these experiments is especially successful, you might expand it into a larger piece.

Note:  due mostly to my own ignorance of such things, the course is not particularly useful for students interested in so-called genre fiction, so those primarily taken with elves, mages, alchemists, demons, serial killers, gunslingers, true crime/romance, zombies, old gods, vampire hunters, and the like may better served in other courses.

Required texts:

I will provide handouts for most of the readings you will do, but you’ll also need the following collection of short fiction:

Ray Halliday, The Kid that even the Dogs didn’t Like

(Spring 2013, Kress)

(Spring 2012, Howard)

Advanced Fiction Writing will build on the skills learned and developed in ENG 307. Reading intensive and critically-minded, the workshop will focus in particular on exploring the different genres and many forms fiction can take.

ENG 408: Advanced Poetry Writing

Prerequisites: ENG 308, writing sample, and permission of the instructor.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2017, Moxley)

(Fall 2016, Ellis)

This poetry workshop will focus primarily, but not exclusively, on student work. The course will have three basic focus areas: poetics, original work, and deep study. In addition to writing poems, you will respond to sound files, poetics readings, and deeply study the work of one poet. ENG 408 along with ENG 499 may fulfill the capstone requirement for English majors concentrating in Creative Writing.

(Fall 2015, Moxley)

(Fall 2014, Ellis)

A poetry workshop at the advanced level. This is the advanced level course for poets in the English concentration in creative writing, and should be taken in tandem with ENG 499 (capstone experience).

(Fall 2013, Moxley)

(Fall 2012, Moxley)

ENG 415: Advanced Report & Proposal Writing (Diaz)

Typically offered in spring semesters. Next offering tentatively set for Spring 2015.

Prerequisites: ENG 317 or instructor’s permission.  Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Writing Intensive.  Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): May count toward the Professional & Technical Writing concentration; please check with your advisor.

This course prepares students to write workplace proposals and reports. Students will spend approximately four weeks analyzing proposals—including grant proposals—and reports. Students will spend the next eight weeks researching and writing a grant proposal, a project proposal, or an analytical report.

When possible, students will work on projects for campus clients. The last three weeks of the semester will focus on exploring visual and audio reports, including designing electronic materials that support oral presentations and preparing audio reports using podcast technology. This course will be taught as a workshop with student writers sharing drafts, providing peer feedback, and working as collaborators.

We will do short analyses of reports and a larger project that focuses on writing a report or a grant for a client. The goal is for each participant to have a significant writing portfolio sample by the end of the semester.

Required Texts (subject to change):

  • Johnson-Sheehan, R. & Dragga, S. (2002). Writing proposals. New York: Longman.
  • New, C. & Quick, J. (2003). How to write a grant proposal. New York: Wiley.
  • Netzley, M. & Snow, C. (2002). Guide to report writing. New York: Wiley

ENG 416: Technical Editing & Document Design (Diaz)

Typically offered every fall. 

Prerequisites: ENG 317 or permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

This course focuses on print and online editing, including the use of traditional proofreading marks and online techniques, document layout and design, principles of copywriting, and the study of style manuals. The course follows two lines of study: one of editing/text crunching practices and one of print document design principles and practices related to the editing of documents. The cornerstone of the course is producing a newsletter or other document for a client.

Learning Objectives

During this course, you will have the opportunity to learn the following:

  • To improve writing through drafting and revising the student’s own writing -by drafting and revising one’s own writing -by reading and editing the writing of another student
  • To become proficient editor -by learning paper mark-up techniques provided in the Associated Press Style Guide -by learning online editing techniques using MS Word -by learning to identify parts of speech
  • To create effective document designs -by learning principles of effective visual designs -by learning how to use InDesign to create visual designs
  • To design, write, and edit a document that meets the needs of a client -by working with a client to develop a brochure, a newsletter, or other document

Students will work with clients to develop portfolio pieces.

ENG 418: Topics in Professional Writing

Typically offered in spring or summer semesters.

Prerequisites: ENG 317 or permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

Intersection of Government & Science (Spring 2017, Redington)

In the United States, science and government maintain a complicated, consequential, and sometimes troubled relationship. The development of thermonuclear weapons, the advent of DNA testimony in courtrooms, and the proliferation of cybersecurity breaches all embody this relationship. At the center of all these storms, and many others, is technical writing. Technical writing aids in the development of scientific discovery, and it helps circulate these discoveries among a variety of stakeholders. Technical writing is likewise the lifeblood of governmental efforts to understand, regulate, and fund scientific endeavors. This course therefore focuses on technical writing as a site of multiple intersections between government and science. Our approach to technical writing will emphasize rhetorical theory, the propagation of technical ideas to public audiences, and ethical issues. Because this is a writing intensive course, students will produce two major projects.

Science Writing (Spring 2013, Schmitt)

Scientific topics challenge the professional writer to convey volumes of detailed knowledge gained through years of specialization in simple, interesting language that engages the non-scientist reader yet remains scientifically accurate. This course introduces the craft of writing about science for non-scientific audiences. Students read examples of science writing (including narrative and literary nonfiction), review presentations, and explore the editing process. Writing assignments include explanatory prose, research summaries, news, web content, and feature stories.

Science writers work at the intersection of science and the humanities, and have promising career opportunities as freelance journalists, book authors, and at online media outlets, magazines, newspapers, university news offices, research labs and federal agencies, museums, and many other venues.

Communication for Small Business & Nonprofits (Spring 2012–Diaz)

This class begins with the story of a lawsuit over a Ficus tree. This lawsuit taught instructor, Charlsye Smith Diaz, to write more than brochures that sit on a countertop for customers to take.

Studying communication for small business is important in Maine, where approximately “41,000 businesses employ the majority of Maine’s work force,” according to Eastern Maine Development Corporation. Nationally, 99 percent of all businesses are small (Economic Perspectives).

This class will focus on the communication small businesses use to do business. We will study the types touted online: using social media, writing for the web, creating one-sheets, and learning to pitch ideas, and will focus also on writing business plan and grant application narratives, demand letters, annual reports, and white papers.

ENG 429: Topics in Literature

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission of instructor.

Recent offerings:

Revenge (Brucher, Spring 2011)

Francis Bacon called revenge “a kind of wild justice.” It tries to right wrongs, but it offends law and taints the mind of the revenger. Officially, the closer revenge comes to public practices of law, the more legitimate it may be; popularly, the cleverer it is, the more appealing it may be. Representations of revenge in poems, plays, short stories, novels, and films expose and exploit tensions among justice, psychological gratification, aesthetic pleasure, and moral squalor. Consequently, revenge has been a staple of literature for as long as narrative has been recorded, from Aeschylus’ The Oresteia to the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.” Revenge narratives tend to be popular in times of high

This course will examine revenge stories from a range of periods, cultures, and genres. Discussions and papers will employ a variety of theoretical approaches to explore the appeal of revenge as moral lesson, political analysis, cultural critique, and vicarious entertainment. As well as examples of classical, aristocratic, and tribal revenges, the course will include examples of comic, feminist, working class, environmental, and contemporary urban vigilante

Texts: Titles have not yet been settled, but the reading and viewing list will likely include plays and fiction by Aeschylus, Euripides. Shakespeare, Schiller, Melville, Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, and Fay Weldon, as well as
films by Ford, Kurosawa, Eastwood, Todd Field (In the Bedroom, 2001, was filmed in Camden), and Neil Jordan (The Brave One, Jodi Foster’s 2007 vigilante film was well received). (The Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit, which is based on a Charles Portis novel, is due for release in December 2010; it may be available on DVD by late spring.)

Evaluation: Grades will be based on participation in discussions, perhaps an oral presentation, and a combination of short (3‐5 pp.) and longer (10‐12 pp.) papers.

Utopian Literature (Jacobs, Spring 2011)

In common usage, the word “utopia” is employed to mean “impossible or impractical blueprints for a perfect world.”   By contrast, we will consider the utopian mode of thought – in both eutopian and dystopian forms – as an hermeneutic allowing us to explore what’s missing in the world we know, as well as to imagine better worlds.

We will begin with the founding instance of the genre, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia of 1518, and then go on to consider two more-or-less serious classic utopias of the fin de (19eme) siècle:  William Morris’ News from Nowhere and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland.   From there we’ll look at a pair of dystopias:  Zamyatin’s We, from revolutionary Russia, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, set in a near-future southern California in a state of social collapse.   The final unit will take up three formally inventive postmodern utopias by Calvino, Le Guin, and Mayer that raise questions about the very enterprise of projecting alternative worlds.

Along the way we will also read selections from theorists such as Ernst Bloch, Fredric Jameson, Ruth Levitas and Tom Moylan.  If time allows, we might also take a look at a film such as The Truman Show or Pleasantville.


  • Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (1993)
  • Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (1972)
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas” and The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)  OR Always Coming Home (1984)
  • Bernadette Mayer, Utopia (1984)
  • Thomas More, Utopia (1518)
  • William Morris, News from Nowhere (1890)
  • Evgeny Zamyatin, We (1921)
  • Critical and theoretical selections on xerox and on-line

There will be a $5 course fee to cover the costs of xeroxing, including the entire text of Mayer’s Utopia (courtesy of Mayer’s “Utopian Copyright — All Rights Unreserved”).



  • Regular attendance and active participation                                 15%
  • Three 5-7 page take-home exams  (25% each)                             75%
  • Quizzes, in-class exercises, brief responses, etc.                          10%

This is a writing intensive course.  Some guidance on critical writing will be offered and students will have the opportunity to revise their work in response to the instructor’s feedback.

Poetics of Translation (Fall 2010, Brinkley)

The course will explore the poetics of translation both in theory and in practice. I will offer what I have learned to do as a translator of modern and contemporary Russian, German and French poetry. How does a poem in one language “write” a poem in another? How does a poet in one language mentor a poet in another? Each student will be asked to find a poet in a language (more or less known to them) in a language other than English. They will then be asked through the course of the semester to create a small anthology of that poet’s works. At the same time students will explore theories of translation that are implicit in the writing of authors like Benjamin, Bakhtin, Derrida, De Man, and Irigaray.

Required Texts (subject to change):

  • Tsvetaeva, “An Attempt at a Room”
  • Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, Rilke, Letters
  • Pasternak, “My Sister—Life”
  • Rilke, Duino Elegies
  • Mandelshtam, Selected Lyrics and “Conversation about Dante”
  • Celan, Selected Lyrics and translations of Mandelstam
  • Baudelaire, Selected Lyrics
  • Rimbaud, Selected Lyrics
  • Valery, Selected Lyrics
  • Benjamin, “Task of the Translator”
  • “Language as Such and the Language of Man”
  • Derrida, “Towers of Babel”
  • DeMan, “Conclusions: Walter Benjamin’s ‘Task of the Translator”
  • Irigaray, “The Fecundity of the Caress”
  • Bakhtin, Dostoevsky’s Poetics (Selections)
  • Dialogic Imagination (Selections)
  • Poets to be selected by participants in the course

Beginning with the third week, students will begin presenting their own translations to the class. They will also be expected to write short weekly papers and meet with me for weekly tutorials.

Writing as Design (Fall 2010, Dryer)

The communicative technologies that have enabled the postindustrial globalized workplace have also transformed the field of writing studies.  Contemporary scholars are arguing for flexible understandings of texts as “designs”—(re)configurations of data, words, and images that produce and reflect reconfigured reading and writing practices.  To this end, we will be reading and writing about recent scholarship in composition theory and professional/technical writing studies, and then turning those theoretical perspectives and research methodologies toward original field-research to help answer questions about our production and consumption of redesigned texts.  Specifically, those interested ineducation will encounter new work in ‘multiliteracies’; those interested in new media will have the chance to theorize ‘multi-modal compositions’; those interested in workplace communications will be equipped to work withtextual/activity systems; and everyone will have a chance to see what’s at stake in the proliferation of ‘global englishes.’

The Graphic Novel (Fall 2009, Alex Irvine)

In this class we will trace the evolution of sequential narrative. Beginning with newspaper cartoon strips at the turn of the twentieth century, we will go through the rise of the comic book in the 1930s and the explosion of independent comics in the 60s and 70s to the current interest in the ‘graphic novel’…whatever that is. Along the way we’ll read a great many comics and quite a bit of popular culture scholarship, looking at the ways the sequential narrative has reflected and developed ongoing American preoccupations with such issues as immigration, race, and power.

Apes, Angels, and Victorians (Fall 2009, Wilson)

(1) John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

We’ll concentrate on the following major ideas: empiricism, rationalism, laissez-faire, the relationship between the State and the Individual, “common sense,” humanism, the origin of ideas, pleasure as the sole good, and human equality.

(2) Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe.

We’ll read this novel as a dramatization of the emergence of homo economicus and modern capitalism. We’ll also explore the relationship of the individual to capitalism and of Protestantism to rationalism and empiricism.

(3) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Social Contract.

Major ideas: democratic political theory; a new view of nature, of humankind, of the child; the “Golden Age”—a communal state; the innate goodness of man, egalitarianism, civilization versus nature; the nature of society.

(4) The impact of Locke, Defoe, and Rousseau on the Victorian world.

(5) Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present.

We’ll use Past and Present as an opening into the question of the relationship of empiricism, rationalism, science, and religion as it specifically relates to the “Condition of England Question.” We’ll ask ourselves whether Carlyle’s use of the medieval monastery as a template for his historical understanding of the social ills of the early Victorian period could work. This formulation by Carlyle of a basic social question—that of man’s social obligations—will prepare us for Marx’s analysis and raise questions about the role of science, reason, and the empirical butting up against the human issues of poverty and class, especially within the context of the newly industrialized technological society of England of the 1830s and ‘40s. (Carlyle, unlike Marx, for example, bases his answer on a religious but not Christian model. [He gave up his Christianity after reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.] Does Carlyle imply in his religious choices a return to the paganism of the society the British most wanted to emulate, the Roman?)

(6) Karl Marx, vol. one of Capital; the Manifesto of the Communist Party, as well as various shorter works.

Major ideas: Marx’s romantic and rationalistic basis for his philosophy; his dialectical materialism (unlike Carlyle’s medieval romanticism); his economic determinism (hence his development of a scientific (rational) religion (romantic); his idea of work and of surplus value; his critique of capitalism.

(7) John Ruskin, Unto This Last.

The focus here will be on Ruskin as a “sacramental humanist,” attempting in his social writing to address the same problems as Marx but basing his answer on humanism, socialism, and an increasingly pagan religious point of view. (Born into a conservative evangelical Protestant family, he gave up his belief in orthodox Christianity after a “conversion” in a chapel in Turin, Italy in 1858.) Ruskin and Carlyle share a similar world view.

(8) Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man.

Major ideas: the emergence of biology as a science; his theory of natural selection and its implied rejection of a teleology; his emphasis on the empirical, the objective, the phenomenal, on, in short, the inductive method; Darwin not a metaphysician but an epistemologist. Darwin’s world: amoral, relativistic, emphasizing process and change.

(9) John Henry, Cardinal Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

The antithesis to Darwin, Newman presents the absolutist, dogmatic Catholic Christian position, arguing from faith rather than reason, from tradition rather than experience, from revelation rather than phenomena. Views science as an adjunct to other and greater sources of truth.

(10) William Morris, News from Nowhere—a socialist romance.

Morris presents a practical acceptance of science and technology, and of socialistic ideas, but weaves them together with pagan religious ideas. In many ways, then, the utopian News attempts to reconcile the many forces and conflicts we’ll have been looking at in the course.

(11) Finally, we’ll attempt to bring all of this together with the implications for the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Listen!  Poetry in the Age of the MP3 (Fall 2008, Steve Evans)

In this course we’ll explore the sonic archive of modern and contemporary poetry, focusing on the art of interpreting poems not just as printed texts but as voiced structures whose meaning can be “sounded” as well as seen. In addition to hearing, seeing, and reading a wide variety of poetry, we’ll make use of secondary literature from the fields of literary criticism, poetics, linguistics, prosody, speech pragmatics, and the new media to fashion a supple critical vocabulary for the description, interpretation, and evaluation of poetry soundfiles. We’ll also work with sound editing and analysis software applications (Audacity, Praat) that allow us to visualize the sound shape of poetic language. In addition to conventional writing assignments, students can also expect to program a radio segment and to make regular postings to a course blog.

Apes, Angels, and Victorians (Fall 2008, Wilson)

The Grail in Medieval Literature and 20th Century Film (Spring 2008)

As a central chapter in the Arthurian Cycle, the quest for the Holy Grail has captured the Western imagination for nearly nine centuries. In this course we’ll discuss the various possible origins of the symbol, read the Medieval Romances in which the grail first made its appearance, and watch 20th century films that attempt to capture its mythos. In addition, we’ll explore the connections between the medieval imagination and the 20th century cinema. Students who enroll in this course can expect to do a lot of reading of very old texts and to engage both the texts and films historically and structurally.

Required Texts (subject to change):

  • Romances, Chrétien de Troyes
  • The Holy Grail, Imagination and Belief, Richard Barber
  • The Quest of the Holy Grail (translation of Le Queste del Saint Graal)
  • Parzival, Wofram van Eschenbach
  • Le Morte D’Arthur, Malory:

Evaluation: Weekly written responses alternating with oral presentations, one seminar paper, one creative project.

ENG 430: Topics in European Literature

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive and Ethics requirements.

Recent offerings:

Modern Drama (Spring 2011, Brucher)

This one-time version of ENG 430 might be subtitled “Ibsen Then and Now.”  A scandal in his own time, Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) has made an indelible mark on almost all European and American drama written since the turn of the 20th century.  In productivity, innovation, influence, and prestige, Ibsen rivals Shakespeare.  This course will explore the startling innovations in dramatic language, character, setting, and structure that Ibsen made to 19th century dramatic literature.  He has been credited with demolishing romantic idealism by staging unseemly material in unconventional ways (the scandal), and with prophesying 20th century collisions among desiring selves, stifling social conventions, and intractable hereditary forces (the legacy).  To contextualize Ibsen’s immediate impact, we will read plays by three of Ibsen’s contemporaries:  August Strindberg (1849-1912), Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), and George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).  To explore how Ibsen remains our contemporary, we will investigate how his work has been appropriated for post-modernist purposes, often with extraordinary effects; and we will look at several films of the plays.

Likely Plays

  • Ibsen:  Peer Gynt, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, Hedda Gabler, Little Eyolf, The Master Builder, John Gabriel Borkman.
  • Strindberg:  Miss Julie, The Dance of Death, The Ghost Sonata.
  • Chekhov:  The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard.
  • Shaw:  Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Arms and the Man, Man and Superman.

Avant- garde European Theater (Fall 2009, Billitteri)

Twentieth-century avant-garde European theater, in all its different manifestations (symbolist, dada, futurist, absurd drama, theater of cruelty, epic theater, political theater) rejects the artistic conventions of naturalist and realist drama and all “aesthetic values and materialistic ideals … associated with the bourgeoisie” (Christopher Innis, “The Politics of Primitivism”). Through the shock-effects of their formally innovative gestures, the theatrical avant-gardes successfully sought the politicization of drama as a literary genre, and rethought the boundaries between art and politics, often by way of radical intellectual “assaults” on the aesthetic values and expectations of their audiences. In this class, we will read the most important plays of the European avant-garde and study all pertinent avant-garde theoretical “manifestoes” on the politics of theater that have changed the landscape of twentieth-century European theater.

European Avant-garde Theater (Fall 2008, Billitteri)

ENG 435: The Bible and Near Eastern Literature (Wilson)

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics requirement.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2011)

An exploration of the Bible within the context of other Near-Eastern religious and mythic literature from Mesopotamia and Babylon, Egypt, Canaan, Persia and other cultures that went into the creation of this Hebrew and Christian Bible.  Will include PowerPoint and audio lectures about the archaeology and anthropology of this period so important to subsequent western culture—3000 B.C.-100 A.D. We will focus to some degree on the role of goddess figures in the development of the Bible into the form we find it in today. We’ll approach the Bible as an anthology of fiction, myth, and polemic – sometimes bitter and heated – arising out of specific cultural and philosophical contexts. Finally, the course will suggest that the Bible will become a more humane document when understood as the product of cultural interbreeding and argument.


  • Gilgamesh
  • The Ancient Near East (vols. 1 & 2)
  • The Hebrew Goddess
  • Myths from Mesopotamia
  • The Myth of the Goddess
  • The Bible

(Spring 2009)

ENG 436: Topics in Canadian Literature (Norris)

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive and Ethics requirements.

Recent offerings:

Three Canadian Poet-Novelists (Fall 2010)

In this course we will be considering the work of Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.

Reading List (subject to change):

  • Stranger Music Cohen
  • The Favourite Game Cohen
  • Beautiful Losers Cohen
  • Book of Longing Cohen
  • Selected Poems Atwood
  • Selected Poems 2 Atwood
  • Surfacing Atwood
  • The Handmaid’s Tale Atwood
  • Oryx and Crake Atwood
  • The Tent Atwood
  • The Cinnamon Peeler Ondaatje
  • Coming Through Slaughter Ondaatje
  • Running in the Family Ondaatje
  • The English Patient Ondaatje
  • Divisadero Ondaatje

(Fall 2008, Norris)

ENG 440: Major American Writers

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

The Short Course in American Poetry (Fall 2017, Friedlander)

This seminar will survey 350 years of American poetry, with the focus on close readings of a small number of representative works. To contextualize these works, there will also be less-intensive readings of supplementary material (related poems, statements of poetics, criticism, theory). The works were chosen for the forms of reading they elicit as well as their intrinsic worth, hence the seminar will also function as a survey of methods and perspectives. Book history, cultural studies, queer theory, ecocriticism, historicism, formalism, and more will all be sampled. Further, the value of poetry (pleasure, wisdom, sustenance, the lending of voice, the preservation of experience) will be much at issue. Why were these particular poems written, remembered, forgotten, rediscovered? What sorts of culture were needed to produce them? How does our culture differ? To what effect on meaning, understanding, value?

I think of this seminar as an advanced introduction to American poetry and literary scholarship. Advanced because it draws on skills developed in the core courses, writing tracks, and 300-level curriculum; introduction, because no prior knowledge is assumed. Students who have not yet completed the core are welcome, but ENG 222 (Reading Poems) is especially recommended.

Students will produce a portfolio of responses to the readings (four short essays [3-4 pages each] with an introduction) and a medium-length research paper (8-10 pages). Those who are taking this course for their capstone–or want to develop a writing sample for grad school–or want to try their hand at a more ambitious piece of writing–will substitute a journal of reading notes for the portfolio of essays and produce a long research paper instead (18-20 pages) .


ENG 442: Native American Literature

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2010, Lukens)

(Spring 2009, Yellow Robe)

The course will proceed focusing on contemporary Native American writers of the twentieth century. Our focus will be on the literary texts written by Native American writers in the English language, and we will sample sermon, poetry, playwriting, and retelling of the cultural divides. Students will find themselves doing research outside of the usual boundaries of literary study-you will find yourself looking for information in history, ethnography, anthropology, comparative religious study, law and politics. This course is unique in that it will offer a perspective from an Indigenous Tribal writer.
Texts include: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie Where The Pavement Ends, by William S. Yellow Robe, Jr. Love Medicine, by Louise Erdrich

(Spring 2008, Yellow Robe)

ENG 443: The American Romantics

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2009, Friedlander)

ENG 444 : Contemporary American Fiction

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2010, Kress)

(Spring 2009, Alex Irvine)

Contemporary American Fiction will take an intensive focus on American fiction written since 1950. We will look at the various manifestations of postmodernism on American fiction, as well as the increasingly visible contributions of America’s minority populations. Authors might include (but not be limited to) Ellison, Burroughs, Pynchon, De Lillo, Morrison, Delany, Dick, Spiegelman, Powers, Chabon, McCarthy, Fowler, Erickson, Alexie, Diaz.

ENG 445: The American Novel

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2017, Friedlander)

This course would cover close to 400 years of American poetry, so it transgresses the period limits of the 300-level American Lit courses. My intention is to use the class time to present a small number of important poems along with a small constellation of contextualizing writings, modeling a series of ways of engaging poetry. These lectures would encompass the entire history of American poetry, and would draw on skills learned in the core courses and on the knowledge base of the 300-level courses. In their assignments, students would work on poems not covered in these lectures. The required reading would be kept brief to allow time for independent reading and also to support rereading, which is crucial with poetry.

(Fall 2010, Alex Irvine)

Readings from the major American novelists: Stowe, Melville, James, Twain, Dreiser, Wharton, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cather, and Faulkner, among others. Focus on thematic, technical, and narrative developments in the 19th and 20th century American novel.

(Fall 2009, Jeff Evans)

The class will examine closely themes, attitudes, and techniques that contribute to the development of the American novel of the 19th and 20th centuries.  The classes will emphasize discussion and class participation.  Particular attention will be paid to narrative techniques.  The emphasis throughout is on close analysis of the texts.

Sample Texts:

  • Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Norton Critical)
  • Stephen Crane, Maggie:  A Girl of the Streets
  • Willa Cather, My Antonia (Houghton Mifflin)
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (Vintage)
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (Vintage)
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (Dell)
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (Harper)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Love of the Last Tycoon (Scribners)
  • Henry James, Portrait of a Lady (Norton Critical)
  • Harold Frederic, Damnation of Theron Ware
  • Additional Text:  Hibbard & Holman, A Handbook to Literature (on library reserve)

(Fall 2008, Jeff Evans)

ENG 447: American Drama

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of instructor. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

Muticultural American Playwrights (Spring 2011, Yellow Robe)

This course will examine the diversity of contemporary dramatists.  Playwrights included are Suzie Lori Parks, August

Wilson, Jose Rivera, Henry David Hwang, Phillip Kan Gotanda, Anna Deavere Smith, and William S. Yellow Robe, Jr.  This is a hybrid course and a majority of the course will be conducted on-line.

(Spring 2010, Brucher)

A study of 20th- and21st-Century American dramatists, including O’Neill, Hellman, Williams, Miller, Albee, Shepard, Mamet, Henley, Wilson, and Baitz, among others. We’ll read the drama as an art that tests assumptions about American history, culture, and character, and about material and spiritual dreams. Some attention will be paid to film versions of several of the great plays (e.g., O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire, and Miller’s Death of a Salesman; some attention may be paid to contemporary televison drama (e.g., The Wire). Satisfies the General Education Ethics and Writing Intensive Requirements. Grades are based on an oral presentation, two short papers, a longer project, and a final examination. Performance may be substituted for some written work.

(Spring 2008, Brucher)

ENG 449: Contemporary American Poetry

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2011, Moxley)

American poetry written after World War II (1945—>)include Beats, Black Mountain, New York School, San Francisco Renaissance, Deep Image, Language poetry, Aleatory practices and so on… The radical poetic responses that emerged in the postmodern era were various and intellectually exciting. In this course we will read these innovative poets and learn about the aesthetic, social, and cultural foundations of their poetics. If you write poems in free verse, with jagged, enjambed lines, you were—whether you know it or not—influenced by this period. A great class for writers and future scholars of poetry, as well as for all those who enjoyed ENG 222 but longed to read more contemporary poets. If there’s time, we’ll try and make it all the way to the present. Also, expect a tie in with the New Writing Series, and class visits by the poets who come to campus.

Evaluation: Bi-weekly poetic and/or critical responses. One research paper of 10-12 pages. Respect for the circumstance, attendance, and a good faith effort at participation in discussion.


  • Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology. Edited by Paul Hoover.
  • Photocopied essays, poems. Internet resources: sound files, poetry sites.

(Spring 2008, Norris)

Many poets will be studied, including Robert Creeley and Frank O’Hara.

Required Texts:

  • Contemporary American Poetry, ed. Poulin Jr. and Waters
  • Selected Poems, Robert Creeley
  • The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara
  • Howl and Other Poems, Allen Ginsberg

Evaluation:  Three papers, attendance.

ENG 450: Cultural Borderlands in Contemporary American Literature

Prerequisite(s): 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Cultural Diversity & International Perspective and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2009, Bishop)

This course explores the psychic middle ground where tensions and ambiguities involving personal identity, allegiance and the nature of belonging play out. The tenacity of cultural distinctions, the deep hunger of people for roots, and the claims of competing communal narratives will be explored in fiction and nonfiction from contemporary writers whose native cultural traditions strongly inform their work.

ENG 451: Chaucer & Medieval Literature

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of instructor. Satisfies the general education Ethics, Western Cultural Tradition, and Writing Intensive requirements

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2011, Harlan-Haughey)

This course introduces Chaucer in his literary and cultural settings.  No previous knowledge of Chaucer or medieval literature is required. Chaucer, a diplomat, spy, courtier, tax official, war hero, parliament member, and, on the side, poet, began to be considered the “father of English poetry” before he was entirely cold in his grave. Why is his writing still riveting after six hundred years? It’s not just his massive influence on this language and its literature; what he wrote was funny, fierce, thoughtful, political, philosophical, and, oh yes, notoriously bawdy. We’ll read some of Chaucer’s brilliant early work, and then dig into his two greatest achievements: the epic Troilus and Crisyede, and The Canterbury Tales, his oft-censored panorama of medieval English life. We will read about contemporary English life and politics as well as salient secondary criticism in order to come to a more intimate understanding of the many currents of literary and political life acting upon his work. We will read Chaucer exclusively in Middle English, which will prove surprisingly easy and pleasant.

ENG 453: The Works of Shakespeare

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of instructor. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2010, Brucher)

We’ll read 14 or so plays by Shakespeare, exemplifying the various periods of his career and modes in which he worked–comedy, tragedy, history, and romance.  Class discussions will try to illuminate the expressive range of Shakespeare’s language, the significance of the dramatic forms he used, and the social, political, and intellectual structures that shaped his work.  We’ll pay some attention to performance issues.

This version of 453 will emphasize several Roman plays, including Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleopatra, several “problem” plays, including Hamlet, Measure for Measure, and All’s Well That Ends Well.  Other texts will likely include The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, Richard the Third, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and The Winter’s Tale.

(Spring 2010, Norris)

Readings in the plays of Shakespeare, with some additional attention to his sonnets and narrative poems.

(Fall 2008, Brucher)

(Spring 2008, Brucher)

ENG 455: 18th Century Fiction, Satire, & Poetry

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

Fall 2009, Rogers

Focusing on the cultural context of Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature, this class will explore the legitimation of emotion and of individualism during the period. The course will take up the question of gender and genre, and introduce major authors and issues, modes of satire and of sentiment, and developments like the rise of the novel. Readings from such authors as Aphra Behn, Margaret Cavendish, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Johnson, Ann Radcliffe, and Jane Austen.

Required texts: To be selected.

Evaluation: Several short papers/presentations, a research paper, a midterm, and a final.

ENG 456: The English Romantics (Brinkley)

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2010)

The works of the major Romantic poets including Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats, with some attention to their critical writing. Focus on close reading of texts as well as on developing a sense of the historical and intellectual context of Romanticism.

(Spring 2008)

ENG 457: Victorian Literature and Culture

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Ethics requirement.

(Fall 2008, Wilson)

Victorian Romanticism and the Visual Imagination:

  • The Eighteenth-Century “Grand Tour”: Roman ruins and the British sensibility.
  • The English garden: From Versailles, to the Picturesque, to Burke and the Sublime.
  • Rousseau and Blake.
  • Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough.
  • Horace Walpole and the gothic and the pagan.
  • Wordsworth, “Tintern Abbey,” Preface to Lyrical Ballads, 1800.
  • William Blake.
  • Paintings of Joshua Reynolds, John Constable and William Girtin.
  • The 1840s: the emergence of photography, especially in the work of Henry Fox Talbert.
  • Ruskin’s Modern Painters.
  • Paintings of J. M. W. Turner.
  • Dickens’s Pickwick Papers.
  • The Pre-Raphaelites—in poetry and art—with an emphasis on D. G. Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Algernon Swinburne, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, and J.W. Waterhouse.

The journey to inner nature, the landscape of the mind: The “aesthetic” end of the century: Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, and Aubrey Beardsley: decadent and perverse? Does Freud belong here? Using the resources of the Web and the technology of WebCT and PowerPoint, we’ll explore, first, the creation of the Eighteenth-century platform from which the British romantics launched their verbal and visual pyrotechnics, and then explore the Victorian reaction in image and word to the romanticism of Blake, Keats and Wordsworth and their view of the natural world.

ENG 458: British Modernism

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2009, Cowan)

Readings from British fin de siecle and modernist writers such as Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, Wilfred Owen, Edith Sitwell, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. The course studies the evolution of British modernism from its roots in the late nineteenth century through and beyond its climax in the early 1920s.

ENG 459: British Seminar

Prerequisites:  ENG 271 and 6 hours of 300 level Literature Courses or permission
Satisfies the ethics and general education Writing Intensive requirements.

(Spring 2017, Neiman)

“The still, sad music of humanity”: love, loss, and lyricism in the British Romantic period

The British Romantic period (roughly 1790 to 1820) is often represented as a break with the literary past. With the advance of the print market, writers reject the stylized convention of court culture to experiment with new forms of writing. These experiments are characterized by the author’s turn inwards to emotion, imagination, and self-reflection. In the 1790s, first-generation Romantics like William Wordsworth were energized by the French Revolution’s challenge to aristocratic privileges. The new turn inwards permits authors to explore not only their own feelings but also, most famously in the case of Wordsworth, the passions and experiences of people from humble walks of life. This course explores the Romantic turn inward as it inflects the work of a wide range of writers, including Wordsworth, second generation Romantics like Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Shelley, and the dozens of anonymous and often female poets and novelists whose work, according to critics, flooded the market. This broad lens will allow us to explore traditional Romantic themes as well as the Romantic “Other”—the Gothic and sentimental novels and poetry that canonical Romantic poets defined their work against. In pairing canonical writers with the lesser known, we will question long-standing dichotomies like nature v. art; serious v. sensational; poetry v. novels; poetic v. didactic; masculine v. feminine; Romantic v. Gothic; transcendent v. ephemeral.

Most of our work together will consist of seminar-style discussions and regular, low-stakes writing assignments, such as notes or posts on Blackboard. The course will culminate with group presentations on an additional text (to be selected by the group). The final project is a longer paper (8 to 12 pages) that will grow out of our work together over the semester.

ENG 460: Major British Authors

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

Major Authors (Spring 2018, Rogers)

An in-depth seminar on three major eighteenth-century novelists. Emphasis onoriginal research.

William Blake (Spring 2009, Brinkley)

Blake wrote to transform vision. The course will explore Blake’s transformation. Most of the course will be devoted to a close reading of Blake wonderful, unfinished epic The Four Zoas, a poem that he thought could open the prison doors and set the prisoners free. The class is an experiment: we will try to see how Blake’s poem might do that.

Text: The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David Erdman, with a commentary by Harold Bloom (Anchor Books).

ENG 465: The English Novel

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics requirement.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2011, Neiman)

Although this course focuses on the nineteenth century novel, we begin with a poet, William Wordsworth, who famously denounced the day’s “frantic” novels in his preface to Lyrical Ballads.  This sets the tone for the course, which explores the novel’s “rise” to legitimacy in the nineteenth century, a rise that required the de-legitimization of some of the day’s most popular novels.  Over the semester we explore how and why some novels were privileged as cultural and aesthetic forms.  In so doing we will consider issues such as:  how rises in literary rates and changes in technology affected and influenced both the kinds of novels that were produced and the terms by which novels were critiqued; how Britain’s rise as a colonial power factored into the novel’s rise; and interrelationships between gender and subgenres, such as “sensation” literature.

Our primary texts will be novels, but they will also include essays by nineteenth century cultural critics such as William Hazlitt and Mathew Arnold.

(Spring 2010, Rogers)

Focusing on the eighteenth century, this class will explore the development of the novel by reading a sequence of works in their historical and cultural contexts. We will consider such topics as individualism, realism, gender, genre, canonicity, and colonialism. Evaluation will be based on a reading blog, short papers, research paper, presentations, midterm, and final.

Required Texts (subject to change):

  • Behn, Oroonoko
  • Defoe, Moll Flanders
  • Richardson, Clarissa
  • Fielding, Tom Jones
  • Burney, Evelina
  • Radcliffe, Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Austen, Pride or Prejudice (or another Austen novel)
  • Austen, Northanger Abbey

(Spring 2009, Jacobs)

This offering of The English Novel focuses on the nineteenth century. During this period, England was transformed from a largely agrarian and rural nation to a major industrial and colonial power, with accompanying shifts in literacy levels and reading preferences, class relations, family structures, and gender roles. We’ll consider how the novel, as the dominant literary form, raised questions about these social changes and sought solutions to resulting social problems. But we’ll also look at classic works of fantasy and horror, showing another side of nineteenth-century imaginary life. Students who have taken 465 with Professor Rogers, with an emphasis on the eighteenth century, may take this course under an alternate number. Contact Professor Jacobs to arrange.

The course assignments will build toward a long research paper suitable as a capstone project and as a writing sample for applications to graduate programs. Enrollment will be capped at 18 to allow for a writing-intensive experience. We will spend some class time on how to formulate a research question, to carry out serious research in scholarly databases and indexes, and to build strong arguments in dialogue with other critics. Occasional workshops focused on students’ critical writing will be a part of the course.

Sample readings (likely to change):

  • Charlotte Bronte, Villette (Penguin)
  • Lewis Carroll, The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland
  • Charles Dickens, Hard Times
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (Oxford)
  • Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (Broadview)
  • Bram Stoker, Dracula (Broadview)
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Evaluation: A 10-12 page research project, carried out over the course of the semester. Related assignments will include a pre-proposal and annotated bibliography, a review of literature, a draft version of the essay, and a revised draft. There will also be a number of informal writing assignments. Regular attendance, active participation in discussions, and serious attention to classmates’ work will be expected of all members of the class. I will give quizzes only if it seems that a fair number of people need motivation – beyond the pleasure of the books – to keep up with the reading.

(Spring 2008, Rogers)

ENG 467: British Drama (Brucher)

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2009)

ENG 467 offers reading and discussion of plays by British dramatists, from the 17th century to the present.  This version of the course offers a comparative study of comedies of manners and social life.  This means that the course is mostly about courtship, predation, and dynasty building or, put another way, sex, money, and power.  Noting how the playwrights manipulate dramatic conventions will reveal relationships among types of comedy, ideas, and social contexts as well as among writers.  The course stresses literary analysis, but we’ll read with performance in mind.

Possible Texts:

  • Caryl Churchill, Plays, One
  • Patrick Farber, Closer
  • Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer
  • Scott McMillin, ed., Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy
  • Thomas Middleton, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside
  • William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
  • George Bernard Shaw, Plays
  • Tom Stoppard, Arcadia (Faber & Faber).
  • John Millington Synge, The Playboy of the Western World

ENG 470: Topics in Literary Theory & Criticism

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature or permission of instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

(Fall 2016, Howard)

“The uncanny,” as a term for discussion in art, literature, film, psychological investigation, indeed life itself, is notoriously difficult to pin down. It involves the feeling of terror but it different from “the terrifying.” It may be produced by the ghostly or ghastly, but it is not necessarily found in either experiences of the supernatural or the horrific. Significantly, Freud begins his investigation of the uncanny with aesthetics. This will be our starting point and our fulcrum. How do the texts under consideration produce what may be described as an uncanny sensation? Do they at all? What other feelings, sensations do they produce? How do they do this? Furthermore, why is the uncanny something art is interested in at all?


ENG 471: Literature, Gender, and Gender Theory

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

Sex, Gender, and the Body in Early Modern England (Fall 2017, Caroline Bicks)

This class explores the fluid conceptions of sex, gender, and the body that were circulating in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English texts—everything from the medical to the political, from sonnets to stage plays. While dominant institutions and social norms demanded clear and stable divisions between “man” and “woman,” many early modern discourses and practices reveal a profound flimsiness to the body’s gendered markers. Medical texts figured women as inverted men; men who didn’t control their body’s passions devolved into effeminacy; Queen Elizabeth had the “heart and stomach of a king”; and boys played girls playing boys on stage. Topics and texts may include: anatomical theories and anomalies (Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex and excerpts from medical texts); cross-dressing (John Lyly’s Galateaand Margaret Cavendish’s Convent of Pleasure); “virgin” bodies (Middleton and Rowley’s The Changeling and the speeches of Elizabeth I)early modern masculinity (Shakespeare’s Macbeth); and gendering desire in the sonnets (Philip Sidney, Mary Wroth, and others).

(Fall 2010, Neiman)

Introduction to gender theory and issues of gender as reflected in the reception, interpretations, and transmission of literary texts. Emphasis on cultural assumptions surrounding gender, which involve both women and men.

ENG 480: Topics in Film

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature, permission of the instructor. Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement.

Recent offerings:

Theory and Practice in American Film Genres (Spring 2011, Jeff Evans)

This special topics course allows study of a subject not otherwise covered in our curriculum. We will first read in (film) genre theory. We will then study one American film genre—probably the Western—in close examination. We will proceed to other American film genres such as film noir, hardboiled detective, and screwball comedy. Coverage will include social, economic, and political rationale for genre viability as well as technical and thematic characteristics. Our theoretical perspective will include the inception, solidification, and hybridization and revising of film genres.

Text: Probably the latest edition of Barry Grant, Film Genre Reader

Camden Film Festival (Fall 2010, Brinkley)

Attendance is required throughout the entire Film Festival in Camden and Rockland. This includes films screenings and events beginning Thursday evening through Sunday evening.

Camden Film Festival (Fall 2009, Brinkley)

American Fiction and Film Noir (Spring 2009, Jeff Evans)

A study of film topics at a more advanced level than ENG 280. Specific topics vary from year to year but might include study of a major director(s), of a national cinema, of certain film genres, of aspects of film theory, or of women in films.

Texts studied in this particular version of ENG 480 have included:


  • Jim Thompson, Pop 1280
  • James M. Cain, Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Kenneth Fearing, The Big Clock
  • Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
  • James Crumley, Wrong Case
  • James Ellroy, Black Dahlia


  • Roman Polanski, Chinatown
  • Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity
  • John Farrow, The Big Clock
  • Rian Johnson, Brick
  • David Lynch, Blue Velvet
  • Lawrence Kasdan, Body Heat
  • Quentin Tarentino, Pulp Fiction

Camden Film Festival (Fall 2008, Brinkley)

ENG 481: Topics in Women’s Literature

Prerequisite: 6 hours of literature. Satisfies the general education Ethics and Writing Intensive requirements.

Recent offerings:

Rebecca West (Spring 2010, Cowan)

Hailed by literary scholars and Time magazine as the “woman of the century,” British writer Rebecca West (1892-1982) was a leading modernist author, feminist, and journalist.  George Bernard Shaw said of the 18-year-old journalist, “Rebecca West could handle a pen as brilliantly as ever I could and much more savagely.”

West’s fiction and journalism survey many social and cultural events of the twentieth century. These include women’s suffrage, socialism, war, feminism, communism, and treason. Her early work about World War I, The Return of the Soldier (1918), was the first “war novel” by a woman.  She also covered the Nuremberg War trials for the New Yorker. Her later novels about family life in Edwardian England have been celebrated as “magic realism” in a British guise.

Both West and her works resist categorization. This course will use a generic and a feminist lens to examine West’s works and the challenges they pose to critics and scholars. For example, we will look at West’s magnum opus, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, about her travels through Yugoslavia in 1939 as a sui generis feminist work that draws on the conventions of travel narratives as well as the epic tradition.

Her works have elicited controversy from readers, scholars, and politicians.  The controversy that she has created will be part of our subject. The emphasis will be on literary works, but we will use West’s literary essays and political journalism to contextualize these works.  Works will also include The Judge, an early novel about woman’s suffrage and sexual harassment; Harriet Hume, called a “London Fantasy,” a political satire about the romance between a psychic piano player and a member of Parliament; and The Birds Fall Down, a spy novel about a Russian double agent told from the perspective of a young girl;  We may also look at dramatic and film versions of her works.

(Spring 2008, Steve Evans)

In this seminar we will explore a wide variety of women’s poetry of the 1970s with a focus on the dynamic tensions that existed in this tumultuous decade between feminism and avant-gardism. Our overall objective will be to understand the historical horizons within which something that has come to be called a “feminist avant-garde” (re-)emerged in this decade. We’ll pursue our objective by looking at how aesthetic, political, and cultural contradictions play out in the works of particular poets both well and lesser known. We will also study the specific means of cultural production and circulation that characterized the moment, paying special attention to the small presses and magazines, the poetry readings, and the reading groups that brought poetry before new audiences. Because “gender” is a relative term, our investigations into the shifting meanings of “femininity” will involve us equally in an exploration of how “masculinity” was constructed, critiqued, and transformed in this period.

Required Texts: Specific texts to be determined, but authors likely to be covered include Bernadette Mayer, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Susan Howe, Nicole Brossard, Jayne Cortez, Rosmarie Waldrop, and others.

Evaluation: Frequent brief writing assignments, presentations, and class participation, plus a final paper or project to be shaped in consultation with instructor.

Note: The seminar may be of especial interest to students who plan to be in Orono in the summer of 2008, when the National Poetry Foundation will host a five-day conference on the Poetry of the 1970s. For more information, contact Professor Evans.

ENG 490: Research Seminar in Literature: Dystopia

Prerequisite:  ENG 271 and 3 credit hours of Literature at the 300 or 400 level, or permission.

Satisfies the general education Writing Intensive requirement, and Capstone Experience.

ENG 490 is a seminar course on a small body of primary literary texts and the critical communities concerned with them. Students propose and write original researched papers that demonstrate knowledge of current research in the field, using appropriate research methods and conventions of scholarly bibliography.

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Jacobs)

The origins of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction can be traced back to ancient myths of the underworld and later iterations in Christian and Islamic traditions, vividly depicting the miseries of hell that await the unbeliever. These tropes gained new political valence in the anti-totalitarian visions of “hell on earth” created by 20th century novelists such as Zamyatin, Burdekin, Huxley and Orwell. Recent decades have seen an upsurge of dystopian and anti-apocalyptic fiction responding to contemporary issues such as religious fundamentalism, climate change, the global refugee crisis, genetic engineering, and the neo-liberal economy. This course will consider both classic and contemporary texts to arrive at an understanding of the functions and impact of the nightmare vision in literature.

ENG 496: Field Experience in Professional Writing

Prerequisite: ENG 317, 9 hours of writing and permission of instructor. Satisfies the general education Capstone Experience requirement.

Satisfies the following English major requirement(s): May count toward the Professional Writing concentration or minor; please check with your advisor

Recent offerings:

(Spring 2018, Diaz)

(Fall 2017, Diaz)

(Spring 2017, Diaz)

Students work with businesses, professions, and other organizations approved by the department. The work in the course varies with each student enrolled and with the needs of the cooperating employer but normally involves either research, public relations, reporting, editing, interviewing, indexing, or other allied activity requiring skill in reading and writing. May be repeated for credit up to 6 credit hours.

ENG 499: Capstone Experience in English

Prerequisites: Senior English major and permission of department

Satisfies the general education Capstone Experience requirement

Pass/Fail grade only

Course Description: Pre-professional experience supervised by an English faculty member, attached to an appropriate 3 credit English course  The senior capstone requirement applies to all students in all concentrations. Any one of the following courses or experiences may be used:

  • ENG 395 and one semester of tutoring in the Writing Center.
  • 400 level literature course in which a student writes a seminar-level research paper [440, 470]
  • ENG 405, ENG 407 or ENG 408 and the approval of a finished manuscript.
  • ENG 496 (at least 3 credit hours of field experience).
  • Approval of an Honors thesis with a topic in an area of English studies.

Students using a 400 level literature course, ENG 405, 407 or 408 or an Honors thesis as a Senior Capstone Requirement must also register for the zero (0) credit hour ENG 499. This is an accounting mechanism for Student Records to track the completion of the Senior Capstone Requirement.