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)

This class will introduce students to the theory and practice of textual scholarship–the practice in particular. Students will work on a group project with the instructor, and, in parallel, develop projects of their own.

As a field of study, textual scholarship encompasses many different kinds of practice, but these can be loosely gathered under three general headings: bibliography, criticism, editing. In its theory portion, the course will provide an overview of the issues and concepts crucial to all three; the workshop portion will focus on the last, giving hands-on experience in the preparation of a scholarly edition. To facilitate this work, there will be, in addition to our theoretical readings, a reference book with practical advice, and a wide range of concrete examples.

Anyone who works with texts will find even a brief acquaintance with this field of study enlightening;those with a passion for books as material artifacts, or with an eye for the small detail that matters, will find it inspiring as well.

Graduate students who enroll will also write a short paper responding to the theoretical readings (a paper for another seminar that makes use of the theoretical material will be welcome as a substitute).  Undergraduates who use this course for their capstone will write a longer introduction to their individual

(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.

ENG 405: Topics in Creative Writing

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

A senior level course designed to provide students with an opportunity to work intensively in a specifically defined genre, form, or methods 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.

ENG 407: Advanced Fiction Writing

Prerequisite: ENG 307 and permission of the instructor.

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 once for credit.

ENG 408: Advanced Poetry Writing

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

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

ENG 415: Advanced Report & Proposal Writing

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

Course Typically Offered: Spring

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. Appropriate for senior students in the Technical/Professional Writing track; for graduate students; and for professionals interested in examining the genre of report writing.

ENG 416: Technical Editing & Document Design

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 offering:

(Spring 2017, Redington)

Intersection of Government & Science 

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.

ENG 429: Topics in Literature

Prerequisites: 6 hours of literature or permission of instructor.

Recent offering:

(Dryer, Fall 2018)

Topics Literature & Language: Policing Englishes

This course will focus on the cultural phenomenon of prescriptivism – a general term we’ll use to describe efforts by institutionally or self-appointed guardians of English to monitor, shape, constrain, discourage, or ‘repair’ others’ uses of the language. (These guardians are not always human; MS Word flags my pluralization “englishes” as an error, even though it is deliberate and even though the word is recognized as a legitimate coinage in many other contexts.) Although the balance of linguistic research and sound pedagogy in the teaching of language has firmly shifted from the prescriptive to the descriptive, we will take Anne Curzan’s point (2016) that prescriptivism is alive and well as a force shaping language use and language change, and so needs to be understood.

ENG 440: Major American Writers

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

Recent offering:

(Fall 2017, Friedlander)

The Short Course in American Poetry 

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 445: The American Novel

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

Recent offering:

(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.

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 offering:

(Spring 2018, Rogers)

Major Authors 

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

ENG 470: Topics in Literary Theory & Criticism

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

Recent offering:

(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 offering:

(Fall 2017, Caroline Bicks)

Sex, Gender, and the Body in Early Modern England 

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).

ENG 490: Research Seminar in Literature

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 offering:

(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)

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 497: Independent Study in English

Prerequisites: Senior Standing and permission of the instructor. May not be repeated.

Course Description: Advanced study and research in literature and/or theory not covered by other courses.

Credits: 1-3

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.