Registration? We’ve Got You Covered

Spring is coming and so is registration!  Below is a sampling of our upper-division courses for FALL 2018.   Please visit for a complete list –  we’d love for you to join us!

English 355: Intermediate Poetry, Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00 – 1:20 p.m., Pablo Peschiera

Poetry, rap, music lyrics: when are they different? When are they the same? When do they work the same? When do they work differently? The study of structure and form in poetry can answer all these questions. We’ll talk about rhyme in rap, verses in song, and rhythm in poems. You’ll write in many different modes to build specific kinds of skills, and print a small collection of your work. We’ll have writers and song writers visit us in person and on video chat, and watch video about our fascinating subject. But mostly you’ll talk about each other’s work every day, and read poems, lyrics, and essays about poetry. Sharpen the pencils, my people!

English 358: Intermediate Creative Nonfiction, Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-2:50 p.m., Rhoda Burton

The memoirist is like a mountain-climber who, having made it all the way up through memorable terrain, pauses at the overlook. What does she see? Does her position from this new vantage point allow her a fresh understanding of the road she has traveled to get here?

If you think such a vantage point would indeed be fruitful, memoir is the class for you.

 The main idea of this workshop is to make the craft skills of memoir accessible through concrete practice. Therefore we’ll read and write a lot of memoir. Every week you can expect to workshop new material of your own, and to offer thoughtful feedback in response to materials submitted by your peers. Since 253 Multigenre Creative Writing is a prerequisite for this course, you’ve probably already learned some good solid feedback strategies that support, challenge, and encourage your peers. Those feedback strategies will be important in this class, too. At course’s end, you will turn in a final portfolio fronted by a reflective essay on how your writing has matured with the study of memoir.

 Our subject will be our own lives, since memoirists explore the experiences that have shaped their identities. We can’t change what we have lived, so plot, in a sense, is fixed. But we’ll discuss how everything else—tone, selection, dialogue, configuration, message, pacing­­—becomes a matter of craft that you can learn.

English 360: Modern English Grammar, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 1:00 – 1:50 p.m., Kathleen Verduin

Is it “lie” or “lay”? “Who” or “whom”? “I” or “me”? And when is a sentence not a sentence, and what is a dangling participle, and where (on earth) should you place commas? If you’ve ever been troubled by these questions, sign up for this course. We start simply, learning to identify the seven (some say eight) parts of speech, recognizing phrases and clauses, and yes—but fear not!—diagramming sentences. We go over the conventions of usage: affect vs. effect, amount vs. number, imply vs. infer, like vs. as, and a fearsome lineup of similarly daunting verbal mysteries. But (and yes, you can—indeed, you may—begin a sentence with this word!) we also look into the history of grammar, the invention of sentence diagrams, and the cultural questions surrounding the role of grammar in contemporary society: why does grammatical correctness matter (or does it?), who decides what’s “correct,” and why (for heaven’s sake) are grammarians so often represented as crabby old ladies? By the end of the semester, you will write with increased confidence, secure in the knowledge that your prose won’t be blotched with distracting and embarrassing errors. A great course for writers, future teachers, or anyone who just wants to look good in print. Lots of support, lots of exercises, lots of encouragement: if you take this course, you ain’t gonna be sorry.

English 371: American Writers in Paris, Wednesdays, 6:00-8:50 p.m., Natalie Dykstra

“Writing in Paris is one of the oldest American customs.” – Van Wyck Brooks

Paris has long held a fascination for American writers.  As the world’s cultural capital, the city has been the setting for self-discovery, cross-cultural contact, and artistic innovation for American writers ranging from Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century to Langston Hughes and Gertrude Stein in the 20th century.  This course is an exploration and discovery of American writers who found the city, in one way or another, a powerful source of inspiration.  We will read letters and documents, poetry and fiction of colonial Americans, 19th-century travelers, and 20th-century adventurers, all with an eye toward understanding how the Paris/America cultural exchange shaped American self-understanding and literary expression.  We will keep reading journals, as so many of our writers did while in Paris, and coursework will include two exams, a final research project, and Pecha Kucha class presentations.  For more information, please contact Prof. Dykstra at and check out Paris Stories | Grand Challenges here!

English 373.01:  Jane Austen and Popular Culture, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:30 – 10:20 a.m., Christiana Salah

This course approaches Jane Austen as both a great literary writer and a cultural phenomenon.  Together, we will read several of Austen’s novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Emma.  We’ll analyze Austen’s writing in relation to the social conditions of early nineteenth-century Britain and examine her formative role in the development of the English novel. Beyond this, our investigations will tackle Austen’s continued presence in our lives through film, web serials, comics, commercial products, and fictional re-imaginings in an astonishing variety of genres.

English 373.02: Shakespeare’s Plays: Putting a Spotlight on Society’s Treatment of the “Other,” Mondays, 5:30-8:20 p.m., Marla Lunderberg

Many of Shakespeare’s plays explore what it means to be treated as an outsider. Studying these plays can guide us in questioning the justice of societies where women are treated as possessions, Jewish merchants are ridiculed, and military commanders are questioned because of the color of their skin. In this course, we will work our way together through several plays, reading and watching and studying and arguing about the meaning we find in them. We will examine both the historical and literary contexts of the plays, studying the plays as literature and as performance pieces, and assessing various critical approaches’ insights into the plays.

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