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These course descriptions have been written by the individual faculty members teaching the courses. They're intended to help you make the best possible selections for your spring semester. In general, the descriptions here include more detail than the Bulletin descriptions of the same courses. For example, a description here may include a list of probable texts, references to particular assignments, or information about the professor's teaching methods or intellectual approach to the subject. If you have questions about any of these courses, consult your adviser, the individual instructor, or the English department secretary, Ms. Feeley.

(tick) For general information on advisement, have a look at the Advisement Guide.

Overview: What Counts Where

  • Pre-1700 British: Engl 212, 222 1
  • Post-1700 British: Engl 213, 233, 314, 321, 358 (Austen), 358 (Joyce) 1
  • American Lit: AmSt 201; Engl 237, 239, 332, 339, 358 (Frost and Stevens), 390 2
  • Cultural Intersections: AmSt 201; Engl 237, 239, 241, 267, 321, 324, 343
  • Shakespeare: Engl 354
  • Major Authors: Engl 358 1
  • Writing/Language: Engl 200, 201, 210, 288, 301/303, 302/304, 305/307, 361
  • Film: Engl 210, 239 (Underground Cinema), 285
  • Creative Writing Track
    • Genre: Engl 142, 321, 324
    • Contemporary: Engl 142 (Graphic Narrative), 237, 317
    • Cultural Intersections: AmSt 201

1Selected Major Authors and Film Authors courses may be used by English majors to fulfill the pre- or post-1700 British literature requirement only if a separate course is used to fulfill the Major Authors requirement. For example, a student who fulfills the Major Authors requirement using Engl 358 Major Authors: Thomas Pynchon may use Engl 358 Major Authors: Wordsworth and D.H. Lawrence to fulfill the post-1700 British requirement.

2Selected Major Authors and Film Authors courses may be used by English majors to fulfill the requirement in American literature only if a separate course is used to fulfill the Major Authors requirement. For example, a student who fulfills the Major Authors requirement using Engl 358 Major Authors: Wordsworth and D.H. Lawrence may use Engl 358 Major Authors: Thomas Pynchon to fulfill the American literature requirement.

Courses You Can Take Twice (under different subtitles)
Engl 142, 222, 237, 239, 321, 339, 358, 390

Information on degree requirements

If you would like to enroll in Engl 301/303, 302/304, or 305/307, you must submit a sample of your work together with this cover sheet to the English department office by 12 p.m. on March 23. If you have been previously admitted to the creative writing track, you will not be denied admission to any 300-level workshop in which there is space available, provided that you submit the completed cover sheet by the deadline and attach the required writing sample. It is also possible to apply for admission to a workshop without applying for admission to the track. Learn more about creative writing workshops and the creative writing track.

AmSt 201 - Topics in American Studies

Topics in American Studies: The Civil War and Memory (Alice Rutkowski)

This is a team-taught course with one faculty member from History (Behrend) and one from English (Rutkowski). Rather than being about the American Civil War itself, this course will ex-plore the way the war is remembered long after the battles were over. As we come upon the 150th anniversary of the war, we seek to understand how American memories of the war have changed from one era to the next, and why Americans still debate the meaning of the war. The course will be organized roughly into two sections. The first half will cover the late nineteenth-century when "Lost Cause" mythology became the predominant interpretation of the war. The latter half of the course will look at late twentieth-century uses of the Civil War and ideas that still haunt our his-torical present: Civil War re-enactors, debates over the continuing presence of the Confederate flag, Civil War historical novels. Because this is an interdisciplinary course, students will read broadly in scholarly and popular history, art history as well as in literary genres such as fiction and poetry. 

  • David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
  • Thomas Dixon, Jr., The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (Ken-tucky, ISBN: 0813101263)
  • E.L. Doctorow, The March: A Novel
  • Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
  • Lots of myCourses readings

Humanities 220 - Humanities I

Humanities I (Bill Harrison)

The course description is identical with that of the college's course description for this core course. Readings may include readings from the Bible and by Plato, Sophocles, Thucydides, Livy, De Pizan, Shakespeare, and others.

Humanities I (Ed Gillin)

Western Humanities I examines developments in the intellectual history of the western world from the ancient Hebrew and Greek civilizations to the seventeenth century. Lectures and class discussions will place significant written works in their historical and cultural contexts, outlining the position of these works in the evolution of a western tradition.

Texts: The Bible (Revised Standard Version); Sophocles, Antigone; Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War; Plato, Republic; Cicero, "Laelius" (in On the Good Life); Augustine, Confessions; Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics; Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty; William Shakespeare, Hamlet; Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, The Answer (La Respuesta).

Humanities I (Graham Drake)

A search for moral, social, and political alternatives and meaning embodied in the institutions, culture, and literature of Western Civilization to 1600. The course is factual as well as conceptual, including a narrative history of the period covered. A list of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Humanities 221 - Humanities II

Humanities II (Tom Greenfield, 2 sections)

A search for moral, social, and political arguments and meaning embodied in the institutions, culture, and literatures of Western Civilization from 1600 to the present. The course is factual as well as conceptual, including a general historical/intellectual overview of the period covered.

Humanities II (Caroline Woidat)

A search for moral, social, and political alternatives and meaning embodied in the institutions, culture, and literature of Western Civilization from 1600 to the present. The course is factual as well as conceptual, including a narrative history of the period covered.  Readings may include texts by such authors as Locke, Voltaire, Shelley, Douglass, Thoreau, Marx, Freud, Gilman, Spiegelman, and DeLillo.

Intd 105 - Critical Writing and Reading

Octavia Butler's Short Stories (Beth McCoy)

Students will work with Butler's short story collection to produce formal, argument-driven essays. This is a class for adults. During the semester, we will soberly and meaningfully explore many issues that may confirm/challenge ideas about/experiences of art, narrative, literature, identity, privilege, power (including domestic violence), virtue (including faith traditions), bodies (including desire, sex, and sexualities). Because you cannot "opt out" of a segment of the course or request an "alternate assignment," please choose your course carefully. Texts: Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories; Graff/Birkenstein, They Say/I Say.

Virtual Thoreau (Ken Cooper)

What could the 1854 classic Walden; or, Life in the Woods possibly have to say about life in the Information Age? A lot, as it turns out, for among other things Henry David Thoreau was one of his era's more astute thinkers about emergent information technologies the telegraph, in this case — that already were transforming America. Thoreau's efforts to think across virtual and embodied existence will be our touchstone for developing an ecology of everyday life, circa 2011. Even the most degenerate gamers eventually have to eat, right? Preparatory assignments will include, in addition to Walden, a number of short contemporary essays, collaborative projects, and class field trips — real and virtual. Because this is a writing-intensive course, informal (online) journals and a variety of essays will be integral to our endeavors.

The Woman Writer (Caroline Beltz-Hosek)

This course centers on writings by notable 19th-20th century female authors, which students will examine from a feminist critical perspective. Works by Emily Bronte, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf will be thoughtfully analyzed in conjunction with seminal sociopolitical literature by Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir. With each text we will explore how the author approaches the domestic sphere, sexual agency in patriarchal culture, and the transcendental power of creative expression.

Required texts for the course:

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • Various mandatory readings posted on myCourses

Engl 210 - Screenwriting I

Screenwriting I (Michael Herman)

Elements of Screenwriting I is a study and practice of writing the feature film screenplay. The principle of character, environment, plot and event, dramatic force and arc, dialogue, music, and the physical format of the professional script will be covered.

Engl 142 - Literary Forms

Modern Memoirs (Eugene Stelzig)

We will read modern memoirs or autobiographies from the later eighteenth century to the present, with the majority of the readings selected from the twentieth century. Our focus will be on autobiography as a distinctive kind of "life writing" that both narrates and interprets the author's life as it addresses the fundamental question, "who are you and how did you get to be the person you are?" We will begin with Rousseau's Confessions (the first modern autobiography) and end with some bestselling contemporary memoirs (e.g., Mary Karr's The Liar's Club).

Graphic Narrative (Ken Cooper)

"There is no emoticon for what I am feeling." Suppose we take these words of Comic Book Guy to heart and grapple with the slippages across mediums of expression — including, conversely, the ways in which graphic representation can evoke emotions just beyond our ability to explain them. This course on long-form comics (aka graphic novels) will draw upon literary, visual arts, and cultural studies theory to develop our vocabulary for describing this complex amalgamation of words and images. Although we will at least briefly touch upon superhero comics and their fandoms (Moore), the majority of our readings will come from other regions of the genre: Ware, Bechdel, Spiegelman, Burns, Hernandez, Satrapi.

Crime Fiction (Thomas Metzger)

Engl 170 - The Practice of Criticism

English 170 (Bill Harrison)

This course provides an introduction to the interpretation and analysis of literature, as well as to the abstract principles and assumptions that underlie all efforts to represent the meaning, structure, and value of texts. In classroom discussions and essay assignments, we will undertake critical readings of texts from a variety of genres and media, while examining how critical controversy emerges from the different theoretical commitments and preconceptions of readers. The course helps students to become more conscious of their own practices and engagement in a larger interpretive community.

We will read a novel, a play, and a collection of poetry; we will probably view and discuss a film; and we will read a variety of critical works both new and old.

The Practice of Criticism (Paul Schacht)

An introduction to the interpretation and analysis of literature, this course is also an inquiry into the abstract principles and assumptions that underlie all efforts to represent the meaning, structure, and value of texts. Students interpret and analyze texts from a variety of genres, but they also use these works to gain an appreciation of the way different theoretical starting-points give rise to different, often conflicting, interpretations, analyses, and judgments of value. Examples of such starting-points are the nature of textuality, the nature of authorship, the relationship between literature and life, and the location of textual meaning. The course helps students begin to acquire a working vocabulary for relating meaning and structure in literature, and a corresponding vocabulary for discussing literary theory, that will serve them in every other English course they take.

The Practice of Criticism (Gillian Paku)
The Practice of Criticism (Rob Doggett)

Engl 200 - College Writing II

College Writing II (Thomas Metzger)

Engl 201 - Creative Writing

Creative Writing (Rachel Hall)

This is an intermediate creative writing class in which we will explore creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction writing. Our goal is to become better readers, writers and critics of these genres. You will write at least two poems, two fiction exercises, a nonfiction piece and complete a final project in one of these genres. In addition, there are frequent response papers due. You will also be expected to give your peers suggestions for their writing by speaking in class and by commenting thoroughly on their manuscripts.

Creative Writing (Caroline Beltz-Hosek)

This workshop is designed to further the study and practice of creative writing. My assumption is that you are here as burgeoning writers, and that you are hungry to extend your knowledge and experience of poetry, creative essay, and fiction writing; moreover, that you are serious about the commitment that any self-respecting art form demands. Most of our time will be spent discussing the creative pieces you bring in each week, but you are also expected to read extensively in each genre with an ambitious critical lens.

Required texts for the course:

  • Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • Various mandatory readings posted on myCourses
Creative Writing (Chris Perri)
Creative Writing (Kristen Gentry)

Engl 212 - British Literature I

British Literature I (Graham Drake)

This course will survey the major currents of British literature through the year 1660 — yes, Old English poetry, Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, Sidney, and Milton, among others. But the course will also consider and critique the English domination of English literature by looking at the contributions of Ireland and Scottish culture. Each student will also memorize and perform (in class) an assigned passage of poetry or drama. A final presentation on a paper on this passage will substitute for the final exam. Our two texts will include the Norton Anthology of English Literature, NINTH Edition, Vol. 1, and Tales of the Elders of Ireland.

British Literature I (Gillian Paku)

Engl 213 - British Literature II

British Literature II (Bill Harrison)

The three centuries of literature we will read are often the most familiar to 20th-century readers, and these writers and works have had immense influence on our understanding of what literature is and how it is produced. The chronologically ordered course will read works from the following major periods: Neo-Classical, Romantic, Victorian, Modernist, and the so-called Contemporary. We'll consider how each of these periods have helped to construct our own idea of cultural modernity. Our four literary texts may well be (although this is by no means final): The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Concise Volume B; Disraeli's Sybil; Lawrence's St. Mawr, and Osborne's Look Back in Anger.

Engl 222 - Exploring the Renaissance

Queen Elizabeth on Film (Julia Walker)

Queen, Virgin, Woman, Scholar, Outlier: Elizabeth Tudor is a marker for the English Renaissance, historically and visually. Played by the greatest actors — Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett — Elizabeth on film shows us not only the story of a remarkable woman, but the response of popular culture to female power during the Depression, in the repressive 1950s, at the dawn of modern feminism, and in the age of Hilary Clinton. And the movies are way cool.

workload: 2-page paper, final exam, team project on one of the films, class participation.

Engl 233 - Topics in Post-1700 British Literature

The Image of Islam (Beyazit Akman)

This course is an in-depth exploration of the image of Islam in British literature during the long eighteenth century (1660-1840). After contextualizing and historicizing the course with Edward Said and Norman Daniel, we will look at both canonical and non-canonical works to see the inter-textual dialogue between Islamic and Christian cultures. Although the focus will be on eighteenth century British literature, we will analyze a couple of other texts from both sixteenth and nineteenth centuries and from other related discourses such as the French to see the bigger picture, as well. To disturb the one-way dynamics of Orientalist scholarship (i.e. "the image of Islam in the West"), we will also explore texts written by Islamic cultures about "Europeans." Course evaluation will include at least one mid-term exam, one final exam, one research paper, weekly blog responses, quizzes, and active class participation.

  • Edward Said (Routledge Critical Thinkers)
  • Islam and the West: The Making of an Image
  • Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Norton Critical Editions)
  • Ibn Tufayl's Hayy Ibn Yaqzan: A Philosophical Tale
  • Lady Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters
  • Defoe, Letters written by a Turkish spy
  • Matar, In the Lands of the Christians: Arabic Travel Writing in the 17th Century
  • Evliya Celebi, An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Celebi
  • Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

Engl 237 - Voices and Perspectives

African American Migration Narrative (Beth McCoy)

In this class, we read theory, poetry, memoir, fiction, maps, visual art, and journalism to explore the human stories emerging from The Great Migration. By any means you desire, you must create a final project that investigates critically your own family's* relationship to African American migration narrative. (*Please note that we are working with a fluid idea of "family" here.)

  • Toomer, Jean. Cane
  • Brooks, Gwendolyn. Selected Poems.
  • Lawrence, Jacob. The Great Migration: An American Story.
  • Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon.
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood.
  • Rand-McNally U.S. Road Atlas.
Native American Literature (Caroline Woidat)

The proliferation of American Indian autobiographies, fiction, poetry, and essays written since the late 1960s has been described as a Native American literary "renaissance." Drawing upon both oral tradition and written literary forms, Native American writers have created a body of work that challenges the ways we think about language, literature, and identity. This course will examine the roots and development of Native American literature written in English with careful attention to cultural, historical, and political contexts.  Courses texts may include work by such authors as N. Scott Momaday, James Welch, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, and Simon Ortiz.

Engl 239 - American Visions

American Visions: Underground Cinema (Jun Okada)

This course is a survey of American experimental and avant-garde cinema from the silent era to contemporary times. These films diverge from conventional definitions of narrative cinema, both in content and form in their use of "dream-like" images, associative editing, painting and scratching on film, and images of "high camp". Many avant-garde or "underground" filmmakers treat film as if it were more like poetry or sculpture, rather than merely a visualized story. Connected by a desire to make personally meaningful films outside of the mainstream avenues of production, distribution, and exhibition, "underground" cinema practitioners like Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage and Andy Warhol, among others, created an important tradition of working in the shadows of Hollywood and ultimately challenging censors, audiences, and film history. Through weekly viewings and readings in theory, history, and criticism, we will explore and try to understand these fascinating, independent artists, their unique and at times highly abstract films and figure out why their work, and "art for art's sake" is so important.

American Visions: Thoreau-Harding Project 1.0 (Ed Gillin)

Henry David Thoreau, a Harvard graduate, was sometimes struck by the discrepancy between the education he'd acquired academically and the one he'd gained from vital experience. In Walden he observes: "To my astonishment I was informed on leaving college that I had studied navigation! — why, if I had taken one turn down the harbor I should have known more about it." The priority on active-learning implied by that statement conveys the fundamental premise of the Thoreau-Harding Project. Students in the class will read Walden, the classic work which outlines Thoreau's two-year experiment of living in cabin he constructed with his own hands. They will also "participate" in such an experience by drawing on and developing skills in investigative analysis, research, organization, landscape planning, financial planning, legal argumentation, use of applied science — and ultimately some acquired skills in masonry, carpentry and the like — to build an exact replica of the cabin Thoreau describes in his writings. In striving to craft the most accurate, museum-quality reproduction of the cabin constructed anywhere, class participants will create an apt tribute to Walter Harding, one of the most important scholars of the life and writings of Thoreau. Honoring Professor Harding's legacy in a project dedicated to him and to Geneseo's academic traditions, students of this class will create a campus landmark that will also endure as a testimony to their own achievements in the sort of "extreme learning" Thoreau might have admired.

Reading material will include Walden, Thoreau's journals, and Harding's biography The Days of Henry David Thoreau.

American Visions: Experimental Film (Jun Okada)

Engl 241: World Literature

East and West in Global Literatures (Beyazit Akman)

This course is a comprehensive study of one of the most controversial concepts of our times: the binary of "East" vs. "West." By looking at texts from as many different cultural traditions as possible (i.e. the Turkish, Pakistani, British, French, and Russian), we will compare and contrast how each culture perceives the Other and (re)produces the East-West contrast. We will also try to see if this binary is problematized or not. The readings will be arranged according to certain paradigm shifts and themes such as: the role of Islam in European Civilization, co-existence of cultures, "clash" or "fusion" of civilizations, the image of Islam in post-9/11 discourse, etc. Course evaluation will include at least one mid-term exam, one final exam, one research paper, weekly blog responses, quizzes, and active class participation.

  • Edward Said (Routledge Critical Thinkers) 
  • Tariq Ali, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree (Vol. 1) (The Islam Quintet)
  • Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red
  • Jason Goodwin, The Bellini Card: A Novel
  • Amin Maalouf, Leo Africanus
  • John Updike, Terrorist: A Novel
  • Leo Tolstoy, Hadji Murad (Modern Library Classics)
  • Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown: A Novel
  • Esposito and Mogahed, Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think

Engl 250 - Literature and Existentialism

Literature and Existentialism (Ken Asher)

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with some of the 19th- and 20th-century philosophers that may be grouped in the category of existentialists. In addition, we will look at literary works that portray themes brought up by the philosophers. This is especially appropriate in the case of existentialism, since it stresses the ongoing struggle of an individual to affirm his/her true self, something literature is especially valuable in recording. The issues of choice, freedom, and authenticity will be major concerns. By the end of the course, we should be able to arrive at a general definition of existentialism on the basis of in-depth and careful reading of our various authors. I should mention that much of the philosophy, especially Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, is quite dense, so make sure you’re willing to work through this if you enroll. The grade consists of two 5-6 page essays and a final exam, all worth 30% each. The remaining 10% will be based on participation. Since I plan to run the class largely as a seminar, everyone should have ample opportunity to join in the discussions.

Engl 254 - Introduction to Shakespeare

Introduction to Shakespeare (Julia Walker)

We will look at the way Shakespeare twisted his own culture's social conventions and then look at the various ways our culture has twisted the plays to suit our own political, religious, gender-based, materialist agendas.

H ere are some questions we will consider:

  • Romeo and Juliet as it is taught in American high schools has virtually nothing to do with Shakespeare's text. Why?
  • Is it possible to teach/produce/watch Merchant of Venice as it is written in a post-Holocaust world?
  • Is the misogynist plot of Much Ado made bearable — or even attractive — by the wit of the dialogue? By the beauty of Kenneth Branagh's movie?
  • Is it possible — or even desirable — to separate Othello from his racial identity?
  • With the tragically bad leader Richard II, has the playwright made a hero so unsympathetic that his redemption is impossible? If so, why are we taught to forgive Hamlet all his mistakes?
  • If the hero of the play is Cleopatra, not Antony, how can that be a bad thing when a woman is on the throne of England? Was it possible for a woman to exercise power outside of the frame of a comedy without frightening the audience? Is it possible now?
  • Is nationalism a sufficient reason to go to war, even if we win?
  • If there is no commonly held definition of morality in a culture, how do the characters in King Lear know what constitutes right action? How do we know today?

We will use both the printed texts of the plays and a variety of films as we think through these and other questions. There will be a short paper, a team project, and a final exam.

Engl 267 - M/Non-Western Literature

Contemporary Arabic Literature (Amr Elsherif)

Novel has become what Gaber Asfour, one of Egypt's most important critics, called "the Arab's contemporary diwan." However, diwan – an Arabic word meaning both book of poetry and registration of public affairs – brings to the fore the structure that Frederick Jameson registered when calling all Third World literature "allegorical" for it both recounts a personal narrative and allegorically expresses national concerns. This course traces the development of a host of ideas (the status of the individual, identity, gender, nationalism, liberalism, class consciousness and the rise of Islamism) by examining from a multiplicity of readings (such as the feminist, Marxist, existentialist and post-colonial) the works by six of the most important Arab novelists from the late fifties to the present in order to uncover what lies within Jameson's "allegorical" structure and what escapes it.

  • Latifa Al-zayyat, The Open Door
  • Naguib Mahfouz, Miramar
  • Naguib Mahfouz, Autumn Quails
  • Bahaa Taher, Love in Exile
  • Eltayyeb Saleh, The Season of Migration to the North
  • Alaa Alaswany, The Yacoubian Building
  • Stephen Humphreys, Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age

Engl 285 - F/Introduction to Film Studies

Introduction to Film Studies (Jun Okada)

Introduction to Film Studies is an overview of film as an art form as exemplified by a selection of films, filmmakers, film movements, and theories throughout film's 100-plus year history. Primarily, this course recognizes that a film's form---both narrative and stylistic, is most crucial in deciphering its meaning. In thinking about the diverse components that enable cinematic form, including narrative, editing, cinematography, mise-en-scène and sound, we will discover how to "read" films and also, learn about the relevance of their cultural and historical contexts. Film highlights include Citizen Kane (Welles 1940), Nights of Cabiria (Fellini 1957), Chungking Express (Wong 1994), and Singing in the Rain (Donen 1950).

Engl 288 - Experimental: Drama

Acting Up: Devising an Original Docudrama (Jenni Werner)

If dialogue is a conversation between opposing points of view, then theatre is the perfect place for an exploration of the critical topics we face today. It’s an ideal environment to draw attention to, or fuel a debate about, an issue in the community. In this course, students will use interview theatre techniques pioneered by Anna Deveare Smith and living newspaper theatre techniques of the Federal Theatre Project to create an original piece of theatre focusing on an issue central to SUNY Geneseo and the surrounding area. Class participants will research, create, dramaturg, perform, market and develop audiences for the piece, which takes its inspiration from Geva Theatre’s Hornet’s Nest series, a provocative play-reading series aimed at creating conversations around critical issues in the Rochester area. No performance background is necessary, although students must be comfortable with interacting one-on-one with community members and be committed to creating a group project which will include performing.

Engl 288 - Experimental: Poetic Forms

Reading as a Writer: Poetic Forms (Cori Winrock)

This is a creative writing class in which students will study the craft and form of contemporary poetry. In this course students will undertake the close reading of work by contemporary published authors, discussing how these pieces are constructed, and learning about the techniques and inspirations writers use in their poems. Students will write a number of short assignments in a variety of poetic forms and a longer, fully developed portfolio of pieces. All creative work will be discussed in a workshop format. In addition to this creative work, there will be a number of short critical papers due in response to the reading as well as a full book review. Students are required to provide suggestions for peers’ writing by speaking up in class and by commenting thoroughly on their manuscripts. This course is recommended for students interested in creative writing and looking to improve their poetry writing and critiquing skills. This is not a pre-requisite for the upper level workshops.

Engl 301/303 - Poetry Writing I and II

Poetry Writing Workshop (Cori Winrock)

Engl 302/304 - Fiction Writing I and II

Fiction Workshop (Rachel Hall)

This is an advanced Fiction Writing Workshop to which interested student must apply by the deadline indicated on the department website. Students will write two complete short stories (approx. 12-15 pages each) and revise one of them for a final portfolio. In addition students will write critical response papers about their peers' work and the published stories we read. These are due each class period. Considerable emphasis is placed on class participation — both these written critiques and class discussions.

Engl 305/307 - Creative Non-fiction I and II

Creative Non-fiction Workshop

Engl 314 - British Romanticism

British Romanticism (Eugene Stelzig)

In this period and survey course we will devote most of our attention to the leading Romantic writers of the later eighteenth and early nineteenth century (Blake, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley), but we will also look at some of the popular and recently rediscovered (and re-canonized) women poets of the period (Mary Robinson, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Felicia Hemans). In our examination of a wide range of Romantic poetry and prose, we will be concerned with the literary as well as the intellectual, political, and cultural currents of this revolutionary age.

Engl 317 - Contemporary British Literature

Contemporary British Literature (Rob Doggett)

Engl 321 - British Drama

British Drama: Women in British Drama (Melanie Blood)

This course will examine plays by women and the changing roles of actresses and female managers in Britain, from selected time periods including the Restoration, historical avant-garde, and 1970-80's. Plays and performance trends will be discussed in terms of literary styles of each time period, theatrical history, and cultural assumptions of sex and gender.

Engl 324 - British Novel

British Novel: The Black British Novel (Maria Lima)

Our course will focus theoretically on the development of the Black British novel, a genre that historically has coincided not only with the questioning of what constitutes a British identity but with critical articulations of the issues of full citizenship and belonging. A set of questions will frame our initial discussions: Why has the novel been so powerful in Britain at certain historical moments? If the novel creates a world, whose world has it represented and for what purposes? To what extent does the novel oppose and to what extent does it reproduce the ideology that produces it? What strategies are possible for reading novels, and what are the implications of the critical approaches we choose? As we interrogate the ways in which the novel has been theorized in light of the contemporary texts on our syllabus, we will necessarily be raising questions about narrative, fictionality, representation, realism, and history. We will be attentive throughout the course to the ways in which gender and "race" might figure in both the theories and practices of a genre in which representation occupies such a central place.


  1. Students will understand the complex interactions of gender, sexuality, religion, race, and class permeating the cultures within Britain today as they are represented in the worlds novels create.
  2. Students will understand the various negotiations black British writers make when they choose to write within/against a traditionally western genre: the novel.
  3. Students will demonstrate the oral ability to present their individual ideas to the class and persuasively discuss the complexity of the texts and cultures under discussion and, consequently, their different interpretations.
  4. Students will demonstrate the ability to develop research skills, including the ability to search data bases, evaluate published materials, and incorporate information gleaned from articles of literary criticism, source texts, and works of historical/social background into their own critical writing skills to produce a final research paper — which will demonstrate their ability to write sustained, coherent, analytical, and persuasive arguments, following the conventions of Standard English.


  • Sam Selvon. The Lonely Londoners. Longman, 1956.
  • Buchi Emecheta. Second-Class Citizen. George Braziller, 1975 [1974].
  • Hanif Kureishi. The Buddha of Suburbia. Penguin, 1990. 
  • Meera Syal. Anita and Me.  Harper Collins, 1996.
  • Zadie Smith. White Teeth. Random House, 2000.
  • Bernardine Evaristo. The Emperor’s Babe. Hamish Hamilton, 2001.
  • Caryl Phillips. A Distant Shore. Vintage, 2003.
  • Andrea Levy. Small Island. Review, 2004.

Course Requirements:

  • Our course is non-graded until the very end of the semester. You must read every novel and participate in every class to do well in the course. Your final grade will depend upon active and engaged class participation (50%) — which includes the oral presentation of the argument of your seminar paper and the day you lead the discussion (with a classmate) of one of the novels on our syllabus — and your seminar (research) paper (50%).
  • Our course will focus theoretically on the development of the Black British novel, a genre that historically has coincided not only with the questioning of what constitutes a British identity but with critical articulations of the issues of full citizenship and belonging.

A set of questions will frame our initial discussions: Why has the novel been so powerful in Britain at certain historical moments? If the novel creates a world, whose world has it represented and for what purposes? To what extent does the novel oppose and to what extent does it reproduce the ideology that produces it? What strategies are possible for reading novels, and what are the implications of the critical approaches we choose?

Engl 332 - Early American Literature

Early American Literature (Caroline Woidat)

This course traces the emergence of what we call "American" literature, beginning with the first encounters between the worlds of Europeans and Native Americans. The syllabus will emphasize the diversity of cultural perspectives represented in early American literature, including narratives by writers of Native American, Spanish, English, and African origins. While the foundation of American literature is much wider than Plymouth Rock, we will devote careful attention to the importance of the Pilgrims and Puritans in America's literary history and cultural mythologies. Readings will span various genres, and may include such authors as Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, Susanna Rowson, Charles Brockden Brown, and Royall Tyler.

Engl 339 - American Ways

American Ways: American Social Drama (Tom Greenfield)

The course will constitute a survey of influential and important social dramas in the USA from the early 20th century to the present. The course will include both a close stud of several plays with social themes and an ongoing examination of the concepts, theories, and arguments associated with the term "social drama." Plays will include works by well known authors including (tentatively but close) Susan Glaspell, Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, and Tony Kushner as well as less well known playwrights: Elmer Rice, Lillian Hellman, Matt Crawley. Various critical readings will be assigned as well. One short paper (focused analysis of a scene, character, critical approach, etc.); one "panel length" research paper or project; mid term exam, final exam.

Engl 343 - Women and Literature

Women and Literature: Transgender in Literature (Alice Rutkowski)

In the past decade, the term "transgender" has rapidly come to be used to describe a range of social identities, a political movement, and a community that had no name until the early 1990s. For this course, I am using the broadest definition of "transgender" possible: following Jamison Green, it means "breaking or going across gender boundaries." Because this is an English course, our primary texts will be literary; however, our secondary readings come from feminist theory, gay and lesbian studies and the new field of transgender studies. Many of these secondary readings are highly theoretical and – in some cases – a bit anachronistic in the way we'll be applying them. In other words, we will be using ideas and terminology that have been developed in the last fifteen years even though many of the literary works we examine will be much older. There will certainly be – towards the end of the course – careful attention paid to transgendered identities as they are lived and experienced in the real world, right now. But we'll also be deeply interested in the metaphor of gender-boundary crossing and the ways that writers from past eras imagined the roles and characteristics of "men" and "women."

  • Howe, Julia Ward. The Hermaphrodite. (U Nebraska, 0803218877)
  • Russ, Joanna. The Female Man. (Beacon, 0807062995)
  • Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. (Penguin/Pelican 0140714898)
  • Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body. (Vintage, 0679744479)
  • Woolf, Virginia. Orlando: A Biography. (Harcourt Brace, 0156031515)
  • and probably Feinberg, Jess. Stone Butch Blues.

Engl 348 - European Literature

European Literature (Ken Asher)

Engl 354 - Shakespeare I

Shakespeare I (Eugene Stelzig)

An introduction to Shakespeare the poet-dramatist through study of eight or nine of his plays covering the range of his career in the theater. We will read a representative sampling of his plays selected from the different categories that comprise his dramatic canon (comedy, history, tragedy, romance). Our play list will most likely include The Taming of the Shrew, Henry IV, Part I, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, The Tempest. We will consider these plays both as literary texts and as dramatic performances.

Shakespeare I (Ron Herzman)

We will look at eight plays, paired (so that we will do, for example, Roman plays together: Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra); or the Venice Connection (Merchant of Venice and Othello).

We will try to get a handle on what makes Shakespeare so special, acting on the assumption that the more we immerse ourselves in his world, the more he has to say to ours.

Engl 358 - Major Authors

Major Authors: Frost and Stevens (Ed Gillin)

This section of Engl 358 will invite students to focus intensively on the works of two significant American poets of the modern era, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens. Although the two seem to have so little in common as literary artists, each took the inspiration of Ralph Waldo Emerson into the tumult of the twentieth century, producing some of the liveliest and most memorable poetry of their time.

Reading material

  • The Poetry of Robert Frost
  • Wallace Stevens: The Collected Poems
Major Authors: Jane Austen (Celia Easton)

In this Major Author course we will study Austen's six complete novels, an incomplete work, and selected juvenilia in their literary, historical, and economic context. Students will explore cultural practice with an introduction to Regency fashion and English Country Dance. A few short essays will lead to a longer paper assignment in which students engage with Austen literary criticism. The final exam is cumulative and includes identification of quotations. Grading includes class participation. The Penguin Complete Novels is the text that will be used in class, but students may read any edition as long as they can follow along.

Major Authors: James Joyce (Rob Doggett)

Engl 361 - History of English

History of English (Graham Drake)

How did a little-known tribal language that looked a lot like a complicated form of German end up as the mother tongue of hundreds of millions and the international language of practically everything from diplomacy to air traffic to MTV? That's what this course will attempt to answer. We will follow the grammatical and semantic changes of English from the Middle Ages to just about the day after tomorrow. Knowing how the English language changes will also help us understand how the shape of Anglophone literature (especially poetry) has changed over the years. 

As part of our study of how the English language has changed, we will be updating the Dictionary of Geneseo English (to see its current form on the wiki, go to ).

Our primary text will be Algeo's Origin and Development of the English Language, 6th Edition, and the accompanying workbook.

Engl 390 - Topics in Literature

Topics in Literature: Dante and African American Literature (Ron Herzman and Beth McCoy)

This course pretty much asks, "What happens?" What happens when you read African American literature in the context of Dante Alighieri? What happens when you read Dante Alighieri in the context of African American literature?

Topics in Literature: Poetics of Climate Change (Ken Cooper)

When we look back upon 1950s science-fiction films it now seems obvious that they were complex, often unconscious allegories of the Cold War and its terrors. The premise of this experimental course is that, in some analogous manner, our own culture already knows momentous climate change is occurring. How that knowledge manifests itself will be the subject of our study, the goal being to develop a poetics adequate to our ecological circumstances. In addition to cultural source material, the syllabus will include a fair amount of scientific and theoretical readings. Some of the topics we are likely to undertake include:

  • the apocalyptic tradition and contemporary climate change scenarios
  • scientific discourse and the problems of emotional affect
  • narration and experiential, historical, and geological temporalities
  • polar narratives, ice fetishism, "climate sightseeing"
  • floods, droughts, global warming diasporas, "invasive species"
  • climate change denial: conspiracy theories, narrative ellipsis, greenwashing
  • emergent cultural forms & new media
  • rediscovery of (bio-)regional cultures, local climate change initiatives 
  • counternarratives, reimagining "civilization," the poetics of optimism

The book list for this class has not been finalized. We will read a text summarizing recent climatological science, like Archer & Rahmstorf's The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change and/or McKibben's more politically oriented Eaarth. The remainder of our syllabus will tend to feature clusters of shorter texts around topical headings, drawn from a range of discourses: science-fiction, poetry, public policy, film, popular science, online culture, and so on. As mentioned above, more theoretical works relating to poetics will be included.

A first-time course like this depends upon all participants thinking of themselves as competent to the challenges, active contributors. Shorter response papers will prepare students for class discussions; early versions of a longer research project will be presented for group feedback. I anticipate a couple of field trips and/or fieldwork assignments. There will be a cumulative, open-book and open-notes final exam.

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