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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; Intd 356/Engl 390 (Age of Dante) 1
  • Post-1700 British: Engl 313, 315, 324, 358 (Wordsworth and Lawrence) 1
  • American Lit: AmSt 201; Engl 235, 237, 239, 330, 337, 339, 358 (Pynchon) 2, 359 2; Intd/Engl 210
  • Cultural Intersections: AmSt 201; Engl 237, 239, 337, 339, 360
  • Shakespeare: Engl 355
  • Major Authors: Engl 358, 359; Intd 356/Engl 390 1
  • Writing/Language: Engl 200, 201, 301/303, 302/304, 305/307, 306/406
  • Film: Engl 239, Engl 359; Intd/Engl 210
  • Creative Writing Track
    • Genre: Engl 142, 324, 398
    • Contemporary: Engl 237 (Hip-Hop Culture), 239, 358 (Pynchon), 360
    • Cultural Intersections: AmSt 201; Engl 237, 239, 337, 339, 360

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, 324, 339, 358, 359, 390

Information on degree requirements

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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 October 28. 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: Immigration Nation (C. Woidat)

Writing in 1951, famed U.S. historian Oscar Handlin noted how, "Once I had thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants /were /American history." What does the United States look like when viewed from the perspective of immigrants? How did native-born Americans react to immigrants? During this course we will begin to answer these questions (as well as countless others) by focusing on the experiences of immigrants from 1830 to the present and by using a number of different sources including letters, diaries, novels, political cartoons, legal documents, newspaper accounts, history monographs, documentaries and films. In addition to examining the daily lives of European, Asian African, and Latin American immigrants and their descendants, we will explore how economic, political, legal, social, and cultural changes affected them, and how, in turn, immigrants helped to make the United States. As such, we will discuss how, in Handlin's words above, "immigrants /were/ American history" as well as the numerous ways immigrants continue to play a role in the United States.

Honors

Honr 102 - Critical Reading (E. Stelzig)

Very close and careful critical reading and discussion (including several required student reports) of several major literary texts dealing with the figure of the villain. We will consider the contexts — literary, cultural, psychological, etc. — in which these villains appear and function, including their motives and their relationships with the other characters in their lives. In addition to in-class discussion and presentations, students will also write several critical essays. Most likely the texts we will explore critically are Shakespeare's Othello, Goethe's Faust, Part I, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, and Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Honr 102 - Critical Reading (R. Herzman)

A small number of texts, read intensively, is the heart of this course. These texts become the focus for discussion and for extensive writing assignments in a seminar setting. Previous texts have included Plato's Republic, Selected Shakespeare Texts, Augustine's Confessions, Dante's Purgatorio. For this semester, I am still weighing my options.

Honr 206 - Poetry and Aesthetic Experience (R. Doggett)

Boring, difficult, and useless: I suspect those are some of the words that come to mind when students are asked about the study of poetry. And who can blame them? If poetry, as we are told, is about deep emotions, like sexual longing or existential dread, most teenagers are already well schooled in those areas. If it's difficult, well, so is clog dancing. And, as for being useless: let's just say that, when we hear about the founding of Google or the latest medical breakthrough, nobody mentions that crucial moment when someone offered an especially nuanced reading of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18."

This class aims to change those assumptions by helping students to understand how poetry works. Instead of focusing simply on emotional content, what the poem says, we will carefully examine the multiple and often surprising ways that form shapes, indeed constitutes meaning. Rather than reading poems as obscure and isolated objects, we will set them within a broader tradition of aesthetics, in which thinkers (beginning with Plato and Aristotle) have attempted to define poetry, explain its purposes, and understand how and why certain works of art strike us as beautiful, arresting, haunting, true. By the end of this course, students will see that analyzing poetry can have a practical purpose — that it teaches us to be sophisticated readers who understand how language works; but it will also, I hope, provide them with something less practical yet equally important: a new interest, a new source of intellectual joy that they return to throughout their lives.

Honr 206 - Plagues, Epidemics, and the Body Politic
What Do Widespread Contagion and Panic Teach us about Culture, Science, Social Contracts, and Political Power? (T. Greenfield)

From the opening sentence of Illness as Metaphor (1977, rev. 1988), Susan Sontag establishes a connection – a metaphor, in fact, between illness and civic life: "Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick . . ." Focusing on the 20th-century American scourges of tuberculosis, polio, and AIDS, Sontag takes up a line of inquiry that literary artists, historians, and others have explored for centuries: the frightful ability of an epidemic to alter long standing civic, cultural, and even religious structures in an alarmingly brief period of time. This course will start by examining Sontag's arguments and then move on to applying, expanding, and/or conceivably contradicting them in the context of other writers and, thus, other times and places. Additional readings are likely to include: Thucydides, On Justice, Power, and Human Nature (especially the sections on the Plague and Civil War); Herlihy and Cohn, The Black Death and the Transformation of the West; Camus, The Plague; Ibsen, An Enemy of the People; Shilts, The Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic.

Humanities 220

Western Humanities I (G. 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.

Western Humanities I (R. Herzman)

Our version of the course — Herzman and Oberg — includes Antigone, Thucydides, Plato's Republic, Vergil's Aeneid, the Bible, Augustine's Confessions, Dante's Inferno, Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, and Hamlet.

Western Humanities I (J. Walker)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Western Humanities I (W. Harrison)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page. Readings may include selections from the Bible, Plato, Sophocles, Thucydides, Livy, De Pizan, Shakespeare, and others.

Western Humanities I (C. Hertrick)

This course provides an intensive introduction to important literary, historical, and philosophical works of the Western tradition. Beginning with the rise of Greek and Hebrew civilizations and ending with the Renaissance, we will read some of the crucial works that shaped Western culture. Several major themes will run throughout the course, including: the relationship between the individual and the state; the relationship between the human and the divine; rationality and spirituality; the nature and sources of evil; the role of the artist in society; the narrative stance chosen by authors; the expansion of empires; the role of leaders; and the position of women in Western culture. Readings will include The Oresteia by Aeschylus, History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, selections from the Old and New Testaments, selcted dialogues by Plato, the Inferno by Dante, The Prince by Machiavelli, and The Tempest by Shakespeare.

Western Humanities I (G. McClure)

We will explore many of the big questions of civic leadership and personal responsibility with some of the greatest texts of the Western tradition. We start with issues of family and the state in Ancient Greece with Sophocles' Antigone. Then follow the decline of Athenian democracy in The Peloponnesian Wars by Thucydides and The Republic by Plato. We also see the transition from Greek to Roman dominance of the Mediterranean with excerpts from Virgil's Aeneid. The second part of the course explores the Judeo-Christian world with several books from the Old and New Testaments. We go from the Creation Stories to the Prophetic Tradition with Genesis, Exodus, Samuel and Isaiah. We pick the emergence of Christianity in the Gospels of Matthew and John, Acts of the Apostles, and Paul's Letter to the Romans. The final third of the course takes us from Roman Christianity with St. Augustine to the Middle Ages with Dante's Inferno and Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies and then into the Renaissance with Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Western Humanities I (K. Asher)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Humanities 221

Western Humanities II (E. Gillin)

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 coveredA list of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the[Master Schedule page|http://masterschedule.geneseo.edu].

Western Humanities II (C. Beltz-Hosek)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Western Humanities II (J. Eddy)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Western Humanities II (T. Greenfield)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page. Probable Reading List: Freud, Civilization and its Discontents; Ibsen, An Enemy of the People (Dover Thrift Edition); Shelley, Frankenstein (New American Library); Swift, Gulliver's Travels (Dover) Swift Miller, Incident at Vichy, (Dramatists) Locke, Second Treatise of Government; Harlan Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author (Any edition including online); Marx, The Communist Manifesto (International); Darwin, The Origin of Species (Signet Classic); Camus, The Stranger (Vintage) Beckett, Waiting for Godot (Any edition including online).

Western Humanities II (W. Kennison)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Western Humanities II (M. Gillin)

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. List of specific texts assigned for this section is available on the Master Schedule page.

Western Humanities II (G. McClure)

This HUMM II section deals with many of the big questions about the role of Science and the Scientist with Galileo's Starry Messenger, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and excerpts from Darwin's Origin of Species. We also follow the shift from European monarchies to representative government with Locke and Hobbes. We pick up many of these ideas with the economic determinism writings of Karl Marx and Adam Smith. In addition to Swifts colonial narrative Gulliver's Travels, this section explores European expansionism and the slave trade with music, images, and primary source texts from my work in Ghana, West Africa. There is a running theme of African issues with writings by Oladauh Equiano and Kwame Nkrumah and African American issues with writings by Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. We will also see the relationship between the abolition movement and the women's suffrage movement as it unfolded in 19th and early 20th century America.

Intd 105 - Critical Writing and Reading

Metafiction (C. Perri)

Metafiction is a realm of literature that is chiefly concerned with its own nature as a verbal construct. Novels and stories of this genre possess a self-awareness of their essence as little more than words on a page. Thus, the business of metafiction is not to render the world as we know it, but to make a world from the medium of language. This course will examine the medium of storytelling as it applies to metafiction and its "linguistic oversoul," as well as the questions raised regarding the messages (or lack thereof) inherent within the form.

Octavia Butler's Parables (B. McCoy)

Writing Seminar: Octavia Butler's Parables. This particular section will explore science fiction writer Octavia Butler's novel The Parable of the Sower and its sequel, The Parable of the Talents. Taking place in a future America that has slowly lapsed into political, environmental, and religious chaos, these novels follow the rise to power of Lauren Oya Olamina, a young black woman from California. In response to the destruction around her, Olamina develops a new religion, Earthseed, a religion based on the principle that "God is Change." As Olamina's followers grow in number, the novels raise important questions about power, celebrity, religious fundamentalisms, race (especially white supremacy), class, gender, corporate slavery, and mobility.

TEXTS: Octavia Butler: Parable of the Sower AND Parable of the Talents. Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say/I Say: A Brief Guide to Argumentative Writing

Virtual Thoreau (K. 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.

Looking On Darkness (S. Symington)

In this course, we will explore the views of darkness in Western literature. Major texts are Othello, Heart of Darkness, and Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark. Other readings include biblical texts, travel writing by V.S. Naipal, and stories by Hawthorne, Stephen Crane and Barbara Kingsolver. We will also view and discus a number of films. Students will be asked to reflect on the authors' application of darkness as a cultural symbol and literary device, and to express in writing of their own the roots and ramifications of our hate-love relationship to The Dark.

Representing Autism in Literature (G. Paku)

The Writing Seminar is a course focusing on a specific topic while emphasizing writing practice and instruction. This particular section will ask you to focus on how autism is represented in literary texts. We start from the assumption that autism is not just a medical category of dis-ability that should be "fixed," but rather a category that is also created by social assumptions and that can encompass strongly positive attributes. Because autism affects communication skills, we will read literary texts that are remarkable for what they can communicate through what they do not say.

Ways of Seeing (J. Okada)

The goal of this section of Intd 105 is to produce sustained, coherent, and persuasive arguments on a significant issue, in this case, how to read and analyze visual culture. The first part of the course will focus on what it means to “read a visual text” by reading and discussing John Berger’s Ways of Seeing and applying these ideas to deciphering advertisements in print media. The second part of the class will include analyzing a film: Douglas Sirk’s fiction feature film, Imitation of Life (1950). You will analyze the formal and ideological functions of visual media that have had a profound effect on how we think about racial and gender difference. In addition, you will be assigned weekly readings in reference to the films as well as engage in library research training. Each week’s classes will consist of a mixture of film viewing, group discussion, and peer editing, emphasizing collaboration as the key to the improvement of writing, revising, and communication skills.

We'll Always Have Paris (A. Lutkus)

Our readings will include Americans' impressions of and reflections on Paris, from Benjamin Franklin to David Sedaris. We will look at images of Paris, paintings and photographs by both French and American artists and listen to some of the popular music inspired by the city of light. students will write three short pieces and one longer research-based paper. The final exam will be an in-class exercise based on a reading or a film assigned for the class.

Intd 210 - Asian American Film and Video

Asian American Film and Video (J. Okada)

This is an introductory course on Asian American film and video that begins with the premise that there is a distinctly American style of Asian “Orientalist” representation by tracing its development in Hollywood film over the last eighty-five years. Using a thematic approach focusing on various genres including narrative fiction, documentary, and experimental cinema, we will analyze these texts in context with Asian American history. Some of the topics we will cover include: the politics of interracial romance, the phenomenon of “yellow face” and stereotypes of Asians in Hollywood; the role of history and memory on U.S identity construction; the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality in Asian American films; and Asian/Black relations on film. We also look at contemporary trends in Asian American and trans-global Asian/American film and video.

Intd 356/Engl 390 - The Age of Dante

The Age of Dante (B. Cook and R. Herzman)

This course is a study of Dante's Divine Comedy or more accurately the Commedia — arguably the most profound and exciting poem ever written — in the context of the author's time and place. Although the course is structured around the Commedia, students will do additional reading in other works, including two by Dante, which we will also take some class time to discuss. The energies and insights of professors from different disciplines, the reading of the texts, and lively class discussion and interaction, will help open the literary, historical, artistic, theological, philosophical, and political dimensions of this amazing work. (Cross-listed under Engl 356.)

Dante incorporated into a single narrative aspects of the classical and Judeo-Christian traditions in a synthesis that has formed the basis for Western writers ever since; he did so in a demanding verse form that makes the entire enterprise one of the virtuoso pieces of the literary canon; and he did it in Italian rather than Latin, a choice which would not have seemed so natural in his day as it does to us and one which was to have a significant effect on the development of European literatures and languages. And yet, as much as the Commedia is a learned poem that sometimes puts a heavy demand on its readers, it is also surprisingly accessible for the first-time reader, because Dante is such a superb storyteller, one who makes his work immediately compelling by providing the sense of adventure and the excitement that move the reader through the poem's hundred cantos. The semester gives us some time (though not enough time) to read the poem slowly and carefully immersing ourselves in its complexity, depth, and artistic coherence. And it should allow us to see how Dante speaks to the problems and issues of our own time.

(info) This course counts toward the 300-level European history requirement for history majors and minors.

Engl 142 - Literary Forms

Graphic Narrative (K. 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, the majority of our readings will come from other regions of the genre.

Science Fiction (T. Metzger)

Please contact the faculty member directly at metzger@geneseo.edu.

Short Fiction (R. Hall)

This 142 class will focus on the short story. We will look at classic and contemporary stories, including a collection by a visiting writer. We will examine the various elements of the short story in an attempt to understand what one writer of the form calls "that perennially marginalized and disrespected form." Students will write several essays, response papers and take two exams. Class participation will be emphasized.

Engl 170 - The Practice of Criticism

The Practice of Criticism (R. Doggett)

This is an introductory course in literary analysis for English majors, one that's designed to provide you with a foundation in literary studies before you move on to upper division courses. In the first part of the semester, we will consider the various answers provided by literary theorists to the basic and increasingly pressing questions: Why read literature? What is the value of literature and literary study? What place does it have in the university and in the culture at large? Later in the semester, we will meditate on the following questions: What is literature? Who determines that a text is literature? How and what is the function of a literary canon? The final part of the semester will be devoted to questions about how we read: What are the interpretive strategies that have been brought to bear on literature in the 20th century? How do they work? What are their objectives and implications?

In addition to focusing on these larger theoretical issues, the course will also offer practical guidance in the study of literature. Thus, part of the semester is devoted to "close reading," an approach to literary analysis that underpins nearly all of the other approaches that we will discuss, from New Criticism to feminist analysis. Moreover, we will spend a bit of time covering the nuts and bolts of writing about literature, from selecting a topic, to conducting research, to formulating and proving an interpretation. Finally, we will often practice literary analysis by focusing on a few primary texts: two novels, four plays, and a substantial helping of poetry.

The Practice of Criticism (W. 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.

The Practice of Criticism (M. Lima)

This course examines strategies for cultural and literary interpretation by exploring a spectrum of questions that can be asked of texts and by trying to understand the ideologies that inform them (the texts and the questions!). We will practice critical writing about major genres (poetry, drama, and narrative) as we pursue both similarities and differences in the subjectivities and worlds created by texts. We will also explore how readers' situations (differences of culture, national history, gender, race, class, and sexuality) precondition the questions we put to texts and thus what we see in them. I do not believe in a purely "literary" reading. Teacher and students should be able to foreground our literary and ideological assumptions (as much as possible!), to speak of meanings as constructed by both reader and text, and of criticism as historically situated and culturally produced.

After this course students will (hopefully) demonstrate the ability

  • to understand the basic conventions that constitute literary genres;
  • to interpret and analyze works of literature using the basic terminology of literary criticism;
  • to understand how literary theory shapes the practice of criticism;
  • to apply theoretical concepts to the interpretation and analysis of literary works (from different genres);
  • to write short essays of literary criticism that demonstrate knowledge of basic generic conventions, incorporating contemporary critical discourse while demonstrating mastery of the conventions of Standard English;
  • 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;
  • to present individual ideas to the class and persuasively discuss the complexity of the texts and the contexts under discussion and, consequently, their different interpretations.

Our basic text will be Lois Tyson's Using Critical Theory: How to Read and Write about Literature. Routledge, 2011

The Practice of Criticism (C. Winrock)

Please contact the faculty member directly at winrock@geneseo.edu.

Engl 200 - College Writing II

College Writing II (T. Metzger)

This course is a writing workshop designed to give students many opportunities to practice their critical thinking and writing skills. Frequent writing required.

Engl 201 - Creative Writing

Creative Writing (K. Gentry)

By enrolling in this class, you have decided to become a writer. Understand that I take this as no light thing, and you are expected to respond to me, the student assistant, this course, and your peers in a corresponding manner. 

In this introductory writing course, we will explore the craft elements of poetry, literary fiction, and creative non-fiction. By “literary” fiction, I mean that we won’t be reading or writing genre fiction such as science fiction, mystery, horror, gothic, Western, romance, fanfiction, etc. I say this not to discourage you from exploring those genres of writing on your own time, but to warn you before you begin work on a piece that I won’t accept for this class. If you are sketchy about where your work stands ask because even if you’ve completed it and submitted it for workshop if I deem it genre fiction I will cancel your workshop. 

Through writing exercises, assigned readings, reading responses, class discussion, and workshops, you will become a stronger writer, able to intelligently discuss, question, and analyze the elements of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction to gain a better understanding of the choices writers make, why, and apply that knowledge to your work. 

Over the course of the semester, you will complete two assignments in each genre. At the end of the semester, you will turn in a final portfolio comprised of all of the writing assignments, a polished revision of your original work in the genre of your choice, and a two-page double-spaced letter to me about your revision and development as a writer over the course of the semester. 

Notice: If you have no imagination, curiosity, or get-up-and-go to do something about your lack of both, you should drop this class immediately since they are the essential elements of good writing. I can teach you about craft and give you prompts and exercises to enhance awareness, but I cannot teach you genuine inquisitiveness or the willingness to “go there” (physically or emotionally) to write what needs to be written to give your work life.

Creative Writing (C. Perri)

Creative Writing is an intermediate workshop in the manufacture and maintenance of creative nonfiction, poetry, and short fiction. Our intent is not only to become sharper writers, readers, and critics of these literary genres, but to better understand the choices we make on and off the page. Students will draft, edit, and revise creative essays, poems, and short stories of their own design, completing a final project in the genre of their choice. All students are expected to present their work to the class for feedback, and in turn offer copious written and verbal commentary on the work of their peers. There will be extensive reading in each of the aforementioned genres, critical response essays, numerous in-class writing exercises, and frequent reading aloud.

Creative Writing (C. Winrock)

Please contact the faculty member directly at winrock@geneseo.edu.

Creative Writing (C. 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: Janet Burroway's Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (Third Edition) and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.

Engl 212 - British Literature I

British Literature I (G. 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, Eighth Edition, Vol. 1, and Tales of the Elders of Ireland.

British Literature I (G. Paku)

A study of selected works in British literature from its beginnings to 1700, with analyses of their artistic significance and descriptions of their place in the intellectual, social, and literary contexts of their ages. The course pays some attention to the changing heads of state and related issues of religion, but focuses primarily on close readings of the works. Most of the readings are poetry, with examples also of early English and Renaissance drama, and pre-novels. Authors include Chaucer, Jonson, Donne, and Milton.

Engl 213 - British Literature II

Description coming soon.

British Literature II (K. Asher)

This course is intended to familiarize students with representative works of British literature from 1700 to the present. Selections will include novels, lyric poems, essays, and a play. We will endeavor to come to an understanding of individual works through close analysis and by placing each in its intellectual and social context. Apart from short lectures to introduce the various authors and periods, the class will be given over to discussion. By the end of the course, you should have a substantial overview of the development of British literature of the last three centuries.

Engl 222 - Exploring the Renaissance

Harry Potter and the Renaissance Hero (J. Walker)

Please contact the faculty member directly at walker@geneseo.edu.

Engl 235 - American Literature

American Literature (C. Woidat)

What is an American? In the late eighteenth century a French writer named Crèvecour pondered this question and answered in part as follows: "Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world." As a class, we will continue to explore the issue of identity raised centuries ago, examining the ways in which Americans have changed their world and have themselves been shaped by their environment. The course will trace the development of American literature from the time of Columbus's voyages to the present. We will read chronologically with attention to the historical and cultural contexts that produced these literary works. The selected texts will not only familiarize students with major American authors, but also demonstrate how these writers were engaged in larger dialogues and debates with America's other voices.

Engl 237 - Voices and Perspectives

Hurricane Stories (B. McCoy)

Hurricane Stories: This particular section of ENGL 237 will examine the narrative (storytelling) purposes that hurricanes, cyclones, and other 'tempests' have served in literature, film, song, news, and popular culture. During the semester, you will explore how storms disrupt, create, and affirm (these are not the only options, of course) narratives about desire, race, mobility, virtue, and space, to name just a few possibilities. Perhaps most important, you will attend carefully to the process of how you think and read. More specifically, this course will ask all students to consider New Orleans, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans culture (including black cultures), and "race (including whiteness and white privilege). Some are perplexed when they take a Voices and Perspectives class and find that they are being asked to think critically about both difference (including "race") AND familiar formalist terms of literary study. TEXTS: Smith, Patricia. Blood Dazzler. Coffee House Press, ISBN: 156689218X./Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun. Vintage, ISBN: 0307387941./Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Hackett, ISBN: 0872201503./Shakespeare, William. The Tempest: Norton Critical Edition. W.W. Norton, ISBN: 0393978192./Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN: 0060931418.Note: Especially at semester's beginning, there will also be many additional readings provided through the web, mycourses.geneseo.edu or photocopy.

Engl 239 - American Visions

Asian American Film and Video (J. Okada)

This is an introductory course on Asian American film and video that begins with the premise that there is a distinctly American style of Asian “Orientalist” representation by tracing its development in Hollywood film over the last eighty-five years. Using a thematic approach focusing on various genres including narrative fiction, documentary, and experimental cinema, we will analyze these texts in context with Asian American history. Some of the topics we will cover include: the politics of interracial romance, the phenomenon of “yellow face” and stereotypes of Asians in Hollywood; the role of history and memory on U.S identity construction; the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality in Asian American films; and Asian/Black relations on film. We also look at contemporary trends in Asian American and trans-global Asian/American film and video.

Hip-Hop Culture and Contemporary American Literature (K. Gentry)

We will explore hip hop's history and coming of age through fictional works by hip hop generation writers. Our focus is identity. How do hip hop and its members define themselves? What labels, ideals, codes, and morals do they uphold and why? What labels do others assign to them and why? Where and how do these labels originate? We will consider the ways that commercialization (among other factors) has transformed hip hop over the years; however, it will be important not to lose ourselves in debates about the authenticity and aesthetic value of "underground" vs. "popular" rap and maintain an understanding of the scope of the culture as well as insight into the racial, political, and social factors that make the claims on both sides of the rap argument so urgent. We will discuss those factors as we study hip hop's history. We will also talk about issues that were pressing for America's black diaspora long before the 1970's (slavery, legal rights, colonization, etc.) and why those issues still have a prevalent place in hip hop dialogue. Over the course of the semester, we will investigate hip hop's complexity and how it is manifested in contemporary literature's form, content, and characters.

Engl 282 - The Bible as Literature

The Bible as Literature (G. Drake)

Unlike any other text in the Western world, the Bible has affected the way we thank, write, talk, act, read, argue, and any number of verbs mentionable or unmentionable. What we'll consider in this course is the status of the Bible as a literary work in its own right — and, of course, in the way it has influenced later texts. (Please note: we will all be reading from the same edition and translation of the Bible, which will be listed at http://books.geneseo.edu.) We will also read The Koran, which derives from and reinterprets both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and the modern Norwegian novel A Time for Everything by Karl Knausgard, chock-full of angels, Renaissance intrigue, and a retelling of the Cain and Abel story from Genesis.

Engl 301/303 - Poetry Writing I and II

Poetry Writing I and II (C. Winrock)

This is an advanced course for students who have a strong interest in writing poetry and would like to engage in a wider exploration of the genre's forms and techniques. Throughout the semester, students will work on developing a critical vocabulary and understanding of elements of poetry that will enable them to become more sophisticated writers and readers of poetry. The course is designed upon the premise that writing poetry is hard work when undertaken seriously and requires more than pure inspiration. On a weekly basis, students will be expected to submit poems, practice techniques through writing exercises, read and respond to poetry by contemporary writers, and critique the work of their peers. At the end of the semester, students will create a final portfolio of revised poems and give a reading of their work.

(warning) See note above on advanced writing workshops.

Engl 302/304 - Fiction Writing I and II

Fiction Writing I and II (K. Gentry)

This is an advanced course for those with a sincere and serious interest in writing literary fiction. This is not a course for students interested in writing genre fiction such as science fiction, mystery, horror, gothic, Western, romance, fanfiction, etc. I say this not to discourage you from exploring those genres of writing on your own time, but to warn you before you begin work on a piece that I won't accept for this class. If you are sketchy about where your work stands, please ask because even if you've completed it and submitted it for workshop if I deem it genre fiction I will pull it and it will not be workshopped. Over the course of this semester you will further explore the elements of fiction presented in the introductory course by reading and discussing work by contemporary writers and your peers, completing writing exercises, and writing two short stories, one of which you will revise for the final portfolio. With that said, this is also not the class for you if your intentions are to get feedback on your novel. It is ineffective for the class to read a story that has no resolution and offers the author a built-in defense against criticism ("It doesn't make sense because I forgot to tell you that her house caught fire in 1987 in chapter four," or "I can't tell you if she takes the job until the next chapter." Unless your novel is comprised of autonomous chapters, continue to pursue that endeavor on your personal time. If you are serious about writing, love reading, have a desire to understand why writers do what they do, are willing to spend frustrating hours in front of blank space, face workshop with open ears, a closed mouth, and a humble heart, courageous enough to "kill your little darlings," curious enough to confront what you do not understand and be unflinchingly honest about the things you do understand, this is the course for you. 12 Short Stories and Their Making, ed. Paul Mendelbaum.

(warning) See note above on advanced writing workshops.

Engl 305/307 - Creative Nonfiction Writing I and II

Creative Nonfiction Writing I and II (R. Hall)

This is an advanced workshop for serious writers of creative nonfiction. Please note the deadlines for application posted on the English department website. Students will write two full-length essays, one of which must include research. In addition there will be daily response papers focusing on craft and technique in our required reading. Class participation will be emphasized.

(warning) See note above on advanced writing workshops.

Engl 306/406 - Writing for Teachers

Writing for Teachers (M. Lima)

The intended audience for this course is anyone who wants to develop as a writer and who thinks of herself as a teacher of anything---not only writing. This is not a pedagogy course, but it is a course that will give you the confidence to write, to find your own voice, and to teach, whether or not that teaching includes instruction in writing.

This class will be a combination of workshops and class discussion, and you will have responsibilities for both. It is a writing seminar designed to give you many opportunities to practice your critical thinking, argumentative and writing skills. We will read each other's writing, collaborate on presentations, and revise our work to almost perfection. To do this successfully, we need to work on being a community---which means responding to each other honestly but respectfully and treating assignments and deadlines professionally.

Meg Morgan, Kim Stallings, and Julie Townsend, Strategies for Reading and Arguing about Literature (basic text).

Engl 313 - Eighteenth-Century Literature

Eighteenth-Century Literature (G. Paku)

A survey of an exuberant period in English literary and social history from John Dryden to Jane Austen, in which the alternating rhythms of containment, pressure, and explosion give us racy Restoration drama and the pointed comedy of manners, hilarious and sometimes savage satire, and the emergent realist novel alongside effusions of melodrama, mystery, and sentimentality. We trace also the rise of the periodical newspaper, the biography, and the life of the artist. We examine how these literary forms shape and reflect an idea of government, nationhood and empire, we follow travels around the world, around town, and around the self, and we pay attention to literature by women, literature about women, and literature by women about women who read literature.

Engl 315 - Victorian Literature

Victorian Literature (P. Schacht)

British literature in the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) is about sex, greed, power, money, class, work, duty, morality, decadence, humanism, liberalism, individualism, socialism, imperialism, democracy, art, character, women's rights, love, death, progress, science, religion, and a few other things besides. It is diverse, contradictory, multivocal, splendid. This course examines works by major poets, essayists, and novelists of the Victorian period, typically including Tennyson, the Brownings, Arnold, Ruskin, Carlyle, Mill, Dickens, the Brontës, and Kipling.

Engl 319 - Literary Theory

Literary Theory (K. Asher)

This course is intended to familiarize students with a number of the major literary theories of the 20th century. Each week we will look at a different theory. After reading several foundational texts of a given theory, we will usually conclude by looking at a practical application of that theory. The class will be run as a seminar, so come prepared to discuss. This class differs from the typical English class insofar as we spend the bulk of our time reading theoretical material and look at literary texts only to see how the theory works in practice. The material is often extremely dense, so please consider whether you have a genuine desire to work through these sorts of texts. The course was originally designed for those who were planning to do advanced graduate work in literature. Certainly, though, students from other fields have taken the course and done well in the past and are welcome to enroll.

Engl 324 - British Novel

Madness in the 20th-Century British Novel (W. Harrison)

This course considers different representations of "madness" — or, perhaps, "sanity" — in British novels of last century. We will examine some of the novels in light of their engagement with psychoanalysis and popular conceptions of psychological care. Central to our analysis will be the issue of psychological realism in narrative, and its subsequent developments. Readings may include non-fiction by Freud, Laing, and others, and novels by Doris Lessing, Will Self, D.M. Thomas, Ann Quin, Ian McEwan, and Clare Allan.

Engl 330 - American Romanticism

American Romanticism (E. Gillin)

In the years before the Civil War, writers in the United States captured both the vital spirit of the young republic and its already troubling contradictions. Students in ENGL 330 will read a number of works written during this restless period, learning how American authors addressed issues ranging from popular government to slavery and from the natural environment to women's rights even as they discovered their own distinctly "American" voice in literature. Texts may include essays by Emerson and Thoreau, poetry by Whitman and Dickinson, short fiction by Melville and Alcott, and novels by Hawthorne and Poe.

Engl 337 - African American Literature

African American Literature (B. McCoy)

African American Literature: "A study of works by representative African-American writers from the mid-19th century to the present in their cultural and social contexts. The course will cover a variety of genres." As you will see, we will be shifting that description in some places, fulfilling it some places, challenging it in some places. This is a course that cannot be, should not be, and, indeed, is not about learning about "people of African descent" as objects of study. It's also not a course about "suffering," "hardships" or "plight," even though many readers insist on using such terms as the ONLY interpretive lenses for literature written by human beings of both black African and American descent.

TEXTS:Liggins Hill, Patricia, ed. Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Tradition. The first response paper asks that you become familiar with this anthology, both the works of art contained within and the paratextual material that expresses the anthology's purpose and design. The more familiar you are with the breadth of art contained within the book's covers, the better prepared to back up your claims with support, evidence, and example you will be./Eglash, Ron. African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design. Yes, this is a math book. However, a book such as this one has become necessary because of the skepticism and doubt* that students have expressed towards many of the claims made in this class. By the time we get to Douglass, you will have learned about the historical repetition in which the above expressions participate./Everett, Percival. Erasure. This is a novel/Parks, Suzan-Lori. The America Play: And Other Works. Formally difficult, but astoundingly beautiful-- and hauntingly so.

Engl 339 - American Ways

Plotting Women (C. Woidat)

This course examines American women's fiction from the late 1700s to the turn of the twentieth century, focusing upon the development of sensational plots and subversive female characters with attention to the cultural, social, and political concerns of the early republic and expanding nation. We will concentrate mainly upon novels, with readings that include narratives of seduction, madcap adventures, captivity, economic reversals, ghosts, violence, and revenge. The course will foreground gender issues as we examine thematic and formal elements of the texts, situating them in relation to various genres and traditions---romantic, sentimental, gothic, etc.

Engl 355 - Shakespeare II

Shakespeare II (E. Stelzig)

An introduction to and survey of Shakespeare the poet-dramatist through reading, study, and discussion of a representative sampling (in chronological order) of nine of his plays from the four different categories the comprise his dramatic canon: comedy, history, tragedy, and romance. Most likely the list of plays will include Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Henry IV, Part I, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Trolilus and Cressida, Othello, and The Tempest. There will be an hour test and a final exam, plus two short reader reflection/response essays and a longer critical paper (using secondary sources).

Shakespeare II (J. Walker)

An introduction to and survey of Shakespeare the poet-dramatist through reading, study, and discussion of a representative sampling (in chronological order) of nine of his plays from the four different categories the comprise his dramatic canon: comedy, history, tragedy, and romance.

Engl 358 - Major Authors

Wordsworth and D.H. Lawrence (E. Stelzig)

A close and careful study of major works by the two authors in their literary, biographical, psychological, and cultural contexts. While we will read a selection of Wordsworth's major poetry, our principal focus will be his autobiography in blank verse, The Prelude (1805). We will read three of Lawrence's major novels (Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley's Lover) in terms of how Lawrence as an early twentieth-century writer (novelist and poet) projects and transforms some key concerns of Romanticism. There will be an hour test and a final exam, plus two short reader reflection/response essays and a longer critical paper (using secondary sources).

Thomas Pynchon (K. Cooper)

"Why should things be easy to understand?" Consider these words from Thomas Pynchon both a warning and an invitation, for few contemporary novelists ask so much of their readers (or commensurately reward intensive reading). This course will take up several of his better-known works — totaling some 2,500 pages — in a collaborative and exploratory spirit. Most likely we will be reading: "The Crying of Lot 49," "Gravity's Rainbow," "Vineland," and "Against the Day." Due to the difficulty of Pynchon's fiction, staying on top of the reading and active classroom discussion will be even more important than is usually the case.

Engl 359 - Film Authors

Film Authors: Alfred Hitchcock (J. Okada)

Well known as “The Master of Suspense” thanks to his television programs and popular films like Rear Window and Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock remains one of Hollywood’s and the world’s greatest directors. This is an upper division seminar that examines important Hitchcock films produced over his expansive career by looking at Hitchcock as technician and innovator in film form, style, and narration as well as a cinematic auteur whose thematic and aesthetic concerns unify his film. We will also consider and analyze his key films as a set of cultural documents---lenses through which we might understand social history and culture in a new light. Critical and theoretical texts on Hitchcock (including historical, ideological, and feminist interpretations of his work) will be read and discussed along with the films.

Engl 360 - Postcolonial Literature

Postcolonial Literature: The Haitian Diaspora (M. Lima)

Postcolonial literatures have emerged out of different experiences of (de)colonization and asserted themselves by foregrounding their difference from the assumptions of an imperial center. Inspired by Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: the Immigrant Artist at Work, this semester I’ve chosen to focus on the Haitian Diaspora. As the first nation in the Americas to both abolish slavery and declare its independence from a European power, Haiti has been paying the price for such audacity since. Both history and natural disasters would have been enough to stifle the creativity of a people, but Haitians have continued to create despite (or perhaps because of) the horrors that have driven many away from their homeland. We'll start by reading about Haiti's history in C.L.R James' The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Other titles: Jacques Roumain's Masters of the Dew, Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones
Danticat, Ed. the butterfly’s way: Voices from the Haitian Diaspora in the United States and Danticat, Ed. Haiti Noir.

Engl 370 - Senior Reading

Senior Reading (R. Hall)

This class prepares CW track Senior English majors for their required reading/ performance. We will work on all aspects of preparation for this kind of literary event, including selection of work, publicity, presentation, and introductions. Time will also be devoted to sustaining a writing life after Geneseo.

Students are required to attend and review all Senior readings.

Engl 390 - Topics in Literature

Literature in the Digital Age (P. Schacht)

Digital technology is transforming the ways we produce, distribute, and study literature. Under the umbrella term "digital humanities," scholars are building electronic archives that put literary texts in historical, biographical, geographical, and other contexts; using computational tools to analyze and visualize the form and content of texts; creating new platforms for scholarly communication about texts; and trying to understand the larger cultural impact of the digital revolution. This course will undertake a close examination of all these developments while giving students hands-on experience with some basic tools for digital publication and textual analysis. Many of the activities in the course will revolve around SUNY Geneseo's recent efforts to create a digital edition of Henry David Thoreau's "Walden." No programming knowledge necessary.

Engl 398 - 20th Century Poetry

20th Century Poetry (R. Doggett)

Whenever I mention poetry to new or prospective English majors, a substantial number invariably respond, "I just don't like poetry." I used to respond to these types of comments with flat out astonishment — the way, I suppose, a math professor might react to new majors who just don't like that whole calculus thing — but I think I understand what's going on. Most students go through high school reading "classical poetry" — a bit of Shakespeare here, some Tennyson there — and they come to associate poetry with that dreaded category: the things educated people should know (like western humanities, algebra or macro economics). Fiction, they quickly learn, is where the fun is.

This course is part of my ongoing attempt to change how English majors at Geneseo feel about poetry. Although we'll briefly read and talk about some of the major poets of the early twentieth century, the vast majority of the course will deal with contemporary poets. Instead of pulling out one of those giant anthologies to read ye olde verse, we're going to read poets you've never heard of: people writing today; poets who are close to your own age; writers who address topics that aren't that different from your own experiences. The goal is to show you that reading poetry, like reading fiction, can be a vital part of your life, not just something that you leave behind once you're finished with school.