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Fall Course Descriptions

ENG 333 | Shakespeare: Gravity and Grace | Dr. Kerilyn Harkaway-Krieger

This course will examine six of Shakespeare’s later plays: Measure for Measure, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest, with particular attention to the religious themes that emerge from these works. These plays include most of Shakespeare’s major genres—comedy, tragedy, and romance (only history is missing). We will look at the tension between faith and doubt in the plays and see what this tension might reveal about human psychology. We will examine questions of justice and forgiveness, and see whether and under what conditions redemption is possible for these characters. Finally, we will think about how Shakespeare represents justice, mercy, and grace and explore what these representations might reveal about early modern debates over the nature of salvation and the identity of the church. Gordon College is blessed to own a copy of the Second Folio (the second printed version of Shakespeare’s collected works), and the class will be able to examine this folio and spend some time considering what decisions editors make when putting together the books that we read and perform today. This course fulfills the Literature before 1800 requirement.

ENG 346 | Modern American Literature: Community and Marginalization | Dr. Andrea Frankwitz

If any literary period might be considered rebellious, it certainly would be American Modernism. During the early part of the twentieth century, the face of the world was changing with the advent of the two World Wars. Many Americans were disoriented as the country was experiencing the turbulence of urbanization, industrialization, the Stock Market Crash, and the Great Depression. In this time of uncertainty, America and its artists were questioning the stability of church, family, and government, which had previously provided guidance and meaning for their lives. Though some still vehemently adhered to traditions, many American artists broke away from conventions. Typified by Ezra Pound’s declaration “Make it New!,” this period saw tremendous artistic growth with stylistic innovations and experimental modes. From a distrust of society’s institutions came a new focus on the individual. What happens, though, when the individual turns introspective to find answers to some of life’s pressing questions?  In this course, we’ll examine this query and also explore the place of the individual within or outside the walls of society through works such as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, William Faulkner’s The Unvanquished, Richard Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children, and Katherine Anne Porter’s The Old Order; plays by the likes of Eugene O’Neill, Lillian Hellman, and Tennessee Williams; and poetry from bards such as Elizabeth Bishop, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Hilda Doolittle, Langston Hughes, and others. This course fulfills the American Literature after 1800 requirement.

ENG 350 | Topics in Global Literature: Modern Indian Fiction | Dr. Andrew Logemann

In this course, we will read and discuss modern Indian fiction, with an emphasis on the ways in which India has been variously imagined and constructed throughout history. Indians and Westerners alike have long participated in “imagining” India, portraying it as everything from an exotic, spiritual paradise, to a model for peaceful protest and pluralistic democracy, to a place of oppression and violence. We’ll begin with English adaptations of the great Indian epics, The Mahabharata and The Ramayana, which will introduce us to India and its cultural history; proceed to writers from the era of British colonization, including Rudyard Kipling and Mulk Raj Anand; and conclude with a number of more contemporary novelists who confront the consequences of Indian independence and India’s place in a postcolonial world, including Anita Desai, Amitav Ghosh, and Salmon Rushdie. This course has two basic goals. One is to provide you with a survey of the rich literature of this region of the world, much of which (for historical reasons we’ll be discussing) is written in English. A second goal is to situate our conversations about these texts and authors within the larger discourse of postcolonial studies—that is, to define the notion of “postcolonial literature” and introduce you to some of the major thinkers of this area of literary criticism. Along the way, you’ll have opportunities to develop your ability to work with literary and historical texts and to enter into academic conversations about important writers and ideas. This course fulfills the Representational Ethics requirement.


ENG 140A & B: Nobel Literature | Dr. Andrea Frankwitz (4 credits)

First awarded in 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature represents the acme of literary artistry, and, in the words of Alfred Nobel, is given to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.”  Considering not a particular text but a writer’s oeuvre (a writer’s work regarded collectively), the awarding committee, the Swedish Academy, bestows this honor for the tremendous contributions which the writer has made to the world of literature and which also have “conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”  In this course, we will study texts by authors from several different countries and continents, with the aim of developing both an appreciation for their respective texts and represented cultures and also an understanding of how literature can enable us to transcend our own borders.  Course texts will include the genres of poetry, drama, short fiction, and the novel. 

ENG 140C: Modern Mythology | Dr. Andrew Logemann (4 credits)

Stories are fundamental to human experience. They sustain cultures and communities and help us define who we are. In myth, we find stories that delve into the deepest aspects of human self-understanding, exposing and questioning the value systems that govern cultures, and even the universe itself. We write myths to understand who we are as individuals, where we come from, where we are going, and why our lives matter. In this course, we will focus on works of fiction from around the world that tap into the ancient traditions of mythmaking to allow myth to resonate in our modern age. 

ENG 140D: Orphans and Others: A Place in the World | Prof. Lori Ambacher (4 credits)

In this course, we’ll be exploring literature that examines the theme of finding a place in the world. Why is the theme of belonging somewhere, and to someone, so important to humans? We’ll be looking at literature that is familiar to you, along with some that is not, reading novels, stories, poetry, movies and passages of scripture that follow the lives of orphans and others who aren’t always welcomed by society—underdogs, if you will. We’ll also be working to make connections between these literary sources. Short response writings and class discussions will allow you to consider the works as we read them, while oral presentations will help you to build your knowledge of the authors’ worlds. A longer essay will challenge you to consider two of the authors’ work in greater depth, and a final reflective essay will ask you to make deeper connections between your own life, your faith, and one of the pieces you read over the course of the semester. Research presentations will allow you to explore a real topic related to one of the course’s novels, such as the actual orphan trains. 

ENG 140E: Jewish Literature in Cultural Context | STAFF (4 credits)

This course explores Jewish literature in various cultural contexts across time and geography. This includes specific comparisons of Jewish literature to Russian, Eastern European, German, and American literature over time. This course also examines a diversity of Jewish literary genres ranging from poetry to fiction to religious texts. We examine universally recurring themes of Jewish literature, such as homeland and exile, identity, and traditionalism versus secular influence. We also consider major historical impacts on Jewish literature, particularly with respect to Diaspora and persecution. Students are equipped with some tools for a lifetime of study and engagement of Judaism, Jewish literature, and the discipline of comparing literature across multiple cultures. In all areas we consider a Christian response to, and appreciation of, Jewish literature.

ENG 141: Western Literature | Dr. Chad Stutz (4 credits)

This course will examine some of the “great works” of the western literary tradition from the book of Genesis to the eighteenth century. Through our reading of these texts, we will have an opportunity to observe both the continuities and discontinuities—spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic—within this tradition as we investigate and appreciate a wide range of authors and literary forms, and as we think about what “classic” literature may have to offer us as contemporary Christians. Along the way, we will explore foundational questions about what makes us human, the role of art and beauty in our lives and societies, the problem of evil and suffering, and our hope for the future.