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Spring Course Descriptions

SPRING 2020 UPPER-LEVEL LITERATURE COURSES


ENG 335 | Eighteenth-Century British Literature: Specters of the Irrational in the Age of Reason | Dr. Chad Stutz

The eighteenth century is often referred to as the Age of Reason. Philosophers such as Thomas Paine heralded Reason as God’s greatest gift to humankind; poets and critics such as Samuel Johnson celebrated rationality, beauty, order, moderation, decorum, and virtue; and social activists like William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft appealed to Reason as the basis for their proposed political reforms. Yet the so-called Age of Reason also exhibited a strange fascination with various forms of the irrational and non-rational. Theorists of the sublime, the Graveyard Poets, and Gothic novelists all explored the “dark side” of human experience, calling into question the Enlightenment ideals of clear thinking, universal order, and virtuous conduct while evoking fears of the Other (racial, feminine, non-human, etc.). Through an examination of key texts representing this darker side of the Enlightenment, this course will investigate the interesting tension that existed in eighteenth-century literature and culture between reason and un-reason, order and disorder, and moderation and excess. Authors will include Edmund Burke, Robert Blair, Edward Young, Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, and Jane Austen. For students following the 2017–2018 catalog or later, this course fulfills the Literature before 1800 requirement. For students following an earlier catalog, this course counts toward the British literature strand.


ENG 337 | Contemporary British Literature | Dr. Andrew Logemann

This course focuses on British literature published from 1980 to the present. As we consider literary texts from this period, we will be especially interested in British constructions of identity – that is, how issues of gender, race, class, transnational migration, and postcolonial displacement shape literary representations of the United Kingdom and its commonwealth nations. We will have three primary objectives. The first is to introduce you to the literature of the contemporary period in Great Britain and to help you develop a historical and cultural understanding of the central writers of the era. Together we will read these authors carefully, discuss the value of their techniques and ideas, and seek to understand how their contributions shaped art and culture in the late twentieth, and early twenty-first, centuries. As we explore the rich literature of the contemporary period, we will develop the critical tools and historical understanding needed to comprehend and appreciate this challenging, but rewarding, group of texts. We will also situate our conversations about these texts and authors within the larger discourse of literary theory and criticism. This course’s second objective is to teach you how to formulate good questions in the discipline of literary studies, to generate strong arguments in response to these questions, and to support your arguments with relevant evidence and research. You should have learned the basics of making arguments about literature in previous courses; my goal in this course is to equip you to take your skills to the next level. The final objective of this course is to explore why writing, reading, and studying literature continues to matter in our contemporary world. If you are interested in thinking about how literature addresses modern cultural issues, and how art shapes, and is shaped by, our contemporary world, you will find this set of authors very engaging. For students following the 2017–2018 catalog or later, this course fulfills the British Literature after 1800 requirement. For students following an earlier catalog, this course counts toward the British literature strand. 


ENG 347 | African American Literature | Dr. Andrea Frankwitz

This course will survey the wide range of artistic talents of African American writers over the past few centuries and set these works in their historical, cultural, and spiritual contexts. We will begin with the poetry of Phillis Wheatley and then move to Harriet Jacobs’s slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and then on to some influential essays by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Sampling from the Harlem Renaissance, we will read novels by James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright, along with poetry of the era. Taking our examination of racial heritage and individual Black identity and culture further into the twentieth century, we will read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Toni Morrison’s Beloved and then finish up the semester with poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and Rita Dove. For students following the 2017–2018 catalog or later, this course fulfills the American Literature after 1800 or the Representational Ethics requirement. For students following an earlier catalog, this course counts toward the American literature strand. 


ENG 491 | Senior Seminar: The Short Story Cycle | Dr. Andrea Frankwitz

This course will examine the fascinating genre of the short story cycle, a tradition that begins in 1820 with Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook. More than simply a collection of tales, the cycle is a novel-length grouping of inter-related stories that are linked by character, theme, and setting. Variously known by the names “composite novel,” “short story sequence,” “serial story,” and “short story cycle,” this genre came of age in the first half of the twentieth century. We’ll examine this “integrated” variant of the short story genre and how it works, consulting relevant theory and criticism and reading a range of examples of the cycle, such as Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Hemingway’s In Our Time, Updike’s Too Far To Go, Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children, and Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. For students following the 2017–2018 catalog or later, this course fulfills the Senior Capstone requirement. For students following an earlier catalog, this course counts toward the American literature strand. In unique circumstances and with the permission of the instructor, the course could count towards other strands instead.


SPRING 2020 CORE LITERATURE COURSES


ENG 140A: A Place in the World: The Literature of Orphans, Refugees, and Exiles in a World Where They’re Not Always Welcome | 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, refugees and exiles.  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.


ENG 140B: 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: Myths and Myth-Making | Dr. Andrew Logemann  (Online, Asynchronous; 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. Success Path: This course is organized around acquiring three key academic skills. You are going to learn to read carefully, to respond in writing (Reading Response Essays), to respond in peer feedback (Self- and Peer-Assessments), and to reflect on your own thinking (Portfolio and Reflection Essay).


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.