Amherst College Spring 2015 English Courses ENGL 225 Non-Fiction Writing (old and new requirements: 385 Creative WritingNon-fiction) Lecture 1 TuTh 1:00-2:20 Instructor: Robert Townsend We will study writers’ renderings of their own experiences (memoirs) and their analyses of society and its institutions (cultural criticism). Workshop format, with discussion of texts and of students’ experiments in the genre. Students must submit examples of their writing to the English office. Three Limited to 12 students. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course. ENGL 240 Reading Poetry (new requirements: 200+ elective) Lecture 1 TuTh 10:00-11:20 Instructor: Ingrid Nelson A first course in the critical reading of selected English-language poets, which gives students exposure to significant poets, poetic styles, and literary and cultural contexts for poetry from across the tradition. Attention will be given to prosody and poetic forms, and to different ways of reading poems. Limited to 35 students. ENGL 250 Reading the Novel (new requirements: 200+ elective) Lecture 1 TuTh 11:30-12:50 Instructor: Judith Frank An introduction to the study of the novel, through the exploration of a variety of critical terms (plot, character, point of view, tone, realism, identification, genre fiction, the book) and methodologies (structuralist, Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytic). We will draw on a selection of novels in English to illustrate and complicate those terms; possible authors include Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Wilkie Collins, Henry James, Kazuo Ishiguro, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, Emma Donoghue, David Foster Wallace, Monique Truong, Jennifer Egan. Preference given to sophomores. Limited to 35 students. ENGL 255 Unreliabilities (new requirements: 200+ elective)(creative writing spec.) Lecture 1 MW 12:30-1:50 Instructor: Amity Gaige This course is concerned with the problem of honesty in subjective expression. We will study both fictional and non-fictional first-person narratives. Some narrators deliberately deceive, and some deceive without intending to. How does an elusive understanding of the self make even an “honest” narrator’s project of telling harder, if not impossible? Readings will include works by Kazuo Ishiguro, Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Mitchell, Janet Malcolm, Lauren Slater, and Geoff Dyer. Students will be required to produce both critical and creative writing. Creative writing experience preferred. Writing attentive. Limited to 15 students. ENGL 277 Videogames and the Boundaries of Narrative (new requirements: 200+ elective) Lecture 1 Thurs 1:00-4:30 Instructor: Marissa Parham In this course we will engage in a comprehensive approach to narrative video gaming–play, interpretation, and design–-to explore how video gaming helps us to conceptualize the boundaries between our experiences of the world and our representations thereof. We will ask how play and interactivity change how we think about the work of narrative. What would it mean to think about video games alongside texts focused on similar subjects but in different media? How, for instance, does Assassin’s Creed: Freedom’s Cry change how we understand C.L.R. James, Susan BuckMorss, Isabel Allende, or others’ discussions of the Haitian Revolution? And how do video games help us to reconceptualize the limits of other media forms, particularly around questions of what it means to represent differences in race, gender, physical ability? Finally, how might we more self-consciously capitalize on gaming’s potential to transform the work of other fields, for instance education and community development? In this course, students will play and analyze video games while engaging texts from a variety of other critical and creative disciplines. Assignments for this course will be scaled by experience-level. No experience with video games or familiarity with computer coding is required for this course, as the success of this method will require that students come from a wide variety of skill levels. ENGL 280 Coming To Terms: Cinema (new requirements: 200+ elective) Lecture 1 M 4:00-7:00 PM Instructor: Nathaniel Brennan An introduction to cinema studies through consideration of a few critical and descriptive terms, together with a selection of various films (classic and contemporary, foreign and American) for illustration and discussion. The terms for discussion will include, among others: cinematic verisimilitude, spectatorship and affect, sound, narrative, and the avant-garde. Three class meetings and one screening per week. Limited to 35 students. ENGL 287 Introduction to Super 8 Film & Digital Video (new requirements: 200+ elective) Lecture 1 Mon 7:00-9:00 PM This course will introduce students to basic Super 8 film and digital video techniques. The course will include workshops in shooting for film and video, Super 8 film editing, Final Cut Pro video editing, lighting, stop motion animation, sound recording and mixing. Students will learn to think about and look critically at the moving and still image. Students will complete three moving image projects, including one Super 8 film, one video project, and one mixed media project. Weekly screenings will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to editing, writing, and directing in experimental, documentary, narrative, and hybrid cinematic forms. Screenings include works by Martha Rosler, Bill Viola, the Yes Men, Jennifer Reeves, Mona Hatoum, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Dziga Vertov, D.A. Pennebaker, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Cécile Fontaine, and Johanna Vaude. Admission with consent of the instructor. Please complete the questionnaire at https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/film/infostu/forms. Limited to 13 students. ENGL 295 Literature and Pyschoanalysis (new requirements: 200+ elective) Lecture 1 MW 2:00-3:20 Instructor: Alicia Christoff Why does it seem natural to read ourselves and other people in the same way that we read books? This course will introduce students to both psychoanalytic theory and literary interpretation, asking about their similarities as well as their dissonance. Why do novels of development and case-studies resemble one another? What can the Freudian understanding of the structure of the psyche teach us about the structure of narrative? And what do “illnesses” like hysteria and paranoia have in common with everyday acts of meaning-making and with the way we read literature? Each week pairing a psychoanalytic paper with a short story or novel, we will ask how psychoanalysis alters not only what we see in literary works, but also the way we understand our own acts of interpretation. Topics include the unconscious, dreams, childhood, the uncanny, desire, subjects and objects, and mourning. Reading will include essays by Freud, Lacan, Winnicott, Melanie Klein, and others; and fiction by Jensen, Melville, Poe, Brontë, James, Flaubert, and Ishiguro. Preference given to sophomores considering an English major. ENGL 325 Imitations (old and new requirements: 300+ elective)(creative writing spec.) Lecture 1 MW 8:30-9:50 Instructor: Daniel J. Hall A poetry writing course, but with a strong emphasis on reading. Students will closely examine the work of various poets and periods, then attempt to write plausible imitations of their own, all by way of learning about poetry from the inside, as it were. Limited to 15 students. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course. ENGL 332 Chaucer-The Canterbury Tales (old requirements: Brit-lit pre-1700 or 300+ elective)(new requirements: 300+ elective) Lecture 1 TuTh 1:00-2:20 Instructor: Ingrid Nelson The course aims to give the student rapid mastery of Chaucer’s English and an active appreciation of his poetry. No prior knowledge of Middle English is expected. A knowledge of Modern English grammar and its nomenclature, or a similar knowledge of another language, will be helpful. Short critical papers and frequent declamation in class. The emphasis will be on Chaucer’s humor, irony, and his narrative and dramatic gifts. We will read most of the poetic Tales and excerpts from the two prose Tales. ENGL 338 Shakespeare (old and new requirements: English 221 equivalent course) Lecture 1 TuTh 10:00-11:20 Instructor: Anston Bosman Readings in the comedies, histories, and tragedies, with attention to their poetic language, dramatic structure, and power in performance. Texts and topics will vary by instructor. Limited to 50 students. ENGL 348 Modern British Literature: 1900-1950 (old and new requirements: 300+ elective) Lecture 1 TuTh 10:00-11:20 Instructor: William H. Pritchard Readings in twentieth-century writers such as Henry James, Bernard Shaw, Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh, W.H. Auden, Robert Graves, George Orwell, Ivy Compton-Burnett. Not open to first-year students. ENGL 395 Literature and the Nonhuman World (old and new requirements: 300+ elective) Lecture 1 M/F 12:30-1:50 Instructor: Geoffrey D. Sanborn Like every other aspect of human culture, literature interacts with biology–with, in Elizabeth Grosz’s words, “a system of (physical, chemical, organic) differences that engenders historical, social, cultural, and sexual differences.” The aim of this course is to make that fact as intellectually fruitful as possible. What happens to our understanding of literature if we think of it as an expression of life? What happens, that is, if we think of literature as one of the countless things that emerges from a nonpersonal, non-teleological process of evolution? And what happens if we think of individual works of literature as potential ways of getting closer, conceptually and sensually, to life, to the difference-making process within which we all find ourselves? Critical readings will include selections from Grosz’s Becoming Undone and Timothy Morton’s The Ecological Thought; literary readings will include Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Thoreau’s Walden, James Welch’s Winter in the Blood, Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, and Edward P. Jones’s The Known World. A background in the natural sciences is welcome but not necessary. ENGL 397 Editors & Authors (old and new requirements: 300+ elective) Lecture 1 Thurs 2:30-5:00 Instructor: Jennifer Acker In 1980, on the eve of publication of his second short story collection, Raymond Carver wrote to his editor Gordon Lish and begged him to stop the presses. Carver felt Lish had edited the stories so dramatically the author could no longer claim them as his own. Yet this collection is an American masterpiece. What can we learn about the art and practice of editing from this relationship? How does one read and think like an editor? In addition to reading editor-author correspondence and the “before” and “after” versions of landmark literary works, including The Great Gatsby, students will read and analyze trail-blazing literary magazines, defunct and contemporary, that have shaped literary landscapes and authors’ careers. Submissions to The Common, the Amherst College-based print and online literary magazine, will provide some of the course materials and opportunities for hands-on editing work. Requisite: One English course at the 200 level or higher required. Limited to 15 students. ENGL 427 Crafting the Novel (old and new requirements: 300+ elective)(creative writing spec.) Lecture 1 Tues 1:00-3:40 Instructor: Amity Gaige This is an advanced writing course for students seeking to move their fiction writing into longer forms. Students will be expected to complete at least 60 pages of new writing, comprised of three different “approaches” to novel writing. Readings will be extensive, including published novels, the work of peers, and essays on theory and craft. One class meeting per week. Requisite: ENGL 226. Recommended requisite: ENGL 326. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited enrollment. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course. ENGL 438 Solitude and the Self in British Romanticism (old requirements: Brit-lit 1700-1900 or 300+ elective)(new requirements: 300+ elective) Lecture 1 TuTh 11:30-12:50 Instructor: Amelia S. Worsley Are we most ourselves when we are alone? Is creativity made more possible by solitude? Why do artists and writers tend to be seen as more solitary than other kind s of people? In this course, we will study shifting ideas about the relationship between the self, solitude, and creativity in the works of William Wordsworth, Jean -Jacques Rousseau, Charlotte Smith, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Felicia Hemans, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Our main focus will be on Romantic poetry, but we will also pay close attention to texts about solitude that the Romantics themselves read, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and The Tempest, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and eighteenth-century “graveyard poetry,” in order to question more rigorously how ideas about solitude changed across time. How do factors such as gender, race, national origin, and class have a bearing u pon the way that solitude is represented? The course includes an independent research project, in which students are asked to find a memoir, philosophical work, novel, periodical, or piece of travel writing from 1700-1830, in which solitude is a central concept, in order to ask how the development of different genres and modes of autobiographical writing affected ideas about solitude. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. ENGL 480 Film Historiography in Theory and Practice (old and new requirements: 300+ elective) Lecture 1 TuTh 11:30-12:50 Instructor: Nathaniel Brennan This seminar will introduce students to the methodologies of film history, covering recent questions in the field of cinema studies as well as more general work on historical and archival practice. We will explore concepts such as historical spectatorship and reception, the intellectual history of film theory, production and studio history, the history of narrative and form, and national and transnational film history. Students will also be introduced to the practical matters of historical research such as utilizing special collections (public and private) and handling and assessing archival material. The course will be research intensive; in addition to the assigned readings and discussion in class, students will undertake one major research project and present their findings over the course of the semester. Two class meetings and one screening per week. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. ENGL 491 The Creole Imagination (old requirements: 300+ elective)(new requirements: Anglophone/ethnic Amer literature or 300+ elective) Lecture 1 MW 12:30-1:50 Instructors: C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander and John E. Drabinski What would it mean to write in the language in which we dream? A language that we can hear, but cannot (yet) see? Is it possible to conceive a language outside the socio symbolic order? And can one language subvert the codes and values of another? Questions like these have animated the creolité/nation language debate among Caribbean intellectuals since the mid-1970s, producing some of the most significant francophone and anglophone writing of the twentieth century. This course reads across philosophy, cultural theory, politics, and literature in order to consider the claims such works make for the Creole imagination. We will engage the theoretical and creative work of Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Patrick Chamoiseau, Jamaica Kincaid, and Edwidge Danticat. We also will consider how these writers transform some of the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and critical historiography. At stake in our readings will be the various aesthetic and political aspects of postcolonial struggle–how to think outside the colonial architecture of language; how to contest and subvert what remains from history’s violence; and how to evaluate the claims to authenticity of creolized New World cultural forms. Junior/Senior seminar. Limited to 20 students.
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