Courses Offered

Link to Course Catalog

125. Introduction to Dramatic Scripts.

Students are introduced to the formal aspects of play texts and develop the critical skills necessary to read plays and critique live and video performances. Representative dramas from the Greeks to the present are investigated in terms of character development, dialog, settings and central ideas, as well as their original theatrical contexts: theater architecture, stage conventions, scenic devices, costuming and acting techniques. The emphasis is on analysis of scripts and the relationship among performance conditions, cultural context and dramatic conventions. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 125.

190. Introduction to Literary Forms
Students are introduced to the concept of literary genres. Each section focuses on a single genre — poetry, fiction, drama, fairy tales, graphic novels — with a view to describing and illustrating its major characteristics. Emphasis is on the varieties within generic types, and students are exposed to examples drawn from a wide historical range. In the process of studying the particular literary form, students also learn to respond critically to the challenges posed by literary texts and receive guidance in the composition of effective written responses to those texts.

201. Introduction to Newswriting.
A general study of journalistic principles and methods as well as extensive practice in the gathering and writing of news. Emphasis is on newspaper journalism.

212L.The London Stage.
Offered by St. Lawrence’s program in England. Students read, view and discuss plays being produced in London during the semester. The formal study of the plays and their productions is supplemented by frequent attendance at various forms of theatre and occasional tours and lectures. Students with some background in drama may petition to take this course as 312L and substitute an independent project for the regular course work.

215. Dramatic Texts in Context.
This course examines how knowing the theatrical and cultural contexts of plays helps theater practitioners make informed choices regarding how to stage them. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 215.

220. Introduction to African Literature.
This course introduces students to a wide range of literature, including poetry, plays and fiction, from many parts of Africa. The purpose is to explore the cultural fertility and diversity of literary production in an area of the world unfamiliar to most Americans. In addition, students gain insight into topics central to African/Third-World studies, such as the reaction and resistance to colonialism and the forging of complex cultural identities in a post-colonial culture. Also offered through African Studies.

223. Playwriting.
This course explores the processes of composition characteristic of the playwright. In a series of weekly assignments, various aspects of the art are introduced: dialog, characterization, dramatic action and others. The course concludes with the writing of a one-act play. Students read exemplary plays from the modern repertoire. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 223.

224. Caribbean Literature in English.
A survey of literature by authors from formerly British colonies: Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and Dominica. The course considers colonial and postcolonial fiction, poetry and non-fiction by writers from various ethnic groups, including people of African, East Indian, Chinese and European descent. Representative authors are Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, V.S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys, George Lamming, Edgar Mittelholzer, Olive Senior, Erna Brodber and Michelle Cliff. Also offered through Anthropology and Caribbean and Latin American Studies.

225, 226. Survey of English Literature.
These courses provide an overview of British literature beginning with the Anglo-Saxon period and extending into the 20th century. English 225 covers some works in Old and Middle English (Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales); continues with poetry and drama from the Renaissance, including Shakespearean drama; and extends from the Restoration up to 1700. English 226 includes selections from Neo-classical, Romantic, Victorian and modern British literature. Students contemplating graduate study in English are strongly encouraged to take both courses. Also offered through European Studies.

228. Irish Literature.
This is a cultural studies course on 20th-century Ireland with a focus on literature. The literary texts are placed in conversation with cinematic and musical texts as well as with historical and political contexts. The course examines the ways literature has been used to create and represent the postcolonial nation of Ireland, what stories it tells about history, identity and nationhood. Attention is paid to the vexed relationship between the Irish nation/culture/people and the divided polities that occupy the island today. Readings include drama, fiction and poetry from the early 20th century and from the contemporary period. Authors include Yeats, Joyce, Lady Gregory, Synge, O’Casey, Friel, Nuala O’Faolain, Edna O’Brien, Heaney, Muldoon, Doyle and other contemporary writers. Also offered through European Studies.

230. Introduction to African-American Literature.
Beginning with a consideration of Frederick Douglass and the slave narratives of the 19th century, this course concentrates on the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and follows the development of African-American writing in poetry, fiction and drama to the present. Representative authors are Douglass, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, Connie Porter and August Wilson. Also offered through Anthropology and African-American Studies.

237, 238. Survey of American Literature.
A survey of major works and writers that have shaped the American literary tradition from its beginnings to the present, with particular attention paid to historical and social backgrounds. English 237 covers writings from the colonial period to 1865; English 238
concentrates on literary texts from the Civil War until the early 21st century.

239. Introduction to Canadian Literature.
The background and development of Canadian literature in English. Though beginning with a survey of late 19th- and early 20th-century writing, the course emphasizes post-1920 Canadian literature, especially that written since 1940.

241. Techniques of Fiction.
An introductory study of basic technical problems and formal concepts of fiction writing. John Cheever once suggested that fiction “is a sort of sleight-of-hand that displays our deepest feelings about life.” As beginning fiction writers, students will mine autobiography, secondary research and other sources for ideas that pique their artistic interests. Through close reading of published fiction and nonfiction on the writer’s craft, students learn how to shape their material into compelling stories using characterization, point of view, time, setting and other narrative techniques.

242. Techniques of Poetry.
An introductory study of prosody and poetics. Class attention is divided among student writing, theory and published models. Weekly writing assignments address a variety of technical issues connected with both traditional and experimental verse, while reading assignments providing examples to follow or possibilities for further study. Matters of voice, affect, intuition, chance and imagination are given as much attention as those analytic skills necessary for clear communication. All students are required to share their oral and written work for group discussion and critique.

243. Creative Non-Fiction Writing.
An introductory study of basic technical problems and formal concepts of the literary essay. Students read and write essays on various topics, including travel, personal experience, landscape, natural science and politics. Weekly written exercises and student essays are read aloud and discussed in class. Also offered through Outdoor Studies.

244. Techniques of Screenwriting.
An introductory study of basic technical problems and formal concepts of screenwriting. The study of produced screenplays and formal film technique, along with writing scene exercises, builds toward the construction of a short (50-minute) script. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 244 and through Film and Representation Studies.

247. Special Studies in Language and Literature.
The content of each course or section of the course is different and is announced in the Class Schedule. Open to all students.

250.  Methods of Critical Analysis.
This course introduces students to a range of scholarly methods used to interpret literary works. While each section of the course may focus on a different theme or on a different group of primary texts, all sections aim to encourage students to recognize and to apply a variety of literary critical methods. In addition, students learn the citation and formatting conventions most commonly employed in the field of literary study.

255. African-American Drama.
African-American drama is a tradition that has unique themes and forms with sources in African ritual, language, gesture and folklore; the Southern Baptist church; the blues; and jazz. Students examine plays, read essays, view videos and listen to music to discover the qualities that make this drama a vital resource of African-American culture and an important social and political voice. Playwrights include Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, George C. Wolfe, Alice Childress, Ntozake Shange, Ed Bullins and August Wilson. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 255 and through African-American Studies.

263. Native American Fiction.
This course concentrates on Native American fiction in English, most of it produced in the 20th century. It suggests some of the subjects and themes common to Native American literature in general and examines some of the forms and techniques used to treat them. Writers represent a broad spectrum of Native American cultural groups and may include Louise Erdrich, Linda Hogan, John Joseph Mathews, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko and James Welch. Also offered through Native American Studies.

272.  Coming-Out Stories: African-American
      Lesbians Speak.

Among the many questions this course addresses: Are identity politics in contemporary North American culture passé, boring and irrelevant? How do African-American lesbians choose the oppression to which they hold allegiance? How does the critical literature help us better engage the autobiographical pieces that lesbians write? How do lesbians negotiate the rugged terrain of feminism? The purpose is not simply to compare and consider the profundity (and often trauma) of the experience of “coming out” for Black women, but also to define terms we think we understand or know. We also look at social mores and taboos often shaped and molded by the Black church. Also offered as Gender and Sexuality Studies 272 and through African-American Studies.

295. Nature and Environmental Writing.
This course is designed for students who want to explore nature writing — the intersection of self and the natural world. We explore how this genre combines the observational, scientific “eye” with the personal, narrative “I” through readings in non-fiction anthologies, novels and/or memoirs. Students write essays on nature and the environment that reflect different objectives within the genre, such as the political essay, the literary field study and the personal essay. Students also keep a “naturalist’s journal.” Discussion of the readings is interspersed with workshop sessions. Also offered as Environmental Studies 295 and through Outdoor Studies.

306. Advanced Screenwriting Workshop.
An extension and intensification of English 244. Students are expected to work independently on the preparation of two feature-length screenplays. Workshop format emphasizes the revision and editing process. Prerequisite: English 244. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 306 and through Film and Representation Studies.

307. The Short Story.
An exploration of the evolution of the modern short story with special emphasis on the American tradition from World War I to the present. Representative authors include Chekhov, Joyce, Kafka, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Porter, Cheever, Baldwin, Updike, Barthelme, Carver, Oates, Munro, Cisneros, Alexie. Prerequisites: two lower-level English courses.

308. Advanced Creative Non-Fiction Writing.
The students’ own writing provides much of the material for this course, although essays by contemporary writers are read and studied. Students are given opportunities to use non-fiction topics and forms of their own choice. Special attention is paid to problems of voice and narrative method, in particular to the role of narrators in mediating what is observed. The revision and editing process is also emphasized. Prerequisite: English 243. Also offered through Outdoor Studies.

309. Feature Writing.
Introduction to newspaper and magazine feature writing. In addition to writing shorter features of various types, students produce a representative profile, which involves locating an individual who represents a newsworthy group or issue, researching the issue, conducting several interviews with the subject, with experts in the field and with acquaintances of the subject, and combining all this into a long feature. Prerequisite: English 201.

310. Advanced Fiction Writing.
Building upon the craft techniques acquired in English 241, Techniques of Fiction, students encounter authors who challenge basic assumptions about the nature of fiction through writing narratives that experiment with the givens of traditional story forms. Discussion of student-produced manuscripts in a workshop setting is one of a number of pedagogies employed. Emphasis is on writing improvement through increasing awareness of the technical dynamics of the short story genre and through cultivating an understanding of contemporary idioms and the uses of the imagination. Prerequisite: English 241

311. Advanced Poetry Workshop.
An extension and intensification of English 242. The class meets regularly in a workshop setting to critique student poems and assigned readings, to experiment with collaborative projects, and to discuss issues of contemporary poetic theory. All students are required to complete a formal manuscript of finished poems and to read from their work in public. Prerequisite: English 242.

.312L. The London Stage.
Offered by St. Lawrence’s program in England. Students attend the same plays as the English 212L class but undertake an independent project instead of the regular classwork. Prerequisites: two English courses, one of which must include the study of drama, and permission of the instructor.

313. Performing Poetry.
“Milktongue, goatfoot, and twinbird” are the words that poet Donald Hall uses to describe what the voicing and embodying of poetry feels like to him. It is something with taste and texture in our mouths, something we feel in our bodies, and something that sings and chants and fills the world with sight and sound. In this course we focus on the performance of various poetic forms: traditional fixed forms, open verse, concrete poems, found poems and others. We will add to Hall’s list of ways to describe just what happens when poetry returns to its roots in the oral tradition.
Note: all 300-level literature courses in English have a prerequisite of two 200-level English courses or permission of the instructor.

315. Chaucer.
A study of Chaucer’s major works, Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales. Also offered through European Studies.

316. English Literature of the Middle Ages.
Readings comprise representative texts from Old and Middle English, including Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Piers Plowman, medieval drama and the Morte D’Arthur. Also offered through European Studies.

317. Renaissance Poetry.
A study of the romantic, spiritual and political poetry written by English men and women of the 16th and 17th centuries. Poets covered include Marlowe, Shakespeare, Herbert, Sidney, Wroth, Herrick and Donne. Also offered through European Studies.

319, 320. Shakespeare.
An intensive study of Shakespeare’s plays. English 319 concentrates on the comedies and histories, 320 on the tragedies. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 319, 320 and through European Studies.

323. African Drama: Voices of Protest and Selfhood.
This course introduces students to the theatrical developments in South Africa in the apartheid and post-apartheid eras. The purpose is to foster awareness of the potency of drama for political protest and for social change in post-colonial Africa. Issues about gender and racial discrimination, as well as the challenge of technocracy and European values to traditional beliefs and customs, are the primary focuses for study. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 323 and through African Studies.

.324. Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama.
A study of English popular drama, 1580 to 1640. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 324 and through European Studies.

325. 18th-Century English Literature.
This course often has a thematic focus: during a recent semester the study of 18th-century English literature and culture concentrated on the relationship between low and high culture, the popular and the polite. The course asked, to what degree can these categories be separated, and in what ways do they intersect or merge in writings of this period? How do texts fit within these categories? What determines these categories — genre? audience? circulation? subject? publication format? Course texts include works by canonical figures such as Pope, Swift and Johnson, women writers and precursors of romanticism. Also offered through European Studies

328. English Romanticism.
A study of English romantic literature in its historical and philosophical contexts. Authors normally studied include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Percy and Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Byron and Keats. Also offered through European Studies and Outdoor Studies.

331. American Romanticism: 1830-1860.
A study of representative American writers of the Romantic period, including Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Poe and Whitman.

332. American Realism: 1860-1900.
This course focuses on developments in American literature from the Civil War to the First World War, examining such movements as realism, local colorism and naturalism, and attending to contemporary social issues to which the literature responds: the aftermath of the Civil War and reconstruction, racism, the woman question, immigration, industrialization and urban poverty, rural life and westward expansion. Readings include works by realists such as Mark Twain, W.D. Howells, Edith Wharton and Stephen Crane, and those by less well-known writers like W.E.B. Dubois, Charles Chesnutt, Rebecca Harding Davis, Abraham Cahan and Kate Chopin.

338. 20th-Century Avant-Garde.
Students are exposed to theoretical writings, dramatic texts and performances that reflect the continuing experimentation in the theater since the 1890s. Students examine artistic reactions to a post-Darwinian and post-Freudian worldview and are exposed to the various methods by which playwrights and theater practitioners have grappled with finding new ways of articulating what it means to be human in an industrialized world. Prerequisites: Performance and Communication Arts 125 or 215, English 190 or permission of instructor. Also offered as Performance and Communication Arts 338 and through European Studies.

339. The 18th Century Novel.
The novel is a relatively new genre, a form that emerged in the 18th century and differed from previous ones in appearing only in print. Why did the English novel originate at this time? What did authors imagine it as being and doing? And how did the genre evolve throughout the 18th century? To answer these questions, we situate the novel within its historical contexts, examining English politics and culture. We also survey the century’s most influential novels and assess the development of subgenres such as the epistolary novel, the Gothic novel and the novel of manners. Also offered through European Studies.

340. The Victorian Novel.
The Victorians ran the greatest global power of their time and struggled with many of the same issues as we do — both public (technology, prejudice, pollution) and private (love, marriage, family). This course examines their novels within this context, starting with realistic works (such as the hilarious Vanity Fair and Barchester Towers) and ending with a few novelistic forms that arose or resurfaced at the end of the period (sci-fi, horror, detective fiction). Also offered through European Studies.

344. Ethnic American Women Writers.
This course focuses on the writings of women from four major American ethnic groups: African-American, Native American, Asian-American and Latin American. Works are examined as products of particular ethnic traditions as well as products of a common female American literary heritage. Writers may include Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Silko, Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez.

346. American Literature and the Environment.
A study of the literary response to the taming of the American wilderness. The course focuses on the close association of nature and art in American literature, examining how American writers, in shaping story and poem, have tried to reconcile the processes and values associated with “wilderness” and “civilization.” Some attention is given to the historical and cultural backgrounds of the wilderness theme. Writers such as Crevecoeur, Jefferson, Cooper, Thoreau, Melville, Twain, Whitman, Jewett, Frost, Faulkner, Cather, Steinbeck, McPhee and Dillard are studied, but an effort is made to choose works not usually taught in the surveys of American literature. Also offered as Environmental Studies 346 and through Outdoor Studies.

347. Special Studies in Language and Literature.
The content of each course or section of the course is varied and is announced when the Class Schedule is published prior to registration.

349. Modern British and American Poetry.
A survey of modern poetries from the Anglo-American canon. Major authors include Thomas Hardy, A.E. Houseman, W.B. Yeats, Robert Frost, D.H. Lawrence, Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Robinson Jeffers, e.e. cummings, Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath. The general aim of the course is to strengthen our capacity to read carefully and experience more deeply the work of a wide variety of poets.

350. 20th-Century Realism.
After Ibsen, realistic drama continued to be written by other dramatists in continental Europe, Great Britain and the United States. Students observe how various playwrights used the form of realism: as a vehicle for social and political ideas, as an instrument for expressing “folk” consciousness, and as the formal basis for experience conceived symbolically or lyrically. Plays are selected from the works of dramatists such as Lorca, O’Neill, Hellman, Williams, Gorky, Miller, Hansberry, Wilson, Synge, O’Casey, Durrenmatt, Osborne, Handke and Pinter. Also offered through European Studies.

352. Contemporary Literature and the Environment.
A study of the contemporary literary response to rising national interest in the natural world and rising awareness about the danger to natural resources. Readings are predominantly in prose (novels and essays), with some poetry included. Among the questions the authors ask: as we approach the natural world, how can we move beyond metaphors of dominion? What are the biases of gender, geography and culture that we bring to our inquiry? What is the relationship between the human and the “natural”? What does it mean to fully invest ourselves in our local environment? Also offered as Environmental Studies 352 and through Outdoor Studies.

353.Time and Self in Modernist British Fiction.
The course focuses on an era of radical change and experimentation in fictional narrative, during which new ideas in psychology, philosophy and science accompanied the development of new fictional techniques designed to explore and revise how time and identity might be represented. Readings are largely in British fiction from 1900 to 1930. Also offered through European Studies.

.354. The Modern American Novel.
A study of modern American novelists from Dreiser, Cather and Lewis through Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and important writers of the 1930s.

355. Contemporary British Novel.
A survey of post-World War II British fiction, including such novelists as Doris Lessing, V.S. Naipaul, William Golding, Iris Murdoch, A.S. Byatt and John Fowles. Also offered through European Studies.

356. Contemporary American Novel.
An introduction to American literary works since 1960 for the purpose of illuminating the variety of forms that contemporary literature has taken and the themes it has addressed. Although the novel is the genre emphasized most in the course, short stories, novellas, works of creative non-fiction and graphic novels are also included. Authors whose work has recently been studied in this course include Barthelme, Capote, Didion, Elkin, Ellison, Erdrich, Grealy, Heller, Hogan, McGuane, Millhauser, Morrison, Naylor, O’Brien, Palahniuk, Pynchon, Roth, Spiegelman and Updike.

357. Postcolonial Literature and Theory.
This course introduces a distinct way of organizing literary study, substituting for the study of national traditions the notion of postcoloniality as a global condition affecting not only literature but also categories we use to think about human experience: relations between colonizers and colonized and between culture and power; identity, authenticity and hybridity; roots, motherland, mother tongue; nationality. Readings include contemporary literature produced in the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, Africa, Canada and the Caribbean, as well as important theoretical texts about postcoloniality. Also offered as Philosophy 357 and Global Studies 357.

358. Canadian Fiction.
An examination of Canadian prose since 1920. Though concentrating on the novel, the course pays significant attention to the short story.

359. American Women Writers.
A survey of the contributions of women writers to the development of the American literary tradition. Representative writers include Stowe, Jewett, Freeman, Chopin, Cather, Wharton, Porter, Morrison, Godwin and Rich.


362. The English Language.
A study of the origins and development of the English language with primary emphasis upon general principles of grammar and meaning. Attention is given to the sounds and forms of Old English and Middle English, as well as to psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic questions about modern speech and writing. Also offered through European Studies.

367. Feminist Postcolonial Theory.
Postcolonial theory addresses issues of identity, culture, literature and history arising from the social context of colonization, resistance to colonization, liberation from colonization and the formation of new nations. It crosses the boundaries of the social sciences and humanities in its approach to theory and analysis of the discourses used to constitute colonial and postcolonial subjects. We begin with some classic texts of postcolonial theory before moving to a focus on specifically feminist debates and texts within postcolonial studies. Literature and film are used in dialog with theoretical texts to examine questions about gender and women’s issues in various societies. Also offered as Gender and Sexuality Studies 367, Global Studies 367 and Philosophy 367.

368. Contemporary American Poetry.
A survey of the major “schools” of poets of the 1950s through the 1980s. Emphasis is on the Beat poets (Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Ferlinghetti, Di Prima, McClure); the Black Mountain poets (Olson, Creeley, Duncan, Dorn, Baraka); the New York poets (O’Hara, Schuyler, Berrigan, Ashbery); and the Confessional poets (Lowell, Sexton, Berryman, Plath). While a great deal of attention is given to primary texts, poetic theory and social history are also examined.

389, 390. Projects for Juniors.
Student-initiated projects involving significant study and writing carried out through frequent conferences with a faculty sponsor. Prerequisites: junior standing and a 3.0 GPA in English. Proposals must be approved by the department projects committee in the preceding semester (by the Friday before pre-registration week).

409. Internships in Communications.
The department sponsors a limited number of closely supervised internships on campus. There are various prerequisites for these and an application process for enrollment. Information about internships is available in the English department office. The internship counts as a writing course.

450 SYE: Senior Seminar.
SYE seminars are designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed in their own progress toward completion of the major. Seminars vary in topic, but each will require participants to complete a substantial writing project and to contribute both formally and informally to classroom discussions.

489, 490. SYE: Projects for Seniors.
Student-initiated projects involving significant study and writing carried out through frequent conferences with a faculty sponsor. Prerequisites: senior standing and a 3.0 GPA in English. Proposals must be approved by the department projects committee in the preceding semester. Fulfills SYE requirement for those eligible.

498. SYE Honors Projects for Seniors.
This course is offered in the fall semester only and is for students working on an independent project to submit for departmental honors in the spring semester. Students meet regularly with their individual project advisor and as a group several times during the semester for guidance about conducting research, revising and preparing thesis manuscripts. Prerequisites: senior standing, a 3.5 GPA in English and approval by the departmental projects committee in the preceding semester. Fulfills SYE requirement for those eligible.