Fall Term

Course Information

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1. Creative Writing
English Cafr. Advanced Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Claire Messud

Thursdays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 269 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Intended for students with prior fiction-writing and workshop experience, this course will concentrate on the structure, execution and revision of short fiction. Throughout the term, we will read and discuss literary fiction from a craft perspective. The course is primarily focused on the discussion of student work, with the aim of improving both writerly skills and critical analysis. Revision is an important component of this class.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of prose fiction, along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you’re interested in the course; what experience you’ve had writing, both in previous workshops and independently; what your literary goals and ambitions are. Please tell me about some of your favorite narratives – fiction, non-fiction, film, etc: why they move you, and what you learn from them.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Capr. Poetry: Workshop
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 018 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Open by application to both undergraduates and graduates. Class lasts 3 hours and includes the study of poetic practice in conjunction with the discussion of student work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a portfolio including a letter of interest, ten poems, and a list of classes (taken at Harvard or elsewhere) that seem to have bearing on your enterprise.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Cfmr. Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Claire Messud

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 211 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introductory fiction workshop, in which students will explore elements of craft such as character, point of view, setting, detail, style, etc. The first weeks will be devoted to fiction readings (TBA) and creative exercises; most of the semester will be spent workshopping student fiction. The final project involves significant revision of a story.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative writing in prose (fiction is preferable, but non-fiction is also fine) along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you’re interested in writing fiction, and in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; what some of your favorite narratives are and why.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Cijr. Introduction to Journalism: Workshop
Instructor: Jill Abramson
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Mondays, 1-4 pm | Location: Barker 218 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An intense seminar for those interested in understanding the changing role of journalism and in learning the art of reporting and writing narrative stories. The course is intended for those contemplating careers as journalists or because they want a better sense of how journalism really works. Coursework will include two narrative articles that are ready for publication. Readings will include some of the best examples of modern journalism, from magazine features by authors including Gay Talese to multimedia narratives such as The New York Times’ “Snow Fall.”

Supplemental Application Information: The application should include a letter saying why the student wants to take the workshop, why writing and journalism interests them, and which websites, magazines, newspapers and other news sources they read, even gossipy sites like Gawker.  A writing sample is optional for this course application.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Ckr. Introduction to Playwriting: Workshop
Instructor: Sam Marks

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 218 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop is an introduction to writing for the stage through intensive reading and in-depth written exercises. Each student will explore the fundamentals and possibilities of playwriting by generating short scripts and completing a one act play with an eye towards both experimental and traditional narrative styles. Readings will examine various ways of creating dramatic art and include work from contemporary playwrights such as Kenneth Lonergan, Martin McDonagh, Suzan Lori-Parks, and Sarah Ruhl as well established work from Anton Chekhov, Sarah Kane, and Harold Pinter.

Supplemental Application Information: Submit a 2-4 page sample in any genre. Also, please write a few sentences about a significant theatrical experience (a play read or seen) and how it affected you.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Clr (001). Dramatic Screenwriting I: Workshop
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 269 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This class introduces the screenplay, from the Hollywood blockbuster to the indie sleeper. Students will learn the basics of screenwriting by reading scripts and viewing the resulting films, focusing on dramatic structure, character development, tone, dialogue, and the other aspects of film determined by the writer. Students will develop their own feature-length screenplays-which we’ll workshop from the earliest stages-and finish the semester with a first act and the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary to continue screenwriting.

Supplemental Application Information: In your letter of application, please answer the following questions:

  1. What are your five favorite films from the last ten years?
  2. What do you consider the worst film you’ve seen in a theater? In a few sentences, explain why you think it was the worst.
  3. Have you taken any film-related courses at Harvard or anywhere else?
  4. Briefly explain why you’d like to take this course.

The writing sample should showcase your story-telling abilities and your writing voice. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and dramatic writing are all acceptable. Please limit your sample to five pages. Excerpts are fine—please indicate them as such.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Clr (002). Dramatic Screenwriting I: Workshop
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: CGIS Knafel K109 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This class introduces the screenplay, from the Hollywood blockbuster to the indie sleeper. Students will learn the basics of screenwriting by reading scripts and viewing the resulting films, focusing on dramatic structure, character development, tone, dialogue, and the other aspects of film determined by the writer. Students will develop their own feature-length screenplays-which we’ll workshop from the earliest stages-and finish the semester with a first act and the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary to continue screenwriting.

Supplemental Application Information: In your letter of application, please answer the following questions:

  1. What are your five favorite films from the last ten years?
  2. What do you consider the worst film you’ve seen in a theater? In a few sentences, explain why you think it was the worst.
  3. Have you taken any film-related courses at Harvard or anywhere else?
  4. Briefly explain why you’d like to take this course.

The writing sample should showcase your story-telling abilities and your writing voice. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and dramatic writing are all acceptable. Please limit your sample to five pages. Excerpts are fine—please indicate them as such.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Cpjr. Politics & Journalism: Workshop
Instructor: Jill Abramson
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Wednesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: Boylston G02 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An advanced journalism seminar for those with some writing experience and an interest in political news coverage. Students will learn how to write about U.S. politics in all the major genres, including long form narratives, profiles, commentary and opinion. There will be extensive reading from political books, including chapters from the novel All The King’s Men and non-fiction classics by T.H. White, Richard Ben Cramer, Garry Wills, and Hunter S. Thompson. Additional readings come from a wide array of reporters and columnists covering the 2016 election including Jane Mayer, Maureen Dowd, Mark Leibovch, Peggy Noonan and other political pieces from magazines, newspaper, on-line sites and blogs. The class will focus on the structure of political writing, how to incorporate interviews in narrative writing, the quality and fairness of 2016 election coverage. There will be weekly writing assignments and one in-depth final, magazine-length piece.

Supplemental Application Information: The application should include a letter saying why the student wants to take the workshop, why writing and journalism interests them, and which websites, magazines, newspapers and other news sources they read, even gossipy sites like Gawker. Additionally, besides informing voters about the candidates, what would strengthen political news stories and what kind of writing makes them interesting? Are there campaign reporters whose work you especially admire and why? A writing sample is optional for this course application.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Cpy. Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Paul Yoon

Wednesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: Barker 222 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introductory workshop where we will learn to read as writers and study all aspects of the craft of fiction writing, including such topics as character, point of view, structure, time, and plot. The first weeks will focus heavily on writing exercises and reading contemporary short fiction. Writers we will study will include: Daniyal Mueenuddin, Haruki Murakami, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Tom Drury. As the semester progresses, the focus of the workshop will shift to creating and discussing your own work at the table, along with submitting a final revision project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit the first 3-5 pages of a short story or a novel, along with a substantial letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you are drawn to fiction writing and what your goals are for this class. I’m interested in the writers you are reading. I’d also like to know a writer or an artist whose work you admire and why. This could be someone in a different field, such as a painter, a filmmaker, or an architect but the important thing is to be specific about what resonates and what draws you to them. Lastly, I’d like you tell me a place that has meant something to you. How you define place is up to you.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Crr (001). Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Bret Johnston

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 269 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introduction to fundamental aspects (technical and conceptual) of writing fiction, beginning with short exercises and moving toward the completion and revision of original work. Readings include Munro, Welty, Dîaz, Lahiri, and others, and explore how practicing writers negotiate character, narrative structure, setting, voice, etc. Individual reading assignments are also devised on a per project basis. As the term continues, increasing amounts of time are devoted to the discussion of student work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a letter discussing your writing and reading life. I’m interested in what fiction moves you, and moves you to write. Likewise, I’m interested in how writing and reading fit into your life now, how you’d like them to fit into your future life. Don’t try to impress me. Try to describe yourself and your tastes honestly rather than trying to say what you think you should say or what I want to hear. There are no wrong answers.

Finally, in a paragraph, complete this exercise: A character is in the passenger seat of a car in a deserted intersection. No driver, no traffic, no onlookers. What happened before this moment? Or what happens after?

Please also submit 3-5 double-spaced pages of fiction as a writing sample.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Crr (002). Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Bret Johnston

Wednesdays, 12-3 pm | Location: Barker 018 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introduction to fundamental aspects (technical and conceptual) of writing fiction, beginning with short exercises and moving toward the completion and revision of original work. Readings include Munro, Welty, Dîaz, Lahiri, and others, and explore how practicing writers negotiate character, narrative structure, setting, voice, etc. Individual reading assignments are also devised on a per project basis. As the term continues, increasing amounts of time are devoted to the discussion of student work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a letter discussing your writing and reading life. I’m interested in what fiction moves you, and moves you to write. Likewise, I’m interested in how writing and reading fit into your life now, how you’d like them to fit into your future life. Don’t try to impress me. Try to describe yourself and your tastes honestly rather than trying to say what you think you should say or what I want to hear. There are no wrong answers.

Finally, in a paragraph, complete this exercise: A character is in the passenger seat of a car in a deserted intersection. No driver, no traffic, no onlookers. What happened before this moment? Or what happens after?

Please also submit 3-5 double-spaced pages of fiction as a writing sample.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Ctr. Advanced Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Bret Johnston

Thursdays, 4-7 pm | Location: Barker 222 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Writers will become familiar with more sophisticated aspects (technical and conceptual) of writing fiction, beginning with short exercises and moving toward the completion and revision of original work. Readings include Munro, Welty, Diaz, Lahiri, and others, and we will explore how practicing writers negotiate character, narrative structure, setting, voice, etc. Individual reading assignments are also devised on a per project basis. As the term continues, increasing amounts of time are devoted to the discussion of student work. Students in this course will be expected to revise work often and to a very high standard.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a letter discussing your writing and reading life. I’m interested in what fiction moves you, and moves you to write. Likewise, I’m interested in how writing and reading fit into your life now, how you’d like them to fit into your future life. Don’t try to impress me. Try to describe yourself and your tastes honestly rather than trying to say what you think you should say or what I want to hear. There are no wrong answers.

Finally, in a paragraph, complete this exercise: A character is in the passenger seat of a car in a deserted intersection. No driver, no traffic, no onlookers. What happened before this moment? Or what happens after?

Please also submit 3-5 double-spaced pages of fiction as a writing sample.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Ctv. Writing for Television: Developing the Pilot: Workshop
Instructor: Sam Marks

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: Barker 018 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop introduces the television pilot with a focus on prestige drama and serialized comedy.  Students will excavate their own voice and explore the structure and execution of pilot writing through a first draft of their own original script. With intensive reading and discussion of student work we will examine elements of TV writing, such as treatments and outlines as well as character, dialogue, tone, plot, and, most importantly, vision.  Over the semester, we’ll turn ideas into worlds and worlds into scripts.

Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience in dramatic writing is encouraged, though not necessary. Please submit a 5-10 page writing sample (preferably a play or screenplay, but all genres are acceptable). Also, write a few sentences about one of your favorite televisions shows and why you wish to write for TV.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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English Cvb. Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Laura van den Berg

Thursdays, 1-4 pm | Location: Barker 222 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This course will serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of writing fiction. The initial weeks will focus on assigned readings—you can expect to encounter works by Edward P. Jones, Helen Oyeyemi, Joy Williams, Yoko Ogawa, and others—and short exercises. The readings will give us a lens through which to explore character, structure, time, point of view, etc, and will inform the workshop dialogues that follow. Later in the term, your own fiction will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to the creation and revision of original work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit the first 3-5 pages of a short story or novel, along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why are you drawn to studying fiction; what your ambitions are for your work; and the writers you are currently reading. I’d like you also to make mention of a passage from a work of fiction that you love—a particular scene from a novel, for example, or a line from a short story—and tell me why this passage has, for you, remained so striking and memorable.

Submit your application here. Applications are due by 4pm on 8/31.

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2. Common Ground Courses
English 41. Arrivals: British Literature 700-1700
Instructor: James Simpson
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: Barker 024 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students. 

Across the period 700-1700 the shapes of British culture were absorbed from different centers of Western Europe. When these cultural forms arrive in Britain, they meet and mix with established cultures. This course will delineate the principal cultural forces (e.g. religious, political, social) that shaped England in particular. We will look to the ways in which those vibrant yet opposed forces find expression in the shape, or form, of literary works.

Note: Be sure to attend first class meeting to be considered for admittance.

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English 55. Poets: Fundamentals of Lyric Poetry
Instructor: Peter Sacks
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Tuesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Barker 211 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

An introduction to the fundamentals of Lyric poetry.

Note: Be sure to attend first class meeting to be considered for admittance.

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English 64. Migrations: American Renaissance and Irish Revival
Instructor: Amanda Claybaugh
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 2-3:30 pm | Location: Barker 024 (FAS)

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

Case studies in the formation of national literatures. In the 1850s, a new generation of American authors suddenly came into its own (Dickinson, Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, Whitman); in the early 1900s, something similar happened in Ireland (Joyce, O’Casey, Synge, Yeats). In both cases, a national literature emerged in rebellion against the literature of Britain, and, in both cases, the literature that emerged would go on to inspire other post-colonial literatures around the world.

Note: Be sure to attend first class meeting to be considered for admittance.

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3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 90ds. Death of a Salesman (or Two)
Instructor: David Levine
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Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Farkas 203

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students. 

This course combines research and practice, offering an introduction to discursive, realist, and devised theater by examining the legacy of Arthur Miller’s 1949 play, Death of a Salesman. Hailed (by Americans) as an American masterpiece, at once maudlin, mordant, embarrassingly timebound and irritatingly prescient, the play provides a basis for thinking about capitalism, ethics, theater, film, and what it means to “act American.” The course is open to specialists and non-specialists alike, and will combine experimental dramaturgy with regular performance and directing assignments. It will culminate in a final project.

Note: This is the same course as TDM 128x.

 

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English 90hl. How to Live: When Literature Meets Self-Help
Instructor: Beth Blum
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Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Sever 111

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students. 

Can literature teach us how to live? We will read some lauded contemporary narratives that strive to answer this question, such as Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her (1996), Nick Hornby’s How to be Good (2001), Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013), and Eleanor Davis’s How to Be Happy (2014). We will investigate the role and uses of literary guidance in our advice-saturated culture. Can novels offer correctives to the materialist pursuit of success? Is self-invention possible, according to these authors, or are we determined by our origins?

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English 90nb. Nabokov Novels in English
Instructor: Glenda Carpio
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Wednesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 114

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This course explores Nabokov’s vision of art, testing its limits and possibilities through the novels that he wrote in English from The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (1941) through Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969) and selected criticism.

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English 90wr. War and its Representations
Instructor: Kelly Rich
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Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 316

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This course will explore a range of approaches to representing war. Among the questions we will ask are: When does war begin, and when does it end? At what distance do we sense war, and at what scale does it become legible? What are the stakes of writing, filming, or recording war, or for that matter, studying its representations? We will address these issues through units on violence, trauma, apocalypse, mourning, repair, visuality, and speed. Texts will most likely include Homer’s Iliad, novels by Virginia Woolf and Pat Barker, Supreme Court cases, films by Alain Resnais and Akira Kurosawa, and theory by Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag, Sun Tzu, and Paul Virilio.

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English 90yp. W.B. Yeats
Instructor: Peter Sacks
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Wednesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Barker 211

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students. 

An undergraduate seminar examining the poetry of William Butler Yeats.

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History and Literature 90at. The Postwar American Road Narrative
Instructor: David J. Alworth
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Wednesdays, 3-5 pm | Location: Barker 128

This course examines a vibrant subgenre of post-World War II American literature. We will read major novels by Kerouac, Nabokov, and Didion as well as less familiar (yet still fascinating) writings by Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Patricia Highsmith, Ralph Ellison, and others. In addition, students can expect to analyze both primary and secondary historical sources, while giving some attention to visual art (e.g. John Chamberlain) and to film (e.g. Bonnie and Clyde).

Note: Honors English concentrators may use this course to fulfill their 90-level seminar requirement. 

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4. Undergraduate Tutorials
English 91r. Supervised Reading and Research
Instructor: Andrew Warren

Time: TBA | Location TBA

Individual instruction in subjects of special interest that cannot be studied in regular courses.

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English 98r. Junior Tutorial

Time: Varies by tutorial | Location: Varies by tutorial

Supervised small group tutorial in the study of literature in English.

Required 98r General Meetings: Dates TBA

Fall 2016

The Gothic and the Novel
Amanda Auerbach

Tragic Flaws: Cripping Western Drama
Helen Cushman

Queer Theory &
Andrew Donnelly

The Perfect Experiment: Two Hundred Years of American Short Fiction
Marissa Grunes

Modernist Women Writers
Miles Osgood

Suspicious Characters: Postmodern Detectives and Critics
Erica Weaver

The Rhetoric of Color in the English Renaissance
Elizabeth Weckhurst

Spring 2017

Unreal City? Imagining the Urban in Medieval and Modern Literature
Aparna Chaudhuri

Magical Realism: Hemispheric, Diasporic, Global
Annie Wyman

The Campus Novel
Dena Fehrenbacher

Children’s Literature
Emily Silk

American Poetry Right Now
Christopher Spaide

Post-Downton Abbey: The Dying Generation of the English Country House
Teresa Trout

The Critic as Artist
Porter White

WWII and the Work of Memory
Janet Zong

 

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English 99r. Senior Tutorial
Instructor: Andrew Warren

Time: TBA | Location: TBA

Supervised individual tutorial in an independent scholarly or critical subject.

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5. Lectures with Sections
English 102rdw. Introduction to Old English: Riddles, Dreams, Wonders
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue
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Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Memorial Hall 028

In this course, you will learn to read English as it was written a thousand years ago, beginning with a grammatical overview and ultimately translating a wide array of the earliest English literature, from riddles and dream guides to monastic sign language and travel narratives. Throughout, we will examine varying assumptions about knowledge and knowledge production, literature and literary theory then and now, focusing in particular on texts that instruct their readers in how to read them—from magical incantations to manuals on how to predict the future.

Note: When taken together with English 103 (or equivalent, the year-long Old English series fulfills the English Department’s Foreign Literature requirement.

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English 131p. Milton’s Paradise Lost
Instructor: Gordon Teskey
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Barker 114

This course focuses on Milton’s most famous work, Paradise Lost, the greatest long poem in English and the only successful classical epic in the modern world. Milton went totally blind in his forties and composed Paradise Lost by reciting verses to anyone available to take them down, comparing his lot to that of blind prophets and poets of legend. He had prepared all his life to write an epic poem, although he thought it would be on a British theme, such as King Arthur, not on a biblical one, the fall of humanity and the origin of history. We will read through the poem entirely and in sequence, while considering such matters as Milton’s innovative verse, his concept of the origin of history, and his creation for readers of the experience of the sublime. We will consider how he constructs scenes and how he builds characters, especially his most famous one, Satan.

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English 151. Nineteenth-Century British Fiction
Instructor: Leah Price
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Harvard 202

How and why the novel became the central genre of modern culture. Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Gaskell, North and South, Dickens, Bleak House, Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Trollope, The Warden, and Eliot, Middlemarch.

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English 157. The Classic Phase of the Novel
Instructor: Philip Fisher
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 10-11 am | Location: Sever 113

A set of major works of art produced at the peak of the novel’s centrality as a literary form: Sense and Sensibility, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, Buddenbrooks. Society, family, generational novels and the negations of crime and adultery; consciousness and the organization of narrative experience; the novel of ideas and scientific programs; realism, naturalism, aestheticism and the interruptions of the imaginary.

Note: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding.

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English 158a. A History of Western Drama
Instructor: Derek Miller
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 1-2 pm | Location: Sever 102

A survey history of Western drama, from the Greeks to the present. Plays may include Oedipus Rex, Tartuffe, The Cherry Orchard, Gypsy, and Fires in the Mirror.

Note: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding.

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English 166. American Modernism
Instructor: David J. Alworth
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1 pm | Location: William James B1

A comparative study of American Modernism that considers literature alongside visual art, technology, media, history, politics, and intellectual culture. Emphasis will fall on novels written between 1900 and 1960, but we will also address poetry, drama, cultural criticism, and philosophy. Likely authors: T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, W.E.B. Du Bois, Willa Cather, Tennessee Williams, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, and Virginia Woolf.

Note: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding.

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English 168d. Postwar American and British Fiction
Instructor: James Wood

English 168d

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Mondays & Wednesdays, 1-2 pm| Location: Harvard Hall 201

In this class, we will examine novels and short stories published since 1945 in Britain and the United States. Though certain themes naturally emerge — belonging and not belonging; immigration and emigration; estrangement, race and post-colonial politics; liberalism and the importance of “noticing” others; the role of realism and the various postmodern movements in reaction to realism — the primary emphasis is on learning how to read slowly, and learning how to enjoy, appreciate and properly judge a living, contemporary literature.

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English 188gf. Global Fictions
Instructor: Kelly Rich
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Sever 206

This course serves as an introduction to the global novel in English, as well as a survey of critical approaches to transnational literature. Along the way, we will consider specific issues of migration, colonialism, “new Englishes,” cosmopolitanism and globalization, the influence of religion and fundamentalism, environmental concerns, the global and divided city, racial and sexual politics, and international kinship. Authors will most likely include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ama Ata Aidoo, Margaret Atwood, Teju Cole, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jamaica Kincaid, China Miéville, David Mitchell, Michael Ondaatje, Arundhati Roy, and Salman Rushdie.

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English 190we. David Foster Wallace
Instructor: Andrew Warren

English 190we

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Mondays and Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Emerson 101

This course looks at the scene of contemporary American fiction via the work of someone whom many-perhaps controversially-have called the writer of his generation: David Foster Wallace. This year we will pay particular attention to influences on Wallace: Pynchon, Barth, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, Ozick, Borges, Kafka.

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English 194. Literary Criticism: Major Approaches and Methods
Instructor: James Engell
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Sever 203

Significant critical orientations: modernism, classicism, romanticism, the New Criticism, structuralism and post-structuralism, as well as feminism, formalism, and other -isms. Theoretical formulations yet also practical criticism, history of criticism, and critical writings oriented toward psychology, language, and cultural contexts. Aristotle, Horace, Johnson, Coleridge, Schiller, Arnold, Wilde, Eliot, Shklovsky, Freud, Foucault, Barthes, Showalter, Derrida, Sontag, Frye, Cixous, and others.

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English 195x. Contemporary African American Literature
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

English 195x

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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11 am | Location: Harvard 202

Discussion of African American novels, plays and poetry produced since the 1960s. Among other topics, we will discuss the Black Arts Movement, the renaissance of black women authors in the 1970s, the rise of the neo-slave narrative, and black postmodern texts. Major authors will include but not be limited to Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, Toni Morrison, Samuel Delaney, Adrienne Kennedy, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Colson Whitehead.

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6. Graduate Seminars
English 200d. Advanced Topics in Old English
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue
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Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 269

For students who have a reading knowledge of Old English, this seminar will build upon that competence and offer new directions to pursue. While translation will be a mainstay of each week’s meeting, the specific shape of the syllabus will depend on student preference. Potential topics include paleography, manuscript study, meter, verse syntax, and alliterative prose; students are encouraged to come with their own topics to pursue.

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English 223t. Shakespearean Transformations
Instructor: Stephen Greenblatt
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Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: Barker 269

We will investigate both Shakespeare’s relation to his sources and the transformation of his plays over the subsequent centuries and in different cultures.

 

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English 241os. Objects and Subjects in 18th-Century Literature
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch
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Wednesdays, 12-2 pm | Location: Barker 269

Collectibles, fetishes, fashionable commodities, and curious specimens often claim center-stage in 18th-century literary culture, where they challenge persons’ sense of themselves and their properties and privileges. Drawing on writings by Defoe, Swift, Pope, Barbauld, Burney, Equiano, and others, and histories of science, shopping, and property and slave law, this course investigates that upstaging.

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English 264x. Sensation and Moral Action in Thomas Hardy
Instructor: Elaine Scarry
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Thursdays, 11 am-1 pm | Location: Barker 269

Approaches Hardy’s novels, stories, and narrative poems through the language of the senses (hearing, vision, touch) and through moral agency (philosophic essays on “luck” and “action”).

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English 271hop. Humanities Online Practicum
Instructor: Elisa New
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Tuesdays, 10-12 | Location: TBA

Building out from the Poetry in America project (poetryinamerica.org), The Humanities Online Practicum (HOP) at the Bok Center will introduce a mixed cohort of Harvard graduate students to new skills and methods, as well as to classic modes of humanistic inquiry and pedagogy. With Bok support, and working in a lab/studio format, teams of students will have the opportunity to design and create digital educational content suitable for a wide range of learners—secondary school teachers and lifelong learners; public television viewers and medical professionals; college students at Harvard as well as at institutions of higher learning around the world.  Whether enrolling in HOP for one semester (2 credits) or two (4 credits), students in the course will see the assumptions of their own disciplines challenged and expanded as they learn to match pedagogies to the needs of diverse audiences of learners and to adapt content to a range of formats (lecture, discussion, syllabus and rubric– but also pair-and-share and exit ticket, EDx module and television segment, podcast, blogpost and more ) that put new pressure on, and give new scope to, the role of the educator in the 21st century.  Individual students may choose to focus on developing their skills in: video production and video editing; visual storytelling, set design and animation; curriculum development and school partnerships; curation, copyright, and intellectual property; educational theory and policy.   All students will take responsibility for project management.  Examples of possible projects can be found on the course website.  This course meets in plenary session every other Tuesday from 10-12.  Working groups will arrange their own hours.
Permission of the instructor is required.  Enrollment is limited to 18.  Enrollment procedure will be posted on the course website.

Class will meet on alternate weeks.

ENGLISH 271hop is the same course as EDU T217 in the Graduate School of Education.

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English 283. Describing the Lyric
Instructor: Helen Vendler
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Mondays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 269

Each change in period style presents a problem of description to the critic. We consider a wide range of poetic styles, from the court styles of Elizabethan poetry through the verse of W.B. Yeats, inquiring in each case which avenues of description prove productive.

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English 291ds. Disfluency and Style
Instructor: Marc Shell
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Wednesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 269

This seminar focuses on works, including Hamlet and Billy Budd, where an inability to speak provides a motivating formal element as well as a substantial theme. The seminar considers such literary authors as Henry James and Lewis Carroll for whom their own more or less involuntary ways of stuttering becomes a style of writing or a larger philosophy.  Theoretical issues include the historical link between the terminology of linguistic neurology and classical rhetoric; aesthetic issues involve problems of rhythm, metrics, and silence in poetry.

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English 298dh. Methods in the Digital Humanities
Instructor: Derek Miller

Wednesdays, 2-5 pm | Location: Quincy House, Stone Hall S001

This course combines practical work in an array of techniques popular to digital humanities with theoretical debates about the field. We will emphasize DH as a research methodology, rather than its archival and pedagogical modes. Some knowledge of programming (e.g., an online course) preferred; comfort with computers required. Subjects include text encoding, topic modelling, network analysis, regular expressions, databases, and data visualization.

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7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
Comparative Literature 139. Fictions of Kin and Kind
Instructor: Marc Shell
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Mondays, 2-4 pm, Location: Dana Palmer 102 (FAS)

The literature and rhetoric of kinship. Special attention to the incest taboo, orphanhood, the human-animal distinction, and social fictions of nationhood. Readings include texts by modern theorists of language as well as by Sophocles, Marguerite of Navarre, Elizabeth Tudor, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Racine, Schiller, Goethe, Melville, and Nabokov.

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Humanities 10a. A Humanities Colloquium: From Homer to Garcia Marquez
Instructor: Louis Menand , Stephen Greenblatt , Deidre Shauna Lynch
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Tuesdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: Boylston 110 (FAS)

2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10a includes works by Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Dante, Shakespeare, Mozart, Austen, Douglass, and Garcia Marquez, as well as the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Declaration of Independence. One 90-minute lecture plus a 90-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students also receive instruction in critical writing one hour a week, in writing labs and individual conferences. Students who take both Humanities 10a and 10b fulfill the College Writing Requirement. This is the only course outside of Expository Writing that satisfies that requirement. Students also have opportunities to visit cultural venues and attend musical and theatrical events in Cambridge or Boston.

Note: Humanities 10a will be lotteried by application process, administered at the first meeting on September 1. See the course website for more details. Humanities 10b, which meets in the Spring, is open only to students who have completed Humanities 10a and includes works by Joyce, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Murasaki, Augustine, Virgil, Sophocles, and Homer. Most students take both semesters of Hum 10, but students who do not take 10b receive full credit for 10a. Hum 10a meets the General Education requirement for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding. Hum 10a and 10b meets the General Education requirements for both Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding and Culture and Belief as well as the Expos requirement. The course is open only to freshmen. No auditors. The course may not be taken Pass/Fail.

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8. Freshman Seminars
Freshman Seminar 33x. Complexity in Works of Art: Ulysses and Hamlet
Instructor: Philip Fisher
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Mondays, 3-5 pm | Location: Sever 101

Open to freshman students only.

Is the complexity, the imperfection, the difficulty of interpretation, the unresolved meaning found in certain great and lasting works of literary art a result of technical experimentation?  Or is the source extreme complexity—psychological, metaphysical, or spiritual?  Does it result from limits within language, or from language’s fit to thought and perception?  Do the inherited forms found in literature permit only certain variations within experience to reach lucidity?  Is there a distinction in literature between what can be said and what can be read?  The members of the seminar will investigate the limits literature faces in giving an account of mind, everyday experience, thought, memory, full character, and situation in time.  The seminar will make use of a classic case of difficulty, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and a modern work of unusual complexity and resistance to both interpretation and to simple comfortable reading, Joyce’s Ulysses.  Reading in exhaustive depth these two works will suggest the range of meanings for terms like complexity, resistance, openness of meaning, and experimentation within form.

Note: There may be interviews for selected applicants during Opening Days week.

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Freshman Seminar 34s. The Art of Noticing
Instructor: Gordon Teskey
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Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 024

Open to freshman students only.

This is an advanced writing course on writing about poetry, music and art. The assumption of the course is that noticing is a mental discipline like any other and can be cultivated by good habits, exercises and practice. Noticing is also the one basic mental practice shared by the sciences and the humanities, and is indispensable to both. The word ‘aesthetics’ is from the Greek word for ‘perception’—arguably interpretable as ‘noticing.’ After the eighteenth century, aesthetics came to mean philosophical meditation on art. But in this course aesthetics means the art of noticing things one doesn’t normally see, and deciding which of these things is important. We will be examining together in the classroom poems and works of visual art, and there will be outings to the Harvard Art Museums, the Museum of Natural History as well as to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Evaluation will be based on writing done in and out of class in a journal each student will be required to keep. Journals and papers will be turned in at the end of the class for a cumulative evaluation interview.

 

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Freshman Seminar 60c. Comics and Graphic Novels
Instructor: Stephen Burt
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Wednesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Art Museums 0600

Open to freshman students only.

Comics and graphic novels, or sequential art, are one of the world’s great storytelling media: we’re going to learn how to read them, how to talk about how they get made and how they work, how to understand—and how to enjoy— some of the kinds of comics and graphic novels (that is, some of the genres) that make up the history of this medium in the modern English-speaking world. That history has three strands, which cross and re-cross, but which need to be understood independently, and we will see all three: short-form strip comics, designed for newspapers beginning in the 1890s and now flourishing on the Web; action-adventure and superhero comics, invented in the late 1930s, transformed in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, usually created by teams, and important to popular culture today; and a third strand beginning with “underground” or “alternative” comics or comix (with an x) in the 1960s and evolving into long form graphic novels, often created by single writer-artists, today.  That history comes with visual references, which you will learn to recognize; comics also comes with its own set of theoretical terms, which you’ll learn to use. Comics today share a medium (pictures and usually words in sequence) but belong to several genres: we’ll learn how to talk about them, and how they’ve evolved.You’ll get the chance to make comics, and to figure out how creators collaborate, advocate, distribute, and sometimes even earn a living from the comics they make, but the course will focus on existing comics, from McCay to Bechdel, from Kirby to Ms. Marvel— as events in culture and as works of art.

 

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Freshman Seminar 60t. Harvard Poets
Instructor: Elisa New
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Mondays, 2-4 pm | Location: Morton Prince 21

Open to freshman students only.

The first 1/3 of course will include close readings, video tours and on-foot excursions around 17th and 18th 19th century Harvard Square as we read Ann Bradstreet, Edward Taylor,  Michael Wigglesworth,  Phillis Wheatley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Maria White Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson . In this part of the course we will practice a range of approaches to reading poems, considering a poem’s form alongside its cultural function, surveying the diverse and changing media and formats in which poems circulate–manuscript, performance, print, aural recording, performance;  individual volume,  general circulation magazine or newspaper,  literary quarterly,  schoolbook, gift book, psalter and more.  Excursions may include visits to First Parish or Memorial Church, to Mt Auburn Cemetery and the Washington’s Headquarters and the Longfellow House. In the second 2/3 of the course we will focus on 20th century Harvard and its writers , with particular attention to 4 Harvard inflected moments in American literary history—the emergence of Modernism (  with attention to Robinson, Du Bois, Frost,  Reed,  Stevens, Cullen); the rise of the  New Criticism in the 1950’s  (its standard bearers Eliot and Lowell ); the critique of New Criticism and rise of counter movements, New York School, Black Mountain, Beat Language,  L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E (from O’Hara, Ashbery, Koch, Creeley to Hejinian, Bernstein, Howe ) ; and, finally, Harvard and Radcliffe’s role in fostering poets from Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop  through June Jordan and Adrienne Rich. Our 20th century studies will take us to the Woodberry Poetry Room, to Houghton and Schlesinger libraries, and students in the seminar will make their own contribution to Harvard’s long poetic tradition by filming individual and group readings and interpretations of American poems for inclusion in the Poetry in America MOOC and other online outlets.

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