Spring Term

Course Information

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

 

 

Thursdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Calr. Dramatic Screenwriting II: Workshop
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: Sever Hall 204

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

We’ll examine films and screenplays in order to develop the skills necessary to write the first draft of a feature-length script. We’ll begin by honing our treatments and outlines, and move on to critiquing specific scenes in our own work and in produced screenplays, with a rigorous focus on character, dialogue, tone, structure, plot, and voice.

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

What creative writing or film courses have you taken at Harvard or elsewhere?

Describe in one paragraph the film you’d like to write this semester.

As a writing example, please include what you consider to be the best scene you’ve ever written. It doesn’t matter if it’s one page or ten. If you want to include a few scenes, that’s fine, but limit your submission to ten pages (correctly formatted).

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English Camr. Advanced Playwriting: Workshop
Instructor: Sam Marks

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop is a continued exploration of writing for the stage. Students will be encouraged to excavate their own voice in playwriting. They will examine and attempt multiple narrative strategies and dialogue techniques. They will bolster their craft of playwriting through generating short scripts and a completed one act. Readings will include significant contributors to the theatrical form such as Ibsen and Beckett as well as contemporary dramatists such as Annie Baker, Caryl Churchill and Sam Shepard.

Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience in writing the dramatic form is strongly encouraged. Please submit a 5-10 page writing sample (preferably a play or screenplay, but all genres are acceptable). Also, please write a few sentences about a significant theatrical experience (a play read or seen) and how it affected you.

Apply via Submittable

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English Capr. Poetry: Workshop
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Cbbr. Intermediate Poetry: Workshop
Instructor: Josh Bell

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students. 

Initially, students can expect to read, discuss, and imitate the strategies of a wide range of poets writing in English; to investigate and reproduce prescribed forms and poetic structures; and to engage in writing exercises meant to expand the conception of what a poem is and can be. As the course progresses, reading assignments will be tailored on an individual basis, and an increasing amount of time will be spent in 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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Cfmr. Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Claire Messud

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Chcr. Advanced Poetry: Workshop
Instructor: Josh Bell

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students. 

By guided reading, classroom discussion, one on one conference, and formal and structural experimentation, members of the Advanced Poetry Workshop will look to hone, deepen, and challenge the development of their poetic inquiry and aesthetic. Students will be required to write and submit one new poem each week and to perform in-depth, weekly critiques of their colleagues’ 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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Cijr. Introduction to Journalism: Workshop
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Mondays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Clr. Dramatic Screenwriting I: Workshop
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

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.

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English Cpjr. Politics & Journalism: Workshop
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Wednesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

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.

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English Cpwr. Poetry: Workshop
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Open by application to both undergraduates and graduates. Class includes the discussion of literary texts as well as work written by students.

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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Cpy. Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Paul Yoon

Wednesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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

Thursdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Apply via Submittable

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English Cvr. Fiction Writing: Workshop
Instructor: Jamaica Kincaid
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Wednesdays, 3-6 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

A seminar/workshop. Readings include Bruno Schultz, Jean Toomer, Robert Walser, and Rimbaud’s Illuminations, among others.

Supplemental Application Information: The letter of application should address autobiography: tell me something about yourself. It can be revealing or completely opaque. An example of the opaque: describe a tree, a sunny day, or a favorite hat in 300 words or less. An example of the revealing could be: I am one of those people who think all mammals with hair growing in places not easily revealed when they are standing right in front of you, should shave those areas. Please also submit 3-5 pages of prose fiction.

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2. Common Ground Courses
English 47. Arrivals: British Literature 700-1700
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Instructor: Brandon Tilley

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10-11 am | Location: Barker 018

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

This course will introduce some of the best texts of the first millennium of English literature—roughly, 700-1700.  We will sample different literary genres (e.g., epic, romance, drama, lyric) and modes (e.g., pastoral, satire, parabiblical), and hone skills of reading and writing crucial to appreciating literature in nuanced, supple ways.  Readings include Beowulf, Chaucer, Langland, Wyatt, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Pope and more.

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

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English 53. Poets: Four poets, English and Irish: Shakespeare, Marvell, Keats, Heaney
Instructor: Helen Vendler

Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 211

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

Shakespeare’s inventive sonnets; Marvell’s provocative and enigmatic poems; Keats’s revisionary sonnets and Odes; Heaney’s poems of modern Ireland. Lyric genres and subgenres: sonnet, ode, complaint, verse-letter, persona-poem, definition-poem, myths of origin, the lyric narrative, political poetry, etc.

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

 

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English 68. Migrations: American Immigrant Literature
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Barker 024

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

During the last 50 years, the United States has received immigrants from Latin American, Caribbean, African, and Asian countries in contrast to previous waves of immigration, which were primarily from Northern or Eastern Europe. This course will first explore classic American immigrant narratives and then focus on contemporary texts (by writers such as Teju Cole, Junot Díaz, Chimamanda Adiche) taking on a comparative approach that is rooted in the history of immigration in American culture.

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

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3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 90ar. Arthurian Worlds
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Instructor: Brandon Tilley

Mondays, 3-5 pm | Location: Sever 112

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

Like the Holy Grail famously sought by his knights, King Arthur proves an elusive quarry.  This course will pick up Arthur’s trail from some of its earliest literary vestiges and follow it into a world broadened by his very presence there.  Working with translations where necessary (that is, most of the time), we will range across texts of British, French, German and American provenance, from sixth-century monastics through to writers of our own day experimenting upon our inherited Arthurian traditions.  Readings include Geoffrey of Monmouth, Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, Malory, Tennyson, Steinbeck and more.

 

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English 90cnc. Conrad, Naipaul, Coetzee: Genealogies of the Global Imagination
Instructor: Homi K. Bhabha
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Mondays, 3-5 pm | Location: Barker 133

Enrollment: Limited to 15.

The novels of Conrad, Naipaul, and Coetzee have a particular value to contemporary discourses on global culture. Writing from specific historical and cultural contexts, all three writers are profoundly concerned with the ethical and aesthetic projects connected to economic and political forms of governance. Our study will focus on the problematic nature of intercultural relations as they are constituted in global networks. The meticulous reading of primary texts is an essential requirement of the seminar, which will focus on figurative language and fictional forms as they are used to imagine community and communication on a global scale. Critical and theoretical writings will be introduced to further the discussion of questions and topics raised by seminar participants.

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English 90cp. Contemporary American Playwrights
Instructor: Derek Miller

Mondays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 211

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This course surveys work by some of the most popular dramatists of the past decade, with particular attention to language, theatricality, and history. Writers may include Annie Baker, Amy Herzog, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Sarah Ruhl, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Lynn Nottage, and Will Eno.

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English 90hb. Five Shakespeare Plays
Instructor: Marc Shell

Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 211

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

Five Shakespearean Pieces: The seminar will focus on five plays (Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Henry V, Tempest, and Merchant of Venice) with special attention to staging, literariness, and location.

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English 90ht. How to Read a Book
Instructor: Leah Price
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Tuesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Robinson LL Library

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

Historical and literary narratives of reading; texts by Cervantes, Richardson, Franklin, Sterne, Flaubert, Ellison, and Bradbury, together with research exercises in Harvard library and museum collections.

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English 90ll. Law and Literature
Instructor: Kelly Rich

Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 218

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This course will explore the complex relationship between literature and law, focusing on how each represents and responds to violence and its aftermath. As we survey a series of twentieth-century juridical paradigms (trials, rights, reparations, and reconciliation), our goal will not be to judge the efficacy of literary and legal projects, but rather to study how they imagine issues of guilt, responsibility, testimony, commemoration, apology and forgiveness. Our readings will include novels, short stories, poetry, legal theory, documentaries, and key documents of international law: authors will most likely include Hannah Arendt, J.M. Coetzee, Jacques Derrida, Franz Kafka, Michael Ondaatje, Julie Otsuka, and M. NourbeSe Philip.

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English 90lv. Consciousness from Austen to Woolf
Instructor: James Wood

Mondays, 1-3 pm | Location: Barker 114

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

A look at the complex ways in which writers represent their characters’ thought in texts by Austen, Flaubert, James, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Giovanni Verga, and Woolf. More broadly, traces the development of stream-of-consciousness, from Austen’s incipient mastery of free indirect style, through Flaubert’s more sophisticated use of it, to Woolf’s full-blown inner monologues, seeing this development as not merely a fact of English and American literature, but as a phenomenon of world literature and an element of our modernity.

Note: Formerly English 160w.

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English 90lw. Literature and War
Instructor: John Stauffer

Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 024

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This interdisciplinary course explores how war has been represented from antiquity to the present, with particular focus on the 19th century to yesterday.  We explore how the literature of war shaped armed conflict and memories of it, and how war affected forms of representation.  Readings range from “classic” literature to photography, print and broadcast journalism, cinema, and music.

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English 90qo. T.S. Eliot
Instructor: Peter Sacks

Wednesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Barker 114

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This course will study the poetry of T.S. Eliot, while also attending to selections of his critical and dramatic writings.

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History and Literature 90cj. Literature and Design
Instructor: David J. Alworth

Wednesdays, 3-5 pm | Location: Barker 218

Design is ubiquitous, complex, and all but impossible to define. It affects almost everything that we experience through our senses, and it permeates our lives, both waking and sleeping. Texts, images, objects, environments, minds, and social encounters are all shaped by design, which has a subtle yet definite power that often operates just below the threshold of conscious perception. And yet, design emanates from the conscious mind; in the most capacious sense, it designates, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, a “plan or scheme conceived in the mind and intended for subsequent execution; the preliminary conception of an idea that is to be carried into effect by action; a project.” With this definition in mind, you could construct a 500,000-year history of design, beginning with the primitive tools of proto-humans and extending to the open-source code on GitHub. Or you could begin even earlier, say, with God.

This course takes a more modest historical approach. It tracks the history of design from the Industrial Revolution to the digital revolution in the United States, and it gives sustained attention to the relationship between this history and American literature, broadly conceived. At least since Edgar Allan Poe published his “Philosophy of Furniture” in 1840, American authors have engaged with the objects and ideas of design thinking. Such engagement has taken many different forms since the mid-nineteenth century: simultaneous attraction to and repulsion from the technological, the industrial, and the machine; obsession with the distinctions among art, craft, and decoration; fascination with cities as designed spaces and with literary art as a designed (if not exactly designer) thing; and attention to the poetics of fashion, advertising, shopping, décor, bric-a-brac, trash, and other superficial matters. But engaging with such matters, superficial or otherwise, provokes deep and abiding questions for the literary authors on this syllabus––questions about the relation between economics and politics, about the cultural forces of race, class, gender, and ethnicity, about the status of art and aesthetic experience in a democratic society, and about the very definition of what it means to be human—all of which are highly relevant to us today, as we navigate through an increasingly designed, increasingly virtual world of lived experience.

N. B. This course may include a “design studio” component featuring book designer Peter Mendelsund. Stay tuned for more information.

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
AIU 37. Introduction to the Bible in the Humanities and the Arts
Instructor: Gordon Teskey

Mondays & Wednesdays, 4-6 pm | Location: Sever 202

A course on the structure of the Bible, which William Blake called “the great code of art.” Major themes include the invention of God, the invention history, and the invention of the city (or rather, of two cities, that of the devil and that of God). About two-thirds of the Authorized Version (King James) of 1611 will be read.

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AIU 56. Shakespeare, The Later Plays
Instructor: Marjorie Garber

Monday & Wednesdays, 11-12 pm | Location: Boylston 110

The late comedies, tragedies, and romances, with some attention to the prevailing literary traditions of the Jacobean period. Particular attention paid to Shakespeare’s development as a dramatist, and to poetic expression, thematic design, stagecraft, and character portrayal in the plays.

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CB 55. The Enlightenment
Instructor: James Engell
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11 am | Location: Sever 213

The Enlightenment creates modern ideas of the self, a just society, and reformed institutions.  The course explores six interrelated developments: (1) taking nothing on authority, a spirit of critique examines knowledge, religion, and government; (2) spread of general knowledge to populations of increasing literacy; (3) debates about human nature—naturally selfish or sympathetic, altered by race or gender, innate or learned? (4) new institutions for equity and justice, created even by violent revolution; (5) reforms supporting abolition, women’s rights, and religious toleration; (6) self-consciousness in philosophy, art, and psychology.  Thinkers include Pope, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Johnson, Rousseau, Goethe, Burke, Lessing, Gibbon, Smith, Kant, de Gouges, and Wollstonecraft.

 

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English 103d. Beowulf and Seamus Heaney
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Sever 111

Translations of excerpts from Beowulf will proceed in parallel with careful reading of Heaney’s verse translation. Questions concerning translation theory will emerge from the comparison of in-class efforts with Heaney’s and other versions. What is the relation between translation and interpretation? How does Heaney’s Beowulf compare with the body of poetry he has produced over the decades? The course begins with a review of grammar.

Note: With an honors grade, the Old English sequence fulfills the College language requirement and the English Department’s Foreign Literature requirement.

Recommended Prep: English 102 or equivalent.

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English 111. Epic: From Homer to Star Wars
Instructor: Leah Whittington

English 111

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Sever 110

This course studies epic literature through six significant works in the genre: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, Milton’s Paradise Lost, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and George Lucas’ Star Wars. We will examine these works in terms of their formal conventions, thematic interests, and historical contexts, as well as attending to the interactions between texts in the epic tradition, the shift from narrative poetry to novel and film, and the manifestations of epic in the modern world.

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

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English 141. The Eighteenth-Century English Novel
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch

English 141

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Barker 024

The novel’s emergence as a new literary form and the remarkable record of narrative experimentation that emergence involved, as seen in works by Behn, Defoe, Haywood, Richardson, Fielding, Hogarth, Sterne, and Austen. Questions about genre and about the nature of fictionality will be central for us, and so we will investigate what was novel about novels by pondering how novels differ from epics or histories or the news in newspapers.  But we will also use our reading to investigate what the modern novel’s emergence can tell us about modernity itself–about love, sex, and marriage, consumer capitalism, empire, and urban life.

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English 160je. The Joyce Effect
Instructor: Beth Blum

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Barker 024

Speaking of James Joyce’s Ulysses, T.S. Eliot confessed: “I wish, for my own sake, that I had not read it.” How does one write literature after Joyce’s revolutionary prose? This course explores different authors’ responses to that challenge. You will be introduced to one of the most influential authors of the 20th century through selected readings from Joyce’s key works: DublinersA Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManUlysses, and Finnegans Wake (excerpts). After immersing ourselves in Joyce’s oeuvre, we will track its afterlife in literature (Virginia Woolf, Zadie Smith), graphic narrative (Chris Ware, Alison Bechdel), and popular culture.

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English 167bl. Post-1945 British Literature
Instructor: Kelly Rich

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Barker 211

Why are we so taken by Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Downton Abbey, James Bond, and “Keep Calm and Carry On,” and the ideas of Britain they project? This course will use this recent surge of Anglophilia as a springboard into our study of post-1945 British literature: a period whose social and political upheavals both radically redefine and conservatively re-entrench “British” as a category of analysis. Among the issues we’ll be considering are war and end of empire, new patterns of migration, emerging formations based on race, gender, and sexuality, and devolution and globalization. Our readings will range from highbrow to genre fiction; from declassified MI6 files to the latest episode of Doctor Who. Authors will most likely include Caryl Churchill, Helen Fielding, Graham Greene, Alan Hollinghurst, Kazuo Ishiguro, John Le Carré, Philip Larkin, David Mitchell, Samuel Selvon, Zadie Smith, Muriel Spark, Salman Rushdie, and Jeanette Winterson.

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English 170a. High and Low in Postwar America
Instructor: Louis Menand

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Harvard Hall 102

Relations between avant-garde, mainstream, and commercial culture from 1945 to 1972.

 

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English 178x. The American Novel: Dreiser to the Present
Instructor: Philip Fisher

English 178x

Mondays & Wednesdays, 10-11 am | Location: Harvard Hall 104

A survey of the 20th-century novel, its forms, patterns of ideas, techniques, cultural context, rivalry with film and radio, short story, and fact.  Wharton, Age of Innocence; Cather, My Antonia; Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms and stories; Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury and stories;  Ellison, Invisible Man; Nabokov, Lolita; Robinson, Housekeeping; Salinger, Catcher in the Rye and stories; Ha Jin, Waiting; Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station. Stories by James, London, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Gaitskill, Wallace, Beattie, Lahiri, and Ford.

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English 183. Theatrical Realism
Instructor: Derek Miller

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: Memorial Hall 029

This lecture course investigates Realism in the theater, from its origins in the 19th century to the present day. We will investigate what it means to make theater “real,” how designers staged reality, how performers acted it, and, finally, what ideologies Realism serves. We aim to expose Realism, the predominant, seemingly “neutral” style of performance for the historical phenomenon it is. Readings in theater and performance history complement plays by writers such as Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, William Inge, and Annie Baker.

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English 190n. Writing Nature: Creativity, Poetry, Ethics, Science
Instructor: James Engell

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1-2 pm | Location: Barker 024

What can writing tell us about nature and the relation of humans to it? Readings in William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Burroughs, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, who form a tradition blending poetry, ethics, and science. Additional nature and conservation writing (e.g., Susan Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt), recent poets (e.g., Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, Jorie Graham) and prose writers (e.g., Annie Dillard, Gretel Ehrlich, John Elder). Critical papers assigned, also individual nature writing as essays or poems.

What can writing tell us about nature and the relation of humans to it?  Readings in William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, John Burroughs, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, who form a tradition blending poetry, ethics, and science.  Additional nature and conservation writing (e.g., Susan Fenimore Cooper, Theodore Roosevelt), recent poets (e.g., Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver), and prose writers (e.g., Annie Dillard, Bill McKibben, Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry).  Assignments include creative work and field notes as well as critical essays.

Note: This course includes one additional hour of discussion section.

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English 192. Political Theatre and the Structure of Drama
Instructor: Elaine Scarry

English 192

Mondays & Wednesdays, 1-2 pm | Location: Emerson 305

The estranged, didactic, intellectual theatre of Brecht, and the ritualistic, emergency theatre of Artaud serve as reference points for a range of American, English, and Continental plays. The unique part played by “consent” in theatrical experience. Emphasis on the structural features of drama: establishing or violating the boundary between audience and stage; merging or separating actor and character; expanding or destroying language. Readings include Brecht, O’Neill, Artaud, Genet, Pirandello, and such earlier authors as Euripides and Shelley.

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

 

 

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English 195tw. 20th-Century African American Literature
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

Wednesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Emerson 305

Close readings of major 20th-century writers in the context of cultural history. (I) From the Harlem Renaissance to the Federal Writers’ Project: Alain Locke, Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Jessie Fauset, George Schuyler, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright. (II) From World War II to the present: Ralph Ellison, Ann Petry, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, Rita Dove, Colson Whitehead, Paul Beatty.

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USW 34. The Civil War from Nat Turner to Birth of a Nation
Instructor: John Stauffer

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 pm | Location: Menschel Hall (Harvard Art Museum)

This interdisciplinary course reframes traditional understandings of the Civil War in three ways. First, by showing that civil conflict in the United States began well before 1861 and ended well after 1865, taking the form of slave uprisings and Klan terrorism, as well as conventional war. Second, by showing that the former Confederacy won this longer Civil War by establishing a new order of black unfreedom. And third, by placing this war in the context of international politics and trade. “Readings” range from fiction, film, letters, and speeches to poetry, pamphlets, prints and photographs, songs, and history.

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6. Graduate Seminars
English 228. Milton
Instructor: Gordon Teskey

Mondays, 3-5 pm | Location: Barker 269

A survey of Milton’s life and poetry.

 

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English 233. Trans-Reformation English Writing
Instructor: James Simpson

Mondays, 1-3 pm | Location: Barker 269

English literary history shies away from one of cultural history’s most momentous revolutions: the Reformation. This course looks to a series of discursive areas (e.g. literature, theology, politics) to shape that literary history. We will look to both canonical and non-canonical texts, from Chaucer to Shakespeare; each session will be grounded in a Houghton-possessed book.

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English 250. Kaleidoscopic Romanticism: Critical Approaches
Instructor: Andrew Warren

Wednesdays, 12-2 pm | Location: Barker 269

Beginning with “pre-Romantic” work such as Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, this course covers many of the Romantic age’s big players: Wordsworth’s Prelude; Coleridge’s conversation poems and the Biographia; W&C’s Lyrical Ballads; Byron’s Don Juan; Shelley’s Adonais, Cenciand Prometheus Unbound; Keats’s Lamia volume, including the great odes; and the Romantic Scottish novel.The kaleidoscope, said one commenter in 1817, the year of its invention, “presents to the view an endless variety of forms.”  The same might be said of Romanticism, which has been reframing and reorganizing itself for the last two hundred years. This course uses Romantic-era texts to introduce critical and theoretical methodologies such as Formalism and Close Reading, New Historicism, Narrative Theory, Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction and Queer Theory.  Works include: Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and Rousseau’s Confessions; de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Suspiria de Profundis; Mary Shelley’s The Last Man; and poetry by Wordsworth, Blake, Shelley, and Keats.

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English 256n. Theory and Practice of the Victorian Novel
Instructor: Leah Price
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Thursdays, 3-5 pm | Location: Barker 269

Reading-list to be determined in consultation with seminar members will include Austen, Brontë, Thackeray, Gaskell, Dickens, Collins, Trollope, read against both contemporaneous and new criticism and theory. Exercises in book reviewing, abstract-writing and conference presentation/public speaking.

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English 260bg. The Bloomsbury Group
Instructor: Marjorie Garber
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Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: Barker 269

The Bloomsbury Group was an extraordinary creative collaboration in the early years of the 20th century. We tend to think of such collaborative work today, in think tanks, Silicon Valley incubators, literary movements and artists’ colonies, as a fairly recent phenomenon, but it was in fact powerfully modeled a century ago. “Bloomsbury” included novelists Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, both of whom are also literary critics; biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey; economist John Maynard Keynes; socialist and publisher Leonard Woolf; philosophers G.E.Moore and Bertrand Russell; artists Vanessa Bell, Dora Carrington, and Duncan Grant; art critics Clive Bell and Roger Fry; and the English translators of Sigmund Freud, James and Alix Strachey— each of whom had an enormous effect on the form of the genre, or genres, in which they worked. Not to mention other friends, lovers and rivals: Vita Sackville-West, David Garnett, Aldous Huxley, Katherine Mansfield, just to name a few. This course will look at the interdisciplinary effect of brilliant and talented people from across the spectrum of the arts and social sciences influencing each other’s work and participating in its creation and publication. Readings to include the major novels and essays of Virginia Woolf, the biographies and essays of Lytton Strachey, and substantial selections from other theorists, artists, critics and practitioners, together with relevant films, letters, and elements of design and home décor. In addition to our scrutiny of these works, in printed texts and in rare book libraries and museums, the members of the seminar will work to design and develop an undergraduate General Education course on the Bloomsbury Group.

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English 271hop. Humanities Online Practicum
Instructor: Elisa New
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Mondays, 2-4 pm | Location: Science Ctr 316

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. English 271hop is the same course as EDU T218 in the Graduate School of Education.

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English 276x. African-American Literary Tradition
Instructor: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Tuesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: 104 Mount Auburn St 3R

An exploration of the emergence and development of the African-American literary “tradition” from the 18th to the 20th century. Close reading of the canonical texts in the tradition, and their structural relationships are stressed.

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English 290vn. Violence and Nonviolence
Instructor: Homi K. Bhabha
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Wednesdays, 3-5 pm | Location: Barker 133

Examines representations of violence and related issues of discrimination, minority subjectivity, colonialism and racism, in the work of Morrison, Gordimer, Baldwin, Rushdie, Rich, Naipaul, Coetzee and Rankine. A key aim of the course is to create conversations between the literary, aesthetic and ethical dimensions of representations of violence and the histories and theories of violence as articulated by such thinkers as DuBois, Gramsci, Foucault, Fanon, Kristeva, Coates, and Said, among others. The course will include regular participation in the Mellon Seminar on violence and nonviolence.

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English 291sw. Introduction to Scholarly Writing
Instructor: Amanda Claybaugh

Wednesdays, 2 pm-5 pm | Location: Barker 269

Through a careful reading of the most influential recent scholarship, students will explore a range of argumentative modes and evidentiary practices; through workshops of their own writing, they will experiment with rhetoric, voice, and style. Students will leave the course with an article ready for submission.

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English 297qt. LGBTQ&C Literature and Ideas
Instructor: Stephen Burt

Thursdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Barker 269

Literary and critical writings about and around what we now call queer, lesbian, gay, bi and trans identities, and around models of sexuality from the 16th to the 21st century: we’ll be introducing and studying the body of recent work called queer theory, from Sedgwick and Butler to Muñoz, Serano and Ahmed, and noticing its sources from Plato to Foucault, but we will focus on what poets, novelists, memoirists, essayists, performers and playwrights made and did with the models they had. Compared to other queer theory and queer lit courses, this one will likely have more poetry, more literary nonfiction, and more trans or trans-friendly content: Imogen Binnie, Shakespeare, Lord Rochester, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Anne Bannon, Audre Lorde and Walt Whitman may all be involved.

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7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
AAAS 10. Introduction to African American Studies
Instructor: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11 am-12 pm | Location: Emerson 105

An exploration of some of the key texts and issues in African American Studies from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Members of the faculty deliver guest lectures in their own areas of specialization.

Note: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for United States in the World.

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Comparative Literature 290. Translation, Metaphor, and Exchange
Instructor: Marc Shell

Wednesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Dana Palmer 102

What difference does language make? This seminar begins with Goethe’s Faust, a work that translates the Bible (“In the beginning was the Word”) and teases out the idealist philosophical theorization of translation (Helen of Troy speaking German words in Greek syntax). Seminar participants will then engage collaboratively in comparative readings: the particular language expertise of every one of us will benefit the group as a whole. Thus a study of American immigrant works, for example, will include items written in a host of languages. Likewise, a study of modern poetry and rhythm will include translations into several languages. Our purview involves non-literary work as well as literary: ensuring “adequate” translations of basic Constitutional documents in officially bilingual nation states or international unions, for example, along with providing comprehensible road signage for highways and simultaneous translation for conferences and parliaments. The last meetings of the seminars focus on the relationships of language translation to economic transfer and to literary metaphor and considers the roles of inter-linguistic translation in various arts and media. Visitors to the seminar will include distinguished scholars and writers from across the disciplines.

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Humanities 10b. A Humanities Colloquium: From Joyce to Homer
Instructor: Louis Menand , Stephen Greenblatt , Leah Whittington

Tuesdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: Boylston 110

2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10b is open only to students who completed Humanities 10a in Fall 2016. Humanities 10b includes works by Joyce, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Murasaki, Augustine, Virgil, Sophocles, and Homer. One 90-minute lecture plus a 90-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students continue to 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: Most students take both semesters of Hum 10, but students who do not take 10b receive full credit for 10a. 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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Humanities 12. Essential Works in World Literature
Instructor: Martin Puchner

Tuesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: Art Museums Deknatel Hall

With readings from Gilgamesh and The Odyssey to Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk, this course explores how great writers refract their world and how their works are transformed when they intervene in our global cultural landscape today.

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

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TDM 173x. Performance Elective: Acting and Authenticity
Instructor: David Levine

Wednesdays, 12-2 pm | Location: Farkas 203

This is a text- and studio-based seminar that explores the realist idea of ’acting’ alongside philosophical, psychological, and scientific notions of authenticity and falsehood, presence, mimesis, identity, and empathy. What does it mean to turn into someone else? How total is the transformation? What are the implications for our understanding of the individual? Various texts, from the acting primers of Stanislavski and Strasberg to works of literary criticism, natural science, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind will be considered, alongside acting exercises and projects that attempt to examine what “realism” means in the 21st century. The seminar will culminate in a final project in which participants turn into each other.

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8. Freshman Seminars
Freshman Seminar 39n. The Call of Beauty
Instructor: Elaine Scarry

Mondays, 4-6 pm | Location: Sever 212

Open to freshman students only.

Across the centuries, philosophers, poets, scientists, and mathematicians have meditated on the nature and power of beauty.   Some have said beauty calls on us to educate ourselves; others have said it is a call to repair the injuries of the world. Our readings will come from both men and women: Plato and Sappho in ancient Greece; Aquinas and Lady Murasaki in the medieval period; Rilke and Maya Lin today.  We will study features associated with beauty such as color (e.g. “The Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries depicting the five senses) and symmetry (e.g. Augustine’s De Musica; a book on symmetry by astrophysicist Mario Livio; a recorded debate among physicists about math and beauty).  Does the call of beauty change according to its location? Among the sites we will contemplate are the beauty of earth (e.g. the writings of environmentalist Rachel Carson; the ephemeral sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy) and the beauty of faces (such as Homer on Helen, Seamus Heaney on an unnamed soldier).

 

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Freshman Seminar 60m. The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath
Instructor: Peter Sacks

Wednesdays 3-5pm | Location: Sever 104

Open to freshman students only.

This seminar studies in detail the poetry and prose of two of the most significant American poets of the mid- to late Twentieth Century, Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath.  While the intention will be to gain some general knowledge of lyric poetry, readings will focus closely on the works of these two quite different poets.  We shall examine their entire poetic oeuvres while also reading selections of their prose writings (fiction, letters).  Issues of self-presentation, expatriation, loss, vocation, memory, gender and sexuality, as well as techniques of description and expression – these will recur throughout the readings.  Other poets may be added for context.  While acknowledging the differences between the principal poets (for example the oblique self-portraiture of Bishop as opposed to the more direct “confessional” style of Plath), we shall also seek common motifs both in their situations as writers and in their achieved poems.

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