Spring Term

Course Information

Open All
1. Creative Writing Workshops
English Cafr. Advanced Fiction Writing
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cajr. Advanced Journalism: Investigative Reporting
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Wednesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

A writing workshop focusing on investigative reporting. Course will focus on how to use data and documents to create compelling narratives. Using case studies, students learn how journalism holds power accountable from Watergate to the Trump era.

Supplemental Application Information: Please include with your application a letter telling me how you consume news, through social media,Websites, video, podcasts or print publications. Please also address why you are interested in investigative journalism and tell me whether you have had any reporting experience. (No experience is required). A writing sample is optional for this course application.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Calr. Dramatic Screenwriting II
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

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).

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Camr. Advanced Playwriting
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Capr. Poetry
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cbbr. Intermediate Poetry
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cfmr. Fiction Writing
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Chcr. Advanced Poetry
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cijr. Introduction to Journalism
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Ckr. Introduction to Playwriting
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Clr. Dramatic Screenwriting I
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.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cnfr. Creative Nonfiction
Instructor: Darcy Frey

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Whether in essay, memoir or reportage, creative nonfiction employs many of the same literary techniques as fiction: narrative structure, character development, scene-setting, extended dialogue, emphasis on voice and point of view. In addition to workshopping student writing, we discuss examples of the genre by writers such as Virginia Woolf, William Maxwell, Joan Didion, and John McPhee. Assignments include two 10-15 page narratives, an extensive revision, and typed critiques of classmates’ work.

Supplemental Application Information: TBA

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cnm (001): Introduction to Fiction

Instructor: Neel Mukherjee

Tuesdays: 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (TBA), with the aim of isolating some aspect of the craft of writing in order to take bearings for your own. In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of an hour each, we will be workshopping the writing of two students. Our goal is for each of you to have two turns, and approximately 5-10,000 words of your work critiqued, by the time semester ends. The final project involves significant redrafting of a story or a portion of a novel.

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 in which you write about why you’re interested in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; some of your favourite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cnm (002): Introduction to Fiction

Instructor: Neel Mukherjee

Wednesdays: 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (TBA), with the aim of isolating some aspect of the craft of writing in order to take bearings for your own. In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of an hour each, we will be workshopping the writing of two students. Our goal is for each of you to have two turns, and approximately 5-10,000 words of your work critiqued, by the time semester ends. The final project involves significant redrafting of a story or a portion of a novel.

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 in which you write about why you’re interested in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; some of your favourite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cpwr. Poetry
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cpy. Fiction Writing
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cvb. Fiction Writing
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 (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

English Cvr. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Jamaica Kincaid

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.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

Read more »

2. Common Ground Courses
English 40. Arrivals: British Literature, 700-1700
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

An introduction to major works in English literature from Beowulf through the seventeenth century, the course will explore various ways that new literatures are created in response to cultural forces that shape poets, genres, and group identity. We will hone close reading skills, introduce rhetorical tropes, and develop techniques of critical writing.

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

Read more »

English 55. Poets: Fundamentals of Lyric Poetry
Instructor: Peter Sacks

Wednesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 57. Poets: Metaphysical Poetry
Instructor: Gordon Teskey

Mondays & Wednesdays, 1-2 | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

A course on the major lyric poets of the 17th century, Donne, Jonson, Herbert, and Marvell. What is the relation between poetry and philosophy, between lyric expression and permanent order? In the seventeenth century, medieval notions of order gave way before the rise of science and of early modern philosophy.

Note: Be sure to attend first class meeting to be considered for admittance. Formerly English 90qm.

Read more »

English 60. Migrations: Fictions of America
Instructor: Elisa New

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11-12:30 | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

This course will treat America as it was imagined and re-imagined between the 16th-21st centuries by successive waves of Europeans, Africans and their descendants. The course explores how evolving fictions of America’s purpose, changing notions of America’s geography and conflicting ideas of American character inform an emerging literary tradition. Readings list likely to include non-fiction by Harriot, Rowlandson, Mather, Franklin, Jacobs; shorter fiction by Irving, Hawthorne, Melville and Stein; novels by Cather, Norris and Morrison.

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

Read more »

3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 90cnc. Conrad, Naipaul, Coetzee: Genealogies of the Global Imagination
Instructor: Homi K. Bhabha

Tuesdays, 2-5 | Location TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

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.

Read more »

English 90fd. The Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
Instructor: John Stauffer

Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

A critical examination of Douglass’ and Lincoln’s speeches and other exemplary writings from Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum Address to Douglass’s 1894 “Lessons of the Hour.” We explore Douglass’ and Lincoln’s respective rhetorical practices in relation to their politics.

Read more »

English 90hb. Five Shakespeare Plays
Instructor: Marc Shell

Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 90hl. How to Live: When Literature Meets Self-Help
Instructor: Beth Blum

Wednesdays, 1-3 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

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

Mondays, 1-3 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 90mm. Monsters and Marvels
Instructor: Anna Wilson

Wednesdays, 3-5 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

A chain of medieval trade and pilgrimage routes stretched from Iceland to Indonesia, and distant lands were a subject of powerful fascination to medieval readers. How did medieval English writers and readers imagine the world? How did narratives of travel, conquest, pilgrimage, and exploration wrestle with questions of religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, racial and national identity, and the limits of human knowledge? We examine medieval illuminations, illustrations, and maps alongside texts including the Crusade romance The King of Tars, the pilgrimage account of Margery Kempe, and the incredibly popular Book of John Mandeville.

Read more »

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

Wednesdays, 3-5 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 90tb. Literature and the Rise of Public Science
Instructor: Stephen Osadetz

TBA | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

Read more »

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

The Supervising Reading and Research tutorial is a type of student-driven independent study offering individual instruction in subjects of special interest that cannot be studied in regular courses. English 91r is supervised by a member of the English Department faculty.  It is a graded course and may not be taken more than twice, and only once for concentration credit. Students must submit a proposal and get approval from the faculty member with whom they wish to work.

Proposed syllabi and faculty approval must be submitted and verified by the English Department Undergraduate Office by the Course Registration Deadline.

Read more »

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

Tutorial assignments are organized through the Undergraduate Office. Contact Lauren for more information.

Fall 2017

“Go Little Book” – First Books of Major Poets
Michael Allen

Reading Politics
Andy Donnelly

Women’s Parts on the Modern Stage: Inventing the “Strong Female Lead”
Rebecca Kastleman

World Literature and the African Diaspora
Nick Rinehart

Sentiment, Self, Society: 19th Century American Women Writers
Emily Silk

The Seventies
Chris Schlegel

Making Modernism: From Poets to Publishers
Michelle Taylor

Spring 2018

Adaptation: Form, Politics, Methods
Isabel Duarte Gray

“Besties” or Narratives of Female Friendship from Emma to NW
Eliza Holmes

Fantasies of the Past
Anna Kelner

Global Modernism, Short Form (1899-1944)
Miles Osgood

“Reader, I married, divorced and forgot about him”: 275 years of the marriage plot
Hannah Rosefield

21st-c. American Hybrids
Chris Spaide

Romantic Lives & Afterlives
Julia Tejblum

 

 

 

 

Read more »

English 99r. Senior Tutorial

Time: TBA | Location: TBA

Supervised individual tutorial in an independent scholarly or critical subject.

Students on the honors thesis track will register for English 99r in both the fall and spring terms. 

Read more »

5. Lectures with Sections
English 103g. Old English: Working with Manuscripts
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11-12 | Location: TBA

The task of translation will be supplemented by consistent attention to the manuscript contexts of Old English literature. The texts will include selections from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Genesis, the Exeter Book Riddles, Beowulf, and others. The course will guide students through basic principles of manuscript study and will culminate in a collaborative edition of an Old English text.

Note: Students who complete both English 102 and 103 with honors grades will fulfill the College language requirement and the English Department’s Foreign Literature requirement. Prerequisite: English 102. 

Read more »

English 110ff. Medieval Fanfiction
Instructor: Anna Wilson

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1-2 pm | Location: TBA

Fanfiction is a surprisingly powerful tool for examining medieval literature. It sheds light on the dynamics of rereading and reception that characterize medieval texts, which in turn deepen our own understanding of creative originality. In this class we will read some twentieth- and twenty-first century fanfiction with medievalist themes alongside medieval literary texts that rewrite, reimagine, or let their authors star in pre-existing stories. This medieval ‘fanfiction’ will include Arthurian romances, ‘sequels’ to the Aeneid and the Canterbury Tales, and Christian spiritual texts in which devout men and women imagined themselves as ‘Mary Sues’ in scenes from the Gospels.

Read more »

English 124d. Shakespearean Tragedy
Instructor: Stephen Greenblatt

Mondays & Wednesdays, 10-11 am | Location: TBA

We will read the succession of tragedies from the early Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet to the late Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus, with particular attention to the astonishing sequence of Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Part of the course will involve screening and discussion of film, as well as glimpses of modern adaptations. Readings will include theories of tragedy, as well as Shakespearean sources and modern criticism.

Read more »

English 131p. Milton’s Paradise Lost
Instructor: Gordon Teskey

Mondays & Wednesdays, 2-3 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 144a. American Plays and Musicals
Instructor: Derek Miller

Mondays, 3-5 pm | Location: TBA

This lecture on Golden Age Broadway considers both plays and musicals together. Readings pair shows on similar themes, including Death of a Salesman and The Music Man, Mister Roberts and South Pacific, and The Miracle Worker and My Fair Lady. We will attempt to understand not only the individual shows but also how Broadway operates as a theatrical system.

Read more »

English 145a. Jane Austen’s Fiction and Fans
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch

Mondays & Wednesdays, 1-2 pm | Location: TBA

In this class we’ll read at least five of Austen’s novels and study the contribution they made to the remaking of modern fiction.  Though our emphasis will fall on these works’ place in the literary culture of Austen’s day and on their historical contexts in an era of revolution, we’ll also acknowledge the strong and ardent feelings that Austen’s oeuvre continues to arouse today.  To that end, we’ll do some investigating of the frequently wild world of contemporary Austen fandom and the Austenian tourism, shopping, adaptations, and sequels that nurture it.  At the same time, we’ll remember that Austen knew fandom from both sides; part of our work will be to learn about the early-nineteenth-century culture of literary appreciation in which Austen enrolled the heroines of her novels and enrolled herself.

Read more »

English 151. Nineteenth-Century Novel
Instructor: Elaine Scarry

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 pm | Location: TBA

Realism and the problem of consciousness, social knowledge, mobility, the city, and the fantastic within experience. The ethos of self-construction and its recognition of childhood; the irrational, the accidental, and the unconscious. Binary structures, the biographical and the social form of fiction. Austen’s Emma, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Eliot’s Adam Bede, Dickens’s Bleak House, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Mayor of Casterbridge.

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

Read more »

English 160bg. The Bloomsbury Group
Instructor: Marjorie Garber

Mondays & Wednesdays, 11-12 | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 160je. The Joyce Effect
Instructor: Beth Blum

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11-12 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

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

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

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

 

Read more »

English 176fr. On the Run: Fugitives and Refugees in American Literature

Instructor: Thomas Dichter

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 | Location: TBA

Escaped slaves, refugees, outlaws, and rebels are all on the run in the pages of American literature. In a nation founded in the name of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” stories of the fugitive making a break for freedom have been both troubling and enchanting. In this course, we will examine narratives of flight by American writers from the early days of the Republic through the present. These authors explore many different kinds of fugitivity: from the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who hid in a crate and mailed himself to freedom in the North, to recent fiction by Edwidge Danticat and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Along the way, we’ll consider narratives of outlaws, war refugees, undocumented immigrants, and insurrectionaries. Engaging with a diverse range of authors, our texts will include autobiography, novels, poetry, and folklore.

 

Read more »

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

Mondays & Wednesdays, 10-11 am | Location: TBA

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.

Note: This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding or United States in the World, but not both. This course fulfills the requirement that one of the eight General Education courses also engage substantially with Study of the Past.

Read more »

English 181aa. Asian American Literature: Asian American Action
Instructor: Patricia Chu

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1 | Location: TBA

This interdisciplinary course will examine Asian American literature and film alongside political and historical readings about how Asian Americans have taken action as artists, activists, workers, politicians, criminals, etc. We will consider issues including: gender and sexuality, immigration history/American Dream, ethnic and class conflicts within Asian America, the problem of “authenticity,” the effects of America’s wars in Asia, the particular stereotypes associated with Asian Americans, and Asian American positions in relation to other American minorities. Text modes and genres will range widely and may include: comedy, anger, sentiment, nostalgia, and commitment in novels, social theory, poetry, legal studies, journalism, personal narrative, film. Authors may include Vijay Prashad, Rey Chow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Susan Choi, Lela Lee, Ruth Ozeki, John Okada, Chang-rae Lee, Le Thi DiemThuy, Sunil Yapa, Milton Murayama, Miné Okubo.

Read more »

English 197gr. Gender and Representation
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 11-12 pm | Location: TBA

Margaret Atwood is often asked if the The Handmaid’s Tale is a “feminist” novel. Her response: “If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are ‘feminist.’” This course focuses on such feminist books. It explores issues of perspective: what happens when an author writes from the perspective of a woman? Since taking this perspective does not depend on biology, we will explore authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially those whose class, race, and/or ethnicity add another dimension. We’ll focus on contemporary Anglophone novels and drama.

Read more »

English 199a. How to Do Literary Theory
Instructor: Andrew Warren

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: TBA

This is a course in the lively history and practice of literary theory. Since literature came into the world people have had theories about it: what it is, what it can & shouldn’t do, why it exists, how it works, what makes a piece of writing good or mediocre or sublime—and who gets to say so.  We will read a wide range of answers to these questions written by very different people in very different places and times, from Ancient Greece to 1960’s Paris, from post-colonial Kenya to present-day New York and Mumbai. To get a feel for how these different literary theories work in practice each student will also choose a literary text on which to perform different styles of readings. By the end of the course you will be an expert in that text and in a dozen different ways of reading and asking questions about it.

Read more »

6. Graduate Seminars
Comparative Literature 237. Non-Western Languages and Literatures of What is Now the United States
Instructor: Marc Shell

Mondays, 4-6 pm | Location: TBA

Why has Comparative Literature, so far, made a home in the United States? This seminar looks to the linguistic and literary history of the place to help explain. Our work considers both ‘indigenous’ and ‘incoming’ languages and literatures. Topics include: writing systems and literatures of Native American tribes; the roles of Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Spanish Yiddish, and several other non-English literatures in the United States; and philosophical aspects of “first encounters” in the New World. Central concerns are the rise of English as the ‘officially unofficial’ language in the United States and the definition of anglo-American literature in polar opposition to other languages and literatures. Readings include: Minnesota-based Rolvaag’s prize-winning Norwegian-language novel Giants in the Earth; the Louisiana-based Mercier’s generally unknown bilingual slavery novel (French and Creole) Saint-Ybars Habitation, sometimes called the greatest work of American literature; Henry Roth’s Yiddish-inflected Call It Sleep; and several essays and longer poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who founded a traditionalist comparative literature at Harvard. The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature includes poetry, epic literature, and discursive essays – all with facing-page English translations. Seminar participants will themselves have opportunity to translate a short written work of their own choice and/or to write an essay historical, sociolinguistic, and/or literary essay.

Read more »

English 223us. Unfamiliar Shakespeare
Instructor: Marjorie Garber

Tuesdays, 12-2 pm | Location: TBA

 

Read more »

English 231. Divine Comedies
Instructor: Nicholas Watson

Mondays, 1-3 pm | Location: TBA

A study of four poetic and/or visionary works written 1300-1400: Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, John of Morigny’s Book of Flowers, Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love, and William Langland’s Piers Plowman. We consider the inter-relationship between the poetic and the visionary in light of the categories of “orthodoxy” and “discretion of spirits” during a period when both were fiercely contested.

Read more »

English 286nm. The Novel in the History of Media
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch

Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: TBA

This course investigates the rise of the novel in conjunction with the rise of modern communications networks and information technologies.  It investigates this literary genre’s accounts of people’s interconnectedness alongside those projected by the postal system, the telegraph, and the radio. We’ll read widely in the history of English-language fiction– from Daniel Defoe to Jennifer Egan, by way of Sterne, Gaskell, James, and others–and in recent works of media archaeology.

Read more »

English 290mh. Migration and the Humanities
Instructor: Homi K. Bhabha

Wednesdays, 2-5 pm | Location: TBA

By focusing on literary narratives, cultural representations, and critical theories, this course explores ways in which issues related to migration create rich and complex interdisciplinary conversations. How do humanistic disciplines address these issues — human rights, cultural translation, global justice, security, citizenship, social discrimination, biopolitics — and what contributions do they make to the “home” disciplines of migration studies such as law, political science, and sociology? How do migration narratives compel us to revise our concepts of culture, polity, neighborliness, and community? We will explore diverse aspects of migration from existential, ethical, and philosophical perspectives while engaging with specific regional and political histories. Includes regular participation in the Mahindra Humanities Center Mellon Seminar on migration and the humanities.

Read more »

English 291c. Literature and the Circulation of Knowledge: The 18th Century
Instructor: Stephen Osadetz
View Site

Mondays, 3-5 pm | Location: TBA

A course about how literature participates in the dissemination of new knowledge. We will be concerned centrally with two broad issues: the cultural foundations upon which the Enlightenment instituted a public sphere, and the methods of literary encapsulation and remediation authors used to make their ideas have broad cultural impact. The aim is to explore the invention and naturalization of some of the most fundamental institutions of the Enlightenment: the public, the private, the market, and public opinion. Authors will include Addison, Richardson, Diderot, Sterne, Smith, Wollstonecraft, Blake. Substantial theoretical readings in intellectual history, book history, and media studies.

Read more »

English 292m. Methods of Literary Study: Seminar
Instructor: David J. Alworth

Wednesdays, 12-2 | Location: TBA

What constitutes method in literary studies? Over the past decade, this question has attained new urgency, with scholars of literature debating fundamental assumptions about what, how, and even whether to read. This seminar will engage such debates by surveying recent monographs, edited collections, and journal articles that address topics such as historicism and periodization, textual materialism and book history, “new sociologies of literature,” “surface reading,” digital humanities and “distant reading,” and so on. Seminar participants will think broadly about method as they pursue more limited research topics. Assignments will include a conference abstract, a book review, and an article-length seminar paper.

Read more »

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: TBA

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.

Read more »

History & Literature 90at. The Postwar American Road Narrative
Instructor: David J. Alworth

Tuesdays, 2-4 pm | Location: TBA

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. 

Read more »

History & Literature 90de. After Affirmative Action: Race, Justice, and Inequality in America since the 1990s
Instructor: Patricia Chu

Thursdays, 2-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

In this course our exploration surrounds four contemporary novels by African American and Asian American authors with the theory and history of the new political, economic and social context these authors were confronting while writing political literature. We examine the roots of changes in American racial politics while also studying how minority artists urgently seek new ways to represent injustice and imagine new strategies of fighting it.  We will discuss the juridical, administrative and cultural repudiation of civil rights-era understandings of and remedies for racial inequality that form the backdrop of these novels. Many of these trends began to take hold in the 1990s. Affirmative action was replaced by “diversity.” “Reverse discrimination” lawsuits were on the rise and turned white people into victims of racial remedies, making Proposition 187 and Proposition 209 possible. White identity politics was reconfigured to make it acceptable in the mainstream. The war on poverty became the war on drugs, and thus a war on poor communities and families. Public education was resegregated and privatized, and the school to prison pipeline was established. Criminal law and immigration law, once firmly separated, converged. Homeland Security took priority over civil rights. “Value” could only mean monetary value, and justice had to make financial sense rather than moral sense. The post-Katrina era is one in which these trends created the conditions for first, the racist emergency response launched in the immediate wake of the storm and second, the less-publicized but even more consequential “restructuring” of the region along lines of race, class and corporate profit. Our work in this course, guided by historians, legal scholars, creative writers, and political theorists, is to understand both how we got here and how we might imagine and engender a new destination.

Read more »

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

Tuesdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: TBA

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 also have opportunities to visit cultural venues and attend musical and theatrical events in Cambridge or Boston.

Note: The course is open only to freshmen who have completed Humanities 10a. Students who take both semesters of Humanities 10 fulfill the College Writing Requirement. This is the only course outside of Expository Writing that satisfies that requirement. Students who take Humanities 10b also meet the General Education divisional requirement in Arts and Humanities. No auditors. The course may not be taken Pass/Fail. Only students who have satisfactorily completed the Fall 2017 term of Hum 10a are eligible to enroll in Hum 10b. 

Read more »

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

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

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

Mondays, 4-6 pm | Location: TBA

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).

 

Read more »