Spring Term

Course Information

Open All
1. Creative Writing Workshops
English CAFR. Advanced Fiction Writing
Instructor: Claire Messud

Thursdays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CAJR. Journalism in the Age of Trump
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Wednesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

At its heart, journalism is a truth-seeking exercise based on reported facts, careful collection of evidence from witnesses, and reasoned, dispassionate analysis. The editing and presentation of stories should honor the intelligence of readers and the audience. The journalist is not a combatant in the story. But these time-honored traditions are under assault like never before. President Trump’s declared war on “fake news,” his attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” as well as secular changes in technology and the ways in which the news is produced and delivered have combined to undermine the very notion of truth. The class will closely study the role of social media in spreading information, including false stories. We will chart the rise of a more ideological press. We will spend the semester examining these developments, their effects on journalism, and their consequences for democracy.

Writing assignments will include weekly essays examining the core issues at stake in the battle for the truth, compilation of a narrative based on real documents in the Russia investigation and a major, written exercise where students will propose ways that truth can be preserved and protected in journalism.

Readings will include classics, such as Richard Hofstadter’s Paranoid Style in American Politics, George Orwell’s 1984 and Michiko Kakutani’s new book, The Death of Truth. In class, we will watch the documentary series “The Fourth Estate,” and examine nightly news clips from Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. We will examine the key legal documents in the federal investigation of Russian interference in the election and study how they were reported. There will be guest speakers, including the journalists who cover the Trump White House, the Mueller investigation and new projects promoting truth in the news.

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 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CAMR. Advanced Playwriting
Instructor: Sam Marks

Tuesdays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CAPR. Poetry
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Wednesdays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CBBR. Intermediate Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell

Tuesdays, 6-8:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CDWR. Writing the Documentary
Instructor: Musa Syeed

Tuesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This course will focus on non-fiction writing for film, with a primary focus on the documentary treatment. We will discuss various aspects of the craft, including interviewing techniques, research, varying formal approaches, and story structure, as well as ethical concerns in documentary filmmaking. We will examine produced treatments and screen a wide array of documentaries. Students will be expected to perform research, primarily in the field, and identify their own documentary subjects, about whom they will develop a film treatment as a final project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample. Screenplays are preferred, but fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and plays are acceptable as well. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself. Include a couple films/filmmakers that have inspired you, your goals for the class, as well as any themes/subject matter/ideas you might be interested in exploring in your writing for film.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CFMR. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Claire Messud

Wednesdays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CHCR. Advanced Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell

Mondays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CIJR. Introduction to Journalism
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Mondays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CKR. Introduction to Playwriting
Instructor: Sam Marks

Mondays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CLR. Introduction to Screenwriting
Instructor: Musa Syeed

Mondays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop will introduce students to the fundamentals of dramatic screenwriting, including narrative theory and structure, character design, dialogue/voice, genre, and tone. In the beginning of the semester, we will focus on craft exercises, reading produced scripts, and watching short films. We will then transition to workshopping student work in class, and each students will have the opportunity to submit two short screenplays, one of which they will revise for a final project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample. Screenplays are preferred, but fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and plays are acceptable as well. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself. Include a couple films/filmmakers that have inspired you, your goals for the class, as well as any themes/subject matter/ideas you might be interested in exploring in your writing for film.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CNFR. Creative Nonfiction
Instructor: Darcy Frey

Wednesdays, 3-5:45 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, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, and David Foster Wallace. Assignments include two 10-page narratives, several short exercises, an extensive revision, and typed critiques of classmates’ work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative/literary nonfiction (essay, memoir, narrative journalism, etc, but NOT academic writing) or, if you have not yet written much nonfiction, an equal number of pages of narrative fiction. Also, please write a letter of introduction explaining who you are as writer at the moment and where you hope to take your writing; what experience you may have had with creative/literary nonfiction; which nonfiction writers and books you most admire; what excites you about nonfiction in particular; and what you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CNM. Introduction to Fiction
Instructor: Neel Mukherjee

Tuesdays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CPWR. Poetry
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Tuesdays, 12-2:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CPY (001). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Paul Yoon

Wednesdays, 12-2:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CPY (002). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Paul Yoon

Wednesdays, 3-5:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CSFR. Style in Fiction
Instructor: Neel Mukherjee

Wednesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This class will look at excerpts from a selection of writers who are considered to be great prose stylists. The course will consist of two halves. The first hour of the class will be devoted to discussion and close analysis of a particular writer’s style in the assigned text that will be circulated a week in advance. The idea is to look at a wide range of writing styles and try to isolate what is unique about each, how the relevant style and meaning correspond, in what ways a writer’s style is a window on the world s/he is representing, how style relates to affect, and other such questions. The class would be particularly suited to those who have taken at least two previous Creative Writing courses. Beginners should apply to the ‘Introduction to fiction’ classes being offered.

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: This course is recommended for students who have prior experience in fiction writing. 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 one author whose style you admire and love. The letter must contain an account of both the particular style in question and the reasons for your admiration.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CVB (001). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Laura van den Berg

Thursdays, 9-11:45 am | 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 a wide stylistic range, from Helen Oyeyemi to Julio Cortázar to Jenny Zhang, among others—and generating new work through exercises. Later in the term, your own fiction will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to in-class workshops and, finally, to revision.

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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CVB (002). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Laura van den Berg

Wednesdays, 3-5:45 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 a wide stylistic range, from Helen Oyeyemi to Julio Cortázar to Jenny Zhang, among others—and generating new work through exercises. Later in the term, your own fiction will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to in-class workshops and, finally, to revision.

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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CVR. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Jamaica Kincaid

Wednesdays, 12-2:45 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 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CWSR. The Art of Writing about Science

Tuesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This is a seminar in creative nonfiction writing that will take science as its subject matter. Students will research and write a series of magazine-style articles about science or scientists, intended for a general readership. Along the way, they will hone their interviewing and research skills and expressive capabilities, while contending with issues of factual accuracy, creative license, authority, and responsibility, along with the basic tenets of longform nonfiction. Ultimately students will explore the ways that hard science and subjective prose are interrelated forms. No prior experience with science is required.

Supplemental Application Information: Admission by instructor approval, based on a submitted writing sample of approx. 1000 words, of any genre, that best displays the applicant’s creative abilities.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

English CWWR. Writing Women

Tuesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Women have historically exerted their voice and power through writing, even as the professional writing trades of journalism and publishing have historically been unwelcoming of their presence. This seminar class will examine reporting and writing by and about women, and engage students in the practice of writing about gender, feminism, and women’s lives. Students will produce and workshop their own researched and reported longform articles, while simultaneously inspecting how the media represents women’s issues and learning the history of women writers in American journalism. We will grapple with questions of interviewing, structure, creative expression, ethics, and fair representation, along with the fundaments of narrative nonfiction.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a writing sample of about 1,000 words that showcases your creative abilities, along with a brief letter about why you want to take this course.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/28, no exceptions)

Read more »

2. Common Ground Courses
English 46. Arrivals: British Literature 700-1700
Instructor: James Engell

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

From 700-1700 CE the island—called the United Kingdom of Great Britain only in 1707—witnesses foreign invasions, warring kingdoms, ethnic cleansing, clashing cultures, rebellions, shifts in language, changing manners, morals, and religion.  The English language grows to represent such untraditional events.  Epic, prose romance, drama, allegory, dream vision, bawdy stories, lyrics, intellectual prose, love poetry.  Beowulf, Arthurian tales, Julian of Norwich, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, lyric poets.

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, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 12-2 pm.
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 56. Poets: Lyric and Narrative
Instructor: Andrew Warren
View Site

Mondays & Wednesdays, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

This course is a general introduction to reading and writing about poetry, with a focus on narrative poetry. We begin with Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost, and then turn to eighteenth-century mock epics and verse narratives by Pope and Swift, and work by the Romantics and Victorians, particularly Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Christina Rosetti. The course will end with Byron’s satiric masterstroke, Don Juan, and TS Eliot’s toppled epic, The Waste Land. In between we will look at lyric poems by Percy Shelley, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, A.R. Ammons, Terrance Hayes, Robyn Schiff, Brenda Shaughnessy, Tommy Pico and Monica Youn.

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

Read more »

English 60A. Migrations: American Horrors
Instructor: Ju Yon Kim

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

This course will examine horror—defined expansively to include the uncanny, the abject, the monstrous, and the ghostly—in American literature, considering its formal and aesthetic implications and its relationship to major cultural and social issues. What are the methods and theories that critics have used to study horror in literature? How and to what effect have works of American literature used horror to reflect on contemporary social concerns or to depict historical events? We will explore a range of literary works from the nineteenth century to the present next to critical and theoretical studies of horror and the Gothic.

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

Read more »

English 63G. Migrations: Gilded Ages
Instructor: Patricia Chu

Mondays & Wednesdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

Originally from the title of an 1873 novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, the phrase “The Gilded Age” quickly passed into popular parlance as the name of the period following the Civil War in America: a time when immense fortunes and superficial appearances of growth and prosperity co-existed with growing poverty and unrest.  As a number of economists have argued, income disparities in the United States are currently at their highest levels since the end of the 1920s, when the arrival of the Great Depression produced a consensus in favor of the more equitable distribution of wealth.  In other words, we are now living in America’s new Gilded Age.  In this class we will explore this premise by first examining how representative novels of the classic Gilded Age (approximately 1870 through 1930) represented social structures—how authors tried to comprehend and depict “the way the world works” and the individual’s life in it—and then comparing and contrasting these with novels of a new gilded age, including the way depictions of globalization  and economic empire as central to American national identity develop over time and across national boundaries (England, India). We will study the novel as a genre and literary realism as a strategy of representation and how these emerge from social and political history. We will also read brief accounts of the economic culture of each historical moment. Authors may include: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Frank Norris, William Dean Howells, Aravind Adiga, Zadie Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen.

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

Read more »

3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 90B. James / Baldwin
Instructor: Jesse McCarthy

Thursdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

At first glance Henry James and James Baldwin may seem worlds apart. Yet these two enormously influential writers share much in common. Both are New Yorkers; both spent a good deal of their lives as expatriates; both are celebrated for their queerness, a feature of their style as much as their sexuality. Both were serious, moralizing, and passionate observers of the ‘American Scene’; both writers are deeply committed to investigating and exploring the privacy of consciousness and the currency of experience. Henry James was James Baldwin’s favorite writer. Colm Tóibín has called Baldwin, “the Henry James of Harlem.” What attracted Baldwin to James across their vast racial and class differences? What lessons about the art of fiction can we learn by reading each in the light of the other? Not only the Jamesian influence on Baldwin—but what Baldwin allows us to see might be missing or muted in James. We will think very closely about the subject that deeply occupied both of them: America. And what America means from perspectives acquired from outside of America, looking back in. We will also investigate the expression and communication of sexuality, gender, race, class, money, politics and taste alongside assorted criticism, reviews, and other essays of interest.

Read more »

English 90ES. The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath
Instructor: Peter Sacks

Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

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.

Read more »

English 90FM. Paradigms of American Freedom in 20th Century African American Literature
Instructor: Patricia Chu

Tuesdays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

In this course our focus will be on how the social, political and material meanings of race and autonomy in America have been creatively represented by African American authors between (approximately) 1900 and 2000. As we move through the century, we will attend to the changing aesthetic and political environments in which new generations of authors found themselves.  Texts for this class grapple both with what gaining “freedom” should mean and with what the African American writer might (or might not) have a duty to contribute towards this goal. Primary authors may include: Charles Chesnutt, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Chester Himes, James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, Assata Shakur, Jesmyn Ward, Kiese Laymon.

Read more »

English 90KB. Poems of Seamus Heaney and Thomas Hardy
Instructor: Elaine Scarry

Thursdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

Written a century apart, the poems of Seamus Heaney and Thomas Hardy create an urgent call and response between earth and under-earth. The poets share metrical virtuosity, compressed lyric forms, the unfolding of personal history within public crisis and transformation, and the recognition that the acuity of sentience – the daily practice of exquisitely precise perceptual acts – is the ethical center of our brief stay above ground.

Read more »

English 90LG. Introduction to LGBTQ Literature
Instructor: Stephanie Burt

Wednesdays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This seminar looks at the expanding range of genres, forms and strategies pursued by modern and contemporary authors who want to represent LGBTQ+- lives, communities, bodies and selves; poems and performances, novels and stories, YA and SFF books, memoirs and essays, comics and graphic novels, will all be represented, along with a light frame of what’s usually called queer theory and some points of comparison, or contrast, from earlier centuries. Bechdel, Audre Lorde, O’Hara, Russ, Sedgwick, White, Whitman and many others.

Read more »

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

Mondays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 12-2:30 pm.
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 90SR. Shakespeare’s Rome
Instructor: Leah Whittington

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This course investigates Shakespeare’s lifelong engagement with the literature, politics, and culture of ancient Rome. It will give careful attention to the three “Roman Plays” – Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus – but will also consider the larger role of classical antiquity in Shakespeare’s development and achievement as a dramatist.

Read more »

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

Tuesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

This seminar explores the relationship between literary and scientific experiment during the Restoration and the eighteenth century. Our readings, by authors such as Milton, Fontenelle, Pope, Hume, Diderot, and Mary Shelley, will be paired with hands-on activities: while reading Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, for example, students will have the opportunity to use microscopes and telescopes from the period. Throughout, we will seek to understand how writers of various sorts – scientists, philosophers, poets, novelists, and essayists – were inspired by new accounts of nature, from the simplest experimental observations to the grandest visions of the cosmos.

Read more »

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

Tuesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 12-2 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

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 »

4. Undergraduate Tutorials
English 91R. Supervised Reading and Research
Instructor: Stephanie Burt

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
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
AAAS 100Y. Introduction to Black Poetry
Instructor: Jesse McCarthy

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

When we speak of a tradition of black poetry what do we mean? How did those who made this literature think of their own practice, relate to each other, and to their audiences? How has black poetic practice evolved and responded to different social, cultural, and political crises? This course will introduce important figures in this tradition, and the debates that have dominated its production, reception and practice, as well as its relations to other cultural forms, including popular music, performance, dance, film and the visual arts. We will read a selection of some of the most significant works in their historical context, covering a broad sweep from the 18thcentury to the present day touching on major movements including the Harlem and Chicago Renaissance, négritude, The Black Arts Movement, Black Feminism, and the Dark Room Collective. Authors include Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Una Marson, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Aimé Césaire, Nicolás Guillén, Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Derek Walcott, Harryette Mullen, Nathaniel Mackey, Rita Dove, Jericho Brown, Tracy K. Smith, Ed Roberson, Claudia Rankine, Terrance Hayes, M. NourbeSe Philip, Fred Moten, and Kevin Young.

Read more »

AAAS 130X. Richard Wright: Literature, Philosophy, and Politics
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

This course examines the major fiction and nonfiction works of Richard Wright from a literary, philosophical, and political perspective. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to this wide-ranging and canonical American author, contextualizing him within the broader tradition of black letters. Readings include but are not limited to Uncle Tom’s Children, Native Son, Black Boy, American Hunger, 12 Million Black Voices, The Outsider, Black Power, The Color Curtain, White Man Listen!, and Eight Men. The course also explores major influences in Wright’s development including the work of Marx, Sartre, and Freud.

Read more »

AesthInt 42. Revolutionary Utopias and Literary Transformations
Instructor: James Simpson

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Is revolution or reform the best way to transform society?
What noun do the following adjectives qualify: English, American, French, Russian, Chinese Cultural, Cambodian, Iranian? Answer: “Revolution.” Liberal cultural tends to praise some of these revolutions and recoil in horror from the others. In America, “revolutionary” is a positive adjective while victims of the Soviet gulags are less enthusiastic about the term. Countries whose revolutions have been successful and durable regard the term “utopia” as more positively than the victims of utopian thinking. What do you make of this dissonance?
This course explores the relation between utopian Enlightenment and literary cultures in Western history.  For each moment of rapid change, from Plato to the Communist revolutions of the twentieth century and beyond, we will focus on two texts: one which promotes the enlightened and revolutionary utopian social blueprint; and one that offers an alternative model of transformation, or even a dystopian account of the utopian model. You will come away from this course having a chronologically wide and intellectually deep immersion in 2500 years of European philosophical and literary history. Throughout, you are encouraged to think about what resources we use to imagine social transformation and to ask if revolution is in fact the best way to effect social transformation.

Note: Students who have taken Culture and Belief 18 or Humanities 53 may not take this course for credit.

Read more »

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

Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

AesthInt 64. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Instructor: Nicholas Watson

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

What makes stories so pleasurable and so enraging?  How do we understand the strong emotions they evoke, and how do we learn to resist their power?  Answering back to a world of fake news and divisive political narratives, this course revisits Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales the deepest, most caustic, and most entertaining  analysis of the problematic status of stories ever written.

Read more »

Culture & Belief 45. The History of the English Language
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue
View Site

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Everyone who uses English has experienced its idiosyncrasies. Why is pronunciation at odds with spelling? Why so many irregular verbs? What happened to “thou”? What did Shakespeare sound like? How do we know? What is the future of English as a world language? What is code-switching? Spanglish? This course addresses such questions as it surveys the long history of the language up to the present day. While the topic is fascinating on its own, a historical knowledge of English can boost confidence in your reading and writing. It also helps dispel common anxieties and misconceptions about language. Lectures will be supplemented by exercises from the course website. A final project asks you to invent an English of the future.

Read more »

English 103D. Beowulf and Seamus Heaney
Instructor: Daniel Donoghue
View Site

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 110FF. Medieval Fanfiction
Instructor: Anna Wilson

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 1:30-2:30 pm.

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 131P. Milton’s Paradise Lost
Instructor: Gordon Teskey

Mondays & Wednesdays, 4:30-5:45 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 141. When Novels Were New
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch

Mondays & Wednesdays, 3-4:15 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

English 175D. The Rhetoric of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
Instructor: John Stauffer

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Note: Formerly English 90FD

Read more »

English 176FR. On the Run: Fugitives and Refugees in American Literature
Instructor: Thomas Dichter

Mondays & Wednesdays, 3-4:15 pm | 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, 10:30-11:45 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 190N. Writing Nature: Creativity, Poetry, Ethics, Science
Instructor: James Engell

Mondays & Wednesdays, 1:30-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

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.

Read more »

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

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

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 and Culture and Belief.

 

 

Read more »

Humanities 10B. A Humanities Colloquium: From Joyce to Homer
Instructor: Louis Menand , Stephen Greenblatt , Deidre Shauna Lynch , Leah Whittington

Tuesdays, 10-11:45 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 2018. Humanities 10b includes works by Joyce, Nietzsche, Mary Shelley, Austen, Pascal, Marguerite de Navarre, Dante, Augustine, Sophocles, and Homer, as well as the Arabian Nights. One 75-minute lecture plus a 75-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 Humanities 10A and Humanities 10B fulfill the General Education requirements for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding and Culture and Belief as well as the College Writing requirement. This is the only course outside of Expository Writing that satisfies the College Writing requirement. No auditors. The course may not be taken Pass/Fail.
Only students who have satisfactorily completed the Fall 2018 term of Hum 10A are eligible to enroll in Hum 10B.

 

Read more »

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

Mondays & Wednesdays, 12-1:15 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 »

6. Graduate Seminars
Comp Lit 214. The Literature of the Islands
Instructor: Marc Shell

Thursdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.

Islands, both a part of and apart from the main, offer ready-made laboratories for linguistic, biological and political investigation; islandness as such encourages national literature, philosophy, and vacation. Our seminar focuses on fictional islands as well as Canadian ice floes, Hormuz (Persia), Maine islets, and urban Venice. Aristotle, Plato, Darwin, Melville, Hesiod, Homer, Rabelais, More, Shakespeare, and Flaherty (director).

Read more »

English 210Q. Queer/Medieval
Instructor: Anna Wilson

Wednesdays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

The / in this course title can suggest a slippage or interchangeability; opposition and polarization; or (in fanfiction tagging conventions) erotic or romantic friction between two entities. This course functions as an introduction to queer theory as an intellectual tool with which to read texts far removed from the political, cultural, and social discourses from which queer theory emerged. We will ask: what can queer theory offer readers of medieval literature  in its explorations of gender, sexuality, power, narrative, trauma, and time? We will read a range of foundational and cutting-edge queer theorists including but not limited to Judith Butler, José Esteban Muñoz, Lee Edelman, Eve Sedgwick, and Carolyn Dinshaw, alongside texts from the European Middle Ages (roughly 500-1500), in Middle English or in translation. These texts may include Aelred of Rievaulx’s Rule of Life for a Recluse, Thomas of Monmouth’s The Life and Miracles of William of Norwich, The Book of Margery Kempe, the poems of Baudri of Bourgeuil, the letters of Abelard and Heloise, and more.

Read more »

English 223T. Shakespearean Transformations
Instructor: Stephen Greenblatt
View Site

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

 

Read more »

English 228. Milton
Instructor: Gordon Teskey

Mondays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

A survey of Milton’s life and poetry.

 

Read more »

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

Tuesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 12-2 pm.

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.

Read more »

English 278P. American Literary Culture, 1945-1970
Instructor: Louis Menand

Mondays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Topics include academic critical theory; the postwar novel; the poetry anthology wars; second-wave feminism; and the Black Arts Movement; and postmodernism in the context of changes in higher education and the culture industries, and with a look at the visual arts and cinema.

Read more »

English 283. New Research in Theater and Performance Studies
Instructor: Ju Yon Kim

Thursdays, 3:00-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.

This course will examine major books in the fields of theater and performance studies published in the last five years. We will look closely at their methodology, theoretical contributions, and engagements with earlier critical works. We will begin by discussing the relationship between theater studies and performance studies, key terms and approaches, and new developments in these fields. We will then read five recently published books alongside a selection of the performances and texts considered in these studies. The goals of this course include familiarizing students with debates in theater and performances studies; exploring models of interdisciplinary research; and cultivating strategies for analyzing and writing about theater and performance.

Read more »

English 291DS. Disfluency and Style
Instructor: Marc Shell

Tuesdays, 9:45-11:45 am | Location: TBA

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

Read more »

English 295M. Media Theory
Instructor: David J. Alworth

Wednesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 12-2 pm.

An overview of media theory in an expanded field. This course reads the most recent work in media studies alongside relevant philosophical and theoretical precursors. It pairs scholarship on specific topics (e.g. the book-as-medium, the algorithmic imagination, the mediation of data and facts, the idea of “the human,” social media) with foundational work in the field by McLuhan, Kittler, Luhmann, Hayles, and others. Relevant philosophical and historical readings are paired with key texts in media theory. Students will have the option to submit nontraditional (e.g. “DH”) final projects.

Read more »

English 296E. The Literary Essay
Instructor: Marjorie Garber

Tuesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

The essay from the time of Montaigne and Bacon has been an astonishingly supple and capacious genre, with a range of reference from the highly particular and peculiar to the broadly general. In its breadth of reference and occasional form, the literary essay was the forerunner of much of what is today called “cultural studies,” on the one hand, and “creative nonfiction” on the other. This seminar will consider major essayists from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries, with particular attention to strategies of argument, evidence and style, and to contemporary critical writing. Montaigne, Bacon, Addison, Johnson, Hazlitt, Emerson, Benjamin, Adorno, Eliot, Woolf, Barthes, Sontag, and others.

Read more »

7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
TDM 124X. Acting, Theory, and Public Speech
Instructor: David Levine

Time: TBA | Location: TBA

This practice-based class treats works of art criticism and theory as dramatic texts, monologues to be analyzed, learned, invested with desire, and performed. Over the course of the term, students will examine a set of key texts in 20th century art history and criticism, from Greenberg to Benjamin to Krauss. Each will select a text to learn, prepare and perform, culminating in a final, site-specific, roaming performance at Harvard Art Museums. Open to concentrators and non-concentrators, visual and performance artists,  art historians, actors, and students of literature, theory, and public speaking.

Read more »

8. Freshman Seminars
Freshman Seminar 62F. Talking Animals
Instructor: James Simpson

Time: TBA | Location: TBA

When literary writers think about social organization, hunger, violence, sex, suffering, technology, expressivity, and education (for example), they often draw upon animal behavior to understand human practice. They think with animals. Occasionally that thinking prompts awareness of the otherness of animal behavior, and the reality of animal suffering. For the most part, however, recourse to animals is a way of thinking about human behavior. It’s also a way of persuading humans to act differently. Animals present us to ourselves in exaggerated form, whether as cute, as clever, as beautiful, or as terrifyingly violent and relentlessly rapacious. Animals address all human ages: cute animals appeal to children, beautiful animals (especially birds) to young lovers, whereas the violent and rapacious animal stories are reserved for the grown-ups. Either way – cute, beautiful or terrifying – we need animals to think, no doubt because we are ourselves animals, even if we often pretend not to be. This course will focus on extraordinarily brilliant animal literature (funny, mordant, touching, sophisticated), across literary genres destined for different age groups (children, adolescents, adults), in European literature, from the last 2000 years. You will be encouraged to build your own bibliography, with your own animal story finds in the Harvard library system.

Note: Course open to first year students only.

Read more »

Freshman Seminar 62H. Dickens and America
Instructor: Leah Price

Time: TBA | Location: TBA

What happened when Britain’s most celebrated novelist visited the world’s most celebrated experiment in democracy? This course will reconstruct Charles Dickens’ travels through the United States in 1842. We’ll read his travel narrative, the novel he wrote about the United States, and critical responses. We’ll visit some of the place he visited.  And we’ll produce our own responses to Dickens’s work, including in the twenty-first century’s favorite serial form: the podcast.

Note: Course open to first year students only.

Read more »