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    English 201. Images, Idolatry and Iconoclasm: Late Medieval to Early Modern: Graduate Seminar

    Instructor: James Simpson
    Monday, 3:00-5:00pm
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    Fear of idolatry is a recurrent feature of Western culture. The Christian image threatens to short-circuit the flow of spirituality between humans and God, just as images of the ancient, pagan gods threaten dangerously to preserve the energies of those lascivious and vengeful deities. And images, whether secular or religious, are always...

    Read more about English 201. Images, Idolatry and Iconoclasm: Late Medieval to Early Modern: Graduate Seminar

    English 122iw. Imagining the World in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

    Instructor: Alan Niles
    Tuesday & Thursday, 1:30-2:45pm | Location: TBA

    How did writers and audiences imagine the world before modernity? This course offers an introduction to the first 1000 years of English literature (roughly 700-1700) and the shifting terms through which writers were able to imagine the world beyond their borders. We will encounter hardy seafarers, fantastical monsters, and real and imagined peoples at the margins of Europe and beyond. We will study the genres of travel narrative, romance, epic, drama, and lyric, and the different ways these forms registered global connections, ideas of race, and cultural and religious difference. We will pay particular attention to the accelerated pace of global

    encounters and connections starting in the Renaissance, and the ways that English literature was able (or not) to register new peoples and places, new forms of economic connectivity, and the violence of colonialism and empire.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Arrivals" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English 124sg. Sex, Gender, and Shakespeare

    Instructor: Alan Niles
    Tuesday & Thursday, 9:00-10:15am | Location: TBA

    This class is an introduction to Shakespeare’s writings and their representations of sex, gender, romance, love, and queerness. We will study poems about erotic and queer desire, plays that stage ideas about gender and gender fluidity, and film adaptations that bring modern perspectives to race and sexuality. Readings will include such plays as Twelfth NightRomeo and JulietA Midsummer Night’s DreamTitus AndronicusMacbeth, and Measure for Measure; Shakespeare’s Sonnets; and films by Derek Jarman, Baz Luhrmann, and Julie Taymor. Throughout our course, we will ask: how are the forms of gender identity and sexual expression we encounter in Shakespeare’s works familiar, or different? How might they challenge, inspire, or disturb us today?

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Shakespeare" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English 102e. Introduction to Old English: Landscape, Seascape, and Early Ecologies

    Instructor: Daniel Donoghue
    Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website

    How did people inhabit and view their physical environment in early medieval England? Was it life-sustaining or threatening? What was the balance between managing resources and exploiting them? How did poets and farmers, kings and saints invoke images of land and sea as meaningful symbols? The Old English literature on such questions, which is diverse and engaging, will form the basis of our in-class translations. Other assigned readings will survey environmental criticism and allow us to compare today’s perceptions with those from a distant past.

    This course combines language study with the investigation of a critical theme. The narratives set for translation provide a thematic coherence as we dig into the language of Old English, which is the vernacular used in England from the sixth century until about 1100. Although some of its features remain recognizable today, Old English needs to be learned as a foreign language with its own spelling, pronunciation, syntax, and so on. The term begins with an emphasis on grammar, which will be covered in graduated steps until midterm, after which the readings and translation will take up more of our class time.

    The promise of this course: you will gain the skills to translate any text in Old English; you will learn a great deal about contemporary English including weird facts your inner word-geek will love; you will expand your knowledge of environmental criticism as we examine its deep history.

    Note: Fulfills the College language requirement and the English Department's Foreign Literature requirement (c/o '22) if its continuation, English 103, is also completed.... Read more about English 102e. Introduction to Old English: Landscape, Seascape, and Early Ecologies

    English 119ty. English Literature: The First 1000 Years

    Instructor: Alan Niles
    Monday & Wednesday, 12:00-1:15pm
    Course Website

    This course is an introduction to the different voices, cultures, and traditions that made the first 1000 years of English literature, from Beowulf to Aphra Behn. We will study major and influential writings alongside lesser-known interlocutors—works by Marie de France, Geoffrey Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Mary Sidney, John Milton, Alexander Pope, and more. We will engage with the (often contested) social, political, and religious contexts that gave rise to creative work. We will pay particular attention to the historical transformations of romance, epic, drama, fable, and lyric, and the ways these forms were embedded in the social worlds of their time.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Arrivals" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English 231. Divine Comedies: Graduate Seminar

    Instructor: Nicholas Watson
    Tuesday, 9:00-11:00 am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    ​​​​​​​Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    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.

    Note: This course is open, space permitting, to qualified undergraduates: please show up on the first day or contact Prof. Watson if you are an undergrad who wants to take the course.

    English 90hp. Harvard and the Puritans in Native America

    Instructor: Alan Niles
    Wednesday, 9:45-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15

    Harvard’s still governing 1650 charter states the institution’s mission is “the education of English and Indian youth.” What were the ideas about race, culture, and colonialism that made such an idea possible? What was life like for the early Native American students who studied at Harvard, and what happened to the founding idea of a multiracial intellectual space in Harvard Yard over time? This course studies the Harvard Indian College and early Harvard history in the context of broader relationships between New England colonists and Dawnlands Native peoples. We will focus in detail on the surviving early writings of Caleb Cheeshateamuck, Benjamin Larnell, and Eleazar alongside colonial writings by John Winthrop, John Cotton, Anne Bradstreet, and others. We will learn about the catastrophic violence of King Philip’s War and the ways that conflict changed ideas about race and community in the seventeenth century. We will learn about Harvard’s continuing role throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in organizing relations with New England Indian communities, and the forms, genres, and rhetorics Indian activists and protesters developed in response. Throughout our course, we will bring Native American voices from Massachusetts, Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and other communities to the fore, in the past and in the present day.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Migrations" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English 90hb. Five Shakespeare Plays

    Instructor: Marc Shell
    Thursday, 12:00-2:00pm | Location: Zoom
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    Please note that this course will be offered on Zoom and will meet remotely for the entirety of the Fall 2021 semester.

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

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Shakespeare" requirement for the Class of 2022.