Fall Term

Course Information

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1. Creative Writing Workshops
English CAJR. Journalism in the Age of Trump
Instructor: Jill Abramson
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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 9/4, no exceptions)

 

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English CBBR. Intermediate Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell
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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 9/4, no exceptions)

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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 9/4, no exceptions)

 

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English CHCR. Advanced Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell
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Mondays, 3:00-5:45 pm | 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 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CIHR. The I’s Have It: Writing and Reading the Personal Essay
Instructor: Michael Pollan
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Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

In this advanced workshop, we will read widely in the tradition that begins with Montaigne and write essays of our own in a variety of lengths and forms. A principal goal of the course will be to develop a voice on the page and learn how to deploy the first person, not merely as a means of self-expression but as a tool for telling a true story, conducting an inquiry or pressing an argument.

Supplemental Application Instructions: To apply, submit a brief sample of your writing in the first person along with a letter detailing your writing experience and reasons for wanting to take this course.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CIJR. Introduction to Journalism
Instructor: Jill Abramson
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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 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CKR. Introduction to Playwriting
Instructor: Sam Marks
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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 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CLR. Introduction to Screenwriting
Instructor: Musa Syeed
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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 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CNFR. Creative Nonfiction
Instructor: Darcy Frey
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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, 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: 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 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CNSR. Narrative Science Journalism
Instructor: Michael Pollan

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

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

The arc of this workshop will trace the process of researching and writing a single long piece of science journalism: finding and pitching story ideas; reporting in depth and at length; outlining and structuring your story; choosing a narrative voice and strategy, crafting leads and “overtures,” and making connections between your story and its larger contexts.  As a group, we’ll also work as editors on one another’s ideas and pieces. And since reading good prose is the best way to learn to write it, we’ll be closely reading an exemplary piece of narrative science journalism each week. Students will be expected to complete a draft and revision of a substantial piece by the end of the term.

Supplemental Application Information: To apply, submit a brief sample of your non-academic writing along with a letter explaining your reasons for wanting to take this course and describing your science experience, if any.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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

(Note, the only difference between CPY 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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

(Note, the only difference between CPY 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CTV. Writing for Television: Developing the Pilot
Instructor: Sam Marks
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Tuesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

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

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

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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

(Note, the only difference between CVB 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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

(Note, the only difference between CVB 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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2. Common Ground Courses
English 42. Arrivals: British Literature 700-1700
Instructor: Nicholas Watson

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

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

A study of central genres of Old English, Middle English, and Early Modern literature in tandem with the development of ideas of nation and community, with a special emphasis on poetic narratives. Key texts include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, and The Pilgrim’s Progress.

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

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English 45. Arrivals: British Literature 700-1700
Instructor: Anna Wilson

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

Class will be held from 1:30-2:30 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

In this course we will read some of the most significant and influential works of literature written in England before 1700. We will encounter the genres, tropes, forms, and language of medieval and early modern English literature, while exploring how these texts respond to and shape issues of their time, including war, political regimes, the emergence of national, racial, and religious identities, and changing attitudes to gender and sexuality. We will also develop a foundational range of critical writing skills and methods for approaching English literature.

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

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English 50. Poets: Ode, Elegy, Epigram, Fragment, Song
Instructor: Stephanie Burt
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

Poetry, lyric and otherwise: how to read it, hear it, and write about it, from the 16th century to the present, with forms and models from Shakespeare, Keats and Dickinson to Herrera, Kasischke or Agbabi. Assignments include critical papers but also “imitation of great masters” (as Yeats put it); we’ll study poems both in and out of the historical contexts that made them possible, and we’ll ask why those that endure have endured.

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

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English 62D. Migrations: Literature of Displacement
Instructor: Jesse McCarthy

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

Class will be held from 1:30-2:30 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

A displacement can take place in our lives in the sense of moving, or being moved, from one location to another. From the nautical sense we also understand any volume, which fills or occupies a liquid space that changes to accommodate it, a useful metaphor for intellectual displacements—as we bend, shift and make room for new ideas in our minds. In psychology, a displacement is the transference of a site of trauma from one person, scenario, or object to another. Finally, there are histories of human displacement, a broad category under which to consider narratives generated by migration, emigration, exile, and enslavement. In this seminar we will read from texts that contribute in all of these ways, often interrelated, to a “literature of displacement.” We will read novels, essays, and memoirs by Joseph Conrad, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, James Baldwin, Tayeb Salih, Valeria Luiselli, and W.G. Sebald and watch films by Les Blank, Charles Burnett, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Edward Yang among others. We will ask how these works respond to the trials and rewards of belonging to, or being alienated from, cultures and communities; how history and loss imprint us with identity but also disrupt it; what we learn from encountering other places and perspectives. Can remembering, witnessing, and storytelling create a place for our selves in a world founded on an ongoing and massive experience of perpetual displacement?

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

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English 69. American Literature to 1865
Instructor: Stephen Osadetz

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

Enrollment: Limited to 27 students.

This course surveys American literature from the colonial period to the Civil War. We will read accounts of early contact, narratives of captivity and slavery, sermons, autobiographies, poems, and novels. Authors will include Winthrop, Rowlandson, Franklin, Douglass, Hawthorne, Melville, Stowe, Thoreau, Whitman, and Dickinson.

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

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3. Undergraduate Seminars
English 20. Introduction to Advanced Literary Study
Instructor: David J. Alworth
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Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.
Enrollment: Limited to 18 students.

Meta-issues in literary criticism, with readings in critical, philosophical, and literary texts. The course provides an overview of the theoretical and methodological aspects of what we do when we talk about literature. The goal is not to learn what others have said but to help students orient themselves in the field of literary study. Designed for sophomores interested in concentrating in English or other literature-based fields, but all students are welcome.

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English 90BN. Black New England
Instructor: Thomas Dichter

Tuesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

This course examines the rich archive of African American writing in and about New England. The study of African American literature often focuses on the rural South and the urban North (especially such metropolises as New York and Chicago). Yet African Americans have been living and writing in New England since the colonial era. This course reorients conventional geographies of African American literature while also offering an alternative perspective on the New England literary tradition. Authors will include: Ann Plato, Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Harriet Wilson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Pauline Hopkins, Ann Petry, Malcolm X, and the Combahee River Collective.

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English 90FC. (Very) Contemporary American Fiction
Instructor: Andrew Warren

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

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

Thirty years ago David Foster Wallace described his generation as obsessed with “a social Now that admits neither passion about the future nor a curiosity about the past.”  This course reads some of the most vital work being done in American fiction to ask how we today experience, or want to experience, time. Why and whence this obsession with Now?  What kinds of temporal lags or leaps does fiction afford us? How are questions of identity knitted to our histories, present circumstances, and hopes for the future?  Works include: Tony Tulathimutte’s Private Citizens (2016), Ben Lerner’s 10:04 (2015), N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season (2015), Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere (2017), Luis Alberto Urrea’s House of Broken Angels (2018), Wallace’s The Pale King (2011), Paul Beatty’s The Sellout (2015), Sheila Heti’s Motherhood (2018), and Richard Powers’ The Overstory (2018).  Each book is paired with a review or critical essay; a major assignment will be a creative project exploring your own experience of time, both in the course and out.

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English 90HB. Five Shakespeare Plays
Instructor: Marc Shell

Thursdays, 12-2:45 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.

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English 90LL. Law and Literature
Instructor: Kelly Rich

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

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

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

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English 90MI. Melville
Instructor: John Stauffer

Thursdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

An introduction to Melville, with Moby-Dick as the centerpiece.  The focus is on Melville’s aesthetics and its resonance in his era and ours.  We also read Melville’s shorter fiction and nonfiction, including Typee, Benito Cereno, and Billy Budd; his Civil War poetry; some criticism and contemporaneous writings; and visual art that his work inspired.

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English 90NB. Nabokov Novels in English
Instructor: Glenda Carpio
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Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 15 students.

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

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English 90RG. Recognitions
Instructor: James Simpson

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

What if originality were not what strikes us most forcefully in art? What, instead, if recognition of what and whom we have known already is the most emotionally forceful, illuminating experience of art? This course will test the force of these propositions, by looking to both visual art (painting and movies) and literature. We will look to rhetoric, cognitive psychology and philosophy in order to understand the artistic experience of recognition.  Texts will be drawn anywhere from Homer to Shakespeare in Love.

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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.

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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. 

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5. Lectures with Sections
AAAS 100X. Into the Fire: The Black Intellectual, 1968-2018
Instructor: Jesse McCarthy

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

If the role of the intellectual is to speak on behalf of those who are voiceless and disempowered then the black intellectual tradition arguably constitutes the original and most enduringly vital intellectual tradition in the United States. This course traces the history of that tradition from the Civil Rights Movement to the present. We will consider a broad range of works by writers, philosophers, activists, scholars, poets, and filmmakers who have sought to impel historic change, record violence, articulate political dissent, celebrate artistic and sexual freedom, and inspire radical imagination. Authors include Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Amiri Baraka, Alice Walker, Stuart Hall, Essex Hemphill, Cornel West, bell hooks, Imani Perry, Margo Jefferson, Claudia Rankine, Jesmyn Ward and Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as films by Isaac Julien, Spike Lee, and Tanya Hamilton among others

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AesthInt 15. Elements of Rhetoric
Instructor: James Engell

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

Rhetorical theory, originating with Aristotle, in contemporary applications. The nature of rhetoric in modern culture; practical examples drawn from American politics, history, and literature 1765 to the present; written exercises with present relevance and attention to public speaking; the history and educational importance of rhetoric in the West; stresses theory and practice as inseparable.

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AesthInt 55. Shakespeare, The Early Plays
Instructor: Marjorie Garber

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

The early comedies, tragedies, and histories, considered in the context of the origins of the English stage and the conventions of Elizabethan drama. Particular attention paid to Shakespeare’s development as a dramatist, and to poetic expression, thematic design, stagecraft, and character portrayal in plays.

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Comp Lit 133. Shakespeare and the Globe
Instructor: Marc Shell

Wednesdays, 3-5 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.

This course examines literary, theatrical, and cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Students learn how artists, including Shakespeare, have used creative production of the past to understand and address concrete issues and problems of the present, including political scandal and persecution, imperial domination, and racial and ethnic biases and oppression. We also explore the continued vitality worldwide of theater and the arts, as well as their constant transformations throughout time and space.

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English 102J. Introduction to Old English: Heroes, Heaven, and Hell
Instructor: Nicholas Watson

Mondays & Wednesdays, 9-10:15 am | Location: TBA

Satan, cast as a defiant warchief, exults in his heavenly rebellion; Christ is presented as a triumphant hero as he assumes his place on the cross; Grendel’s mere serves as the template for a vision of hell. Such examples underscore the close relationship between the heroic and biblical literary traditions of Anglo-Saxon England, which this course seeks to explore. First and foremost however, this course is an introduction to the language and literature of Old English, the vernacular language used in England from the fifth century until around 1100. Although many of its linguistic features are recognizable in Modern English, Old English must be learned as a foreign language. The semester will begin with an introduction to Old English grammar, along with translations of basic readings. Following instruction in basic grammatical features during the first half of the course, readings will grow progressively more challenging. The selection of readings brings us to the second goal of the course: an exploration of the ways in which the heroic ethos influenced the presentation of Christian and Biblical topics in Old English prose and poetry. Daily instruction by Joseph Shack.

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

English 111

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

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

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

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English 148. Modern Monsters in Literature and Film
Instructor: Deidre Shauna Lynch

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

A class on the aesthetics and cultural politics of the Gothic tradition, from Frankenstein to Freaks. How has this tradition’s fascination with those who come back from the dead mediated social anxieties about the generation of life or the lifelike? We’ll consider vampire and other monster fictions by such authors as John Polidori, Mary Shelley, Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Gaston Leroux. We’ll conclude the semester with an investigation of early horror cinema, exploring how the modern medium of cinema gave Gothic preoccupations with the animation of the dead a new lease on life.

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English 151. Nineteenth-Century Novel
Instructor: Leah Price

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

Class will be held from 10:30-11:30 am. 

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

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

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English 157. The Classic Phase of the Novel
Instructor: Philip Fisher
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Mondays & Wednesdays, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

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

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

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English 166. American Modernism
Instructor: David J. Alworth
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

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

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

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English 185E. The Essay: History and Practice
Instructor: James Wood

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

Matthew Arnold famously said that poetry is, at bottom, “a criticism of life.” But if any literary form is truly a criticism of life, it is the essay. And yet despite the fact that all students write essays, most students rarely study them; bookshops and libraries categorize such work only negatively, by what it is not: “non-fiction.” At the same time, the essay is at present one of the most productive and fertile of literary forms. It is practiced as memoir, reportage, diary, criticism, and sometimes all four at once. Novels are becoming more essayistic, while essays are borrowing conventions and prestige from fiction. This class will disinter the essay from its comparative academic neglect, and examine the vibrant contemporary borderland between the reported and the invented. We will study the history of the essay, from Montaigne to the present day. Rather than study that history purely chronologically, each class will group several essays from different decades and centuries around common themes: death, detail, sentiment, race, gender, photography, the city, witness, and so on. In addition to writing about essays – writing critical essays about essays – students will also be encouraged to write their own creative essays: we will study the history of the form, and practice the form itself. Essayists likely to be studied: Plutarch, Montaigne, Hazlitt, De Quincey, Woolf, Benjamin, Orwell, Camus, Primo Levi, Barthes, Baldwin, Sontag, Dyer, Didion, Leslie Jamison, Knausgaard, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

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English 188GF. Global Fictions
Instructor: Kelly Rich
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Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12-1:15 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 12-1 pm.

This course serves as an introduction to the global novel in English, as well as a survey of approaches to transnational literature. It considers issues of migration, colonialism, cosmopolitanism and globalization, religion and fundamentalism, environmental concerns, the global and divided city, racial and sexual politics, and international kinship. Authors include Teju Cole, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Junot Díaz, Mohsin Hamid, Jamaica Kincaid, David Mitchell, Michael Ondaatje, Ruth Ozeki, Arundhati Roy, and Ken Saro-Wiwa.

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Ethical Reasoning 37. Adam & Eve
Instructor: Stephen Greenblatt

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

What is the power of a story? For several thousand years Adam and Eve were the protagonists in the central origin myth of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds. That myth was the arena for ethical reasoning about transgression and innocence, sexuality, gender roles, labor, suffering, and death. Jointly taught by History of Art and Architecture and English, our course focuses on this enigmatic story and its spectacular elaborations in theology, philosophy, literature and art. Above all, looking closely at some of the greatest achievements of European art and literature–from Dürer, Michelangelo and Rembrandt to Milton’s Paradise Lost–we will compare the possibilities of the verbal and visual arts in portraying human being.

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Humanities 10A. A Humanities Colloquium: From Homer to Garcia Marquez
Instructor: Louis Menand , Stephen Greenblatt
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Tuesdays, 10-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 90.

2,500 years of essential works, taught by six professors. Humanities 10a includes works by Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sappho, Murasaki, Bernal Díaz, Shakespeare, Douglass, Du Bois, Woolf and García Márquez, as well as the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers. One 75-minute lecture plus a 75-minute discussion seminar led by the professors every week. Students also receive instruction in critical writing one hour a week, in writing labs and individual conferences. Students also have opportunities to visit cultural venues and attend musical and theatrical events in Cambridge or Boston.

Notes: The course has a two-step lottery and application process. This includes a mandatory first meeting for all interested students on Tuesday, September 4. See the course website for full details.
The course is open only to freshmen. Students who complete Humanities 10A meet the General Education requirement in Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding. 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.

 

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Humanities 12. Essential Works in World Literature
Instructor: Martin Puchner

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

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

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6. Graduate Seminars
English 224T. Texts, Fragments, and Reconstructions
Instructor: Leah Whittington

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

Class will be held from 12-2 pm.

This seminar explores the history and theory of fragments from antiquity to the present day, with a focus on the literature of the early modern period (1350-1700). The central question will be how writers and readers of different historical moments respond to incomplete or unfinished works, and how those responses inform current approaches to restoration, conservation, and the preservation of the past, from ancient shreds of papyrus to modern digital archives. We will examine the status of the unfinished in literature vis-a-vis other art forms and trace discussions of remnants and pieces through authors and artists such as Sappho, Ovid, Michelangelo, Spenser, Coleridge, Pound, Auden, and de Kooning.

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

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

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.

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

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English 242. English Enlightenment: Foundations of the Modern
Instructor: James Engell

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

Dryden, Pope, Swift, Johnson, Burke, Gibbon, Montagu, and others; the lyric, periodical literature, satire, biography, and drama; relations of engaged literature with politics, religion, history; issues of audience, gender, class, genre, and canon.

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English 256N. Theory and Practice of the Victorian Novel
Instructor: Leah Price
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Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Class will be held from 3-5 pm.

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

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English 264X. Sensation and Moral Action in Thomas Hardy
Instructor: Elaine Scarry
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Thursdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

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English 277A. Contemporary African American Literature
Instructor: Glenda Carpio

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

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

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English 279. Modern and Contemporary Poets
Instructor: Stephanie Burt

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

Major poets and poems from T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost almost to the present day: we may also read, among others, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Lorine Niedecker, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Merrill, C. D. Wright, and Terrance Hayes. Appropriate both for students who know some of these poets well, and for those relatively new to the study of poems.

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English 280W. The Challenge of World Literature
Instructor: Martin Puchner

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

Class will be held from 12-2 pm.

The course will emphasize the current methodological debate in world literature, the merits and challenges of analyzing literature on a global scale, and how literary studies can contribute to the conversation about culture today. Readings include Moretti, Casanova, Damrosch, Mufti, Smith, Coetzee, Rowling, and other.

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7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
TDM 138D. Directors Directing
Instructor: David Levine

Wednesdays, 12-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

This video and theater production course engages students in the directing of performance and the performance of directing. This dynamic will be introduced to students through the presentation and analysis of moving image and performance work that thematizes direction itself. Students will then engage in an active practice of studio work and research, culminating in individual and collaborative projects in video and performance.

Note: Previous experience with film, video or theater required as evidenced by at least one of the following: a college video production course, college acting class or college theater production. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure.

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8. Freshman Seminars
Freshman Seminar 33X. Complexity in Works of Art: Ulysses and Hamlet
Instructor: Philip Fisher

Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

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

Notes: There may be interviews for selected applicants during Opening Days week; course is open to first year students only.

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