English Literature Course Suggestions (BA)
BA General Education Requirement: 6 Hours
The Department of English offers six literature survey courses at the sophomore level–ENG 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226. No other ENG 200- or 300- or 400-level courses meet this requirement. Transfer courses designated ENG 22x (not ENG 2xx) will satisfy this requirement.
ENG 221. Survey of World Literature to 1650. This course will explore the foundations of Western literary culture through readings in the Bible, Homer, Sophocles, Ovid, Augustine, Dante, Rabelais and Shakespeare among others. The goal of lecture and discussion will be to engage the greats in a dialogue on human values and the role of fiction in the making of civilization. Requirements include three short papers, a mid-term and final.
ENG 222. World Literature after 1650. This class provides an introduction to the study of literature at the college level; it is also intended to introduce students to the wide array of literary works produced in languages other than English and in regions of the world other than Britain and the United States. More specifically, we will be considering how modern literature and film have been used to help make sense of—or to raise questions about— features of modernity like travel, encounters with “foreign” places and peoples, slavery, capitalism, colonialism and war. Covering a wide variety of literary works–short stories, novels, poems and plays–from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean, our course will investigate the work of “world literature” in promoting, complicating and reinforcing ethical relationships between peoples over the course of our long modernity. Course requirements include a rigorous reading load; enthusiastic participation in weekly discussion sessions; in-class writing examinations; a midterm and a final.
ENG 223. American Literature to the Civil War. English 223 surveys United States literature from its beginnings, variously defined, to the mid-nineteenth century, paying particular attention to historical and cultural influences. The course has at least two goals. First, it engages questions of American identity as they came to be expressed in literature and charts the gradual evolution of an American self that could be considered distinct from a British one. Beyond that, the class complicates any singular idea of “American” by considering texts and experiences other than those produced by Europeans and their descendants, including works by Native Americans and African Americans. Second, it introduces students to the basic emphases of literary study, exposing them to different genres and methodologies and building for them a vocabulary for the critical discussion of literature.
ENG 224. American Literature since the Civil War. This course will provide an overview of the trends and literary movements that shaped America as it emerged from the turmoil of the Civil War to become a world power. The main literary movements covered are: Realism, a turning away from the reform-minded, romantic American Renaissance following the devastation of the Civil War; Naturalism, a Darwinian inspired looked at man as a soulless creature buffeted about by forces beyond his control; Modernism, another reaction to the devastation of war (WWI) and the alienation of modern, urban life; and Postmodernism, a reaction to living in a world capable of nuclear annihilation and to the increasing commodification of American life. The authors studied will vary by course, but could include writers such as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Henry James, Kate Chopin, Jack London, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Zitkala Sa, T. S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Miler, Audre Lorde, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sam Shepard, Leslie Marmon Silko, Sandra Cisneros, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, and Toni Morrison.
ENG 225. Survey of British Literature to 18th Century. This survey course introduces student to the literatures of the Old English period (in translation), the Middle English period, the Renaissance and Early Modern period, and the eighteenth century and Restoration. Close attention will be paid to historical shifts (political, economic, social, and religious), and the impact those shifts had on a wide variety of literary genres, including poetry, drama, and prose. Students can expect to read selections from the following list: Beowulf, Chaucer, Gawain-poet, medieval drama, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Renaissance lyric verse, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Wycherley, and Defoe.
ENG 226. Survey of British Literature since Romantic Period. The course considers the development of English literature from the end of the eighteenth century to the present, tracing important intellectual, social, and aesthetic issues as they change over the period. It begins by exploring the major ideas in the Romantic Movement as manifest in the work of several Romantic poets, and as rooted in the political climate of the period, including the French Revolution. Next, the course considers how the principles of Romanticism, and indeed all forms of idealism, including conventional religion, came under severe pressure during the Victorian period with the industrialization of England and the rise of science. From there, the course turns to first half of the twentieth century and the rise of modernism, considering in particular the cultural effects of the two world wars. Finally, English 226 concludes by taking up in the work of several post-modern authors such issues as the rise of radical feminism and the emergence of post-colonial writing.