English Department Course Descriptions

First Summer Session 2008



ENG/LIN 211 010  INTRO TO LINGUISTICS I       MTWR 1:00-3:30                    Marks


ENG/LIN 211 011  INTRO TO LINGUISTICS I       MTWR 10:00-12:30                El-Guindy


ENG/LIN 212 010  INTRO TO LINGUISTICS II      MTWR 12:30-3:00                  Bosch

This is the second semester of a two-semester sequence introducing the study of Linguistics.  (However, for this summer session only, LIN 211 is not a prerequisite for this course.)  Linguistics is the scientific study of human language as a system.  Everyone knows a language--but what does it mean to know a language?  How are languages different from one another?  How are they similar?  This course will introduce students to the social aspects of the study of linguistics, focusing on the issues and problems of interest within each of these fields; topics include semantics, first and second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, brain and language, psycholinguistics, and animal communication.  There will be brief problem sets, 10 short quizzes, a midterm and a final. English majors, Linguistics majors, MCL majors, and students in the Colleges of Communication, Allied Health, and Education are all welcome in this introductory course. 


ENG 230 010  INTRO TO LITERATURE                 MTWR 10:00-12:30                Prats, J.


ENG 230 011  INTRO TO LITERATURE                 MTWR 1:00-3:30                    Staff


ENG 234 010/GWS 200-010  INTRO TO WOMEN’S LIT   MTWR 1:00-2:40        Fetters


ENG 330 010  TEXT & CONTEXT: WAR POETRY             MTWR 10:00-12:30              Prats, A.

In a famous essay entitled “The Moral Equivalent of War” (1906), the great American philosopher, William James, attempted to explain the human ambivalence toward war by recourse to the following paradox, which he illustrated by recourse to the crucial chapter of American history:


Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now . . . to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing, in cold blood, to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition.


As a pacifist, James was unique because, though he detested war, he understood deeply the allure that war has historically held for the young of every generation (and for the old men and women who so cheerfully send them off to war). He knew, then, that any effective effort to avert war in his time would have to offer the young a purpose, a mission—one to which they could unambiguously devote their lives, toward which they could direct their best energies with the same high zeal that they have heretofore reserved for war and the military (hence “the moral equivalent of war,” “the moral equivalent of war”).

            This course proposes that the poetry of war, at its best, reflects with unsurpassed sophistication and complexity—with a terrible beauty, really—the paradox that James puts forth in his essay. The awesome emotions of war, the terrifying insights that it can produce, the anguished yet transcendent testimonies of those who experience it and write poetically about it—these find their highest and truest expressions not in history or in prose fiction or even in memoirs but in poetry. The poetry of war celebrates the glory of war, the honor of fighting in it, the palpable sense of shared purpose, of selfless sacrifice, of unbounded love of country. Yet the poetry of war also engages, and with undiminished assiduity and fervor, those other things about war—the dark and dread “things” that exist and unfold side by side with “duty, honor, country”—namely, war’s unspeakable horrors, its merciless degradations of the human spirit, its enforced surrenders to unimaginable cruelty, the remorseless (even tiresome) enactments of tragedy, of inconsolable and everlasting grief. Yet the poetry of war confronts these “things” almost mystically, at times even in a form that rescues and redeems the tragic from its finality.  We will therefore study poetic testimony—the insight and the inspiration of those who refuse to betray their experiences to a norm, who recapture their humanity by confronting (humbly yet courageously) war’s unremitting inhumanity—rather than the poetry that merely conforms to cultural myths and breaks faith with the individual’s testimony only for the sake of perpetuating the self-delusions of nations.    

            We will use (for lack of a more comprehensive text) the Oxford Book of War Poetry and will supplement it with handouts of other poems, of essays, of fragments of books, and so on. In addition, partly as a sort of experiment, I would like to require a beautiful yet unassuming book—a participant’s account of the Second World War battles for Peleliu and Okinawa, With the Old Breed (by E. B. Sledge).


ENG 395 010  INDEPENDENT WORK        To be arranged with instructor


ENG 482G 010 STUDIES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE     MTWR 10:00-12:30   Varnes


Ivor Winters once unkindly suggested that actors should not perform poetry because they reduce meanings to something they can understand, imposing a cheaper interpretation than the poem deserves. One doesn’t need to be a famous crank to realize that poets themselves are quite capable of butchering their poems in performance – one hopes not for the same reason. And yet, very few experts will dispute the importance of sound in poetry. Robert Frost spoke of “sound images” in all writing, where the style directed how to hear a sentence, how to say it aloud. W.D. Snodgrass wrote of the importance of nonsense verse, where literal, rational meaning is occluded but the sound still conveys.




Second Summer Session 2008


ENG/LIN 210 020  HISTORY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE    MTR 11:30-1:10       O’Hara

This is an introductory course in the History of the English Language in which we will study the ways in which English has developed from its origins to modern times.


PURPOSE of the course:  To answer the following questions: Where does Modern English come from? How has English changed over the last 1500 years? What do those changes show us about the process of language change in general? What influence have class, race, gender, and politics had on the development of English? What are some of the more common myths about language and why are they wrong? What is the future of English as a world language?


METHOD: The course will be structured around readings from The Story of English, supplemented by the SOE videos, by additional readings from the Encyclopedia, and Language Myths, as well as by handouts. Students will be expected to do the assigned readings before class and to participate in instructor-led discussions of the material.


EVALUATION: Four exams based on the assigned readings and selected videos; daily quizlets on the homework readings. No cumulative mid-term or final. 


TEXTS:  The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. David Crystal,

2d edition, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                Language Myths. (eds) Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill, Penguin, 1998.

                The Story of English. Robert McCrum, 3d edition. Penguin Books, 2002.


NOTES:          1) Students in the College of Communications can satisfy their Language           

requirement (under Option B) by taking ENG/LIN 210 and ENG/LIN                     211 in any order.

2) Attendance is mandatory from the first day of class for all students        

     including those on the waitlist.


ENG 230 020  INTRO TO LITERATURE                 MTWR 8:50-11:20                  Carter

Note: Course start date 06/05/08; Course end date 07/02/08

Why are school districts and some parents afraid of Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn or others? Why are certain works and their characters’ words either avoided or expurgated to gain admittance into the corridors of high schools? This course will read these works and examine the historical and cultural reasons for the books’ being challenged in the past or today. Poems such as Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and Ginsberg’s “Howl” have rallied opponents to suppress their inclusion in anthologies. We’ll try to redeem or reject these texts through close readings and research into the complaints about the books and into the themes of the texts. Coursework will include readings and two 5-7 pages essays as well as shorter writing assignments.


ENG 230 021  INTRO TO LITERATURE                 MTWRF 9:10-11:10                Staff

Note: Course start date 07-03/08; Course end date 07/31/08


ENG 230 420  INTRO TO LITERATURE                 TR 6:00-8:30                           Staff


ENG 234 420  INTRO TO WOMEN’S LIT               MW 6:00-8:30                         Staff

Note: Course start date 06/09/08; Course end date 07/30/08


ENG/AAS 264 020  MAJOR BLACK WRITERS       MTWRF 10:20-11:20              Staff


ENG 335 020  SURVEY OF AMERICAN LIT II        MTWR 11:30-2:00                  Marksbury

Note: Course start date 07/07/08; Course end date 07/31/08


ENG 395 010  INDEPENDENT WORK        To be arranged with instructor


ENG 401 020  SPECIAL TOPICS IN WRITING       MTWRF 9:10-11:40                Thoune


Note: Course start date 07/03/08; Course end date 07/24/08

In this course we will be reading, writing, and critically exploring works of creative nonfiction. Although generally truthful, creative nonfiction uses literary techniques to create, as Lee Gutkind writes, “factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner. To put it another way, creative nonfiction writers do not make things up; they make ideas and information that already exist more interesting and, often, more accessible.” Our goals throughout the semester will be to investigate notions of truth, ethics of representation, and examining the stylistic components of “good” writing.


ENG 401 220  SPECIAL TOPICS IN WRITING       Robinson Forest                   Roorda



ENG 481G 020  STUDIES IN BRITISH LIT                         MTWRF 9:10-11:10                Foreman


Note: Course start date 06/05/08; Course end date 07/03/08

Shakespeare's plays were designed to be spoken aloud and understood aloud, but John Heminges and Henry Condell, two of his longtime partners in the theater business, also thought they were valuable texts for private reading so they published a collected edition several years after their friend's death.  This course is founded on the notion that these forms of encounter with the plays- private reading (whether silent or aloud) and communal reading aloud--are mutually illuminating and provide a way into a capacious understanding and appreciation of the interacting emotions and arguments of the characters, their ideas and doubts, their desires and needs, their griefs and joys.  To read a Shakespearean role as if you knew what it meant is a great start toward finding out what in fact it does mean, as is hearing other people read other characters as if they too knew what they meant by what they said.  We will also look at how different oral performances find different meanings in the same works.  We will use two plays, chosen (by the instructor, who, as he writes this in early March, is indecisive) from (probably) the following: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear.  We will read lots of Shakespeare's words in class, tinkering with rhythm, stress, and silence, and we will look at video and listen to audio versions of our plays to get a sense of how other people think they should sound.  There will be short written exercises due for most class meetings, as well as in-class work, which will include reading aloud every day, but no long papers or "major" exams.  (Grades will measure the diligence and intelligence and sensitivity of students' work, but not their ability as "actors.")




Note: Course start date 06/05/08; Course end date 07/04/08

This particular section will study the intersection of literature and a field called “New Literacy Studies.”  Expect to read drama, poetry, and short fiction, as well as scholarly articles.  Expect to do some experimental writing of creative nonfiction, including a “new media” piece (sounds scarier than it is).  Graduate students will also write a short scholarly paper and lead a workshop.


ENG 601 020  ESSAYS & CREATIVE NONFICTION         MTWRF 9:10-11:40    Thoune

Note: Course start date 07/03/08; Course end date 07/24/08

            Taught concurrently with ENG 401-020.  See description for ENG 401-020 above.


ENG 771 220  SEMINAR IN SPECIAL TOPICS      MTWRF 9:00-3:30                  Burns


Note: Course start date 06-09-08; Course end date 07/03/08.  Registration available through Bluegrass Writing Project only: 257-3377.


ENG 771 221  SEMINAR IN SPECIAL TOPICS      MTWRF 9:00-3:30                  Burns


Note: Course start date 06-09-08; Course end date 07/03/08.  Registration available through Bluegrass Writing Project only: 257-3377.