Spring 2018 Introductory Courses

Introductory Undergraduate Courses in Language and Literature Academic Year 2017-2018, Semester II

All courses carry 4 credits, unless otherwise indicated.

One course numbered EN 121-199 may count toward the major or minor if taken before or concurrently with EN 220.

Divisional Studies Courses

All of the courses listed below fulfill the Humanities divisional credit in CAS

Reading World Literature

This class studies literature in English or English translation outside of British and Anglo-American literary traditions. Our texts include poetry, drama, narrative prose and film from across South America, Africa, Asia and the First Nations of North America. Together we will grapple with the complexities of reading a text in translation, and interrogate our expectations when reading “global texts.” We will discuss the potential dangers of thinking about literature on a continental—or even national—scale, and learn how to analyze texts from historical, generic, and postcolonial perspectives. We will also consider how authors like Maryse Condé, Haruki Murakami, and Sherman Alexie use American history and pop culture to reflect on issues of globalization, Westernization, and cultural identity.

EN 121 A1 Powers
Tue, Thu 3:30-4:45

Medieval Worlds: Heroes, Games, and Thrones in Medieval Romance

How do Arthurian romances work through conflicts between family loyalty, erotic desire, and the demands of empire? How do these literary works relate to the political conventions and social norms of the Middle Ages? We’ll read a series of romances that use this genre to fictionally stage and critically reflect upon real-world political and social conflicts. We’ll also explore the historical context of these imaginative works, examining artifacts (weapons, clothing, visual art) and archival materials (personal letters, battle reports, wills, chronicles) that survive from the real ‘Game of Thrones’: the fifteenth-century War of the Roses in England, fought between the Lancastrians in the south and the Yorkists in the north. Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, the Gawain-poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Malory and others. No previous experience with medieval literature required or expected.

EN 122 A1 Appleford
Tue, Thu 2:00-3:15

Reading Modern Literature: Inside/Outside: Jewish Diaspora in Literature

As current trends in literary studies explore literature across national and hemispheric boundaries, we’ll read literature about cross-cultural dislocations and relocations of the Jewish diaspora. Israel Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot, first performed just over a century ago, forms the core of our investigations of literary strategies to depict Jewishness shaped by historical time and geographical space. How useful is the concept of a “melting pot” for American Jewish identity in particular and in a play written by an Anglo-Jewish author from East End London? Among the topics we will discuss are immigration, diaspora, and national culture; patriotism, antisemitism, philosemitism, and multiculturalism; Jewish identities (secular, orthodox, reform) and gender; conversion, assimilation, and acculturation. How do changing notions of ethnicity and race, religion, and gender, as well as geographical place define Jewish family and community? We’ll read drama, fiction, memoir, poetry, and essays to explore how different literary forms engage with these questions. In addition, we will view two films (The Chosen, based on Chaim Potok’s novel, and In Her Own Time about cultural anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff’s research on an orthodox Jewish community in Los Angeles) followed by a discussion with the executive producer of the films, and we’ll take a guided walking tour of Old South End Jewish Boston. Authors include Zangwill, Anzia Yezierska, Mary Antin, Amy Levy, Emma Lazarus, Eva Hoffman, Achy Obejas, Nicole Hoffman, Allegra Goodman.

EN 125 A1  Bernstein
Tue, Thu 3:30-4:45

Reading American Literature: The Spirit of Rebellion: Creating a National Literature

“America,” declared Noah Webster in 1783, “must be as independent in literature as she is in politics.” From the American Revolution to the counterculture revolution of the 1960s, a spirit of rebellion and resistance has inspired the politics and literature of the United States of America. In this course, we will emphasize close reading and discussion in order to probe the relationship between literature and national identity, asking the following questions: What is the relationship between writing and political change? Can literature effect political change? How does literature create and perpetuate national identities? What is the relationship between American literature and popular expression? Authors may include Thomas Paine, Fanny Fern, Melville, Hawthorne, Douglass, Thoreau, Whitman, Claude McKay, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Arthur Miller, Ishmael Reed, Allen Ginsberg, Alice Walker, J.D Salinger, Lorraine Hansberry, among others.

EN 127 A1 Bartlett
Mon, Wed, Fri 10:10-11:0


This course explores what it means to be ‘human’ by looking at various science fiction texts that trouble straightforward definitions of humanity. By looking at the monsters, aliens, androids, and cyborgs that populate scifi, we will sketch a genealogy of the genre from Frankenstein forward, and survey various theories of the self, in order to explore the utopian — and dystopian — possibilities suggested by these hybrid, uncanny post-humans. We will be particularly attentive to issues of race, gender, disability, and otherness more broadly, as well as how our ideas of who we are change in an age of social media and MMOs. Texts may include works by Mary Shelley, H.P. Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, Neil Stephenson, Octavia Butler, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, and Kurt Vonnegut, as well as a selection of films and television.

EN 130 A1 Alba
Mon, Wed, Fri 9:05-9:55

Introduction to Fiction: Form and Order

Every work of fiction searches for a way of ordering and understanding the world. How does the form of fiction accomplish this? Does it always succeed? This course will focus on appreciating and critiquing fiction in terms of form and order. With attention to setting, plot, point of view, and symbolic structure, we will read a range of short fiction and novels, including works by (to name a few): Defoe, Poe, Conrad, Kafka, Kincaid, and Lydia Davis. As we proceed, we will ask: How has fictional form changed over time? What is the relationship between fiction and our own contemporary forms of mass entertainment? And finally, how might a critical look at fiction help us to better comprehend the stories we tell to give order to our own personal and public lives? This course cannot be taken for credit in addition to the course with the same number that was previously titled “Literary Types: Fiction.”

EN 141 A1 Brophy
Mon,Wed,Fri 1:25-2:15

Children’s Literature

What stories do we tell children in the Anglo-American tradition? And how have they changed between 1800 and today? This course centers on fairy tales, fantasy, and the Golden Age of Children’s Literature (1860-1920). It is peopled by incestuous fathers, cruel schoolmasters, powerful wizards, and kindly beavers. During this time, several competing images of what children are emerge: the child is conceived of as an animal, a blank slate, a sage, a waif, or a princess in disguise. Authors include fairy tales, Bronte, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, Le Guin, and Philip Pullman.

EN 150 A1 Henchman
Tue,Thu 11:00-12:15

Graphic Novel

In the past several decades the graphic novel has emerged as a significant medium of narrative art. Today comics works have won Pulitzer Prizes, have been adapted for Broadway and Hollywood, and are reviewed everywhere, and with as much fervor, as novels are. In this course, we’ll read graphic novels such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner, among others. The course aims to understand what the word and image form of the graphic novel allows: why do authors write graphic novels as opposed to traditional novels? How do graphic novels document subjectivity? How do they use the image to explore race and gender, for both fictional and nonfictional characters? How do words and images interact on the page, and how does that interaction influence or produce narrative development?

EN 170 Najarian
Mon,Wed,Fri 1:25-2:15