Fall 2018 EN 220 Courses

CAS EN 220: Undergraduate Seminar in Literature
Academic Year 2018-2019, Semester I

Fundamentals of literary analysis, interpretation, and research. Intensive study of selected literary texts centered on a particular topic. Attention to different critical approaches. Frequent papers. Limited class size. Required of concentrators in English. Satisfies WR 150 requirement. Fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area(s): Writing: Research & Inquiry, Research and Information Literacy.


Figures of Authority

We will explore the ways in which ideas about moral and historical authority are dramatized by literary works. Our discussions will focus in part on how writers from colonial contexts responded creatively to influential European ways of thinking about culture and society. Writers we study may include Matthew Arnold, Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie, Jean Rhys, Ayad Akhtar.

A1 Krishnan TR 11-12:15

The Boundaries of Life

How do writers create distinctions between lifeless matter and living beings in fictional worlds made out of nothing but marks on a page? And how can we understand matter to either lose or acquire sentience? What happens when a baby leaps naked and helpless into the “dangerous world,” or King Lear’s daughter suddenly has “no breath at all”? How do readers distinguish between the shearing of a blushing, panting sheep and the skinning of a dead lamb? This course tracks the contrasts writers set up between sensitive, receptive surfaces and the inanimate world. Authors include William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Alison Bechdel. The course also explores the structures that exist between self and family—both the obligations that bind one person to another, and what happens when those obligations fail to be recognized

C1 Henchman TR 2:00- 3:15

Encountering Others

When Walt Whitman asks, “What is it then between us?” he wonders what connects individuals and what keeps them apart. He also worries about the creation of an “us”—how relationships and communities overcome (or fail to overcome) misunderstanding, fragmentation, alienation, and oppression. This course focuses on the struggle of encountering others, a challenge that takes various forms. How do cultures bind and separate? Can we know other minds, including our own? How might literature and language come between people as media that simultaneous reveal and obscure? Such questions will be explored in sociopolitical, philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic contexts; and our syllabus includes literature from a range of genres and periods, including texts from Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Melville, Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Stephen Crane, and W.E.B. Dubois.

D1 Lee TR 12:30-1:45

The Nonhuman in Literature and Film

How has art imagined encounters with nonhuman life forms, from the natural to the extraterrestrial? How have these encounters allowed artists to rethink what it means to be human? In this course, we will analyze a range of novels, poems, and films—from classic novels to contemporary science fiction—that have explored these questions at different historical moments. In the first unit, we will discuss how four poets—Andrew Marvell, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Elizabeth Bishop—developed new poetic forms in response to their visions of the natural world. In the second unit, we will turn our attention to tales involving man-made monsters, robots, and computers, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and stories by Philip K. Dick. In the third unit, we will consider works of science fiction about alien encounters, including stories by Ursula K. Leguin and Ray Bradbury, as well as the 2016 film Arrival.

E1 MacConochie TR 2:00- 3:15