English Composition & Literature Undergraduate Courses

Click on any course title below to read its description. Courses offered in the upcoming semester include a schedule, and are indicated by a label to the right of the title.

Visit bu.edu/summer to see the English Composition & Literature courses offered this summer.


Note 1: All students enrolling in MET EN 101 are required to take a placement examination. The Department of English reserves the right to assign students to sections based on the results of this examination.

Note 2: MET EN 101 and EN 102 fulfill the same composition requirements as EN 103 and 104.

Note 3: For full-time and additional part-time courses in English for international students, contact the Boston University Center for English Language & Orientation Programs (CELOP), 890 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215; 617-353-4870.

MET EN 104 English Composition
Fall ‘15

Required for all undergraduate degrees. Reinforces basic skills in communication necessary for college work. Instruction and practice in fundamentals of critical writing, reading, and thinking. Lectures combined with seminars on vital current social, political, psychological, and philosophical issues. Students choose their seminars. Frequent papers; individual conferences.

MET EN104 Section Descriptions for Fall 2015:

Section A1 -- Challener - "Contemporary Disasters: Nature, Power, Culture":
This section will examine the treatment of disaster in a variety of ways, from the ecological and the cultural to the political and historical. We will begin with 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. For the remainder of the term, students will be invited to use essays to think through the significance of other American disasters of their choosing, including recent events, like the financial collapse of 2008 and Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and past events that have been called forth in order to understand the disasters of our historical moment. We will ask, among other questions, whether in today's global society there is such a thing as an "American" disaster or if there's anything especially American about how we think and talk about disaster.

Section B1 -- Barents - "Boston Zeal, Insanity, and Lawlessness":
Boston has captivated the imagination of locals and outsiders alike for centuries, not only as The Hub or The Athens of America but also as Suck City and the town with "dirty water." In this seminar, we will look at Boston as subject and setting of a number of very different short works in order to understand the social, political, historical, and artistic forces that have shaped this American city, and to figure out whether its often negative portrayal is deserved. We will debate, discuss, and question how such influences shape a culture or define a city, examining nonfiction from Benjamin Franklin, Dennis Lehane, Nick Flynn, and Susanna Kaysen; fiction by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sylvia Plath, and Henry James; and poetry by Robert Lowell and Ann Sexton. We'll also view film excerpts from Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Gone Baby Gone, and The Friends of Eddie Coyle.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Challener CAS 323B M 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
B1 IND Barents EOP 276 T 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 201 Intermediate Composition
Fall ‘15

Does not give concentration credit. Practice in writing narration, exposition, argument and persuasion, the critical essay, and the research paper. Related readings. Class discussion of papers. Individual conferences. Students enroll in specific seminars. Limited enrollment.

MET EN201 -- Section Descriptions for Fall 2015

Section A1 -- Bennett - "Multiethnic American Literature":
This course examines the psychological, political, sociological, and religious concerns of "ethnic" individuals in the United States in the twenty- and twenty-first centuries and what it means to be an "American." We will carefully define "ethnicity" in various literary texts including a novel, "graphic" books of cartoons, short stories, and poems. We will explore works by Native Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, Jewish Americans, and Asian Americans. We will read Art Spiegelman's 'Maus' (Volumes 1 and 2), John Okada's 'No-No Boy', Junot Díaz's 'Drown', Sherman Alexie's 'The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven', African American stories, and Arab American poetry. We will discuss the relationship between the humor in these texts and the pain described by many of their authors.

Section C1 -- Grabianowski - "Technology, Ideology, and Society":
Is it possible to create a sustainable and livable world where equality and human rights are respected? What, if any, role do science and technology play in creating such a world? In this section of English 201, we will first consider how 19th and 20th century writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, and Aldo Leopold have addressed the practical and ethical issues that arise out of the intersection of technology, nature, and society. We will then explore through topics like sustainable business models, ecological economics, big data, agribusiness, and genetics how contemporary scientists, technology industry leaders, and writers like Jacob Bronowski, Bill Joy, Michael Pollan, and Herman Daly continue to grapple with the rapid transformation of our technological existence. EN 201, Sec. D1 -- Jackson The Sixties This course examines the 1960s, a tumultuous decade of political, social, and cultural change in the United States, through a range of readings that include poems, song lyrics, manifestos, autobiographies, speeches, essays, stories, and the "non-fiction novel." The major movements of the era (anti-war, civil rights, feminist, environmental, sexual liberation, and expanded consciousness) constituted a wide- ranging revolution. Literary critic Fredric Jameson characterizes the period with "the widely shared feeling that in the 60s, for a time, everything was possible: that this period, in other words, was a moment of a universal liberation, a global unbinding of energies." Some of the key players and events were in and around Boston (Martin Luther King, Jr. living in Myles Standish Hall, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton meeting Robert Lowell at the other end of Bay State Road, Huston Smith expanding consciousness in Marsh Chapel, Malcolm X learning of the Black Muslims in Charlestown, Concord, and Norfolk prisons). We will read these writers as well as others including James Baldwin, Adrienne Rich, Bob Dylan, and Rachel Carson. We will write about what these writers meant in their time and about the reverberations and reactions that continue to affect how we live today.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Bennett CAS B25A M 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
C1 IND Grabianowski CAS 204B W 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
D1 IND Jackson CAS 114B R 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 202 Introduction to Creative Writing
Fall ‘15

Designed mainly for those with little or no experience in creative writing. An introduction to writing in various genres: poetry, fiction, and plays. Students' works discussed in class. Limited enrollment.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Pittman STH 319 T 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 305 Advanced Writing of Fiction
Fall ‘15

Competitive admission, limited enrollment. Note: Obtain syllabus at Creative Writing Program Office (236 Bay State Rd.) before end of fall semester. Intensive study of American writers and of writing by participants. Students write and present at least one story or chapter and read writings of others.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Sterling EGL 222 W 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET MG 310 Business Communication

Organization and techniques for effective verbal and written communication in the business environment. Emphasis on developing communication skills through practical written and oral assignments.  [ 4 cr. ]


Note: Prerequisite for all 500-level courses is at least 8 credits from the following:

MET EN 125 Readings in Modern Literature
Fall ‘15

Representative fiction, poetry, and drama from modern Continental, British, and American writers. Primarily for students not concentrating in English.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Villano SAR 300 R 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 127 Readings in American Literature

Selected American writers from the Colonial period to the present. Prose and poetry representative of the American tradition. Primarily for students not concentrating in English.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 141 Literary Types: Fiction

Representative English and American novels from the eighteenth century to the present. Required papers. Primarily for students not concentrating in English.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 142 Literary Types: Poetry

Critical reading of representative English and American poems. Primarily for students not concentrating in English.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 143 Literary Types: Drama

Critical reading of representative plays from the ancient Greeks to the present. Primarily for students not concentrating in English.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 175 Literature and the Art of Film
Fall ‘15

Survey and analysis of cinema as an expressive medium from the silent period to the present. Films are screened weekly and discussed in conjunction with works of literature.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Monk CAS 220 T 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
B1 Monk CAS ARR T 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
MET EN 220 Proseminar: Literacy Study

Fundamentals of literary analysis and interpretation. Intensive study of selected literary texts. Frequent papers. Limited class size. 4 cr  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 221 Major Authors

  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 322 Survey of British Literature I

Prereq: MET HU 221. British literature from its beginnings to the Restoration.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 323 Survey of British Literature II
Fall ‘15

British literature from the Restoration to the end of the nineteenth century.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Cohen CAS 208 M 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 355 Modern Drama

A century's transformations of drama and stage. Reading and discussion of plays from early realism and expressionism to the theatre of the absurd and present trends: Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw, Synge, Pirandello, Brecht, Sartre, Ionesco, Beckett, Genet, Pinter, and others.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 356 Modern Drama II

Modern to contemporary drama since about 1950. Beckett, Genet, Osborne, Wesker, Pinter, Arden, Stoppard, Durrenmatt, Grass, Weiss, Handke, Albee, Miller, Williams, Shepard, and others. Related readings in predecessors, such as Kleist and Artaud, and in less well known contemporaries.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 363 Shakespeare I
Fall ‘15

Six plays chosen from the following: Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV (Part 1), Troilus and Cressida, As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Winter's Tale.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND Meyer CAS 323B T 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 364 Shakespeare II

Six plays chosen from the following: Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and The Tempest.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 373 Detective Fiction

Origins and development of the detective and crime genres in England and America, including works of Collins, Poe, Dickens, Doyle, Christie, Sayers, and Chandler, among others.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 529 The Romantic Age: English Literature in the Age of Revolution

Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. Emphasis on readings, but the course deals with romanticism both as an historical movement and as a cultural category significantly connected to modernism.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 530 The Romantic Age II

Keats, Shelley, and Byron. Emphasis on readings, but the course deals with romanticism both as an historical movement and as a cultural category significantly connected to modernism.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 535 Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry

Close reading of balladic, lyric, and longer poems by Hardy, Yeats, Lawrence, Auden, Rosenberg, Mew, Loy, MacDiarmid, Gurney, Douglas, Larkin, Hill, Harrison, Prynne, others. Poets' essays and opposed schools and approaches. Reference to other arts, and times of political tragedy.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 536 Twentieth-Century American Poetry

Study of five or six poets from the following: Pound, Eliot, Stevens, Williams, Moore, Frost, Lowell, Bishop, Berryman, Ammons, Ashbery, Plath, Ginsberg, Merrill.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 543 The Nineteenth-Century English Novel

The novel from Scott to Hardy. Among the works to be discussed: Scott's Waverley, Austen's Emma, Dickens's Bleak House, Eliot's Middlemarch, Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and Hardy's Jude the Obscure.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 544 The Modern British Novel

Conrad, Woolf, Lawrence, Ford, Forster, Beckett, and other novelists of the period 1895-1956.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 545 The Nineteenth-Century American Novel
Fall ‘15

From beginnings through the nineteenth century. Works by Brown, Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, James, Howells, and others.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Boots CAS 204B R 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
MET EN 546 The Modern American Novel

From 1900 to the present, including Dreiser, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and selected contemporary novelists.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 547 Contemporary American Fiction
Fall ‘15

Study of American postmodern fiction and culture since 1950; includes works by Atwood, Barthelme, Burroughs, Coover, DeLillo, Nabokov, Pynchon, and others.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Otten CAS 312 W 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
N1 IND Blackwill ARR
MET EN 550 Classics of British and American Literature

"Classics of British and American Literature" is designed to teach some of the classic books of English-language literature, including several of those most widely read in American high schools, as well as some authoritative literary criticism on each of these works, their authors and genres. The course will include selected poems, short stories, and essays, as well as novels and provide historical background for each work and biographical information about the author. We will look at some film versions of the works studied. The course explicitly introduces students to issues and controversies concerning the nature and purpose of literature curricula in schools. These include the idea of a "classic," a literary canon, and a "high" culture, as opposed to or different from popular, commercial, contemporary, and utilitarian uses and forms of literature. Texts: Shakespeare, Julius Caesar; Douglass, Narrative; Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; Twain, Huckleberry Finn; Wharton, Ethan Frome; Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. Essays: Lincoln, Emerson,Thoreau. Short Stories: Hemingway, Anderson, Roth, Updike, Oates, Gordimer. Poetry: Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot, Frost, Owen, Larkin. Note: Course does not count for the English major.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 552 English Drama from 1590 to 1642

The heritage of Marlow and Shakespeare: the collapse of a historic world; Jacobean pessimism and decadence in the plays of Jonson, Webster, Middleton, Ford, and others.  [ 4 cr. ]

MET EN 583 Contemporary Poetry

Major voices since 1980 who inherit and expand American poetic traditions, selected from Ashbery, Collins, Graham, Hecht, Komunyakaa, Kunitz, Pinsky, Wilbur, and others. Related readings in immediate predecessors such as Justice, Merrill. Opportunity for student choice of emerging poets.   [ 4 cr. ]

MET HU 221 Major Authors I

Introduction to major works of ancient and medieval European literatures that influenced later Continental, English, and American literature: the Bible, Homeric epic, Greek Tragedy, Virgil's Aeneid, and Dante's The Divine Comedy.  [ 4 cr. ]