English Composition & Literature

  • MET EN 104: English Composition
    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 2020:

    Section A1 -- EN 104 (B. 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 great 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 Dennis Lehane, Nick Flynn, and Susanna Kaysen; fiction by Dennis Lehane; and poetry by Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Frost. We'll also view film excerpts from Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, Manchester by the Sea, and Spotlight.

    Spring 2021: Section A1 (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 works in order to understand the social, political, historical, and artistic forces that have shaped this great 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 such authors as Michael Patrick MacDonald, Nick Flynn, and Susanna Kaysen; fiction by Jhumpa Lahiri, Ha Jin, and Dennis Lehane; and poetry by Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Frost. We'll also view film excerpts from Malcolm X, Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Gone Baby Gone, Lift, Mystic River, Blue Hill Avenue, and Spotlight.
  • MET EN 125: Readings in Modern Literature
    Representative fiction, poetry, and drama from modern Continental, British, and American writers. Primarily for students not concentrating in English.
  • 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.
  • 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. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Ethical Reasoning, Aesthetic Exploration.
    • Aesthetic Exploration
    • Ethical Reasoning
  • MET EN 175: Literature and the Art of Film
    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. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Digital/Multimedia Expression, Aesthetic Exploration.
    • Aesthetic Exploration
    • Digital/Multimedia Expression
  • MET EN 201: Intermediate Composition
    Undergraduate Prerequisites: or MET-approved equivalent or exemption.
    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. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following areas: Research and Information Literacy; Writing, Research and Inquiry.

    Fall 2020: EN 201 - A1 (Bennett) -- "Contemporary Fiction's Otherworldly Glow"
    In this course, our reading will take us to Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, regions more culturally different than some might imagine. Our close reading, however, will reinforce the universality of the human condition as we examine issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. We will encounter colonialism, war, love, and political intrigue in four twenty- first century novels: Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go, Hala Alyan's Salt Houses, Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss, and Luis Alberto Urrea's The House of Broken Angels.

    Fall 2020: EN 201 - A2 (Grabianowski) -- "Imagining Ourselves, Imagining the Landscape, Imagining Technology"
    Can humans muster the imagination and the ethical grit necessary to create a sustainable and livable future where freedom, equality and human rights are respected? How can scientific insight, technological advancement, business interests and the humanities find common ground in creating such a world? Could revisiting the powers of imagination provide some answers? Could insights derived from thousands of years of living in a natural landscape help humans to better understand the opportunities and limitations of our current technological landscape? In this section of English 201, we will consider what insights the long history of the imagination can offer us into the awe-inspiring wonders of nature and how they have contributed to unlocking the hidden capacities of the human mind. We will first take a look at the deep currents of imagination going back to the ancient philosophers like Heraclitus. We will then, over the course of the semester, consider how 19th and 20th century poets, novelists, theoretical physicists and environmentalists like Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, E.M. Forster, Gary Snyder, Albert Einstein, David Bohm, and Aldo Leopold have addressed the practical and ethical issues that arise at the intersection of nature, technology and society. Based on student interests, the background of these texts will allow us to shine new light on the social, environmental and technological issues of our day like cyborgs and the future of AI, the ethics of genetic engineering, machines with human purposes, big data, human relationships in the age of social media and fake news, the failures of modern education, and the rise of sustainability and ecological economics. We will discuss how contemporary scientists, poets, technology industry leaders, and writers like Herman Daly and Sherry Turkle seek to rediscover in a modern context how we can forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with ourselves, nature, and each other by re-discovering the capacities of our innate imaginative powers to grapple with the rapid transformation of our technological existence. We will harness these perspectives to think critically about writing itself as a technology and about how understanding it better can draw us nearer to the finer points of the writing process.

    Spring 2021: A1 - B. Bennett - "CONTEMPORARY FICTION'S OTHERWORLDLY GLOW"
    In this course, our reading will take us to Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, regions more culturally different than we may imagine. Our close reading, however, will reinforce the universality of the human condition, as we examine issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. We will encounter postcolonialism, war, love, and political intrigue in three twenty-first century novels: Hala Alyan's Salt Houses, Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go, and Luis Alberto Urrea's The House of Broken Angels.

    Spring 2021: A2 - P. Grabianowski - "Imagining Others, Imagining the Landscape, Imagining Technology"
    Can humans muster the imagination and the ethical grit necessary to create a sustainable and livable future where freedom, equality and human rights are respected? How can scientific insight, technological advancement, business interests and the humanities find common ground in creating such a world? Could revisiting the powers of imagination and insights derived from thousands of years of living in a natural landscape provide some answers? In this section of English 201, we will first take a look at the deep currents of imagination found in the profoundly integrative thinking of ancient philosophers like Heraclitus and Native North Americans. We will then, over the course of the semester, consider how 19th-century counterculture writers like abolitionist Frederick Douglass, novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, poet William Wordsworth, and 20th-century writers like early environmentalists Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, Beat Generation poet, activist and essayist Gary Snyder, current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Laguna Pueblo Indian writer Leslie Marmon Silko, and theoretical physicist David Bohm have addressed the ethical issues that arise at the intersection of nature, technology and society. Following student interests we will apply the critical thinking of writers like ecological economist Herman Daly and sociologist and psychologist Sherry Turkle to shine new light on the social, environmental and technological issues of our day from cyborgs and the future of AI, to the ethics of genetic engineering, big data, and human relationships in the age of social media, social distancing and fake news to rediscover in a modern context how we can forge deeper, more meaningful relationships with ourselves, with nature and with each other by re-discovering our innate imaginative capacity to grapple with the rapid transformation of our technological existence. We will also put special attention on how thinking critically about writing itself as a technology can draw us nearer to the finer points of the writing process.
    • Writing, Research, and Inquiry
    • Research and Information Literacy
  • MET EN 202: Introduction to Creative Writing
    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.
  • MET EN 305: Advanced Writing of Fiction
    The writing of short stories and perhaps longer fiction discussed in a workshop setting, including one-on- one meetings to discuss student work.
  • MET EN 322: Survey of British Literature I
    Prereq: MET HU 221. Beginnings of English literature from Anglo-Saxon period to end of the seventeenth century. Topics include the development of various poetic forms, medieval romance, and British drama. Authors may include Chaucer, Kempe, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and Milton. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
    • Aesthetic Exploration
    • Historical Consciousness
  • MET EN 323: Survey of British Literature II
    Undergraduate Prerequisites: MET EN 322
    Overview of English literature between 1700 and 1900. Topics include London as urban center, modern prose fiction, Romantic and Victorian poetry, tensions between religion and science. Authors may include Pope, Swift, Wordsworth, Austen, Dickens, Tennyson, Wilde. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
    • Aesthetic Exploration
    • Historical Consciousness
  • 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.
  • MET EN 363: Shakespeare I
    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. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
    • Aesthetic Exploration
    • Historical Consciousness
  • 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.
  • MET EN 546: The Modern American Novel
    In this course we will read and discuss American novels and short stories published between 1900 and 1945. We will examine the roots of "modernism," consider various definitions of modernism, and identify characteristics of modernism in American narratives including short stories and films as well as novels--works by Chesnutt, Chopin, Perkins Gilman, Twain, Dreiser, Anderson, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Toomer, and Hurston. We will also locate the historical and cultural contexts of these works. Some of these novels were widely read at the time they were published; other works had a more limited distribution, but subsequently have been recognized as valuable contributions to the American literary tradition. We will consider art forms in their larger cultural context and consider what "cultural work" any artistic expression does. How does literature convey the values and attitudes of the people who produce it? And conversely, how does literature influence the values and attitudes of the people who read it?
  • 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.