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CAS EN 220: Undergraduate Seminar in Literature

Academic Year 2023-2024, 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 BU Hub requirements: Writing, Research, and Inquiry, Oral and/or Signed Communication, and Research and Information Literacy.


Topics for Fall 2023


Modernism, Race, and Resistance

1922, the year that saw the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, has been called the “wonder year” of international modernism, but we have yet to comprehend how Black writers critically engaged the complex and enduring legacy of modernist stylistic innovation in order to represent and resist racist violence, segregation, and gender inequality in the US. This course will trace the emergence of American modernism in works by authors such as Henry James, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, and William Faulkner, putting them in dialogue with Nella Larsen, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and other Black authors who responsively revised modernism in their writings.

EN220 A1 Patterson

TR 9:30-10:45


Topic TBA

EN 220 B1 Staff

MWF 10:10 – 11:00a


EN220 C1 Staff – Topic TBA

MWF 12:20 – 1:10p


Dangerous Hospitality: Guests and Hosts in Literature

The reception and accommodation of the stranger and outsider is a species-specific behavior of homo sapiens which has taken many different forms over the course of human (and literary) history. Our class will examine this phenomena from Homer’s Odyssey to Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, pausing along the way to consider other works whose central dynamic revolves around the precarious interactions of guests and hosts such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Austen’s Emma, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and Joyce’s “The Dead.” Hospitality exists in the liminal space between rejection and absorption, and these texts brilliantly explore the tensions inherent in the (attempted) taming of the xenos, an ancient Greek word which tellingly can be translated as “guest,” “friend,” “stranger” or “foreigner.”

EN 220 D1 Voekel

MWF 11:15a – 12:05p


Reading in REM

This course introduces students to literary analysis through writing on dreams. What we typically understand as a state of rest, the work of sleep is sometimes – if we’re lucky – our body’s most productive mode. Through dreams we encounter other worlds – upside-down, nightmarish, tranquil – but when we wake these dreamscapes quickly slip and we are back in a reality of our own creation. We will begin with short poetic encounters with dreams, such as The Dream of the Rood and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess and The House of Fame before turning to longer prose texts like Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Yasutaka Tsutsui’s surrealist novel Paprika. Interspersed with film and a short 2D art game Every Day the Same Dream, our texts will challenge us to rethink the boundaries between reality and dreams and technology and imagination. The literature for this course is multigeneric, and thus will include a range of genres, periods, and media.

The Dream of the Rood (10th c. England), Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess (14th c. England), Chaucer, The House of Fame (14th c. England), Kim Man-Jung, The Nine Cloud Dream (17th c. Korea), Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (19th c. England), Yasutaka Tsutsui, Paprika (1993), The Matrix (1999), Every Day the Same Dream (2009)

EN220 E1 Goodrich

TR 12:30-1:45