Upper-level Undergraduate Courses in Language and Literature
Academic Year 2023-2024, Semester I
All courses carry 4 credits, unless otherwise indicated.
Major Authors I
Introduction to the major works of ancient and medieval literatures that influenced later Continental, English, and American literature: the Bible, Homeric epic, Greek tragedy, Vergil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Required of concentrators in English who declared an English Major prior to Fall 2022. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Writing-intensive Course.
EN 221 A2 Breiner
TR 12:30 – 1:45 PM
EN 221 B1 Voekel
MWF 9:05 – 9:55a
British Literature 1
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, Lanyer, Marlowe, Donne, Cavendish, and Milton. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
EN322 A1 Burnett
TR 11:00a – 12:15p
EN322 B1 Siemon
TR 3:30 – 4:45p
British Literature II
British literature from the Restoration in 1660 to the end of the nineteenth century. Authors may include Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Alfred Tennyson, and Oscar Wilde. Major topics include London as a developing urban center, the emergence of modern prose fiction, the growing emphasis on “sensibility,” the rise of Romanticism and the Industrial Revolution, tensions between religion and science, and fin de siècle aestheticism. Prerequisite: EN 322. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area(s): Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
EN323 B1 Burnett
TR 2:00 – 3:15p
Advanced Undergraduate Courses
Fall 2023 Courses that Fulfill English Major Requirements:
Please note that a class may not be used to fulfill more than one distribution requirement.
Courses meeting requirements for students who have declared an English major prior to FA 22:
- EN 220: Seminar in Literature
- EN 221: Major Authors
- EN 322: British Literature I
- EN 323: British Literature II
- Pre-1800 British or American Literature: EN 328, EN 363
- Pre-1900 American Literature: EN 345
- Critical Methods: EN 404, EN 452, EN 465, EN 486; EN 497
- Diverse Literatures in English: EN 326, EN327, EN 328,EN 347, EN377, EN 452, EN 486, EN 537
Courses meeting requirements for students declaring an English major in FA 22 and after:
- EN 101: Encounters: Reading Across Time and Space
- EN 220: Seminar in Literature
- Critical Methods: EN 404, EN 452, EN 465, EN 486, EN 497
- Power, Identity, and Difference: EN 326, EN327, EN 328, EN 347, EN377, EN 452, EN 486, EN 537
- British or American Literature before 1700: EN 322, EN 328, EN 363
- British or American Literature, 1700-1900: EN 323, EN 345
*Please note again that the same course cannot be used fulfill two separate requirements. I.e.: students may choose to count EN 452 either as a “Critical Methods” course or as a “Diverse Literatures in English,” but they may not have EN 452 count as both
Arts of Gender: Gendered Utopias, Gendered Dystopias
Thomas More famously used the term “utopia” in 1516 to designate simultaneously a “good place” (eu-topia) and “no place” (u-topia): while a utopian vision might offer us a powerful critique of society and tools for transforming our world for the better, it might be impossible to instantiate in practice. Indeed, it might become its obverse, a dystopia, for many of the people living in it. Thinkers about gender have found utopia and dystopia to be useful frameworks for critiquing contemporary configurations of gender and sexuality and imagining a world made different. What would it take to create spaces where women, non-binary and queer people, and other non-conformists thrive, or at least feel safe? In our current circumstances, is it even possible to imagine such worlds, or do all paths lead inexorably to a dystopian future? Our course readings, mostly from the last thirty years, draw on two very different genre traditions to explore these questions: non-fiction and science fiction. We begin by looking at some scenes of queer kinship in 1970s and 80s New York City, including drag balls and porn theatres. We then transfer our attention to speculative fiction that projects power imbalances between men and women into the future, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. Finally, we examine optimistic reconfigurations of love and family. As we read, we will relate our primary texts to broader feminist and queer critical analysis, examining both its desire for a better world and its fear of catastrophe. Authors include Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, and Maggie Nelson; viewing includes Paris is Burning and Pose. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, The Individual in Community.
EN326 A1 McDonough
TR 12:30 – 1:45p
Topics in American Literature: Fictions of the Modern American South
How has the US South been represented in American literature, film, and other media from the 20th century to the present? Why is the region portrayed in such conflicting ways, and as so different from the rest of the country? Why does the symbolism of the Southern past remain so prominent in social and political conflicts today? How are fictions of the South confirmed or undercut by the realities of the region? In contemporary works that reimagine historical slavery, for example, such as Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad (with movie and miniseries adaptations), or that address slavery’s continuing legacy in today’s racism, such as Jordan Peele’s film Get Out; in recent novels like Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing, and in endless television dramas, Southern reality shows, and music videos—the South continues to function prominently in our country’s imaginative life, its significance central in debates about who we are as a nation. Course includes major writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Richard Wright, William Faulkner, James Baldwin, Edward Jones, Lan Cao, and Jesmyn Ward, along with other media artists. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Aesthetic Exploration.
EN327 A1 Matthews
MWF 2:30 – 3:20p
Topics in American Literature: Womanhood in Black and White
Using feminist perspectives, students in this course will analyze texts by or about cisgender women. As an intellectual community, we will explore literary works that help us to think critically about how womanhood figures in American culture. If literature both reflects existing ideas and shapes what seems possible, how varied are the possibilities it imagines for women? How does whiteness expand or limit options? How are an individual’s life chances affected when one is not considered white? We will operate as an intellectual community and help each other think through various authors’ representations of issues, such as romantic and platonic love, mothering and childfree living, and power dynamics of all sorts.
Likely authors include Harriet Jacobs, Kate Chopin, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Julie Otsuka. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Aesthetic Exploration.
Women’s Literary Cultures : Gender and Revolution in Seventeenth-Century England
The English seventeenth-century has been called the “century of revolution,” but it might better be described as a time of many revolutions—in addition to witnessing the overthrow and execution of the king, England also saw challenges to structures of gender and sexuality, national debates about who got to vote, major shifts in scientific paradigms, an explosion of print media, and new ideas about race and the world beyond its borders. Through it all, English women took to the streets in political protests, spoke out in Parliament, and used literary forms to challenge ideas about marriage, hierarchy, sexuality, imperialism, religion, and government. From devout poems to bawdy ballads, from tragedies to comedies, from “serious proposals” to fantastic utopias, these women writers used literature to reimagine their worlds. By focusing on women writers of this period, we will not only explore the seventeenth century, but also consider how its legacy continues to shape our understandings of gender and sexuality today in both positive and negative ways. In order to do so, we will read both current gender theory and some 21st-century literary works that have tried to bring these 17th-century women to life today.
EN328 A1 Murphy
MWF 12:20 – 1:10p
19th Century American Fiction
Development of prose fiction in the United States, often including works by Child, Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Stowe, Webb, Dreiser, Gilman, and others. Topics include print culture, realism and romance, the Civil War, and sentimentalism. Cannot be taken for credit in addition to CAS EN 545. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area(s): Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
EN345 A1 Otten
MWF 2:30 – 3:20p
Topics in Contemporary Fiction: Imagining Decolonization
This course examines how international authors depicted the historical transition from a world of colonial empires to a world of nation-states. Authors discussed may include Andric, Abrahams, Salih, Naipaul, Dangarembga, Adichie. Effective Fall 2019, this course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.
EN347 A1 Krishnan
MWF 2:30 – 3:20p
Six plays chosen from the following: Richard II, Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Winter’s Tale. Some attention to the sonnets. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration and Historical Consciousness.
EN363 A1 Siemon
TR 12:30 – 1:45p
Studies in Non-Cinematic Media
This course covers a range of aesthetic and cultural issues related to non- cinematic media, encompassing the study of photography, television, video art, video and online gaming, new media and more. Topics vary by semester. Effective Spring 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Digital/Multimedia Expression, Aesthetic Exploration, Creativity/Innovation.
EN 365 A1 Staff
TR 2:00 – 3:15p
Literature of the Harlem Renaissance
An exploration of the literature of the “New Negro Renaissance” or, more popularly, the Harlem Renaissance, 1919-1935. Discussions of essays, fiction, and poetry, three special lectures on the stage, the music, and the visual arts of the Harlem Renaissance. Effective Spring 2022, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing- Intensive Course, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Critical Thinking. Prerequisites: one previous literature course or junior or senior standing.
CAS EN 377 Boelcskevy
TR 2:00 – 3:15p
Topic: Céline Sciamma & Sébastien Lifshitz
This course centers on the fiction films of Céline Sciamma and the documentaries of Sébastien Lifshitz, two contemporary French auteurs who explore themes of childhood, female adolescence, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ representation. An intensive exploration of the work of a single filmmaker or group of filmmakers, paying special attention to theoretical problems of authorship and artistic control. How do filmmakers respond to studio pressure, historical events or government censorship? How do personal styles develop and transform in a collaborative medium? What does it mean to think of the director or writer or producer of a film as its author? Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Aesthetic Exploration.
EN385/CI352 A1 Cazenave
W 2:30 – 5:15p
History of Literary Criticism 1
Survey of major discussions of literature and aesthetics from ancient Greece to early twentieth-century European and American figures. Authors may include Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Philip Sidney, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wordsworth, Oscar Wilde, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, W.E.B. DuBois. Themes include art’s relation to truth, ethics, and politics; competing ideas of interpretation; art’s psychological and affective dimensions; the nature of aesthetic judgment; distinctions between the beautiful and the sublime. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings and Aesthetic Exploration.
EN404 A1 Martin
TR 9:30 – 10:45a
Asian American Studies: Theories and Methods
A brief overview of the theories and methods of Asian American studies, combining cultural theory, literature, history, culture, sociology, and legal study to define a mode of inquiry and action inspired by a legacy of activism and survival from the Asian diaspora. Effective Fall 2022, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: The Individual in Community, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings.
EN452 A1 Rivera
MWF 10:10 – 11:00a
Critical Studies in Literature and Society
Topic for Fall 2023: Fables and Tales
Stories have designs on you – that is the proposition this course explores. We are interested in the relationship between the shapes and the uses of stories. To put that more pointedly, we want to think about the process of shaping a story to achieve certain objectives. That means we will often take a teller’s perspective, to consider how a particular story goes, and where it aims to take us (the listening/reading audience). So we will be studying how stories are structured (designed, engineered…), but always bearing in mind that stories, like pieces of music, constitute a temporal art form, shaped by a sequence of authorial decisions. On that point, thinking in terms of the process of oral storytelling is helpful, since it enables us to keep in mind the interaction between a teller and a live audience. Many stories turn out to be complex conversations about societal values.
EN465 A1 Breiner
TR 9:30 – 10:45a
Studies in Anglophone Literature: Comparative Readings in Postcolonial Literature
Examines how postcolonial writers have explored the themes of historical upheaval and modernization. We focus on the fictional and non-fictional works of V. S. Naipaul and compare them with Wole Soyinka, Jean Rhys, George Lamming, J. M. Coetzee.
EN486 A1 Krishnan
MWF 11:15a – 12:05p
Critical Studies in Literature and Philosophy
“There is an ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry,” declared Socrates in Book 10 of Plato’s The Republic. What did Socrates mean? And how has such a distinction been manifest over the last century and a half? Readings by Plato and Aristotle will introduce the course’s major concerns, and the rest of the semester will consider philosophers, critics, and artists whose work poses two recurring, inter-related questions: what counts as “art” and what counts as a “self.” Readings on aestheticism, formalism, tea ceremonies, cricket, film, religious “aura,” land art, “camp,” racial authenticity, pornography, cyborgs, social media, cultural identity, feminism, existentialism. Literary texts by Samuel Beckett, James Baldwin, Caryl Churchill. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.
EN497 A1 Chodat
TR 12:30 – 1:45p
Reading and Writing Literary Nonfiction
This seminar is for students who want to immerse themselves in the long tradition of literary nonfiction and make their own contributions to it. Ancient and modern masterworks as well as contemporary pieces will give us models to follow and break away from in our own work. Building on the prose skills that we bring to the course and drawing on these models and the feedback of classmates, we will cultivate our own voices as writers. We will also cultivate our skills as creators and innovators, learning how to generate an idea, imagine an audience, develop working strategies, offer and receive criticism, and risk productive failure. Effective Fall 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing-Intensive Course, Creativity/Innovation.
EN502 A1 Staff
W 2:30 – 5:15p
Black Thought: Literary and Cultural Criticism in the African Diaspora
An introduction to literary and/or cultural thinking in African-America and the Black Diaspora. The course focuses on historical trends, critical themes, and characteristics of this work and assesses its relationship to broader political contexts, social movements and cultural transformations. Also offered as CAS AA 591.
EN537 A1 Chude-Sokei
MWF 1:25 – 2:15p
Teaching American Literature
Focused on teaching American literature at the high school level, the course aims to provide students with a broad knowledge base in American literary history, model deeper learning and teaching of selected texts, address theoretical questions in English Language Arts pedagogy, and introduce practical classroom skills. In addition to studying diverse works of American fiction, poetry, drama, and autobiography from the perspective of literary criticism, the course will address issues of course design, skill development, curricular planning, and assessment. The class will be team-taught by Prof. Christina Dobbs (Wheelock) and Prof. Maurice Lee (English Dept.). Assignments include short writing exercises, collaborative projects, oral presentations, assessment design, curriculum evaluation, and a literary-critical essay. Also offered as SED EN538. This course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: The Individual in Community, Teamwork/Collaboration.
EN538 A1 Lee and Dobbs
TR 11:00a – 12:15p
The Modern American Novel: Representative Works 1900-1950
Our course will examine representative works by significant American novelists published between 1900 and 1950. Our goal will be to understand how various American writers of this period responded to the extreme changes identified with modernity. How did novelists imagine the social, economic, political, intellectual, and artistic transformations of the first half of the last century? How did authors reimagine expressive styles and narrative methods to engage re-conceptualizations of human behavior; theories of race and culture; definitions of gender; understandings of individual consciousness, perception, and comprehension; the organization of society; the relations of labor, wealth, and consumption; attitudes toward the environment; modern ethics; etc.? We’ll be interested in looking at relations between the artist, the individual work, audience, and historical contexts in order to appreciate how novels represent society and address matters of interest to communities of readers. We’ll also ask how these expectations condition artists’ desires to express their individual sensibilities. We’ll study major developments in the genre of the novel during this time, including the emergence of technically experimental modernist style and form, and innovations in realism. We’ll note some of the effects film had on modern literature. We’ll consider questions about conflicting senses of modern national identity, regional distinctiveness, women’s enfranchisement, race relations and ethnicity, the increasing dominance of urban experience, the crisis of capitalism during the Great Depression, class relations, and the trauma of two world wars.
Taking up W. E. B. Du Bois’s assertion in 1903 in The Souls of Black Folk that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line,” our course this semester will center on works by principal American novelists in the first half of the century who explored questions of race as foundational to U.S. modernity. What does it mean to approach modern American fiction from the standpoint of the nation’s and the West’s long history of racism? In what ways does national modernity rest on a foundation of global racial exploitation? How does the problem of the color line structure the economic, social, and cultural transformations we understand as “the modern,” and how does fiction of the period explore the centrality of racism and devise imaginative responses to it?
Effective Fall 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing-Intensive Course, Research and Information Literacy.
EN546 A1 Matthews
MWF 12:20 – 1:10p
Film and Media Theory
Over a century into its history, film and its moving image descendants have become deeply ingrained into the fabric of our lives. Everywhere we turn, we are surrounded by strange hybrid versions of the cinema: from the ads in the subway to the ubiquitous presence of surveillance cameras recording our movements, and from the ocean of unedited videos uploaded by friends and family to the industrial products of Hollywood (and beyond).
This class will be devoted to understanding the meaning and consequences of our saturation in a world of moving images, a world of cinema. What is at stake when we render the world as an image? How do photographic and cinematic images differ from other forms of image-making (digital or televisual)? What does it mean to be a spectator (or to encounter images as spectacle rather than as narrative)? What kinds of political and ideological stances are entailed in viewing the world (or in being put on display) in cinematic terms? How has the development of digital technologies affected our relationship to film history?
There is a long and rich tradition of film and media theory that is concerned with elucidating not only how we answer these questions, but how we frame such questions in the first place. This course is an advanced introduction to film and media theory as a mode of inquiry. We will read some of the major works representing significant movements in film, photography, and digital theory from the early part of the 20th century up to our contemporary moment. We will also consider films, in their own right, as theoretical experiments in perception. Also offered as CAS CI 512. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Writing-Intensive Course, Research and Information Literacy.
EN569 A1 Foltz
TR 11:00a – 12:15p
Studies in African-American Literature
EN588 A1 Boelcskevy
F 11:15a – 2:00p