Upper-level Undergraduate Courses in Language and Literature
Academic Year 2022-2023, Semester II
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 area(s): Aesthetic Exploration, Writing-intensive Course.
EN 221 A1 Voekel
TR 12:30 – 1:45p
EN 221 B1 Voekel
MWF 2:00 – 3:15p
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 Murphy
TR 11:00a – 12:15p
EN322 B1 Siemon
TR 12:30 – 1:45p
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 A1 Burnett
MWF 10:10 – 11:00a
EN323 B1 Burnett
MWF 12:20 – 1:10p
EN323 C1 Staff
TR 2:00 – 3:15p
Advanced Undergraduate Courses
Spring 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 333, EN 341, EN 364, EN 560
- Pre-1900 American Literature: EN 333
- Critical Methods: EN 466, EN 482; EN 495
- Diverse Literatures in English: EN326, EN 377, EN 385, EN 482, EN 495 A1, EN 560, EN586
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 466, EN 482, EN 495
- Power, Identity, and Difference: EN326, EN 375, EN 377, EN 385, EN 482, EN 495 A1, EN 560, EN 586
- British or American Literature before 1700: EN 322, EN 364, EN 560
- British or American Literature, 1700-1900: EN 323, EN 333, EN 341, EN 495 B1
*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
Topic: 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 area(s): Aesthetic Exploration, The Individual in Community.
EN326 A1 McDonough
MWF 3:35 – 4:25p
Topics in American Literature: Modernism, Race, and Resistance
Effective Fall 2018, this course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Aesthetic Exploration.
EN 327 A1 Staff
MWF 12:20 – 1:10p
Film Genres and Movements
Spring 2023 topic: East European Political Film
The course focuses on the cinema of “the other Europe” from the 1950s onwards and the innovations it introduces to film as an artistic medium, as well as its subversive function in opposing various types of oppression. Course content varies by semester. Effective Fall 2022, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Digital/Multimedia Expression, Aesthetic Exploration, Creativity/Innovation.
EN329/CI330 A1 Vidan
TR 3:30 – 4:45p
American Literature: Beginnings to 1860
An introduction to the multiple literary traditions of North America (especially that area that would come to be the United States) from the close of the fifteenth century through 1855. Authors include John Winthrop, Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley, Samson Occom, Susanna Rowson, William Apess, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman.
Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness.
EN333 A1 Howell
TR 9:30 – 10:45a
History of the Novel in English
This course traces the history of the English language novel, from its dual origins in the Classical period and in early modern England, to its establishment as a dominant literary form of modernity. The modern novel has two origins, one deriving from translations and imitations of Greek and Roman skeptics as well as early humanists, Eastern and Islamic authors, and European cosmopolitan works; the other a result of specifically early modern conditions following from the Reformation and the New Science, an evolving middle class, the gendering of private and public space, the growth of print technology, the spread of literacy, and other conditions of incipient secularization. We will expand our understanding of the novel to include works of prose realism that concern slavery, especially when written by slaves or former slaves. Novels were many things before Austen, and your favorite mode of fiction today–autobiographical and historical narrative, science fiction, chat-fiction, kiss-and-tell narratives, romances, spy novels, post-modern experimentalism–is likely traceable to the works we will encounter in this class. Because novels embrace so much of social history, they raise important questions about art and life. We will read traditional and recent theories of the rise or origin of the novel, which attribute this phenomenon to changes in the economic, political, and technological order. We will likewise read accounts that suggest a separate canon of novels by women that interact only glancingly with the male authors. Beginning with a notable pair, Cervantes’s Don Quixote and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, we will next take up Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, accompanied by the post-modernists, Junot Diaz and David Foster Wallace; next we will read Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko in comparison with Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative and Mary Prince’s History of Mary Prince. Two accounts of female masking and gender bending, Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina, follow, and we also will take up a selection of Haywood’s fiction and philosophy. Richardson’s Pamela, the original of all chat-fiction, inspired subsequent sentimental fiction, and even the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft’s two novellas, Mary, a Fiction and Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman remain within the mold of literary sentimentalism. By contrast, Fielding’s Joseph Andrews tells us on the title page it keeps alive the comic Don Quixote tradition. Excerpts from Dickens and Thackery will suggest how much they learned from Fielding. Finally, we will study another expression of the sentimental, the first gothic novel, Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, and the fad it created. The power of this sentimental model will lead us to appreciate Austen’s remarkable achievement in Northanger Abbey, both using and breaking the sentimental mold, and in the process, achieving the form now recognizable to us as “the novel”.
Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.
EN341 A1 Prince
MWF 1:25 – 2:15p
Six or seven plays chosen from the following: Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and The Tempest.
Effective Spring 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Aesthetic Exploration, Historical Consciousness
EN 364 B1 Siemon
Haruki Murakami and His Sources
Students read works by Haruki Murakami and by writers who shaped him or were shaped by him, reflect on the nature of intertextuality, and gain a perspective on contemporary literature as operating within a global system of mutual influence. Effective Spring 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Aesthetic Exploration, Creativity/Innovation.
EN 369 A1 Zielinska-Elliott
MWF 11:15a – 12:05p
Topics in Literature and Film
Spring 2023 Topic: Migrant Narratives in Film
The course explores an array of global cinematic representations of migrant experience while relying on theoretical writings on the concepts of hybridity, migrancy, internal colonialisms and transculturation. We will discuss a broad range of filmmakers, styles and cross-cultural encounters as well as the works’ social implications.
EN375/CI390 A1 Vidan
TR 11:00a – 12:15p
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
F 11:15a – 2:00p
Women’s Visions in Contemporary Global Film – Claire Denis
How do we define women’s film? Given its formal and cultural diversity, is this a productive or reductive categorization? What are the principal preoccupations of female directors? How do they depict female subjectivity with regard to race, class, and sexuality and what type of discourses do they generate within their cultural environments? How do they navigate the body politics in various global contexts? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this course. This course presents French filmmaker Claire Denis (1946- ) as an artist dedicated to relationality. She represents not discreet items but networks of physical and symbolic connections—connections that form and dissolve among races, genders, sexualities, bodies, and species. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area: Aesthetic Exploration.
EN385/CI352 A1 Desilets
TR 2:00 – 3:15p
Critical Studies in Literature & Society: Environmental Imaginaries
How do our imaginations shape the way we perceive and respond to environments and the forces alive within them? How do animals, plants and other forms of life shape the places they share with us and the stories we tell about them? Do these more-than-human beings make their own meaning, and how can we learn to observe and understand what these may be? Are different environments suited to particular kinds of stories, genres, aesthetic visions? How do stories told by scientists to general publics draw upon literary and artistic traditions, and how can such science stories and communication be strengthened by humanistic knowledge? To begin to answer these questions, we will explore novels, poetry, film, nonfiction writing, and visual art from different cultural traditions that illuminate human understandings of and relations to “nature,” environmental change, loss and extinction, longing and belonging. In addition to seeing selected films and environmental art, we will read works by such writers as Barry Lopez, Rachel Carson, Frank Herbert, Amitav Ghosh, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Prince, Jeff VanDermeer, Richard Powers, Robert Hooke, and Alexander von Humboldt. Depending on class size, we will hopefully embark on a field trip.
EN466 A1 Craciun
TR 2:00 – 3:15p
Critical Studies in Modern Literature: Critical Approaches to Global Literature
This course examines how creative writers and historians have depicted the historical transition from a world of colonial empires to a world of nation-states. Novelists discussed may include Abrahams, Salih, Naipaul, Dangarembga, Adichie. We will also read a number of historical essays on the varied colonial contexts presupposed by these fictional narratives.
Effective Fall 2019, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Aesthetic Exploration.
EN 482 A1 Krishnan
Critical Studies in Literary Topics: Multiethnic Speculative Fiction
Critics often misconstrue speculative fiction—the capacious term for genres including science fiction, fantasy, horror, cyberpunk, apocalyptic, and utopian and dystopian fiction—as a white and male dominated field. However, there is a long history of speculative fiction by people of color who use the genre to reimagine the circumstances of the world at-large. In this course, we will center race and ethnicity as they influence the tropes of genre fiction, asking how authors of color use the speculative in their work. We will discuss how the speculative unsettles normative conceptions of time, space, and embodiment, prompting readers to grapple with questions about the configurations of race, gender, and sexuality, and the possibilities of social justice. Recognizing the importance of speculative fiction in various historical contexts, we will explore the historical, cultural, and critical genealogies of genre fiction, as well as the multiple ways that it shapes and inhabits our world, as a set of genres with specific conventions and subcultures, marketing tags, a set of reading protocols, as growing modes in our reality, as the opposite of realism, as new types of realism, etc. Authors may include Toni Morrison, Carmen Maria Machado, Ling Ma, Colson Whitehead, Silvia Moreno Garcia, Han Kang, Hanya Yanagahira, I. Igoni Barrett, Charles Yu, and Louise Erdrich.
EN495 A1 Gil’Adí
MWF 11:15a – 12:15p
Critical Studies in Literary Topics: Literature and Conceptions of Time 1750-1930
Between 1750 and 1930, momentous changes in technology (time-keeping at sea, extraction of coal, the railway, the telegraph, photography) and paradigm-shifting scientific theories (geology, astronomy, Darwinian evolution and thermodynamics) inspired the re-conception of time both in the sciences and in popular imagination. Nineteenth-century Britain witnessed the standardization of time; the twentieth saw Newton’s notion of absolute time fundamentally shaken. These developments had new, strange, and contradictory implications for understanding time, implications that fired the imaginations of many of the writers in this period. We explore the different models of time that 18th- and 19th-century and Modernist writers draw on when crafting their literary works. What happens to the human time scale when you set it next to millions of years? Why does Woolf elongate one moment and shrink major events into a parenthesis? How do writers convey the feeling of simultaneity? Is time measurable, absolute and objective, or fluid, relative and subjective? Literary authors include Jane Austen, Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, Alfred Tennyson, Tom Stoppard, George Eliot, H.G. Wells, and Virginia Woolf.
We will explore these historical questions while learning to identify, analyze and evaluate narratives at work in a wide range of discourses: colonial, historical, autobiographical, scientific, exploratory, and literary. A key goal of the course is to recognize narratives that are explicitly and implicitly at work in a range of explanatory accounts, and to practice questioning the narratives of inevitability, progress, or doom that swirl around in 2022. While acknowledging that every narrative makes choices, we will think through competing and contradictory models of change over time.
We will also use terms from narratology and literary theory to read for the plot, studying how narratives open questions up and close those questions down, what events punctuate a narrative, and what creates a sense of closure. We will pay close attention to how and when an author releases information to the reader over time.
EN495 B1 Henchman
TR 9:30 – 10:45a
Reading and Writing Literary Nonfiction
This reading and writing seminar explores literary nonfiction, a wide-ranging, sometimes controversial genre in which writers use techniques associated with fiction and poetry to make meaning of lives. How do writers describe their world, especially peoples, places, and things? What are ways of using personal voice? Each weekly meeting includes discussion of published nonfiction along with writing short exercises or workshopping writing. The learning goals of this course are to become better readers and more skillful practitioners of the craft of literary nonfiction. To accomplish these goals everyone will read and respond to published essays and memoirs; everyone will explore a variety of topics and ways of writing and revising their own work; everyone will encourage the writing of classmates.
The syllabus includes creative nonfiction writing by Emily Bernard, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cathy Park Hong, Kiese Laymon, Maggie Nelson, Jesmyn Ward.
Effective Fall 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing-Intensive Course, Creativity/Innovation.
EN502 A1 Bernstein
W 2:30 – 5:15p
Modern English Grammar & Style
Modern English Grammar & Style is a course in the grammar of Standard American English (SAE) and in contemporary English prose style. While the course focuses especially on the
written form of SAE, it explores other varieties of English and strives to cultivate an appreciation for all forms of language. Systematic analysis of sentences and longer units of discourse will deepen your understanding of the social and cultural implications of grammatical and stylistic choices and help you become a more informed and capable reader, speaker, and writer.
EN 513 A1 Walsh
Marxist Cultural Criticism
This course is an introduction to Marxist cultural criticism that examines the transformation of concepts from classic Marxism (Marx, Lukacs, Althusser, Adorno, and Gramsci) into contemporary debates about race, gender, sexuality, colonialism, modernity, and language (Said, Jameson, and Spivak, and others).
Specifically, this course asks: What is a “materialist” interpretation of culture? Are the “material” and the “cultural” mutually exclusive? What are some useful models for the interpretations of culture developed by Marxist and non-Marxist authors, and how do we historicize their differences? How does “culture,” understood as the non-economic sphere of society, relate to “cultures” in the anthropological sense—to the geopolitical spaces in the world? How do Marxist concepts such as reification, alienation, commodity fetishism, symptomatic reading, formal vs. real subsumption, hegemony, and surplus value provide useful tools for thinking about race, gender, and language? In other words, what does Marxism—presumed to be
the analysis of economic relations—have to say about culture? Our exploration of the foundational texts in “cultural materialism” will provide useful answers to these questions.
EN539 A1 Liu
T 3:30 – 6:15p
Disability Voices: Medieval to Modern
This course centers on the critical term disability – the construction of impairment as a social category – and literature. Reading texts medieval to modern, we will consider how disability is rendered through poetry, fiction, memoir, law, medical writing, and scientific tracts. How might the fourteenth-century Book of Margery Kempe help us approach Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias (2019) and vice versa? Can we find a relationship between medieval writing on intersex and modern medical fixations on “correcting” atypical sex? We will attend to the discursive institutions and social systems that produce hierarchies of capacity, asking what social ideologies have produced and reinforced ideas about bodily capacity, normalcy, and ability? Bringing together crip-of-color critique alongside queer, trans, and intersex work, we will question how societal arrangements and environments have shaped the meaning of disability across historical periods and literary genres. Moving between and beyond materiality and metaphor, our readings will consider the history of disability together with literary imaginings of disability.
Disability Studies centers the experience and knowledge of people with disabilities as activists, artists, and academics. Attentive to the knowledge produced within disabled communities, our class will read medieval and early modern literature alongside memoir, manifestos, and critical theory. In addition to medieval and early modern literature, we will be engaging with work by Mel Chen, Eli Clare, Alison Kafer, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Dean Spade, and others. This course fulfills BU’s Hub Areas: Writing-Intensive Course, Research and Information Literacy.
Effective Spring 2022, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing-Intensive Course, Research and Information Literacy.
EN560 A1 Goodrich
MWF 10:10 – 11:00a
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/ CI512 A1 Rodness
TR 3:30 – 4:45p
Studies in Anglophone Literature: Caribbean Poetry
A study of twentieth-century and contemporary Caribbean poetry written in English(es), partly through anthologies and partly concentrating on major figures (Derek Walcott of St. Lucia, Kamau Brathwaite of Barbados, Lorna Goodison of Jamaica, Eric Roach of Trinidad and Tobago). We will be reading with attention to issues that lie behind the poems, often expressed the context of debates about the function of the poet in a small society. We will have to come to terms with how writers make choices between various languages of expression (standard, non-standard, and creole), varied media of distribution (different print media, live and recorded performance), oral vs literate aesthetic norms, and multiple literary traditions (especially African and European) in an atmosphere of cultural nationalism and independence.
Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing- Intensive Course, Research and Information Literacy.
EN586 A1 Breiner
TR 12:30p – 1:45p