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.

Composition

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.

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 2018:

Section A1 -- Bennett - "Contemporary Fiction's Otherworldly Glow"
In this course, our reading will take us to Africa and the Middle East, regions more culturally different from each other and ours than we could have imagined. 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 two twenty-first century novels: Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go and Hala Alyan's Salt Houses. We will learn to write (and rewrite!) captivating, well- developed, well-organized essays relatively free of grammatical errors.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND Bennett CAS 223 M 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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 2018

Section A1 -- (Bennett) -- "Contemporary Fiction's Otherworldly Glow"
In this course, our reading will take us to Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South America, regions more culturally different than we could have imagined. 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 Mario Vargas Llosa's The Neighborhood.

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 Michael Patrick MacDonald, Nick Flynn, and Susanna Kaysen; fiction by Dennis Lehane, Sylvia Plath, and Henry James; and poetry by Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. We'll also view film excerpts from Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Spotlight, Gone Baby Gone, and The Town.

Section C1 (Grabianowski) -- "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 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 the long history of the imagination can teach us about how human insight into the awe-inspiring wonders of nature has contributed to our understanding of the hidden capacities of the human mind as much as it has unlocked the secrets of nature. 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 writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, E.M. Forster, Albert Einstein, Aldo Leopold, David Bohm and Gary Snyder have addressed the practical and ethical issues that arise out of the intersection of nature, technology, and society. We will explore topics like imaginative engineering, the difference between imaginative insight and imaginative reason, ecological consciousness, cyborgs, sustainable business models, monoculture and permaculture, genetics, ecological economics, big data, wild writing, social media, fake news, genetics and topics of particular interest to students. We will discuss how contemporary scientists, poets, technology industry leaders, and writers like Arnold Pacey, Herman Daly, Sherry Turkle and David Kelly seek to re-discover the imaginative capacities that will allow us to grapple with the rapid transformation of our technological existence.

Section 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 growing up in Roxbury). We will read these writers as well as others including Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, 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
B1 IND Barents SOC B61 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
C1 IND Grabianowski CAS 325 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
D1 IND Jackson CAS B25B R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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 Staff PSY B43 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm
C1 IND Staff CAS 212 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

The writing of short stories and perhaps longer fiction discussed in a workshop setting, including one-on- one meetings to discuss student work.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Staff CAS 323A W 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

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. ]

Literature

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

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
C1 IND Villano CAS 326 T 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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. ]

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

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

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

A critical introduction to Shakespeare through intensive analyses of six or seven plays. Possible attention to such topics as literary sources, early modern stagecraft, performance history, and contemporary film adaptation.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND Macconochie COM 210 R 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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 220 T 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

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

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. ]

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

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

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. ]

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. ]

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
A1 IND Cohen EOP 260 M 6:30 pm – 9:15 pm

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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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, Bronte's Wuthering Heights, and Hardy's Jude the Obscure.  [ 4 cr. ]

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

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

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

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND Boots EOP 260 W 6:00 pm – 8:45 pm

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

"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. ]

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. ]

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. ]

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. ]