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Current and Upcoming Courses

Spring 2015

ENGL 504. Early Modern Metamorphoses - Professor Russell. Meets at The College of Charleston. Fulfills requirement for pre-1800 British literature.  Wednesday, 7-9:45 pm

“Ovidius Naso was the man.” So wrote Shakespeare, and spoke for an age. In the early modern period no classical poet was more influential than Ovid, whose Metamorphoses reads like a Rosetta Stone to the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. For a complex set of reasons, however, the early moderns were less comfortable owning his influence than that of Vergil, author of the Aeneid. Irreverent where Vergil is pious, bawdy where he is austere, playful where he is purposeful, Ovid was banished from Rome for his indiscretions while Vergil was crowned poet laureate. Yet if Vergil spoke powerfully to the longing of the early moderns to revive a classical ideal, Ovid spoke just as powerfully to the futility of that longing. In theMetamorphoses, he transmutes mythology and poetry, including that of Vergil, into an epic statement on the instability of form and the irresistibility of change. This semester, as we read translations and imitations of the works of Ovid by Golding, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and others, and experience for ourselves the attraction and alienation wrapped up in the encounter of past artworks, we will examine change as a fundamental principle of literary creativity and literary reception in the early modern period, as in our own.

ENGL 550. Introduction to Composition and Literary Studies. Professor Warnick. Elective for MA students. Meets at the College of Charleston. Monday, 7-9:45 pm.

What does it mean to be considered “literate” today and how do contemporary definitions of literacy compare to those thirty years ago? Fifty years ago? A hundred years ago? What’s behind the repeated cries about young people’s supposedly declining literacy skills—whether it’s Newsweek magazine asking in 1975 “Why Johnny Can’t Write” or current concerns about millenials and texting? What exactly are students’ (and other groups’) literacy practices and how can we research them in a systematic and informed way?

These are among the questions we will pursue in this class, which will introduce you to foundational and innovative research in composition studies, an area of English Studies that focuses on questions concerning the acquisition, distribution, and teaching of literacy. As part of this introduction to the field, students will have the opportunity to complete an original research project on literacy that connects with their intellectual or professional interests—whether these interests are in teaching, professional writing, or literature.

ENGL 535. African American Literature. Professor Hendriks. Meets at The Citadel. Fufills the American literature requirement for MA students and is a requirement for MAT students. Tuesday, 4-6:45PM

Appropriate both for students very familiar with the subject matter and those who have never studied it at all, this survey course endeavors to situate the African-American literary tradition in a developing cultural context, and address the ways in which the genre both participates in and engages in conversation with the larger category of American Literature. Among other concerns, we'll consider how text becomes designated "ethnic," how to think about and articulate opinions about racially sensitive issues, how the presumption of a preoccupation with race is complicated by class, gender, and sexuality issues, how to read and respond to the narratives composed by black writers, and how to negotiate the art vs. propaganda debate which has raged unceasingly since the first American of African descent set pen to paper and claimed some literary merit for the result. Simultaneously, we'll follow the trajectory of African-American literary criticism and formulate some assessments of and responses to theories of textual interpretation. Course requirements are designed with professional development in mind, encompassing writing for academic conferences and journal publication, delivering papers and moderating conference panels, and generating topics for class discussion. The final examination will be comprehensive. Authors covered will include Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Charles Chesnutt, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy West, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and August Wilson.

ENGL 555. Literary Criticism. Professor Leonard. Meets at The Citadel. Elective for MA students; requirement for MAT students. Thursday, 7-9:45PM.

The 2015 edition of ENGL 555 will consider the following primary questions about our relation to literature:

  •             What is literature?
  •             How does literature affect us?
  •             How can we ascertain the meaning/significance of a work of literature?
  •             What sorts of commentary are appropriate for the reader/critic?

Following a whirlwind tour, during the first class meeting, of the pre-twentieth-century history of literary theory (with attention to such figures as Plato, Aristotle, Sidney, Johnson, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Arnold, and James), we’ll devote the rest of the semester to the dominant critical theories of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—beginning with the massive critical turning point of formalism/new criticism (T. S. Eliot, Cleanth Brooks) and proceeding to the eventual reactions to it: genre criticism (Northrop Frye) and genetic criticism (E. D. Hirsch). At that point (the 1950s and 1960s), we’ll encounter the equally momentous turns away from the strictly internal meaningfulness of the “work,” as literary object or as authorial expression, to reader response’s examination of the work/text as meaningful in relation to the reader (Norman Holland) and structuralism’s/semiotics’ focus on relation to the cultural context (Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco)—leading also to the more psychoanalytically inclined textual examinations of deconstruction (Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida). We’ll conclude the historical survey with a look at the cultural criticisms that derive their methodologies from the structuralist and deconstructive turns—including Marxist (Terry Eagleton), feminist (Virginia Woolf, Elaine Showalter), African American (S. D. Kapoor), and postcolonial (Homi K. Bhabha). Having then arrived at what we may categorize as the contemporary, we’ll read some of the major recent/current theorists: Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, Jean-François Lyotard). Readings will be a mixture of critical theory essays and essays that apply critical theory to specific literary works. Exams; at least one oral presentation; and a research project resulting in an essay.

English 564. Teaching with Technology. Professor Maxwell. Meets at The Citadel. Thursday, 4-6:45PM

ENGL 700. Jane Austen: Text and Film. Professor Carens. Meets at College of Charleston. Fulfills the post-1800 British literature requirement. Monday, 4-6:45 pm.

This class will cover all of the author’s published novels and some of their recent adaptations for cinema and television. Part of our work will seek to understand more deeply aspects of the novels that are relatively far removed from modern readers. We will explore the contribution that Austen makes to novelistic style, especially the ironic texture of her prose, and seek to recover the biographical and historical details that illuminate her representation of the world. We will work to see how her novels engage their social sphere by alternately quarreling with and accepting conventional notions about gender roles, the class hierarchy, England’s standing in the world, and other relevant topics. This course also, however, seeks to understand the cultural phenomena of Jane Austen in the modern world. The number of recent film adaptations of her novels provides a clear indication of an ongoing fascination with her work, and this too deserves careful analysis. By considering these films, questioning the ways that they try to recapture the original texts and, perhaps more interesting, the ways that they change them, we will seek to learn something about the preoccupations of our own cultural moment.

Fall 2015

ENGL 500: Old and Middle English Literature.  Wed. 5:30 – 8:15. Professor Ward. Meets at The College of Charleston. (Fulfills requirement for pre-1800 British literature) 
In this course we will study the literature of the British Isles and Ireland from the seventh through fifteenth centuries.  Readings from the Anglo-Saxon period in translation include Beowulf, other Old English poems, and Old English prose.  Works in Middle English (from various regions and dialects) will include a selection of Arthurian literature including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as a selection of longer poems (Pearl, Piers Plowman, The Owl and the Nightingale, among others), plays (including the Second Shepherd's Play), and short lyrics.  To illustrate cross-cultural influences among language groups, we will also read selected works written in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland during this period, including the Irish Táin Bó Cúailgne, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Anglo-Norman lays of Marie de France, and the Scottish Chaucerians.  Assignments include two 10-page papers, short informal responses, a midterm, class presentation, and final exam.
ENGL 517: Whitman, Melville, and the Question of American Identity.  Mon. 7:00 – 9:45.  Professor Peeples.  Meets at the College of Charleston.  (Fulfills requirement for American literature)
Almost exact contemporaries, Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Herman Melville (1819-1891) were two of the most radically experimental writers of the nineteenth century, and throughout their careers both writers grappled with the various and shifting meanings of American identity in the face of rapidly changing times.  Their writing responded to culture shocks brought on by industrial capitalism, national expansion, scientific discovery, reform movements, and -- most significantly – the sectional crisis and Civil War fueled by slavery.  In this course we will examine these two iconoclastic authors’ careers and some of their most significant writings, including Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Drum-Taps, Calamus, and Children of Adam; and Melville’s Moby-Dick, Pierre, The Confidence-Man, Benito Cereno, “Bartleby,” Battle-Pieces, and Billy Budd, Sailor.

ENGL 537: Contemporary British Literature.  Fiction(s) of Contemporary Britain: The Power of Narrative.  Mon. 4:00 – 6:45.  Professor Birrer.  Meets at The College of Charleston. (Fulfills requirement for post-1800 British literature)

This course will focus on significant contemporary (post-1968) British literary texts of particular interest in the contexts of metafiction (fiction about the writing of fictions) and postmodern narrative theory (theory about the construction of reality through narrative). Throughout the course, we’ll engage the concepts of “fictions” and “the power of narrative” on numerous levels, from developments in narrative fictional forms, to narratives (often overlapping) of personal identity, gender, sexuality, region, and nation—and why not throw in the quasi-fictions of “British” and “literature” to boot?

We won’t be reading much, if anything, in the way of early “navel-gazing” metafiction of the “I am an author writing this story and do you like it so far” variety. Instead, we’ll draw on more recent theories of metafiction (including the pomo narrative theory I mention above). These theories will allow us to investigate the metafictional impulses underlying a much broader range of literary texts—and with much more interesting and significant implications for our study of the power of narrative as inflected by the writing and rewriting of literary and other “fictions.” The literary texts, lit-crit, and theory that we’ll study in class make clear that fictions can support and sustain people as well as threaten to circumscribe them. In this context, a key concern in the class will be a consideration of the power of narrative, for good and for ill, in shaping human lives within and beyond the boundaries of the page or the classroom.

ENGL 552: Adolescent Literature.  Professor Thompson.  Meets at the Citadel, 4-6:45 on Thursdays. Elective for MA students; requirement for MAT students.

This course is designed to introduce you to the variety of fiction and nonfiction written for young adult readers. You’ll read lots – a book each week, on average – and you’ll discuss the kinds of “inner work” these books can help readers accomplish. Discussions will also include how and when to use (or not use) these books in class.

ENGL 560: Film Studies.  Professor Heuston. Meets at The Citadel, 4-6:45 Tuesdays. Elective for MA students; requirement for MAT students.

This course will examine classic films and newer films from a variety of nations and genres. We will deal extensively with the ways techniques of filmmaking communicate a film’s construction of meaning. We will also make comparisons between films and written sources to demonstrate differing approaches to conveying comparable meaning. Over the course of the semester we will familiarize ourselves with the vocabulary of film criticism and with a broad range of film theory and criticism. Doing so will prepare us to write, talk, and think more clearly and more precisely about film (and, as a bonus, all this will make watching movies even more fun than it already is).

English 562. Advanced Composition. Professor Maxwell. Meets at The Citadel, 7-9:45 on Tuesdays. Elective for MA students; requirement for MAT students. 

This course aims to help you become a better writer by challenging you to think critically about the processes of composition, teaching you to adapt your style based on your purpose, and providing you with rhetorical strategies to more effectively convey your ideas. A wide range of writing assignments—including travel essays, grant proposals, scientific writing, and feature articles—will help you develop real-world skills you can use in your studies and apply outside of the classroom.

Spring 2016

ENGL-550, 551—Special Topics in Composition or Language One – Writing Children's Books

A study of a special author, period, topic, or problem in composition or language which is outside the routine offerings of the department. The subject for each course will be announced.