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Current and Upcoming Courses

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).

ENGL 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-524:  Nineteenth-Century American Literature II. Wed. 4:00-6:45. Professor Duvall. Meets at College of Charleston. (Fulfills requirement for American literature)

In this course we will study a variety of American literary texts produced in the years between the beginning of the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century and investigate, in particular, the literary genres of regionalism & local color, realism, and naturalism. The course will explore the complex relationships between literary genres/texts and culture in the late 19th century in the United States. Issues of special concern will include the literary markets of the late 19th century, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class, urbanization, assimilation, capitalism, technology, and nationalism.  

ENGL 575:  The Country House in Modern and Contemporary British Fiction. Thurs. 7:00-9:45.  Meets at The Citadel. Professor Horan. (Fulfills requirement for post-1800 British literature)

The popularity of television programs such as “Downton Abbey” and “Secrets of the Manor House” attests to ongoing interest in the British country house. This class will feature novels that use depictions of country houses to address both tradition and social change in Britain. Issues considered will include:

•  How these houses convey status and privilege but create economic burdens.

•  The ways in which they preserve and celebrate history yet also serve as gothic repositories for terrible secrets and sometimes evoke the supernatural.

•  How they function as refuges yet also entrap both inhabitants and visitors within inflexible societal hierarchies.

•  How they serve as forums for interactions among the upper, working, and—with increasing frequency—middle classes yet socially divide these groups.

•  The influence they exert on our aesthetic sense and artistic expression.

•  The implications of their appropriation for other uses in a more diverse, global, and egalitarian world, blurring age-old lines between public and private.

Through group discussions and writing assignments, we will analyze not only the literal and symbolic importance of country estates within this literature, but the way in which our appreciation of these rarified spaces reflects our own social, cultural, and economic concerns, anxieties, and aspirations.

ENGL 699: In Search of King Arthur and the Holy Grail.  Wed. 2:00-5:00. Professors John Newell and Trish Ward. Meets at the College of Charleston and includes a travel abroad component. (Fulfills requirement for pre-1800 British literature)

This course will focus on asking who was King Arthur? And what was the Holy Grail?  After learning what we can about the historical Arthur, we will examine the development of the story of Arthur and the influence of the Grail Quest from Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétien de Troyes in the twelfth century to modern literature and movies, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Fisher King.  We will also examine the creation of myth and look at how a myth once created can gain an importance far greater than any historical reality on which it is based.

The course is intended to be an enjoyable learning experience, but you will have a heavy reading load of Arthurian literature and medieval history.  In addition to lectures and class discussions, we will make use of films, writing assignments, a trip to Great Britain in search of King Arthur over Spring Break, and finally a research paper.  The course is designed to devote a considerable part of class time to discussion of the readings, small group activities, and other forms of active involvement with the Arthurian legend and literature.

ENGL 700:  The Making of Modern London: Literature, Culture, and Society.  Wed. 7:00-9:45. Professor Bowers.  Meets at College of Charleston. (Fulfills requirement for seminar and for post-1800 British literature)

In the mid-1700s, London became the largest city in Europe, and by the latter 1800s it grew to be the largest city in the world, becoming a global city.  London’s growth, immensity, and dynamism (economic, technological, artistic, etc.) generated diverse and powerful feelings in those who experienced the city—wonder, awe, pride, fear, disgust, and loathing.  Looking at the history of London offers a way of thinking about English literature.  As the writer Peter Ackroyd says, “English drama, and the English novel, spring out of the very conditions of London”; and more broadly, “the literature of London . . . represents the literature of England.”  This course will explore the interconnections between London and English literature.  We will examine how literary works represented London and how London helped shape English literature (and other kinds of art).  We also consider how the conditions of life in London evolved, what London has meant to the British people and their own self-understanding, and what it has signified to the larger world.

In exploring these topics, we will look at a range of texts and consider a variety of critical approaches that will allow us to conceptualize productively the interrelations between geography and literary expression.  The course will primarily focus on the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, though some time will be devoted to the London of the Enlightenment.  The course satisfies the pre- or post-1800 British literary history requirement.