2016-2017 University Catalog 
    Apr 17, 2024  
2016-2017 University Catalog archived

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ENGL 413 - Senior Research and Writing

Planned Offering: Fall, Winter
Credits: 3

Prerequisites: Six credits in English at the 300 level, senior major standing, and instructor consent. Enrollment limited to six. A collaborative group research and writing project for senior majors, conducted in supervising faculty members’ areas of expertise, with directed independent study culminating in a substantial final project. Possible topics include ecocriticism, literature and psychology, material conditions of authorship, and documentary poetics.

Winter 2017, ENGL 413-01: Senior Research and Writing: Dystopian Narratives (3). This course considers critical approaches to dystopian narratives, their cultural and historical contexts, and their commercial popularity. We read dystopian novels from recent years (possibilities include Paulo Bacigalupi, The Water Knife; Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake; William Gibson, The Peripheral; Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven; Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea) alongside early 20th-century dystopias (Jack London, The Iron Heel; Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here), and examine a few utopian narratives for comparison (Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward; Star Trek). We also read theoretical work from narrative theory, science fiction studies, and reception/reader response study and evaluate the suitability of different critical and theoretical approaches to dystopian fiction. In the second half of the course, students identify an individual project relating to one of the questions or concerns raised in the course and pursue an extended research paper of their own design. (HL) Bufkin.

Winter 2017, ENGL 413-02: Senior Research and Writing: Environmental Literature and Ecocriticism (3). In this course, we investigate the relationship between nature and culture through a focus on environmental literature and the literary theory called ecocriticism. Readings in the history of literary theory lead to discussions of themes such as textual recovery, literary history, genre, cultural geography, material culture, ecofeminism, and environmental justice. We also read a selection of primary texts in environmental literature. These could include works by Henry David Thoreau, Mary Austin, Barry Lopez, Robert Macfarlane, or others. The possibilities for research projects are numberless, and I try to guide students toward projects that join theoretical concerns with literary texts. We work together as a study group, but each student produces a research paper on a topic of individual interest. (HL) Warren.

Fall 2016, ENGL 413-01: Senior Research and Writing: Epic Horror (3). This course begins with a survey of major theories of epic and tragedy from Aristotle through Nietzsche before turning to a similar survey of important studies of horror by H. P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.  Its theoretical focus circles around both the overlap between the logic of tragedy and horror, one of which is among the most culturally venerated of genres or modes, and the other among the least regarded, as well as how epic narratives frequently seem to bridge the two.  After then surveying key examples of tragedy, epic, and horror from Sophocles to Edmund Spenser to Ridley Scott, this capstone opens up to allow students to pursue their own interests in one of these genres, in the curious interplay between two or more of them, or in the related question of how similar subject matter can be valued very differently depending on whether it is regarded as tragic, epic, or horrific. (HL) Adams.

Fall 2016, ENGL 413-02: Senior Research and Writing: Disobedient Texts: Hybrids, Impurities and Genre-benders in Life Narratives (3). Mixed-genre texts (one of many names for texts which disrupt the so-called purity of genre) combine, transform, and subvert the conventions of narrative genres, breaking down the boundaries between fiction, poetry, memoir, graphic art and drama.  Many hybrid texts also import/re-vision/transform non-literary discourses from traditional archival resources, and use them to fashion literary texts.  Within these hybrid texts, words and image combine to create a text that is neither purely graphic nor purely visual, thus becoming texts that “disobey” literary norms.  Because of these disruptions, mixed-genre texts challenge readers to interact with the text in new ways.  This course explores the ways mixed-genre life narrative (memoir) texts challenge readers, as well as asking whether certain kinds of narratives demand to be told in disobedient constructions.  Possible authors include Silko, Small, Asante, Harjo, Carson, Howe, Sikelianos, Bechdel, Griffin, Phillips, Wright, Sebald. (HL) Miranda.


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