Great Classes in Spring 2017

Check out these great lecture classes,
each taught by one of our department's award-winning instructors!

English Literary Traditions (Eng 210-1) with Prof. Kasey Evans

Monday/Wednesday 11-11:50, plus discussion section

This course offers an introduction to the early English literary canon, extending from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century. In addition to gaining a general familiarity with some of the most influential texts of English literature, we will be especially interested in discovering how literary texts construct, engage in, and transform political discourse. What kinds of political interventions are literary texts capable of making? What are the political implications of particular rhetorical strategies and generic choices? How do literary texts encode or allegorize particular political questions? How, at a particular historical moment, does it become possible to ignore or overlook the political projects embedded in these texts? In readings of Chaucer, More, Sidney, Shakespeare, Milton, Behn, and Swift, among others, we will consider how important it is to understand these texts from a political perspective, and wonder why this perspective is so often ignored in favor of psychologizing and subjectivizing readings.

Introduction to Film and Its Literatures (Eng 214) with Professor Nick Davis

Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:50, plus discussion section

This course harbors two primary objectives: 1) to acquaint students with vocabularies and frameworks of argument required to analyze a film sequence in terms specific to that medium; and 2) to familiarize students with a broad range of written texts crucial to the study of cinema, enabling them to render persuasive interpretations and arguments about those texts, as well. The first half of the course will emphasize recent case studies of literature adapted into popular movies, tracking how not just the plots and characters but the perspectives, voices, structures, prose styles, and associated politics of written work get preserved but also transformed on screen, in blatant and subtle ways. In the second half, we will reverse course to examine plays, essays, and other literary works inspired by the movies. We will also explore some classic texts of popular film journalism and scholarly film theory, treating these as two literary and intellectual canons in their own right.  Cultivating techniques of close analysis, whether breaking down a film sequence, parsing a scholar's arguments, or negotiating between two versions of the "same" story, will be the paramount skill developed in the course, hopefully leading to deeper appreciations of several kinds of texts. Moreover, students will gain a valuable fluency in how to watch, dissect, and debate movies at a time when they still retain enormous cultural sway, both as entertainment vehicles and as venues for sustaining or contesting cultural and political narratives. 

Lectures, discussion sections, and assignments will presume no prior coursework in film studies but they will require quick, studious absorption of terms and concepts that might be new.  Moreover, the course requires a willingness to put movies and other assigned materials under close analytical pressure, while hopefully retaining the joy of watching, reading, and evaluating them. The syllabus has been streamlined somewhat from previous offerings and skews more heavily (though not exclusively) toward contemporary material, but the expectations of your writing, thinking, and conversation remain high. Movies are many things, but not a vacation!