Undergraduate Courses: Fall 2010

English 215: Introduction to English Studies

Suchismita Banerjee
Section 9 | TR 3:30 – 4:45 pm

This course is a writing-intensive introduction to multiple forms and contexts of literary and nonliterary texts and discourses in English, in a cultural, historical, and global framework.

English 263: Introduction to the Novel

Contemporary American Novels
David Yost
Section 1 | TR 8:00-9:15 am

What does it mean to be an “American”? Is it merely a question of one’s passport, or something more? In this course, we’ll discuss at how eight major novelists—including Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz, Marilynne Robinson, and Cormac McCarthy—have approached this question, as well as those of patriotism, pacificism, love, sex, religion, and race.

In addition to our studies of individual authors, student presentations will introduce classmates to key vocabulary and critical approaches of the field, laying a foundation for final papers and future coursework. Other assignments will include a critical analysis paper (or optional creative project) and a final research paper.

English 278: Introduction to World Literatures in English

War, Violence and Women in the Middle East
Dalia Gomaa
Section 1 | MW 12:30-1:45 pm

We will read texts written in Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco that have been translated in English. The focus will be on issues of war and violence and the stereotypical representation of the Middle East especially representations of women in that part of the world. We will start with a geographical and a historical background about the countries that are referred to as “Middle East” in order to question and, perhaps, critique the term or try a new way of understanding and thinking of it.

English 306: Survey of Irish Literature

Professor José Lanters
Section 1 | TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm

Irish literature is as rich and varied as the country’s history. “Irishness,” however, is not an innate quality, but a cultural and political construct that is constantly re-“invented.” Beginning with the earliest extant poems and legends (translated from the Irish), and moving via the Anglo-Irish period of the eighteenth and nineteenth century and the Irish Literary Revival of the early twentieth century to a more urban and cosmopolitan contemporary perspective, this course offers an introduction to Irish writing and an exploration of several varieties of “Irishness” as they are expressed through the literature.

Students will be assessed on three papers and a final exam.

English 361: The Development of Poetry

Four Modernist Poets
Professor Jason Puskar
Section 1 | TR 9:30-10:45 am

This course is an intensive introduction to the works of four modernist poets, each representing a very different kind of modernist poetry, and all most active between roughly 1910 and 1960: Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Wallace Stevens, and Muriel Rukeyser. The course will combine intensive close reading of individual poems with a more general consideration of historical and cultural issues related to each poet.

These include Hughes’ participation in the “Harlem Renaissance,” Rukeyser’s involvement with leftist politics, Frost’s adaptations of traditional poetic forms, and Stevens’ debts to several key philosophers. The course also will train students in the fundamentals of poetic composition, including versification, meter, and common figures of poetic speech. By the end of the semester, students will have gained skills and techniques for reading all poetry, a fuller sense of the development of modernist poetics in the first half of the twentieth century, and detailed knowledge of four influential writers.

English 404: Language, Power and Identity

Professor Patricia Mayes
Section 1 | W 3:30-6:10 pm

This course is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of the relationship between language and society. In investigating this relationship, we will consider how language is involved in the construction of social identity and power structures. Our investigation of social identity will include not only examining how individuals construct their identities but also how language is implicated in the formation of social groupings such as class, ethnicity, gender, and regional affiliations. The approach taken in this course is both descriptive and critical in that we will examine how language is implicated in creating and maintaining power for certain groups through such constructs as standard dialects and more broadly through public policies.

English 414: Special Topics in Creative Writing

Texts for Performance
Professor Brenda Cárdenas
Section 2 | W 11:00 am-1:40 pm

In this course, we will compose texts intended for live performance, such as spoken word/performance poems (including collaborative, voice-choreographed pieces), dramatic monologues, image theater pieces, one-act plays, and experimental performance art works. To achieve this purpose, we will complete various in-class writing and improvisation (including movement and voice) exercises, as well as read, view, and listen to sample pieces by professional performance poets/artists. We will also draft and revise scripts and scores as assignments and bring them to class to be critiqued by our classmates who will offer suggestions for how we might best craft our pieces to achieve the desired effect. Although no previous experience is required, you will be expected to present your pieces to the class.

English 430: Advanced Writing Workshop

Carol Ross
Sections 1, 2, 3 | TR 9:30-10:45 am, 11:00 am-12:15 pm, 12:30-1:45 pm

English 430 is a small, 15-member advanced composition workshop, designed for already capable writers who have done considerable writing in the past and who want to further develop their prose style. Its focus is literary/creative nonfiction–that is, writing in which the content is based on experience and observed or researched facts (nonfiction) and the style is creative (literary/narrative). How writers say something will be as important as what they say. Students will have the opportunity to read and write narratives in different genres of literary nonfiction: memoir, memoir about another person, nature and culture.

Students are expected to have very good control already of grammar and mechanics since these are the basics of writing.

These sections are intended for juniors, seniors, and university special students and do not carry graduate credit.

English 442: Writing Center Tutoring Practicum

Margaret Mika
Section 1

This course is designed to prepare peer tutors to work one on one with writers who visit the UWM Writing Center. We will begin to examine writing and tutoring processes on theoretical and practical levels. Specific topics will include the role of the peer tutor, the rhetorical situation, strategies for talking with writers at different stages of the process, different genres of academic and personal writing, cultural perspectives in writing and English as a Second Language issues.

Students may enroll only with instructor’s permission and must be advanced undergraduate (junior or senior) or graduate students who have successfully completed the Writing Center application process and been hired as prospective Writing Center tutors.

In this course, students will:

  • prepare for 4-hours/week (minimum) tutoring practice in UWM’s Writing Center
  • be introduced to theoretical and practical basics of tutoring in a writing center
  • be introduced to the professional community of writing centers including the policies and practices of the International Writing Center Association (IWCA)
  • have the opportunity to self-assess and reflect on their tutoring and writing skills

In many ways, learning to tutor well is a baptism-by-fire enterprise requiring many hours of on-the-job practice. This course provides Writing Center tutors with a foundation of concentrated study and supervised practice from which to begin. Therefore, the first approximately two-thirds of class hours will be frontloaded, i.e., held before the semester starts and the Writing Center opens. We meet for 9 hours over 2 days during the week prior to the first day of classes and again for 1.5 hours one Friday each month to complete the course requirements. Just as important as these formal class meetings will be the many day to day opportunities for tutors to talk with the director, the graduate assistant coordinator and fellow tutors once the Center opens the 3rd week of the semester and tutoring services begin.

English 504: Studies in Literature, 1660-1800

The Enlightenment Novel
Professor Barrett Kalter
Section 1 | MW 2:00-3:15 pm

The novel originates in the eighteenth century, the “age of enlightenment.” How can we understand the simultaneous and mutually-informing development of these two crucial components of modernity? In this course, we will read major works of eighteenth-century British fiction in light of the key concepts of enlightenment philosophy: reason, progress, individualism, and equality. Our aim will be two-fold: to explore how these concepts were illustrated, promoted, and contested in novels, and to understand the particular features of the novel that made the form an especially effective vehicle for enlightenment thought. We will also want to discuss the value of enlightenment principles and their bearing on our own time. Should we now strive for what the eighteenth century called enlightenment?

Novels to be read: Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; Swift, Gulliver’s Travels; Johnson, Rasselas; Sterne, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy; Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

Philosophers to be read: Bacon (on empirical knowledge); Locke (on liberty, slavery, and property); Hume (on reason and emotion); Smith (on sympathy); Wollstonecraft (on gender and equality); Kant (on critique).

English 514: Literature in Context

Horror Fiction
Professor Barrett Kalter
Section 3 | M 4:30-7:10 pm

Why do we get pleasure from reading what scares us? What frightened people in the past? Do novels that aim to frighten deserve the same cultural prestige as “serious” literature, or is horror fiction inferior because it encourages us to feel rather than think? These are the questions that will frame our discussion of five great works of horror fiction that will lead us from the eighteenth century to the present.

We will begin with Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, a story of religious persecution and black magic, and one of the first novels to be labeled—and scorned—by critics as “horror” fiction. We will refine our understanding of this category by reading a novel by Ann Radcliffe, who rejected Lewis’s graphic and perverse style in favor of more psychological, suspenseful narratives that were thought to exemplify the quite different, more artistic principles of “terror” fiction. We will then read two classic horror novels, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, works that use the supernatural to figure anxieties about technology, class, and sexuality. We will end with John Linquist’s Let the Right One In, a gruesome novel about a young vampire, recently adapted in a film that we will watch as well.

English 616: Advanced Workshop in Poetry

Structures and Constraints
Professor Brenda Cárdenas
Section 1 | R 3:30-6:10 pm

In this capstone workshop, we will explore the effects that various forms (from traditional to experimental) and constraints, including self-imposed limits, have on our poems and our writing processes. We will pay particular attention to how such structures and procedures might serve to make our poems more imaginative, musical, economical, and nuanced. To this end, we will write in formal verse (syllabics, sonnets, villanelles, pantoums, Sapphic stanzas, and the like), as well as experiment with constraints in such Oulipo and aleatory forms as lipograms, palindromes, anagrams, and those of our own invention. To accomplish this, we will read a variety of published texts, complete in-class writing exercises, draft and revise poems outside of class, and bring poems to class to be critiqued by our classmates who will offer suggestions for how we might best craft our poems to achieve the desired effect.

English 622: Seminar in Irish Literature

Drama from Yeats to McDonagh
Professor José Lanters
Section 1 | T 3:30-6:10 pm

In the early years of the Irish Revival period at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Abbey Theatre produced great playwrights like J.M. Synge and Sean O’Casey, but by mid-century, a variety of cultural and political forced had conspired to remove most of the excitement from Irish drama. In the 1960s, as the cultural and political climate began to change, younger playwrights like Brian Friel and Tom Murphy moved Irish theatre out of the doldrums with works that were emotionally complex, theatrically engaging, and thematically relevant to what was happening in Irish society.

Beginning with the “grand old men” of the Abbey Theatre, this course will explore a number of the most successful, challenging, and, at times, controversial playwrights who followed in their wake. In addition to discussing the relationship between form and content of the plays, and paying attention to aspects of their production in the theatre, we will place them in their cultural, historical and critical context with the aid of supplementary reading materials in a course packet.

Students will be assessed on two papers, a class presentation and class participation.

English 626: Seminar in Critical Theory

Affect and Media in Theory and Fiction
Professor Richard Grusin
Section 1 | M 12:30-3:10 pm

This seminar takes up two modes of theoretical investigation of current interest, Affect Theory and Media Theory. The syllabus pairs works of affect and media theory with three important contemporary novels: we will read Walter Benjamin’s “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage with Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49; Raymond Williams’ Television and Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulations with Don DeLillo’s White Noise; and Brian Massumi’s Parables for the Virtual and my own Premediation with William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. Students will be expected to write three papers, one on each of the three pairings of theory and fiction.

English 627: Seminar in Literature and Culture

The Suburban Imagination
Professor Jason Puskar
Section 1 | TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm

More Americans live in the suburbs than in the country and the city combined, but suburban novels often have been overshadowed by their urban and rural cousins. Not here. This course studies American fiction about the suburbs from the 1870s to the present, with emphasis on the period following World War II. We will pay special attention to the history of the suburbs as built environments, to the emergence of suburban culture, and to ongoing debates about the merits and demerits of suburban living. The course includes material drawn from urban planning, architecture, television sitcoms, sociology, critical theory, and recent histories of suburbia and sprawl. Literary authors include Sinclair Lewis, John Cheever, Gloria Naylor, and A.M. Homes. Our goal will be to understand how suburbia has shaped American fiction, but also how American fiction has shaped various conceptions of suburbia.