Undergraduate Courses: Fall 2012

English 192: Freshman Seminar

The Translation Game: Hidden Meanings in Language
Jennifer Mattson
Section 6 | 2:00 PM-3:15PM MW

Does “I feel trapped” mean the same in male-speak as it does in female-speak? You are somewhat of an expert translator already, perhaps without even realizing it. When a girlfriend says, “Are you hungry?” you know it means SHE is hungry.

We will explore hidden and (mis)understood meanings between males and females, between advertisers and consumers, between politicians and voters, between Caucasians and African-Americans, between internationals who speak English as a second language and native speakers, between mainstream speakers of American English and non-mainstream speakers. We will also examine the language of political correctness, propaganda, text messaging, etc.

You will have the opportunity to interact with someone who speaks English as a second language, and will learn to recognize and observe various dialects, genderlects, sociolects, and idiolects. This will in turn make you more aware of the ways you and those around you use language. Your metalinguistic awareness will increase. And you will learn what all these things mean!

Students will discuss articles and metalinguistic awareness fieldwork assignments in small groups in class, listen to/watch audio and video clips of dialects and various language issues, take notes on information given in class, take three exams, and meet once a week (10 times) for an hour with an international conversation partner. The grading formula is 20% for each of three exams, 20% for conversation partner participation, and 20% for class participation and posting your language observations.

Required textbook (also on reserve in the library): Exploring Language, 12th edition, edited by Gary Goshgarian, 2010, Longman.

More info: jennifr@uwm.edu

English 192: Freshman Seminar

Hmong American Literature and Life Stories
ML Buley-Meissner
Section 12 | 12:30 PM-1:45PM TR
Section 16 | 3:30 PM-4:45PM TR

Course Description: Extraordinary stories often are told by ordinary people – stories of courage, fear, sacrifice, strength, and hope. To understand people, we need to listen carefully as they tell us about their families, histories, and dreams of the future. This seminar will focus on such narratives by and about Hmong Americans, who have become an increasingly important part of this country since the Vietnam War. Students will read an essay collection exploring identity, family and community in contemporary Hmong American life; a recent collection of prose and poetry by young Hmong Americans; and a highly acclaimed Hmong American family biography. These texts illuminate not only individual lives, but also the historical and cultural circumstances shaping people’s identities, communities, and sustaining values.

Course Work: Through reading, writing and informed discussion, we will address many challenging questions. For example, how differently do first-, second- and third-generation Hmong Americans view the importance of traditional values and the opportunities offered by this country for success and happiness? Across generations, how are Hmong Americans today involved in both cultural continuity and change? More specifically, how are young people developing bicultural identities as they fulfill family obligations and pursue individual aspirations? Through careful reading of the course books, we will consider possible answers in historical and cultural contexts. Documentary films will provide additional background information. Overall, this seminar will emphasize active learning through extensive reading, collaborative class work and individual research projects as we look into the dynamic development of Hmong American identities from the 1970s until now. The basic grading structure includes class participation – 20%; two take-home essay exams – 60%; and an individual (or small group) research project to be presented to the class – 20%.

Required Books: The three course books should be purchased at the start of the term. These include Hmong and American: From Refugees to Citizens, edited by Vincent K. Her and Mary Louise Buley-Meissner; How Do I Begin? A Hmong American Literary Anthology, edited by the Hmong American Writers Circle; and The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang. Also recommended is purchase of a writer’s guide such as A Concise Guide to MLA Style and Documentation by Thomas Fasano.

More info: meissner@uwm.edu

English 209: Language in the United States

Kerstin Mendel
12:30PM-1:45 TR

The course surveys current language issues in the USA and explores the nature of language variation in the US and its social, historical and political significance. We’ll investigate such topics as history and distinctiveness of American English and its regional and social varieties; discuss issues of multilingualism, diversity and attitudes to languages.

Required Text: Finegan, E., & J. Rickford. 2004. Language in the USA. Cambridge: CUP.

More info: KNMendel@uwm.edu

English 210: International English

Laura L. Ambrose
Section 1 | 2:00 PM-3:15PM MW

As English has made-and continues to make-its way around the globe, radical changes to local languages and cultures have occurred. At the same time, however, English itself has been modified, adapted, and expanded, sometimes in unfamiliar and unrecognizable ways.

This course is a survey of English from its origins in the British Isles to its introduction and development in the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Several principal examples will be studied in detail. In doing so, we will also uncover many issues that accompany language globalization; such as, language change, loss of language and identity, language policy and standardization, and teaching and learning English.

More info: lambrose@uwm.edu

English 212: English Grammar and Usage

Laura L. Ambrose
Section 1 | 4:00 PM-5:15PM MW
Section 2 | 2:00 PM-3:15PM TR

Precise, powerful, and sophisticated writing starts with clear, well-constructed sentences; this course is an in-depth study of these fundamental building blocks of English. Not only will we develop a vocabulary of basic grammatical terms and concepts for talking about the structure of the language, but we will also explore how this knowledge can be leveraged to create and edit texts more effectively.

More info: lambrose@uwm.edu

English 215: Introduction to English Studies

Multiple sections

This course covers a wide variety of literary periods, genres, and theoretical approaches as an introduction to reading literature. Students will be exposed to critical cultural frames for approaching novels, short stories, poetry, film and more.

English 234: Writing Fiction

Structure and Technique
Kate Nesheim
Section 1 | 11:00 AM-12:15PM MW

In this section of Writing Fiction: Structure & Technique, students will have the opportunity to develop their own style and improve their practices in writing literary fiction. Students will study and discuss important models and conventions of the genre, and engage regularly in workshops designed to improve writing skills through constructive, respectful peer review. Class readings, discussion, and assignments will focus on the following goals:

  • Making the most of the revision process.
  • Practicing forms of fiction writing that promote narrative tension and appeal to readers.
  • Building rapport with fellow writers in a workshop setting through respectful reading and commentary.
  • Writing a balanced, well-paced story: finding harmony between action, description, and what is left to the imagination.
  • Developing interesting and edifying characters.
  • Finding sources of inspiration, and working through “writer’s block.”
  • Practicing sentence forms that compliment the content of a narrative.

More info: olsonke@uwm.edu

English 236: Introductory Topics in Creative Writing

Colleen Abel
Section 1 | 3:30 PM-4:45PM TR

Bring on the drama! This class will focus on introducing students to the basics of structure and dialogue in playwriting. Through weekly readings of classic and contemporary plays, exercises, and workshops, students will produce their own ten-minute plays, as well as one act of a three-act play.

More info: crabel@uwm.edu

English 243: Introduction to Literature by Women

Women and Society: History, Literature and Film
Suchismita Banerjee
Section 1 | 9:30 AM-10:45AM MW

This course will look at some of the major social movements globally and see how women are represented in those movements through literature and film.

More info: banerje4@uwm.edu

English 247: Literature and the Human Experience

Theories of Revolution
Joel Seeger
Section 1 | 3:30 PM-4:45PM MW

This course examines the concept of revolution both by looking at texts about (and from) specific historical revolutions and by considering cultural, social and artistic revolutions. The course begins by asking the question, “What makes a text, an idea or an action revolutionary?” and then looks at whether the concept of revolution is relevant and prevalent in our time.

Readings will include theoretical writings from authors like Marx, Freud, Benjamin and Derrida and Founding Documents from various historical revolutions as well as works of fiction, film and art that might (or might not) be classified as revolutionary.

More info: jsseeger@uwm.edu

English 248: Literature and Contemporary Life

Queer Theory and the Novel
Shawna Lipton
Section 1 | 2:00 PM-3:15PM MW

This course will provide an introduction to queer theory. We will also read five novels by diverse authors that have had a wide impact. We will question: what is being said about gender? What is being said about sexuality? How are issues of queer identity complicated by intersections with race and class? By thinking through the relation between literature and queer studies, we will examine the connections between aesthetics and politics, culture and society, story and life.

More info: selipton@uwm.edu

English 276: Introduction to American Indian Literature

The American Indian Novel
Christopher Drew
Section 1 | 12:30 PM-1:45PM MW

This course will focus on novels written by American Indians from 1900 to the present, as well as literary criticism of these novels. The bulk of the course will be centered on critical discussions of assigned texts. Assignments will include D2L postings, a midterm paper, and a final critical essay.

More info: cmdrew@uwm.edu

English 278: Introduction to World Literature

Literature from the Middle East
Dalia Gomaa
Section 1 | 2:00 PM-3:15PM TR

In this course we will specifically focus on what is politically called the “Middle East.” All the books and the movies that we will work with are in English; so don’t worry about your lack of familiarity with a different language. We will read texts about/from Iran, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco. We will start with geographically locating these countries and explore/critique stereotypes that prevail their representations in media. This course is organized in such a way that it does not only aim at informing and familiarizing you with writings by writers from the “Middle East” but also urges you to do some research on your own and attempt taking a part in the theoretical/academic conversations going on between these writers who we will read. You will be asked to put a weekly short comment on the class D2L website on the readings that we cover during week. Almost every week, each one of you will be asked to lead the discussion and write a one and half or two page presentation about the assigned reading.

Required Readings (tentative):

  • A Sister to Scheherazade (by Asia Djebar, 1993)
  • Palace of Desire (by Naguib Mahfouz, 2006)
  • Persepolis (by Marjane Satrapi, 2003)
  • Contemporary Iraqi Fiction: An Anthology (by Shakir Mustafa, 2008)
  • Open Closed Open: poems (by Yehuda Amichai, 2006)
  • Waltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War Story (by Ari Folman and David Polonsky, 2009)
  • Sitt Marie Rose (by Etel Adnan, 1982)
  • Hikayat: Short Stories by Lebanese Women (by Roseanne Saad Khalaf, 2007)
  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (by Fatima Mernissi, 1994)
  • Wild Thorns (by Sahar Khalifeh, 2000)

More info: dmgomaa@uwm.edu

English 306: Survey of Irish Literature

José Lanters
Section 1 | 11:00 AM-12:15PM TR

Irish literature is as rich and varied as the country’s history. “Irishness” is not an innate quality, but a cultural and political construct that is constantly re-“invented.” Beginning with the earliest poems and legends, and moving via the Anglo-Irish perspective of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and the Irish Literary Renaissance 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.

Assessment: Two papers (25% each), Midterm exam (20%). Final exam (30%).


  • Marie Heaney, Over Nine Waves
  • John P. Harrington, ed., Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama
  • Roddy Doyle, The Commitments
  • Bernard MacLaverty, Cal
  • William Trevor, ed. Irish Short Stories
  • Course packet (Clark Graphics)

More info: lanters@uwm.edu

English 309: Survey of Contemporary American Literature

Theodore Martin
Section 1 | 11:00 AM-12:15PM TR

In this course, we’ll survey American writing since 1965. Our main task will be to discover what is distinctive about contemporary literature: what new ideas about language, politics, history, and identity do recent writers offer us? We will also work to put major authors of the period in historical and cultural context by examining the rise of the suburbs, the intensification of consumerism, technological change, race relations, ecological crisis, and the unprecedented interconnectedness of globalization. From fiction to poetry, from popular culture to the avant-garde, from abstract concepts to physical contexts, we will ultimately find ourselves wondering what makes literature “contemporary,” and how contemporary literature can–or can’t–help us map our own increasingly complex contemporary world. In addition to becoming familiar with major authors, literary movements, and historical events of the last fifty years, students in this course will also learn how to think critically about individual literary texts–how to pose incisive questions, identify interesting problems, and make meaningful arguments about language, style, and narrative.

More info: marti449@uwm.edu

English 360: Art of Poetry

How to Read a Poem
Barrett Kalter
Section 1 | 12:30 PM-1:45PM MW

This course will cover the elements (rhyme, meter, figurative language, etc.), major forms (epistle, ode, sonnet, etc.), and central modes (elegy, pastoral, satire) of English poetry.

We will read a variety of significant works by British authors, with an emphasis on c. 1650-1850.

Poets to be read include: Donne, Marvell, Milton, Behn, Finch, Pope, Swift, Gray, Smith, Wheatley, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, and Keats.

We will also use Terry Eagleton’s “How to Read a Poem.”

Note: This course may be used to fulfill a pre-1800 or pre-1900 English lit. requirement.

More info: bkalter@uwm.edu

English 380: Media and Society

Game Culture
Stuart Moulthrop and Trent Hergenrader
Section 401 | Lecture 11:00 AM-12:40PM Thursday plus discussion sections

This is a first course in the critical study of games, especially videogames, and the culture of participatory media to which they belong. It will introduce the concept of games and play as pat of a meaning-making activity; it will survey forms, conventions, and practices that inform the design and reception of games; it will outline major theoretical trends within the emerging field of Game Studies; it will examine the place of games in contemporary culture, and consider some of the problems and challenges they pose. The course is intended for students in any major who want to think critically, creatively, and yes, seriously about playful media. This will involve a certain amount of reading and writing (critical evaluation of games, applications and responses to theory), and also a good deal of game play, both in and out of class.

More info: moulthro@uwm.edu

English 404: Language, Power, and Identity

Patricia Mayes
Section 1 | Wednesday 4:30-7:10

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 404 can be taken for undergraduate or graduate credit.

Course Materials

  • Lippi-Green, Rosina (2012). English with an Accent, 2nd Edition. Routledge
  • Readings on e-reserve in the library

More info: mayes@uwm.edu

English 416: Poetry Workshop

Rebecca Dunham
Section 1 | 11:00 AM-12:15PM TR

In English 416, we will spend time discussing craft topics such as imagery, diction, and form, as well as studying how these techniques are used in model texts. Your own original writing assignments will build off of these discussions. Feedback on peer writing will be conducted in the workshop mode. Commenting on a classmate’s poem can often lead to insights into your own writing. In both small groups and as a class, you will be responsible for commenting thoughtfully and constructively on your peers’ work.

More info: dunham@uwm.edu

English 417: Readings for Writers

The Pleasures of Satire
James Chapson
Section 1 | 3:30 PM-4:45PM MW

The aim of the course is to turn students into satirists by assimilating the satiric genius of several writers from the 17th to the 20th centuries. In the first half of the semester students will write brief critical responses to the assigned texts; in the second half students will turn in four original satires which will be workshopped in the class.

More info: jchapson@uwm.edu

English 430: Advanced Writing Workshop

Carol Ross
Multiple sections / times – see university online schedule

English 430 is a small, 15-member 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 writing in which 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 short narratives in different genres of literary nonfiction: memoir, character, and essay of place. 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; they do not carry graduate credit this semester.

Required textbooks: a class reader prepared by the instructor (estimated cost $11) and Strunk & White’s _The Elements of Style_ (ca. $11 new). All other texts are optional; other required readings are on library reserve.

More info: cross@uwm.edu

English 515: Literature and the Other Arts

Poetry in Concert with the Visual Arts
Brenda Cardenas
Section 2 | 5:00 PM-7:40PM W

In this course, we will explore various inter-arts works (some individually and others collaboratively composed), which integrate poetry with the visual arts. We will consider ekphrastic poetry written in response to visual art, as well as projects that juxtapose or merge text and image, such as concrete and visual poetries, collage, installations, digital vizpo, and book arts. To provide a framework for our investigation, we will also read critical/theoretical articles by scholars such as WJT Mitchell, Johanna Drucker, and others. Questions to bear in mind throughout the semester include the poets’/artists’ processes and aesthetics in creating the works; how the visual and textual components mix, compliment, provide a counterpoint to, and/or are in conversation with one another; and what effects, tensions, ideas, and questions emerge from various combinations of these languages. Students will write short weekly reading responses and a longer, more focused critical paper. In addition, students will create their own ekphrastic and inter-arts works. Books to be announced.

More info: cardenab@uwm.edu

English 625: Seminar in Literary History

Eating English Lit
Barrett Kalter
Section 2 | 3:30 PM-6:10PM W

More info: This seminar in literary history considers writing about food during England’s “long” eighteenth century (1660-1820), an era that stretches from the opening of the first London coffeehouses to the origin of the science of gastronomy. Our aim will be to create a detailed picture of how food was produced, experienced, and imagined in this period, and to that end we will read a variety of texts: poetry and fiction, philosophical essays, medical pamphlets, economic treatises, and of course cookbooks. For example, we will situate Grainger’s The Sugar Cane, a poem about the West Indian sugar industry, within the context of British colonialism and slavery, before investigating the role affordable sweetness played in the rise of consumer society and the development of theories of taste by Burke and Hume. Other topics to be discussed: British beef and the formation of a national cuisine; Shelley’s vegetarianism as an aspect of his radicalism; famine and population in Swift and Malthus. Students will prepare dishes using eighteenth-century recipes in order to explore the possibilities of knowing the past through the senses. Finally, because historical thinking involves making connections between past and present, we will read recent work by chefs and food writers such as Michael Pollan, Anthony Bourdain, and Barbara Kingsolver, and reflect on how their interests are anticipated by or depart from those of the eighteenth century. The course packet will cost about $35.

English 685: Honors Seminar

Law and Literature
Peter Sands
Section 1 | 2:00 PM-3:15PM MW

What is justice? What is morality? What is law? What is truth? We spend our lives within a legal system, a framework of rules, regulations, and norms that shapes interactions between and among people and nations. We also organize our lives through narrative–fictive or real–using stories to shape both our actual experiences and our understanding of them. Both the legal system and literary expression are primarily experienced through language. In the case of law, language frames legal expression, but is also the primary tool through which law’s authority is enforced. Literary texts, similarly, are framed through language, and can even challenge the legal system by exploring boundaries of convention–banned books are both literary and legal artifacts. This course first surveys the broad field of law and literature, then closely explores several specific texts that present problems in jurisprudence and moral philosophy at the core of our legal system. Readings will touch on the earliest intersections between the two–Aeschylus and the Old Testament–before moving on to closer looks at contemporary film and literature. Open to Honors College students. Can be used to satisfy requirements for the major in English.

Reading (subject to minor changes):
Aeschylus, The Oresteia
Grisham, John, A Time to Kill
Lee, Harper, To Kill a Mockingbird
Melville, Herman, “Benito Cereno” and “Bartleby the Scrivener”
Rosenbaum, Thane, ed. Law Lit: From Atticus Finch to the Practice: A Collection of Great Writing About the Law, (Selections)
Shakespeare, William, The Merchant of Venice

Viewing (subject to minor changes)
Lumet, Sidney (dir.), Twelve Angry Men
Mulligan, Robert (dir.), To Kill a Mockingbird
Thornton, Billy Bob (dir.), Sling Blade

More info: sands@uwm.edu

English 685: Honors Seminar

Asian American Women Writers
ML Buley-Meissner
Section 2 | 5:30 PM-6:45PM TR

Course Description: Asian American women writers have made outstanding contributions to the multicultural literary heritage of our country. In this course, we will focus on the distinct voices, engaging narrative styles, and thought-provoking themes of Jade Snow Wong and Maxine Hong Kingston (Chinese American), Yoshiko Uchida and Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (Japanese American); and other American writers with diverse Asian heritages. The selections will provide the opportunity for close reading of literature ranging from classic (groundbreaking in the formation of Asian American literature) to contemporary (notable for exploring the diversity and complexity of characters’ lives). The course books include two autobiographies, two novels and a short story collection. Documentary films will provide background for discussion of major issues addressed in the writers’ work. Overall, our goals will be enhanced skill in literary analysis; investigation of themes related to self-identity, family relationships, American society and other subjects of continuing relevance; and better understanding of how Asian American authors have enriched our literary heritage.

Course Books: Jade Snow Wong, Fifth Chinese Daughter; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts; Yoshiko Uchida, Picture Bride; Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Why She Left Us; and Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home in the World, ed. Jessica Hagedorn.

Course Requirements: Basic course requirements include class participation (20%); three major essays during the term (60%); and an individual or small group research project for class presentation (20%).

More info: meissner@uwm.edu