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200-Level Courses

Below are general descriptions for our 200-level courses except for ENGL 254, which has different topics each semester. H after a number indicates the Honors version. Courses that satisfy VolCore requirements are identified in this way:

AH – Arts and Humanities
WC – Written Communication
GCI – Global Challenges – International
GCUS – Global Challenges – US

ENGL 201 | 207H | British Literature I: Beowulf through Johnson (AH)

This course follows the development of British literature through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Restoration, and eighteenth centuries. It provides an overview of major British texts, authors, schools of thought, events, and literary movements from this time period. Literary works are examined from a variety of perspectives. Historical events, religious practices, the rise of theater, political systems, artistic works and artifacts, social customs, and gender norms will figure into the course’s discussions, with key literary texts serving as the focus of analysis. Authors studied might include Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Shakespeare, Milton, Jonathan Swift, and Samuel Johnson.

Note: the Honors section also satisfies the WC category.

ENGL 202 | 208H | British Literature II: Wordsworth to the Present (AH)

Note: the Honors section also satisfies the WC category.

ENGL 206 | Introduction to Shakespeare (AH) (WC)

This course invites students into the worlds of Shakespeare: the richly imagined worlds of his plots, characters, settings, and themes; the historical world of early modern England, an era of monarchy and rebellion, religious conflict, global exploration, and debates over gender and sexuality; and the worlds of scholarship that debate Shakespeare’s work and legacy. Working closely with the language of his plays, we will also explore questions about reading fictions, world-making, and theatrical performance in Shakespeare’s time and our own.

ENGL 209 | Introduction to Jane Austen (AH) (WC) (GCI)

This course offers an overview of Jane Austen’s work, its context in Regency England (1810-20), and a study of her writing style during her literary period. We will generally read at least a couple of novels by Austen in parallel with contemporary adaptations of her work in fiction, film, and other genres. We also discuss Austen’s contributions to the “romance” genre and the marriage plot, as well as her trademark realism, her use of satire and irony, her memorable characters, and the role played by women in Regency culture and literary history.

ENGL 221 | World Literature I: Ancient through Early Modern (AH) (GCI)

Not offered Spring 2023

This course presents works of World Literature from Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance (3000 BCE to 1660 CE). The course emphasizes the literary, cultural, and human significance of selected Western and non-Western great works. The class looks at their cultural/historical contexts and the enduring human values that unite different literary traditions. Special attention is given to critical thinking and writing within a framework of cultural diversity as well as comparative and interdisciplinary analysis.

ENGL 222 | World Literature II: The Eighteenth Century to the Present (AH)

Not offered Spring 2023

ENGL 225 | Introduction to African Literature (AH) (GCI)

Not offered Spring 2023

This survey of modern African literature looks at a fairly turbulent period in African history—the onset of colonialism followed by the era of decolonization. We explore modifications to traditional arts and Western genres to represent modernizing Africa. We read some literary-critical and historical essays for context as well as representative poetry, fiction, and drama. Where literary texts depart from Western conventions, students are encouraged to investigate the ways a literary text functions as a cultural argument and the ways non-Western cultures tell or dramatize stories. Major authors include Achebe, Mariama Ba, Bessie Head, La Guma, Ngũgĩ, and Soyinka.

ENGL 226 | Introduction to Caribbean Literature (AH) (GCI)

Not offered Spring 2023

The course focuses on Anglophone Caribbean literature and popular culture from its beginnings during the era of slavery to the present. We cover a variety of genres including slave narratives, autobiography, memoir, Bildungsroman, fiction, short story, a play, and probably some poetry. We pay attention to themes in the literature including slavery, displacement, migration, romance, the search for identity, the allure of England, American consumerism, and the touristic commodification of the Caribbean. By the end of the course, students will be able to analyze Caribbean texts, situate them in an emergent literary tradition, and explain the larger contexts. Major authors include Equiano, Mary Prince, Claude McKay, Erna Brodber, Kamau Brathwaite, Lamming, Lovelace, and Naipaul.

ENGL 231 | 237H |  American Literature I: Colonial Era to the Civil War (AH) (GCUS)

How did the U.S. and its diverse literary tradition get its start? Why are texts written long before Independence considered “American”? Did Pocahontas really save John Smith from execution at the hands of her father, Powhatan? Why did Black Hawk claim that “land cannot be sold,” and how did an Englishman in his late 30s become the most persuasive rhetorician of the American Revolution? Find out the answers to these and other questions about our national origins as we explore early North American literatures from the period of colonialism until the Civil War. We’ll examine encounters and tensions between Native Americans and the Europeans who arrived on their shores and explore how African-Americans used language to challenge racial oppression. We will grapple with central aspects of Early American Literature, including colonialism, Indigenous sovereignty, religious separatism and Puritanism, American exceptionalism, feminism, revolution and national independence, Enlightenment thinking, Pragmatism, Transcendentalism, Dark Romanticism, slavery, abolitionism, and Civil War. Throughout, we’ll focus on how written texts both established and contested the nation-state, the individual, and the divine.

Note: the Honors section also satisfies the WC category.

ENGL 232 | 238H | American Literature II: Civil War to the Present (AH)

This course traces the development of American literature from 1865 until the present day. Students will read major works of American fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction, examining them from a variety of perspectives and situating them within ongoing debates about the meanings of American cultural history. Authors to be read might include James, Stephen Crane, Eliot, Cather, Faulkner, Hurston, Stevens, Wright, Tennessee Williams, O’Connor, Bishop, Morrison, Ashbery, Barthelme, Wilson, and Harjo.

Note: the Honors section also satisfies the WC category.

ENGL 233 | Major Black Writers (AH) (GCUS)

In this course, we read the beautiful and profound works of the Black American literary tradition as they engage issues of enslavement and freedom, racism and resistance, community and kinship, literacy, love, and citizenship. Moving from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, our reading might include poetry, slave narratives, autobiographies, short stories, plays, and novels. Paying attention to the historic contexts of these texts, we learn to read and write about the themes that emerge in these literatures. Major Black Writers that we might study include Phillis Wheatley Peters, Frederick Douglass, Nella Larsen, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Yaa Gyasi, among others.

ENGL 251 | 247H | Introduction to Poetry (AH) (WC)

Introduction to Poetry invites you to learn more about the language, history, and analysis of poetry by reading and examining poetry in detail. We will be looking at both classic and contemporary works as we think about form (meter, rhyme, rhythm, and other technical aspects) as well as literary-historical context in order to help us better inform our understanding of the genre. This course prepares students to appreciate poetry as a distinct mode of artistic expression while gaining critical tools for the perceptive reading and enjoyment of poems.

ENGL 252 | 248H | Introduction to Drama (AH) (WC)

Humans perform stories to understand themselves and the world they live in. This course introduces students to the pleasures of reading and writing about drama, one of the oldest and most vital literary genres. Students read comedies, tragedies, and other genres from a variety of countries, cultures, and historical periods to experience the history of drama as an international art form. In addition, because drama is designed to be performed as well as read, students view clips from video productions of individual plays. No experience reading or seeing drama is required.

ENGL 253 | 258H | Introduction to Fiction (AH) (WC)

English 253 invites students to read diverse fictional styles and genres published from the eighteenth century to the present. Students will trace how fiction emerges from a cultural and historical context and engages with social debates over gender, race, sexuality, class, economics, religion, philosophy, and the environment, among others. Readings will emphasize the novel but may also include novellas and short stories. While this course focuses on literary analysis, it also encourages students to take pleasure in reading fiction. The class may also address the works’ aesthetic merits and contemporary relevance; fiction as it relates to questions of truth, lies, and plausibility; and the implicit contract between authors and readers.

ENGL 254 | Best Lives and Daily Grinds (AH) (WC)

Themes in Literature

MWF 12:40-1:30 | Sam Turner

The United States has often described itself as a place where hard work is uniquely rewarded and rewarding – where everyone is free to pursue his or her dreams and where anyone willing to work hard can get ahead. However true some parts of that description are, America’s history is also marked in foundational ways by slavery and racism, structural economic inequality, and soul-crushing, poorly paying work of every imaginable variety. What does work mean in America today? What has it meant in the past? How have Americans over the centuries fared in their search for work that offers a life and not merely a living? This course will seek answers to such questions by reading works by Frederick Douglass, Benjamin Franklin, Edith Wharton, and Langston Hughes, among others.


Attendance, three papers, final exam.

ENGL 254 | Dystopia, Utopia, and Science Fiction (AH) (WC)

Themes in Literature

TR 2:30-3:45 | Mark Tabone

What do the best and worst of all possible worlds look like? What can they tell us about our own? This course explores science fiction that attempts to answer these questions. Students will read powerful and influential works of utopian and dystopian literature that imagine fantastical new worlds and societies, grapple with human desires for a better life and, quite frequently, confront human desires for power and control. In the process, the course provides a critical vocabulary for reading and understanding these texts. Because utopias and dystopias serve as tools for diagnosing society’s ills and speculating about remedies, the course also examines what these texts can tell us about our present world as well as our prospects for the future, especially as they relate to still-relevant issues in ethics, politics, sociology, technology, the environment, social status, identity, and the kind of world we would like to live in.


Attendance, two papers, regular short writing assignments, and final exam.

ENGL 254 | Man and Machine: Self, Career, and Technology in a Changing World (AH) (WC)

Themes in Literature

TR 11:20-12:35 | Sara Melton

This course will examine “the myth of vocation”–that is, the tendency to expect of one’s work more than it can usually provide: self-esteem and satisfaction, for instance. We’ll look particularly at how literary works have reflected the different concepts of “men’s work” and “women’s work,” and trace the differing philosophies of work and career shown in fiction and drama during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Finally, we’ll consider how our own current philosophy of work has developed, and the role that technology and robotics have played and will play in our ideas and ideals of career.


Two exams with essay components, one research paper with accompanying presentation, in-class quizzes and reading journals.

ENGL 255 | 257H | Public Writing (WC)

In our lives, we occupy multiple public communities beyond school—social, professional, political, online, service, faith, and others. We engage both as readers and writers with numerous public texts to help us understand and respond to these communities and the issues that affect us. In this course, you will both analyze and produce public writing for various “rhetorical ecologies”—interconnected webs of communicative situations. You will gain a thorough understanding of how people respond to public issues by rhetorically analyzing how events unfold through public texts as well as by evaluating the genre conventions of these texts. Then you will craft your own rhetorically-minded public writing to inform and persuade others to take action.

ENGL 263 | 277H | Introduction to Creative Writing (WC)

English 263 offers an introduction to creative writing with an emphasis on composing fiction and poetry. We will study successful models of stories and poems, learning a vocabulary for discussing the craft of writing. Assigned readings (from contemporary authors) will stimulate discussions and provide models for what creative writing is and can be. Low-stakes writing exercises will give us a chance to try out the techniques we are learning to observe and describe. Formal responses to our peers, analysis of readings, and presentations will help us sharpen our analytical and formal writing skills

ENGL 281 | Introduction to Film Studies (AH)

This course introduces students to the critical skills necessary for understanding and analyzing narrative cinema. Students will watch selected world cinema features and learn how to “read” images as film-texts. The course will emphasize specific aspects of film style and narrative form through analysis of scenes from films screened each week and from a range of outside examples. Relevant historical and cultural background will also be used to inform readings of movies shown. As they learn the vocabulary of filmmaking and film criticism, students will also be asked to consider the politics of image-making and the power of cinema.

ENGL 295 | Writing in the Workplace (WC)

This writing-intensive course focuses on workplace communication and professionalism. In this course, students analyze the rhetorical elements of workplace texts, as well as the rhetorical situations in which they are created and read, so they can produce professional communications that respond appropriately to a variety of workplace situations and audiences. By emphasizing the importance of audience and contextual awareness, this course prepares students to communicate with professionalism in their future workplaces.