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UTK English

Course Descriptions | Spring 2023

This page provides course descriptions for Spring 2023. See the main UT Curriculum page for a list of all undergraduate courses on the books (not all are offered at any one time).

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Undergraduate Courses

ENGL 302 | Resisting the Patriarchy

British Culture: 1660 to Present

MWF 9:10-10:00 | Hilary Havens

This class will examine British plays, poems, and novels written from the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 to the present day. The works we read generally contain themes of resistance against patriarchal and other oppressive structures as a way of focusing our discussions on important social, cultural, and historical contexts, from the introduction of the actress on stage to Harry and Meghan’s “Sussexit” from royal life and the future of the monarchy under Charles III. We will also look at parallel developments in history, art, architecture, and music. We will have class sessions with Hodges Library Special Collections and the McClung museum, as well as related digital humanities tool sessions. Requirements will include two essays, student-designed tests, and an open-ended final project that encourages you to think about how British culture is relevant to you.


Attendance/participation, reading responses, two essays, two take-home tests, and one project.

ENGL 321 | A Journey Through the Culture, History, and Literature of Anglo-Saxon England

Introduction to Old English

TR 9:45-11:00 | Scott MacKenzie

An introduction to the language, literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England (roughly 500-1100 CE). This course will give you a reading knowledge of Old English, the language spoken by the Germanic conquerors of Britain and the ancestor of the language we speak today. The language is different enough from modern English that it needs to be learned and studied, but similar enough that you can become reasonably proficient in one semester. In the first half of the class we will concentrate on the structure and vocabulary of Old English; after the midterm exam we will have more time to spend on outside reading and critical analysis, and more opportunities to discuss the history and culture of the Anglo-Saxons. Our texts will include works in prose and poetry.


Quizzes, midterm and final exams, research project.

ENGL 331 | The Prophetic Mode

Race and Ethnicity in American Literature

TR 2:30-3:45 | Robert Spirko

Popular discourse imagines prophets speaking of the future, but understood historically and theologically, real prophets speak truth to their present moment. The prophetic mode often begins in condemnation and ends in hope: the movement from dystopia to eutopia, or from oppression to liberation. This course will focus on the power of prophetic rhetoric, primarily in Black, Latin@ and Indigenous writers and how it contrasts with and augments lyrical and narrative approaches. We’ll trace thru lines from Phillis Wheatley to Frances E.W. Harper to Audre Lorde; from Frederick Douglass to James Baldwin; from Zitkála-Šá to Joy Harjo and Gloria Anzaldúa. We’ll consider the uses of the prophetic mode to inspire, indict, and motivate in social and literary movements.


Assignments will include short papers on textual and contextual analyses, weekly response paragraphs, a video presentation for class, and a final paper.

ENGL 332 | Breaking Barriers

Women in American Literature

MWF 9:10-10:00 | Robin Nicks

This course traces the development of literature by American women from Anne Bradstreet through current authors like Louise Erdrich. Our focus will be on the ways that texts express developing views on gender roles, as well as the different approaches that each writer has in offering criticisms of her culture and engaging in political and social debates of her time. Authors may include Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Shirley Jackson, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Louise Erdrich, and others.


Reading responses, 3 short papers, and a final paper.

ENGL 332 | Women in American Literature

Men, Marriage, Motherhood, and Myths

TR 11:20-12:35 | La Vinia Jennings

English 332 will examine the novels of American women in the twentieth century that treat diverse geographical regions, ethnicities, social classes, and cultures. Discussions will emphasize various institutions—patriarchy, marriage, family, and motherhood—and their impacts on female selfhood and identity.


Two research papers, frequent quizzes, limited absences, and consistent participation.

ENGL 333 | Aesthetic Politics since 1940

Black American Literature and Aesthetics

TR 11:20-12:35 | Mark Tabone

This course will examine the works of major Black American authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with a focus on the interaction between aesthetics and politics. The course will begin with the generation-defining “protest” fiction of Richard Wright, traverse the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, and conclude by examining how contemporary artists are engaging with the political issues of today. Readings will explore the ways in which artists experiment with aesthetic form and content to address the politics of race as well as other social questions. Possible authors include Wright, Baldwin, Baraka, Reed, Morrison, Walker, Suzan-Lori Parks, Octavia Butler, and Claudia Rankine.


Requirements include attendance, active participation, a presentation, informal writing assignments, three formal papers, and a final exam.

ENGL 335 | Transplantation in Contemporary African Writing

African Literature

TR 14:30-15:45 | Gichingiri Ndigirigi

Course surveys the major works and issues that characterize contemporary African literature through the prism of transplantation. We study the transplantation of Western genres and their conventions onto African spaces and the modifications that are made to them by African writers intent on representing an identifiably African experience. We also follow cultural transplants who move easily between “local” spaces denoted by the ubiquitous “village,” the colonial or mission school, the African city and, increasingly, the Western metropolis. While paying attention to the challenges confronting writers in their attempts to construct an adequately differentiated African “subject,” we also ask whether, the “African literature” label is capacious enough to accommodate an Obama who goes to Africa in search of his partial roots. Representative plays, novels, memoirs, plus select readings in postcolonial criticism/theory and cultural studies will form the core reading requirements. Major authors include: Achebe, Adichie, Dangarembga, Fugard, Fugard, Ngũgĩ, Obama, and Soyinka. 


Class participation, four short papers, a mid-term and a final exam.

ENGL 340 | Energy, Power, and Redefining Nature

Science Fiction and Fantasy

TR 2:30-3:45 | Amy Elias

How do science fiction and fantasy help us to re-examine the energy we use and the worlds we create? Following Dominic Boyer’s notion of “energopower,” this class will bring together two meanings of “power”: as political/social system and as energy systems that fuel modern societies. SF and fantasy literature have been exploring this intersection of meanings for more than a century, and today speculative narratives construct “energy futures” and new ways of thinking about energy consumption in relation to politics, human freedom, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Class materials may include examples of older visions of our present and future as well as contemporary novels and films. Readings may include examples of steampunk, solarpunk, Teslapunk, Afrofuturism; speculative fantasy by George Schuyler, Naomi Alderman, N.K. Jemison, or Paolo Bacigalupi; films such as Thor or The Matrix but also Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind or April and the Extraordinary World.


Two short papers, reading quizzes, course project, final exam.

ENGL 351 | The American Gothic

The Short Story

MWF 10:20-11:10 | Mary Papke

The course will provide an overview of the American gothic short story from its earliest appearance through the age of romanticism and realism and modernism up to the postmodern fiction of today. Selections will include such writers as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, among others.


Attendance, examinations, critical analysis papers.

ENGL 355 | Rhetoric and Writing

MWF 10:20-11:10; MWF 12:40-1:20 | Robin Nicks

This course serves as an introduction to the rhetoric and writing concentration of the undergraduate major in English and covers both theory and practice, focusing on multiple modes and genres of writing. Students will learn rhetorical theory, discourse analysis, and social movement theory, among other theories and genres. The course requires extensive reading and writing, with review and revision at all stages of the writing process.


Three projects, presentation, journals.

ENGL 355 | Cracking Codes: Language Data and the Signal in the Noise

Rhetoric and Writing

TR 9:45-11:00 | Anne Snellen

This section of 355 is an introduction to rhetoric as a brain-changing engine, including specific conversations regarding metaphor and figurative language, discourse analysis, audience and narrative, deliberation, and satire. The focus is on the language we hear every day, with special attention on media and how Big Data engines collate large corpuses of language. Some projects will be academic in style, though most will have a practical emphasis looking beyond the university.


Large qualitative research project, data coding/analysis projects, and several smaller genre/text analyses.

ENGL 360 | Technical and Professional Writing

Online Asynchronous | Sally Harris

In this fully online, asynchronous class, students develop rhetorical strategies for clear communications and for working in teams. They also hone critical thinking skills by analyzing the content, channels, genres, and audiences of their communications. Students complete seven projects, including genres such as process descriptions, application materials, proposals, and major reports. Additionally, they work in teams strengthening their online collaboration and document creation skills.


Quizzes; discussion posts; peer reviews; six or seven technical writing documents such as process descriptions, instructions, reports, and proposals.

ENGL 360 | Digital Security, AI, and Nuclear Conflict

Technical and Professional Writing

TR 11:20-12:35 | Anne Snellen

Several hacks have occurred throughout the 12 Colonies. Though there is no proof, the Colonial Fleet worry these hacks may precipitate a larger event and ask, “have we adequately prepared for a full-scale Cylon attack?” To prepare, we must create appropriate technical documentation to guide the crew through the crisis. These documents might consist of memos, PSAs, instructions, manuals, proposals, descriptions, definitions, illustrations, and videos to disseminate information to the community. To aid in our research, we will study Battlestar Galactica as well as primary sources from Hersey’s Hiroshima, Terkel’s The Good War, and the Atomic Archive.


Large manual, formal report, flowcharts, process descriptions, memos, and graphic designs.

ENGL 360 | Technical and Professional Writing

MWF 8:00-8:50 | Jamal-Jared Alexander

Students are introduced to professional workplace writing, transitioning from writing for academic audiences to writing workplace documents. Throughout ENGL 360, students will design and write professional documents, synthesize and evaluate arguments on technology and society, and collaborate in teams to present technical information. ENGL 360 introduces students to some of the basic issues, elements, and genres of technical writing:

• Writing for various audiences and purposes
• Addressing social issues related to writing
• Conducting research to complete writing tasks
• Writing collaboratively within work teams
• Developing an effective professional tone and style
• Incorporating effective visual elements


Attendance, class citizenship, and major assignments.

ENGL 363 | Getting in Formation: A Forms Course

Writing Poetry

TR 9:45-11:00 | Destiny Birdsong

This course is designed to engage students in the art of writing and revising poetry as well as discussing poets and poetic forms. Over the course of the semester, students will also co-lead class discussions and provide extensive feedback on their peers’ work.


Graded requirements will include attendance, participation, written and revised poems, a final portfolio, and written critiques of each other’s work.

ENGL 363 | Writing Poetry

MWF 1:50-02:40 | Marcel Brouwers

In this course we will read and write poetry of various genres and types. We will read complete single-author collections, anthologized work, and essays related to the craft of poetry. A portfolio of polished poetry will conclude the course.


Attendance, regular poetry writing, active discussion, & final portfolio.

ENGL 364 | Writing Fiction

TR 2:30–3:45 | Michael Knight

This class is designed to provide an introduction to the craft of writing literary fiction with a focus on the short story. Students should leave this class with a basic understanding of core elements of the short story form (character, plot, structure, point of view, setting, language, imagery and so on), the ability to recognize how those elements function in published fiction and the ability to put those core elements into practice in fiction of their own.


Attendance, writing exercises, reading responses, workshop.

ENGL 364 | Writing Fiction

TR 11:20–12:35 | Christopher Hebert

This class is for students interested in taking creative writing seriously, even if they have little or no experience. We will study the craft of writing through the discussion of daily readings (mostly short stories from contemporary authors), through a variety of writing exercises, and through the composition of a full-length short story. These full-length stories will be shared with the class, discussed, and revised. The peer workshopping of student work allows for the introduction and sharpening of critical skills vital to the development of astute readers and writers.


Attendance, complete story, revision, exercises, responses, peer reviews.

ENGL 365 | Writing the Screenplay

TR 11:20-12:35 | Jeffrey Amos

In this class, students will study the art and craft of writing for the screen. We will develop a practice for reading screenplays for story structure, character development, visual storytelling, and other aspects of craft. In the process, students will create their own stories, writing and developing film treatments and scripts, and begin work on a feature length script.


Attendance, weekly reading responses, regular writing exercises and assignments, a midterm and final portfolio including a film treatment and scripted material.

ENGL 365 | Writing the Screenplay

MWF 12:40-1:30 | Margaret Dean

Before they are edited, performed, or photographed, films are written. Screenplays create the earliest versions of the characters, stories, and themes that will become iconic—the first step of a collaborative art form. In order to gain an understanding of screenplay structure and form, we will read screenplays by Bong Joon-ho, the Coen brothers, Pete Docter, Greta Gerwig, Spike Jonze, Jordan Peele, Taika Waititi, Billy Wilder, Chloe Zhao, and many others. Previous coursework in creative writing and/or film is encouraged but not required.


Students will complete a variety of exercises, take part in workshops of peers’ writing, and produce by the end of the semester a treatment for a feature film with sample scenes.

ENGL 369 | Writing Creative Nonfiction

MWF 1:50-2:40 | Margaret Dean

The term “creative nonfiction” refers to essays that are grounded in fact but use tactics of creative writing to achieve their purposes. These creative tactics can include description, scenes, dialogue, and most importantly, a strong sense of voice. Units will include the history of creative nonfiction as a genre and the ethics of truth and lies in creative nonfiction. Texts will be available online and may include essays by Eula Biss, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joan Didion, Leslie Jamison, Naomi Shihab Nye, Hunter S. Thompson, Jesmyn Ward, and emerging writers published during the course of the semester.


Students will write one full-length essay, multiple short assignments, and many responses to peer essays and published work.

ENGL 371 | Foundations of the English Language

TR 12:55-2:10 | Scott MacKenzie

The goal of the course is to trace the evolution of English through its 1500-year span utilizing literary and cultural documents. We will isolate its position in the Indo-European language family and examine Old English’s development as Germanic dialect. Next we will witness its proliferation by writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser and Milton. Lastly we will study contemporary British and American speech and writing through authors such as Jefferson, Dickens, Twain, Faulkner and Welty. Additionally, we will focus on social concerns about language use, variety, and change. These include the relationship between spelling and pronunciation; the role of the dictionary in describing and prescribing


Quizzes, midterm and final exams, research project.

ENGL 372 | The Structure of Modern English

TR 11:20-12:35 | Hooman Saeli

This course explores the complexities of contemporary English from a linguistic perspective. We will study how English works linguistically—from its phonology (system of sounds), the makeup of its words (morphology), to its syntax (grammatical structure), and how we use it in ongoing talk (discourse and pragmatics). We will cover how English varies, how it has changed, and how a linguistic understanding of English language makes us better consumers of the information in the world around us.


10 homeworks, 3 writing projects, 3 group presentations, and 2 exams.

ENGL 405 | Shakespearean Experience

Late Shakespeare

MWF 12:40-1:30 | Robert Stillman

Late Shakespeare is a study of the problem comedies, tragedies, and tragicomedies that mark Shakespeare’s changing understandings about how best to represent experience, and an inquiry into how best to experience those plays. We will read Much Ado about Nothing, Measure for Measure, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.


Attendance, two papers, discussion, and a final exam.

ENGL 406 | Playing the Globe in Shakespeare’s Time

Shakespeare’s Contemporaries I: Renaissance Drama

TR 11:20-12:35 | Heather Hirschfeld

This class picks up where Shakespeare classes leave off: with the provocative, rich, sometimes decadent plays written by the professional dramatists (Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, Francis Beaumont, and John Fletcher) whose work was featured at the famed Globe Theatre. We will study the rich variety of playwrights and plays of the early modern period and their world and ours. As we do so, we will explore the development of a theatrical community in early modern London, charting the rise of certain acting companies and their “star” actors, considering popular and elite responses to playing, and evaluating the theater’s place in the city and nation’s economic and political life. The final goal is to understand the early modern theater as a total enterprise–as an entertainment industry and culture that involved more than just words on the page.


Attendance, participation, two essays, two reflection papers.

ENGL 410 | Bodies and Souls in Early Modern Poetry

Donne, Milton, and Their Contemporaries

TR 12:55-2:10 | Anthony Welch

Aristocrats kissing trees; lovers dissected on autopsy tables; petticoat fetishes; angels firing heavy artillery. This course explores the poetry of seventeenth-century Britain, from John Donne’s racy love poems to John Milton’s astonishing religious epic, Paradise Lost. We will study a wide range of poets, including Herbert, Jonson, Lanyer, Herrick, and Marvell, and the critical debates that have sprung up around them. For all its beauty and polish, their poetry took shape in an age of violent social upheaval. We will read their writings against the backdrop of the scientific revolution, religious conflict, gender debate, and a bloody civil war. A central theme will be the tangled relationship between flesh and spirit, between the worldly and the divine, that endlessly perplexed the early modern imagination.


Active participation, weekly discussion board posts, two essays, and one exam.

ENGL 411 | The Coffeehouse

Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Literature

TR 11:20 | Misty Anderson

We share seismic cultural shifts in common with Britons who lived from 1660-1740. They saw the number of their print sources explode; new, edgy forms of entertainment; new financial markets; changing ideas about sex and gender; as well as scientific discoveries, conspiracy theories, and new technologies. We start in the playhouse with works by Behn (the first professional woman writer), Rochester, Hobbes, Wycherley, and Centlivre, then move to the coffeehouse, or the “penny university,” with Defoe, Swift, and Pope, among others. We will learn how to set type, spend time with rare books, and look at objects from the period in McClung Museum.


Assignments include two short papers, weekly discussion board posts, occasional quizzes, a final project, and regular, engaged class participation. Graduate students will be able to develop a more specific project that meets their academic objectives.

ENGL 414 | Sex, Drugs, and Revolution

Romantic Poetry/Prose I

TR 11:10-12:25 | Gerard Cohen-Vrignaud

“The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” This proverb by the Romantic poet William Blake speaks to the revolutionary fire of a period that saw modern freedoms and radical change emerge, in terms of democracy and political activism, mass media, feminism, individualism, alienation, sexual nonconformity, industrialization, technological advances, and class conflict, to name a few. In this class we’ll examine how the Romantics felt about these changes, mostly through the poetry for which they remain famous. We’ll read verse by Blake, Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth, among others, as well as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.


Two papers, a letterpress poster, weekly discussion posts, and quizzes.

ENGL 422 | Virginia Woolf

Women Writers in Britain

MWF 12:40-1:30 | Urmila Seshagiri

“What a lark! What a plunge!” thinks Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway on a June morning in London. This course takes students on a lark and a plunge through the extraordinary accomplishments of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), author, publisher, critic, and center of modernist culture. We will study Woolf’s reinventions of the English novel in Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, Flush, and Between the Acts. We will read her influential feminist manifesto A Room of One’s Own, as well as selected short stories, critical essays, and her memoir, “Sketch of the Past.” Along the way, we’ll meet members of the Bloomsbury Group, consider the impact of World War I on the arts, and trace developments in global modernism. The course includes literature by Woolf’s contemporaries T.S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, and E. M. Forster, as well as recent interpretations of Woolf’s work in film, dance, and photography.


Attendance, reading journals, two papers, group presentation, final project.

ENGL 433 | American Realism and Naturalism

MWF 12:40-1:30 | Mary Papke

We’ll examine the development and varieties of regionalist and local color, realist, and naturalist fiction in American literature. Authors studied may include Twain, Jewett, Freeman, Chopin, Bierce, James, Crane, Norris, and Dreiser, among others.


Attendance, examinations, an analytical paper.

ENGL 434 | Race and the Nation

Modern American Literature

TR 9:45-11:00 | Bill Hardwig

In this class, we will explore the uneasy relationship between US racial dynamics and the promise of the nation. Through the reading of literature, we will trace important cultural moments, aesthetic movements, and racial history of the twentieth century. Beginning with the Harlem Renaissance and Modernism, we will move through several decades by examining literature in the context of W.E.B. DuBois’s 1903 declaration: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”


Attendance, 2 Papers, 3 exams, quizzes and micro-essays.

ENGL 436 | Modern American Novel

TR 2:30-3:45 | La Vinia Jennings

Reading List: The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway), Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck); Native Son (Richard Wright); and Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison).


Two research papers, frequent quizzes, limited absences, and consistent participation.

ENGL 441 | Race, Place, and Grace

Southern Literature

MWF 9:10-10:00 | Tom Haddox

This course will be a broad survey of the literature of the U.S. South from the late eighteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. It will be focused around the themes of “race, place (geography), and grace (religious belief)”—three forces that have shaped the cultural identity of the South in ways both good and bad. We’ll read four excellent novels (Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, William Faulkner’s, Absalom, Absalom!, Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, and Lee Smith’s Oral History), as well as selected poems, drama, and nonfiction. We’ll ask questions such as these: What has it meant, for people of all races, places, and religious persuasions to be “southern”? How have southern identity and culture changed over time?


Attendance, active class participation, two papers, quizzes, midterm and final exam.

ENGL 443 | The Antebellum Black Atlantic

Topics in Black Literature

MWF 10:20-11:10 | Katy Chiles

Why does the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African slave trade continue to impact contemporary American literature and culture? How did early African-Americans describe the slave trade and life in the Americas? This course will begin to answer these questions and more. We will consider how texts written by black authors are part of what we call the “Black Atlantic”: a transnational cultural space produced by travel across the Atlantic Ocean—to and from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and Great Britain. We will examine how these writings explore the “impossible” place of many of these writers who, although living in a certain country, were not considered “citizens” before the law. From the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, texts might include first-person narratives by Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, and Frederick Douglass; Phillis Wheatley’s poetry; and Martin Delany’s Blake.


Active participation, a presentation, informal writing assignments, a close reading paper, an annotated bibliography and abstract, and a final paper.

ENGL 444 | Place and the Environmental Imagination

Appalachian Literature and Culture

12:55-2:10 TR | Bill Hardwig

In this class, we will investigate the complex history of the Appalachian region through the lens of ecocriticism and environmental concerns, especially the devastation caused in the region by extractive industries. This class is interdisciplinary in design, and we will approach our topics by looking at literature, history, photography, music, and popular culture. Along the way, we will unearth the heterogeneity (of people, ethnicities, environments, and communities) in the region commonly known as Appalachia.


Attendance, 2 papers, 3 exams, micro-essays, quizzes.

ENGL 460 | Technical Editing

TR 8:10-9:25 | Sean Morey

The focus of English 460 is writing and editing for the world of work: government, industry, science, technology, and business. It offers theory, practice, and evaluation of editing skills, as well as orientation to careers and concerns in technical/professional communication. Though it focuses on the skills necessary to intelligently edit the text of documents, this course embraces a larger range of editing considerations, such as organization, layout, and visuals.


Quizzes, Responses/reflections on readings, Mid-term exam, Final exam, Mini Article, Final Editing Project

ENGL 461 | Global Communication for Science and Technology

MWF 9:10–10:00 | Jamal-Jared Alexander

Writing consistently ranks as one of the top skills desired by employers, especially in science, medical, and technology fields. Whether or not you plan to go into a field that is traditionally associated with writing, the chances are that writing will be a major part of your job and will be critical to your success. ENGL 461 will examine theories and ideologies that undergird professional, medical, and scientific writing with an eye towards both critique and imitation of technical writing styles. This course is designed to focus on medical rhetoric and science writing. Writing is one of the primary ways you communicate about yourself—e.g., your expertise, your investment, your value—to those in a professional setting and worldwide. Further, other major skills that employers rank highly are teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and analytical ability—all rhetorical skills that can be developed through practicing writing.


Attendance | Major Assignments

ENGL 463 | Finding Form

Advanced Poetry Writing

TR 12:55-2:10 | Destiny Birdsong

Poetic forms require intention and precision, and sometimes (unfortunately), content can take a backseat to getting them “right.” In this class, we will explore what is possible when we require forms to work for us instead, using them to push the boundaries of our work, to explore nuances in language, or to deepen our engagement with a particular subject. We will also examine what is possible when we bend or break the rules, or when we invent/remix forms of our own.


Graded requirements will include attendance, participation, several written and revised poems, student-led discussions and presentations, written critiques of each other’s work, and a final project.

ENGL 464 | Advanced Fiction Writing

TR 2:30–3:45 | Chris Hebert

This class is for students with experience in fiction writing who are looking to deepen and sharpen their critical abilities and writing skills. Throughout the semester—through a combination of readings, workshops, and writing exercises—we will be revisiting and reinforcing the core elements of fiction, such as concrete detail, character, conflict, plot, and scene. But we will move beyond them as well, exploring new techniques and new complexities, seeking to broaden our understanding of how fiction works and what it can do. Students should expect to put significant time and effort into their own and their classmates’ work.


Attendance, complete short story, revision, exercises, responses, peer reviews.

ENGL 474 | Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language

MWF 11:30–12:20 | Tanita Saenkhum

This course, which is reading and discussion based, provides an introduction to some of the major basic theories, trends, and issues surrounding teaching English as a second/foreign language. We will consider various topics related to English language teaching, including first language acquisition, second language learning, learner variables in language learning, and traditional and innovative approaches to language teaching. By the end of the semester, students should be able to:

• Explain various approaches to English language teaching;
• Consider various topics related to English language teaching;
• Design or modify a language course in ways that are appropriate for the institutional context, student population, and learning goals and objectives; and
• Share your ideas, teaching materials, and research effectively through oral presentations and written documents.


Attendance & participation, discussion questions, teaching observation or English language teaching book review, teaching demonstration, and final research project.

ENGL 476 | Second Language Acquisition

TR 11:20-12:35 | Thorsten Huth

This class explores basic models of what human language is and how it works; compares and contrasts the potential similarities and differences of first and second language learning both in the real world and in instructed learning contexts, and outlines the scope of second language acquisition research across disciplines and time.


Response papers, in-class presentation, final research paper.

ENGL 479 | Reading about Writing; Thinking about Reading

Literary Criticism

TR 12:55-2:10 | Martin Griffin

To be creative is to be critical, and criticism can also be creative. We the readers engage with the author across the pages of the text, and often across time as well. The writer puts together a play or a story and has the vision of a certain kind of future reader; the reader, for his or her part, has a shadowy sense of the author as they encounter the poem or the novel in the moment. In this class, we will look at essays in criticism and theory from classical Greece to the modern era, and try to put this intellectual history into conversation with significant works of drama, fiction, and poetry. Among other themes, we will explore how plays might play with our emotions, what makes poems poetic, and why these days ‘narrative’ has become such a popular word.


Attendance, two papers, in-class mid-term, final paper and/or exam.

ENGL 482 | Nabokov’s Novels and Stories

Major Authors

TR 12:55-2:10 | Stephen Blackwell

Nabokov is famous for writing some of the most beautiful prose of the 20th century, as well as some of its most beguiling novels. In this course, we will examine how Nabokov’s literary art confronts the ethical implications of existence and, especially, of the use of language. What responsibilities does one take on when one decides to engage with others, or to address or describe them with language? How does the desire to create beauty or art relate to other facets of human desire—for power, love, control, physical gratification, wealth, fame? How does the creation of art bring into focus some of the major ethical concerns of life? In this course we will explore these and other questions posed by Nabokov’s rich and diverse literary output.


Three 1,000-word essays, one 2,500-word essays, attendance, quizzes, an annotated bibliography of around 10 scholarly articles or chapters.

ENGL 482 | Herman Melville

Major Authors

MWF 10:20-11:10 | Dawn Coleman

Herman Melville is a literary titan whose work rewards reading and rereading. In beautiful, Romantic-era prose that swerves between epic grandeur and self-deprecating humor, he tells enduring stories of earnest men faced with unsettling ambiguities. We begin with Typee, a novel based on his experience of being marooned with an indigenous tribe in the South Seas. We then spend five weeks close-reading his magnum opus, Moby-Dick. After that, we turn to Melville’s shorter masterpieces, including “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” “Benito Cereno,” select Civil War poems, and Billy Budd. We read Melville’s writing alongside excerpts from writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass, select critical and biographical essays, and Melville-inspired twentieth and twenty-first century art. Even if you don’t learn to love Melville (and most students do), you will understand him thoroughly.


Course requirements: a 4-page essay on Typee, a Moby-Dick take-home exam, a paired or group presentation, a take-home final, and a 9-page final research paper, along with several assignments leading up to it.

ENGL 489 | Adaptation, Archives, and Digital Remix

Special Topics in Film Studies

MW 1:50-2:40, F 1:50-03:50 | Eleni Palis

Throughout film history, continual exchanges between film and other forms, especially literature, theater, and more recently, graphic novels and video games, have shaped film history; it is almost impossible to study film without an eye to adaptation. This course begins with well-worn questions about “textual fidelity” across literary-film adaptation and then expands to debates about remix practices, digital mixes, and mash-ups, the ethics of appropriation, videographic criticism, and adapting “archives.” For these archival questions, we will visit the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound (TAMIS) and consider access to and appropriation of small-gauge formats with 16mm film and projection.


Course grades are determined by regular attendance, weekly discussion posts, and a video essay leading up to a final research project.

ENGL 492 | Drama in New York: A Special Edition!

Drama in New York

Regular individual meetings with the Professor | Robert Stillman

English 492 has an off-campus component from Jan 2nd-10th. The course requires attendance at all the plays and class meetings while in New York, a play-going journal, and a (10 page) research paper due in mid-April. Students will have free time to explore New York during the holidays. What makes this year special first is the great line-up of plays, that includes: Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman with an all-black cast; Samuel L. Jackson in August Wilson’s Piano Lesson; and a revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize drama, Top Dog/Underdog. Also, for twelve qualifying students there will be NO COURSE FEE. Competitive grants will cover all theater tickets and housing. Tuition fees, airfare, and meals are not covered. For information about the class and about the grant application, contact Prof. Robert Stillman,


Attendance, a play-going journal and a research paper (10-12 pages).

Graduate Courses

ENGL 505 | Teaching First Year Composition

TBD | Jeff Ringer

English 505, Teaching First Year Composition, provides students with a foundation in the theory and practice of teaching writing. The class will offer regular opportunities to engage with key scholarship about writing instruction and to participate in hands-on, problem-oriented learning. We will read widely about various aspects of writing pedagogy, grapple with ways to apply our knowledge in the classroom, and hone our abilities to investigate teaching challenges. Students will leave 505 with a general understanding of contemporary writing pedagogy and rhetorical theory, particularly as it applies to UTK’s first-year composition program. Both sections of this course will follow a hybrid course model: both sections will meet in person on Wednesdays and Fridays, with asynchronous projects taking place early in each week.


Requirements include extensive reading, discussion, responses, mini-projects, and a teaching module.

ENGL 513 | Readings in Medieval Literature

MW 9:45-11:00 | Roy Liuzza

This course surveys the corpus of medieval literature, mostly English, from early medieval England to the end of the Middle Ages. Our primary texts will consist of shorter and longer texts in various genres from Old English elegies and heroic poems to Middle English romances and lyrics, histories and travel writings. Secondary readings will help us develop a critical vocabulary for the discussion of early literature and a sense of the cultural contexts in which this material was produced. We will spend some time learning about the manuscript remains of medieval texts, and we will pay particular attention to the particular practices—textual, contextual, linguistic, critical, interpretive, and cultural—which underwrite their study. Most texts will be read in translation; a few will be in Middle English.


Attendance and participation, in-class presentations, two short response papers (2-4 pages) and a longer research paper (6-10 pages).

ENGL 521 | Early Modern Poetry and the Politics of Literary Form

Readings and Analysis in 16th- and 17th-Century Prose, Poetry, and Drama

TR 2:30-3:45 | Anthony Welch

This course surveys the poetry of seventeenth-century Britain, including works by John Donne, Ben Jonson, Aemilia Lanyer, Katherine Philips, and Andrew Marvell, and culminating in Jonn Milton’s Paradise Lost. As we study this era of literary experimentation and social upheaval, we’ll take a close interest in the politics of literary form: in other words, the relationships between these poems’ formal designs (e.g., genre, prosody, style) and their ideological entanglements (e.g., religion, nationhood, gender, patronage and power relations, models of authorship, and canon formation). What did it mean for Donne to address Petrarchan sonnets to God? Why did royalists use rhyming couplets? We’ll explore how these poets’ formal choices amassed sociopolitical meanings, and how fully those meanings were under their authorial control. The course will serve as a broad introduction to late Renaissance poetry and poetics, and our syllabus will closely follow the MA and PhD comprehensive exam reading lists.


Active class participation; an oral presentation; a critical summary of an article or book chapter; an annotated bibliography; and a conference paper.

ENGL 541 | Readings in 19th Century British Literature

Readings and Analysis in 16th- and 17th-Century Prose, Poetry, and Drama

TR 12:55-2:10 | Nancy Henry

This course will take a deep dive into major nineteenth-century British novels and short stories. We will look at the global contexts of British fiction, considering the implications of transatlantic and colonial economic networks for concepts such as realism, provincialism and industrial fiction. We will use various critical lenses to foreground discussions about race, class, gender, animals, and the environment. Primary texts will include: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, and George Eliot’s Middlemarch.


Assignments will include short papers, research exercises, discussion posts and a final research paper.

ENGL 560 | Transplantation in Contemporary African Writing

Readings in 20th Century Literature

TR 11:20-12:35 | Gichingri Ndigirigi

Recent scholarship interrogates the pervasive narrative that African cultures were “destroyed” by contact with the West, with some scholars suggesting that while African cultures transitioned “through” colonialism, they are not necessarily “postcolonial.” European cultural forms were transplanted into African spaces that remade them to represent an identifiably African experience, suggesting that Africans were not passive objects of a colonial episteme. If all literary texts advance a cultural argument, do we find evidence of the spatial, temporal, and aesthetic transplantation in contemporary African writing? If the colonial novel privileged the European “seeing eye” in Pratt’s “contact zones,” how does the seeing eye of the traveling African who is not a “localized native” in African settings but an intercultural hybrid traveler in metropolitan spaces complicate the aesthetics and politics of representation even within the assumed center? Is transplantation the appropriate term for a bidirectional-traffic between spaces that have been flattened in the center-periphery model of inquiry? The course seeks answers to these questions through focused study of representative literary texts by the best African writers eg. Achebe, Adichie, Coetzee and Soyinka, and the most recent scholarship. PSA: At the end of the semester, students will be invited to participate in the largest conference of African literature and meet its leading scholars.


Class participation (20%); student presentation that is then developed into a 5-page paper (30%); a final 15-page research paper (50%).

ENGL 594 | Film Theory

Film History, Form, and Analysis

MW 11:20-12:35, F 11:20-01:20 | Eleni Palis

As an introduction to film studies at the graduate level, this course aims to equip students with up-to-date perspectives, methodologies, histories, and film theories of contemporary film and media studies. Students will master analytical, historical, technological, and aesthetic film fluencies, allowing them to craft persuasive, publishable film scholarship and to teach introductory film history and analysis. We will proceed through film theory, from psychoanalysis and semiotics to feminist film theory, critical race theory in film, genre theory, auteur theory, star studies, and theorizations of the film archive. Throughout, we will follow the work of Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, attending to the ways race and ethnicity intersect with sexuality, gender identity, class, and ability.


This is a graduate seminar, in which students are expected to attend all meetings, stream and take notes on all assigned films, keep up with weekly readings, and come prepared to discuss each film and reading in detail. Course grades are determined by regular attendance and participation, leading one close-viewing discussion, weekly responses to films and readings, one scene analysis, and a final film research paper.

ENGL 670 | Black Mountain Dispersal

Studies in 20th-Century Literature

TR 9:45-11:00 | Ben Lee

A course on Black Mountain poetry’s beginnings—at Black Mountain College in the early 1950s—and on its dispersal once the College folded and its experimental aesthetic and ethos had to take root elsewhere. Poets we’ll read closely include Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Rae Armantrout, Lyn Hejinian, and Nathaniel Mackey. Alongside discussions of the poems, we’ll survey scholarship on Black Mountain poetry, with a particular emphasis on inter-arts influence and collaboration, environmentalism, and experimental communities.


Requirements include active participation, a presentation, a response essay, a bibliography, and a final seminar paper.

ENGL 680 | Issues in Writing Assessment

Advanced Studies in Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics

MW 2:30-3:45 | Tanita Saenkhum

Issues in Writing Assessment explores topics in writing assessment from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, including writing studies, applied linguistics, and education. The course provides insights both from the discussion of the professional literature and real-life examples. Some of the key topics include writing assessment theory, historical perspectives on writing assessment, program assessment, grading and response, writing assessment and social justice, the role of technology in the assessment of writing, and policies, politics, and economies of writing assessment. We will explore these topics through readings, case studies, program assessment projects, and students’ own research projects. The main purpose of this course is to help students attain the writing assessment scholarship and to prepare them for future assessment work.


Attendance + participation, reader’s responses, class discussion leading, and semester project (e.g., a list of possible topic areas, preliminary bibliography, research questions, project proposal, preliminary draft, oral presentation, final draft).

ENGL 686 | Forms of Fiction

Studies in Creative Writing

T 5:10 – 9:05 | Michael Knight

In “The Art of Fiction,” Henry James writes that, “The only obligation to which in advance we may hold a novel without incurring the accusation of being arbitrary is that it be interesting,” an assertion as applicable, at least for the purposes of this course, to the short story and the novella. He goes on to assert that, “the ways in which [the novel] is at liberty to accomplish this result strike me as innumerable and such as can only suffer from being marked out, or fenced in, by prescription.” This course will begin with the assumption that Henry James, however quick he might be to dismiss “prescription,” is in fact correct and then pick up where he left off in a discussion of how fiction works in its many methods and modes and of what differentiates its various forms—the short story from the novella, the novella from the novel—beyond the generalization of page count. In these discussions and in the workshop process, we might also hash out elements of craft that all good fiction, regardless of style or content, have in common, as well what constitutes “interesting” in a work of fiction. The reading list may (operative word) include, among other works, the fiction of Anton Chekhov, Toni Morrison, Olga Tokarczuk, Venita Blackburn, Tom Drury, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton and Junichiro Tanizaki.


Attendance, participation, craft talk, new fiction, revision.

ENGL 686 | Studies in Creative Writing

R 5:10 – 9:05 | Cornelius Eady

This semester, I’m curious about the relationships between the poet and the political (or social) and would like to explore those aspects with my students. As I type this, I’m not sure where these threads may lead; I just know I’d like to tug hem. This course will mainly be a workshop, but this thread will provide the undercurrent of our work this semester—so the exercises and readings I bring in will probably reflect that. I am now the co-host of a weekly poetry radio show from Poets House, aired on WBAI radio, and would like to have a discussion with the class on how we might incorporate that into our semester. I will also be inviting four guest poets, (or poet publishers) one per month to visit the class via Zoom to discuss how they use their art as activist. As I’ve written before here, for me, Poetry is not a museum piece; it is a living, breathing and changeable art form, written by living, breathing and changeable human beings, and in my poetry workshop my students will be able to not only walk their way through the various ways we make a poem, they will also be able to have first-hand knowledge with working poets to see the ways those rules are used (and broken) You will be doing three main things here: 1) writing and revising your own work (including exercises), 2) Doing close reading of the poems assigned. 3) Interviewing visiting poets. The final in this workshop will be a chapbook of 10-12 of your best poems written and revised over the semester, with a short introduction (2 pg. min.) written in the third person by the author, due the last day of class. It is still basically a poetry course with a reading series attached. Come with a sense of play and adventure.

ENGL 690 | Herman Melville

Special Topics

MW 12:55–2:10 | Dawn Coleman

This course explores the writings of Herman Melville, one of American literature’s most rewarding and influential authors. We will examine how Melville spoke to the pressing topics of his own historical moment, especially slavery, and how his work transcends that moment to address persistent modern problems, including white supremacy, ruthless capitalism, environmental destruction, religious disagreements and uncertainty, the fragility of democracy, and the function and value of art. Our goal is to develop a rich understanding of Melville’s varied literary productions and of the critical responses to those texts. We will also attend more briefly to Melville-inspired art and adaptations. Readings include Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846); Redburn: His First Voyage (1849); Moby-Dick (1851); Pierre; Or, the Ambiguities (1852); The Piazza Tales (1855); selections from the poetry, including Battle-Pieces (1865) and Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876); and the posthumously published Billy Budd (1921).


Course requirements: discussion questions on assigned days, a presentation on a Melville-related archival topic, a five-page essay, a final seminar paper, and several assignments leading up to the final paper, including an abstract with annotated bibliography, a three-page draft, and a presentation.