English Course Descriptions
ENGL 101 English Composition – GS 9
This course helps students develop and discipline their powers of exposition through an in-depth study of a few literary masterpieces that students write about and a systematic series of rhetorical exercises to help them explain ideas in clear and effective writing. Available only through the College Credit program. ENGL 101 does not fulfill an English major requirement.
ENGL 150 Introduction to Literature – GS 5
In this course, students: 1) cultivate an appreciation for literature and 2) develop the skills of close reading and analysis of selected works from the genres of poetry, fiction, drama and nonfiction prose according to the various principles and techniques of literary criticism.
ENGL 203 Science Fiction and Fantasy – GS5
Science Fiction and Fantasy explores the importance of these two popular genres. Focal questions in the course are: What are the defining characteristics of science fiction and fantasy? What are the larger thematic issues these genres propose? More specifically, the course looks critically at constructions of race and gender, of spirituality, of technology, of colonization and of political Utopian/dystopian worlds. Authors may include George MacDonald, H.G. Wells, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. LeGuin, Peter S. Beagle, Philip K. Dick, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Margaret Atwood, Walter M. Miller, William Gibson, Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and a graphic novel and hypertext.
ENGL 206 / WMGS 206 Sexuality and Literature: Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Texts – GS 5
When Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde’s partner, famously said, “I am the love that dare not speak its name,” referring to his own hidden sexual identity, he articulated a conundrum in gay identity: How do you tell your story when it is unspeakable? This introduction to the lesbian, gay and transgender tradition in literature tackles this question among others. This course focuses primarily on twentieth-century U.S. texts (fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction, film and theory). Students will read such authors as E.M. Forster, Walt Whitman, Radclyffe Hall, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Jeanette Winterson, Gloria Anzaldua, Leslie Feinberg and Tony Kushner.
ENGL 212 The Modern British Novel – GS 5
This course traces the development of the British novel in the twentieth century by studying such writers as Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Lawrence, Greene, Spark, Murdoch, Golding, Lessing and McEwan. It looks at the ways these authors have used and transformed their chosen literary genre, the novel, and it also examines the modern philosophical, psychological and sociological ideas that they have dealt with in their works.
ENGL 221 The American Short Story – GS 5 and GS 9
This course concentrates on the development of the American short story by studying selected works of Irving, Hawthorne, Poe, Harte, Bierce, Crane, James, Anderson, K.A. Porter, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, Carver and others. The course includes analysis of individual stories and some attention to literary history and theory.
ENGL 222 Modern Poetry
This course explores modern poetry by poets in the context of modernism, an international, interdisciplinary movement that spanned both world wars and included literature, music, drama, art and film. Featured poets may include progenitors Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, as well as W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Claude McKay, Wilfred Owen, William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, H.D., Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, Marianne Moore and Langston Hughes.
ENGL 225 Survey of English Literature 1 – Beginnings to Johnson
This course provides an overview of the continuity and development of the tradition of literature of the British Isles from the Anglo-Saxon period through Samuel Johnson. Readings aim to develop understanding and appreciation of the broad sweep of English literature and include such major works as “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and such authors as Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Milton, Behn and Pope. Fall semester.
ENGL 226 Survey of English Literature 2 – Blake to the Present
This course provides an overview of the continuity and development of the tradition of literature written in the British Isles from William Blake to the present. The course includes such authors as the Romantic poets, the Victorian poets and prose writers, Yeats, Woolf, Joyce, Beckett and Heaney. In addition, it covers the various historical movements of the English tradition – neoclassical, romantic, Victorian, modern and postmodern. The course fosters an appreciation for and understanding of the broad sweep of modern English literature. Spring semester.
ENGL 228 The Continental Novel – GS 7
This course examines an assortment of major European novels, in excellent English translations, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Each novel is studied as a literary text but also as a representation of its time and place. Featured novelists may include Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Colette and others.
ENGL 235 / AMER 235 Survey of U.S. Literature 1 – Beginnings to 1865
This course introduces students to the major writers, literary movements and cultural and historical contexts in the United States from its origins to the end of the Civil War. Students examine American Indian creation stories, trickster tales, encounter narratives, Puritan prose and poetry, the literature of the Enlightenment and Revolutionary War, slave narratives and the rise of romanticism. Writers include Cabeza de Vaca, Bradford, Bradstreet, Rowlandson, Edwards, Wheatley, Rowson, Irving, Equiano, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Melville, Whitman, Harding Davis and Dickinson. Fall semester.
ENGL 236 / AMER 236 Survey of U.S. Literature 2 – 1865 to the Present
This course introduces students to the major authors, periods and literary movements in the United States from the end of the Civil War to the present. Students read the works of poets, fiction writers and dramatists from the rise of realism and naturalism, through the modernist movement in the U.S., to the postmodern era. Writers include Dickinson, Clemens, Crane, Jewett, Chopin, Black Elk, Frost, Stevens, Faulkner, O’Neill, O’Connor, Updike, Erdrich, Ginsberg and Plath. Spring semester.
ENGL 289 Special Topics
This small-group seminar concentrates on a variety of literary concerns and special interests, ranging from single authors to movements, motifs or themes. Recent examples include: Classical and Contemporary Fairy Tales, Fiction of Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene, Literary Humor, Creative Non-fiction and Readings from Hell. Course is repeatable with adviser's and instructor’s consent.
ENGL 290 The English Language
This course helps students increase their understanding of the nature and theory of language and improve their proficiency in its use. Included are such topics as the history of the English language, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and the relationship between language and society. The course also includes study of traditional and transformational grammar.
ENGL 304 Creative Nonfiction Workshop
Designed to introduce students to creative nonfiction, a genre that includes the personal essay, memoir and literary journalism. Students will read and discuss published essays, practice elements of the genre, share work with classmates, and compose and revise several essays.
ENGL 305 Literary Theory and Writing
This course is designed to help students develop their critical writing skills and to prepare them for the kinds of writing they will do in upper-level literature classes, including research-based essays. The course will explore writing as a process – from generating and organizing ideas, to peer reviewing, revising, editing and publishing. Furthermore, the course will introduce students to the discourse community of English by examining various theoretical approaches to literature, including close reading, psychoanalytic, feminist and gender, Marxist, poststructuralist, multi-cultural, new historicist and reader response criticism. This course also introduces students to library research methods and documentation.
ENGL 306 Professional Writing
This course gives the student systematic practice in developing a jargon-free, forceful prose style suitable for writing in professional contexts. Students will study grammar and style, conduct research and write and revise electronic correspondence, letters, profiles, reviews and reports. Students will conduct oral presentations as well.
ENGL 307 Fiction Workshop
This course covers the fundamental principles of writing short stories: plausibility, plot construction, point of view, characterization, setting, style and the use of evocative details. The approach is workshop tutorial. Some readings in short fiction and in theories of fiction are required.
ENGL 308 Poetry Workshop
This course focuses on the writing of poetry. The approach is workshop tutorial. Students will read and critique each other’s works; they will also read works by currently publishing poets.
ENGL 309 African-American Novel
Beginning with one of the most important texts in the African-American literary canon, Frederick Douglass’ slave narrative, the course traces the historical trajectory from antebellum autobiography to the contemporary protest novel in African-American literature. The course analyzes these texts in relation to a variety of social, political and artistic historical moments: the rise of slavery, Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement. Writers include Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison.
ENGL 310 Contemporary Ethnic Fiction in the United States
This course examines race and ethnicity in American-Indian, Latino, African- American and Asian-American texts in the contemporary United States (1960s to present). The course investigates recurrent issues like immigration, memory and identity, and the legacy of slavery, as we understand the political and cultural underpinnings of the texts. Writers include Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Gish Jen and Don Lee. This course meets the Literature and Cultural Diversity requirement for English majors with secondary education certification.
ENGL 311 / AMER 311 / WMGS 311 Women and Literature
Through exploring literary texts by women, this course analyzes how the construction of “woman,” sex and gender has changed over time and investigates how it intersects with issues of race, class, sexuality and nation. By using feminist literary theory, the course engages the most pressing issues in the field from ideas of women’s literary voice to claims that challenge female authorship altogether. Special topics may include Contemporary Women Writers, Gender and 19th Century Novel, and Ethnic Women Writers. Authors may include Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, Gloria Anzaldua, Margaret Atwood, Bharati Mukherjee, Leslie Feinberg, Edwidge Danticat and Marjane Satrapi.
ENGL 312 Singles and Couples
This course looks at works of literature from various times and traditions that present two different ways of looking at the human self: in isolation (“singles”) and in relationship (“couples”). The course also addresses the larger issue of the connection (or disconnection) between literature and lived human experience. Authors studied may include Euripides, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Virginia Woolf and Anne Tyler.
ENGL 314 Modern Drama – GS 10
This course helps students understand and appreciate drama. Students read, analyze, interpret and discuss works of representative modern American, British, Irish and Continental playwrights, from Henrik Ibsen to Sam Shepard. The emphasis is on the development of modern drama from the Theater of Realism to the present. Dramatists discussed may include Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Brecht, Shaw, Bolt, Osborne, Synge, O’Casey, O’Neill, Wilder, Hansberry, Williams, Albee, Miller and Lanford Wilson.
ENGL 317 Nineteenth-Century American Novel
This course studies the American novel prior to World War I by surveying representative works from the romantic, realistic and naturalistic periods. Authors covered may include Cooper, Hawthorne, Melville, Stowe, Twain, Wilson, Chesnutt, James, Chopin, Dreiser and Wharton.
ENGL 318 The Modern American Novel
This course traces the development of the American novel from the end of World War I to the present. Placing examples of the genre within the changing social, artistic, political and historical patterns of the twentieth-century United States, the survey includes the modernist voices of such writers as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck and McCullers and the contemporary and postmodern experiments of Ellison, Kerouac, Vonnegut, Seattle, Morrison and DeLillo.
ENGL 321 Dante: The Divine Comedy – GS 10 and GS 12
This course studies Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” as a mutual endeavor on the part of students and instructor to appreciate and comprehend that great medieval vision of human nature, purpose and values, and to confront the questions about values that Dante poses for contemporary human beings. In this process readers journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, eventually returning to live in the here-and-now with a fuller understanding of who they are.
ENGL 322 Medieval Literature – GS 10
This course follows the development of Western thought as exhibited in literature from the late classical to the Renaissance (modern) world, using such texts as “On Christian Doctrine,” “The Consolation of Philosophy,” “Beowulf,” “The Song of Roland,” “The Quest of the Holy Grail,” “The Cloud of Unknowing,” and “Le Morte D’Arthur.” The course shows how aspects of medieval religion, philosophy and aesthetics linger and influence the ways we think, read and write today. It addresses concerns and themes that pervade works of the early and late medieval periods (quest, apocalypticism, the value of this world, mystical experience) and uncovers links that define the Middle Ages as a period historically, culturally and artistically.
ENGL 323 / AMER 323 The Harlem Renaissance
This course examines the flowering of culture – in the areas of literature, music, dance and art – which took place predominantly during the 1920’s for black Americans in Harlem, New York, a movement that has become known as the Harlem Renaissance. The course places this cultural renaissance, or rebirth, within the historical context out of which it grew: the modernizing America in a post-WWI era, the rise of jazz and the blues, and the Great Migration, among other factors. Some of the writers, intellectuals, visual and performing artists studied may include Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay, Alain Locke, Helene Johnson, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Duke Ellington.
ENGL 325 Chaucer
This course discusses Chaucer’s early poetry, “Troilus and Criseyde,” and “Canterbury Tales” from linguistic, historical and especially artistic points of view. Spring semester, alternate years.
ENGL 326 Shadows and Illuminations
This course examines the spiritual quest for meaning or transcendence, which can be thought of metaphorically as either a journey down or a journey up. Seen as a journey down, this is a descent into depth, into what Joseph Conrad called “the heart of darkness”; this is a realm of shadow and often uncanny fear and uncomfortable journey and yet it is often a necessary – perhaps even beautiful and life-expanding – part of the search for meaning. The journey up is the ascent to enlightenment or illumination, described by many different religious traditions and portrayed by literary artists as diverse as Shakespeare, Hawthorne and Morrison. The course will use works from various periods, traditions and genres to examine these two aspects of the spiritual journey and to reflect on the way literary texts can present, enhance and perhaps even embody such a journey.
ENGL 329 / AMER 329 Literature of Service
This course addresses concepts of American culture through the dual lenses of literary texts and community-based learning. The course explores individuals and communities in crisis or transition as a result of poor health, poverty, immigration, homelessness and gendered, sexual, racial or ethnic discrimination. Throughout the semester, paired students regularly volunteer at local community service agencies and expand their knowledge of these concepts by writing reflection journals as well as various forms of researched persuasive critical writing (literary analysis, opinion editorials, grant proposals and newsletters). Authors may include Dorothy Day, Robert Coles, Jane Addams, William Carlos Williams, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Fae Myenne Ng and Li-Young Lee.
ENGL 334 Milton
This course begins with a study of Milton’s early poetry and prose and moves to a concentration on his greatest works: “Paradise Lost,” “Paradise Regained” and “Samson Agonistes.” Spring semester, alternate years.
ENGL 339 Shakespeare’s Drama
This course surveys Shakespeare’s drama and usually includes representative plays from the following categories: history, comedy, tragedy and romance. In essence, it includes a dramatic sampler of Shakespeare’s finest works. Fall semester.
ENGL 356 Postcolonial Literature – GS 11
See infrequently offered courses.
ENGL 358 Nineteenth-Century English Novel
This course studies representative novels and emphasizes the movement from romanticism to Victorian social criticism and on to the beginning of modernism. It may include works by Austen, Dickens, Thackeray, the Brontes, Trollope, Meredith, Collins, Braddon, Stevenson, Eliot and Hardy.
ENGL 385 Concepts of Heroism in Western Culture – GS 10
This course studies the concepts of heroism expressed in the literature of several different eras of Western culture, including: classical, medieval, Renaissance, neo-classical, romantic and modern. The representative literary works vary, but may include Homer’s “Odyssey,” “Beowulf,” “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” Voltaire’s “Candida,” Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children,” and Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” The course encourages students to assess the human values implicit in the literary selections and to develop their own views of human success and greatness.
ENGL 425 Advanced Seminar in Creative Writing and Contemporary Literature
Students critique each other’s fiction and poetry and study the works of contemporary writers and poets. The class includes individual tutorial sessions. Students are expected to complete a portfolio of three prose pieces, 15 to 20 poems, or some combination of the two. Prerequisite: ENGL 307 or ENGL 308.
ENGL 489 Advanced Seminar in English Literary Studies
This seminar offers junior and senior English majors (and minors with instructor consent) the opportunity to concentrate on a special problem or theme or on an author or combination of authors. Recent examples include: James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” T. S. Eliot, Authoring Arthur, Henry James, Dickens, Gender and Sexuality in 19th Century U.S. Literature, Hurston and Morrison. Course is repeatable with adviser's and instructor’s consent.
ENGL 490 Independent Study
This course allows staff and students to explore together topics of special interest.
ENGL 491 Advanced Tutorial in Creative Writing
Students work with the instructor and three to five other students on the writing of poetry and/or short fiction. Some readings of contemporary writers will be assigned. Students are expected to write and revise about three short prose pieces, 10 to 12 poems, or some combination of the two. Prerequisite: ENGL 307 or ENGL 308. Course is repeatable with adviser's and instructor’s consent.
ENGL 494 Internship
An internship experience allows students to apply their studies in a supervised work situation. Students benefit from an inside look at different kinds of organizations, by having a chance to work in their field of study, and by gaining experience with state-of-the-art equipment and practices. Junior or senior standing and instructor’s consent.
ENGL 499 English Portfolio (0 credits)
All English majors are required to collect and submit a senior English portfolio (one essay or writing assignment from each ENGL course taken and a self-evaluative introductory essay) in order to fulfill graduation requirements (ENGL 499). During their coursework, English majors will store essays and writing assignments electronically under the supervision of their academic adviser(s). Senior portfolios (ENGL 499) are due at the conclusion of the English major’s coursework at the college. Senior English majors enroll in ENGL 499 during their final semester. Prerequisites: senior standing and instructor’s consent.
Alumna ProfileAs a technical writer for the U.S. Bank trust division, Erin Nitka ’00 works with the training team to develop learner-focused training materials. She creates and maintains procedures, manuals, job aids and workflows for bank projects and technology tools, including e-learning tools for online training.
With a Master of Arts degree in literature from Marquette University, she also teaches English at Bryant and Stratton College in Milwaukee. There, she developed and taught an online literature course to help students appreciate 20th-century authors.
Dean Emeritus and Professor of English