J-Term 2018 Courses
ENGL 213: Themes/Authors
Theme: Utopias & Dystopias
Prof. Solveig Robinson
This course will explore the enduring appeal of Utopias and Dystopias, those imagined worlds in which all ills are resolved, or in which one or more evils are magnified. Through close readings of texts and films, we will examine the origins and development of utopian/dystopian literature and analyze how literary forms and content change and develop in response to cultural and social forces. A variety of written assignments will provide opportunities for careful analysis of form and content.
Engl 216: Topics in Literature (C/L)
This course will focus on Asian-American Literature, spanning work produced in the mid-20th Century to the present. At the macro level, we will ask the question: how is identity described/depicted/formed by literary texts? In the case of the writers we read, we will be asking in particular how Asian-American identity is constructed, given the double context of Asian-ness and American culture. We will look into some complicated elements that affect identity: race, ethnicity, culture and culture clashes, myth and tradition, politics, history, stereotype and self-determination, gender, sexuality, language, immigration and exile, and so on. How do the poems, stories, and essays we read manifest these elements? At the micro level, we will be doing very close analyses of literary texts, trying to figure out how each writer takes his or her experience (i.e. content) and gives it a shape as a piece of writing (i.e. form). We’ll explore the ways that rhetorical strategies—via diction, tone, image, voice, point of view, syntax, metaphor, and so on—affect the ways subjectivity is created. And we will look at how political, aesthetic, philosophical, and literary elements factor into that subjectivity.
ENGL 241: American Traditions in Literature (L)
Rethinking Individualism—American Selves in Social Contexts
Almost all literature explores, from one perspective or another, the tension between individuals’ desires for personal fulfillment and the social institutions that both create and limit the possibilities for such fulfillment. This theme is especially prominent in American Literature, given our culture’s commitment to individualism and our national myths that depict American institutions – and the North American continent – as providing an unparalleled newness, liberty, and openness. Wrestling with both the ideals and realities of the American experience, American writers have confronted questions of liberty, racism, and the legacy of slavery; individual fulfillment and social reform; socio-economic mobility and the myth of the melting pot; gender, sexuality, and marriage. We will trace such themes in the work of American writers representing a variety of historical periods and literary genres from the colonial period to the late twentieth century. We’ll read texts by colonial writers Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Phillis Wheatley and Anne Bradstreet; nineteenth century writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson; and twentieth century novelists Kate Chopin and Toni Morrison.
ENGL 251: British Traditions: Gender and Ethics from Shakespeare to Austen (L)
How were people of different genders portrayed in early British literature–and how did these portrayals communicate expectations of duty, honor, and virtue in gendered ways? What ethical principles are suggested, revised, or questioned during this process? By reading texts in a range of genres, from drama (The Taming of the Shrew) and novels (Pride and Prejudice) to epic poetry (Paradise Lost), our class will introduce literary themes and approaches while tackling big questions about agency, personhood, and power. A close-reading paper, an acting assignment, and an ethics project will build on each other to help students explore the issues we discuss in greater depth.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (ISBN: 978-0393264883)
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (ISBN: 978-0199538768)
Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Mariam (ISBN: 978-0713688764)
John Milton, Paradise Lost (ISBN: 978-0199535743)
William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew (ISBN: 978-1903436936)
ENGL 345: Studies in Literature and Difference (L/A)
We’re Here, We’re Queer: Queer American Literature and Place
This course explores the importance of place in imagining queer subjectivity and community in LGBTQ+ American literature written since 1945. Framing our analysis of queer counter-culture and sexual relation within a literary exploration of setting and landscape, this course seeks to better understand the when, where and how of queer community formation and literary representation, especially in light of broader homophobic systems of power that have police spaces of LGBTQ+ contact and affiliation. Students will be introduced to foundational concepts in queer studies related to questions of place, including the conception of the “closet,” the emergence of queer geography studies, and the role that transnationalism plays in contemporary queer culture. How do queer American authors trouble divisions of public and private, urban and rural, domestic and foreign in their fiction, poetry and memoirs? How have queer visions of place changed since the Stonewall riots of 1968? And how are queer lives shaped by race, gender and class formations? Authors may include James Baldwin, David Wojnarowicz, Jan Zita Grover, Michelle Cliff, Monique Truong, Allison Bechdel.
Spring 2018 Courses
ENGL 190/217: “Who Owns Auschwitz?”: Literature of the Holocaust (A/L)
Professor Lisa Marcus
This First Year Experience Program 190 course, Literature of the Holocaust, is designed to introduce first year students to the study of literature through analysis and discussion of Holocaust texts. We will take as our starting point the provocative question raised by Hungarian Holocaust survivor Imre Kertsz: “Who Owns Auschwitz?” In attempt to answer this question, we will read texts representing multiple generations of writing by those who both perished and survived the Holocaust, including the work of victims like Anne Frank, testimony and narrative from survivors like Primo Levi and Charlotte Delbo, creative work by second generation survivors like Art Spiegelman’s comic memoir Maus, and fictional accounts that take the Holocaust as their subject matter. We will conclude the course by analyzing recent books made into films that attempt to “own Auschwitz”: Schindler’s List, The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and The Zookeeper’s Wife. Students will be challenged to read materials that are emotionally and cognitively difficult, and they will be given multiple opportunities to use writing and conversation as opportunities for better understanding the horrors of the Holocaust and the rich range of literary responses to it.
ENGL 214: Introduction to Major Literary Genres (L)
This course is designed to introduce you to the study of poetry at the college level. Its primary aim is to help you become a more careful, engaged, and knowledgeable reader of poetry. That requires, first of all, a lot of practice: we will read and discuss a lot of poems. The course will also introduce you to the basics of poetic form: the use of figurative language; the way poets use rhythm and meter to enhance the meaning and beauty of their poems; how poets make creative use of traditional poetic forms (poetic lines, stanzas, rhyme, “genres” or types of poems) — or the types of structures they use in “free verse. The course will also introduce you to a variety of poets in the Anglo-American tradition, poets from different historical periods writing in a variety of different genres. In short, we will read many wonderful poems, by some of the most famous poets who have written in the English language. Our goal is for you to be able to more fully experience the meaning and beauty of poems as works of art—and for you to better understand why you find them beautiful and meaningful: to be more conscious of how poems work on us as readers, and to understand why for poetry is one of the most powerful forms of human expression.
ENGL 216/GLST 287: Fictions of Disaster and Development
9:15 am – 10:20 am MWF
Hauge Administration Building 214
Environmental and industrial disasters are constantly in the headlines. They’re also the subject of big budget movies, best-selling novels, humanitarian advertising campaigns, and other cultural representations. In short, disaster seems to be everywhere. This interdisciplinary course will help to make sense of this pervasiveness by studying disaster from multiple perspectives. The course will be guided by a transnational perspective that attends to disaster’s material effects (the forced displacement of people across national borders) and its representation (broadcasting across national borders).
We will address the following questions, among others, during the course: Is disaster an event or part of a process? Do natural disasters have social causes? How does the history of European and US imperialism affect the global vulnerability to disaster? Are representations of disasters expressions of exoticism or of solidarity? Do relief projects always benefit the survivors of disaster? Course readings will draw from several scholarly disciplines, as well as memoir, journalism, and fiction. We will also consider visual representations, such as film and advertising. Course topics will likely include the Union Carbide disaster in 1984, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Haitian earthquake in 2010.
ENGL 220: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction (W)
Tues / Thurs, 1:45 to 3:30 pm
This semester-long course will introduce you to the history, contemporary practice, and craft elements of creative nonfiction. We will learn how the “fourth genre” of creative nonfiction adapts elements of fiction (e.g. character, story structure, set scenes, and narration) as well as poetry (precision of language, lyricism, compression) to create works of literary nonfiction—works based on memory, research, reporting, fieldwork, and (most important) fact. We will read, study, and write a range of literary nonfiction, including personal essay, place-based writing, short memoir, reportage, and lyric essay. This course is a prerequisite for most 300-level creative nonfiction classes, including the Nonfiction Capstone (ENGL 425).
English 227: Introduction to Poetry and Fiction Writing
Prof. Jason Skipper
English 227: Introduction to Poetry and Fiction Writing is a foundational-level course that introduces students to the history, theories, and practice of poetry and fiction writing. In this class students will consider the work of many authors from different time periods and backgrounds in order to consider the ways creative writing is used to follow a line of inquiry and deepen the reader’s understanding of the human condition. Students in this course will produce both poetry and short stories, and this material will be critiqued in a workshop setting. This class will focus heavily on revision, and every piece that is workshopped will be revised for a final portfolio.
ENGL 241: American Traditions in Literature (L)
Exiles, Outsiders, Friends: The Struggle for Belonging in American Literature
In this course we will survey American literature to better understand how poetry, drama and fiction give us new perspectives on American citizenship and collective belonging. Throughout the term we’ll explore stories of exile, exclusion and the struggle for belonging, as we think about how race, class, gender, sexual and indigenous identities shape the individual quest to become an “American.” Born from an idealistic pledge of freedom and equality for all, the United States has struggled throughout its history to uphold this promise and forge a dynamic and egalitarian national community. From Walt Whitman’s transcendent American brotherhood to Willa Cather’s portrait of modern immigration, from Toni Morrison’s complex portrayal of the segregated South to post-war novelist John Okada’s depiction of Japanese Internment during WWII, this course explores literary representations of those exiles, outsiders and friends that make up the American nation.
ENG 300: English Studies Seminar
Letter by Letter: Epistolary Encounters in English Studies
This course is designed for students who have declared their English major, whether it be the writing emphasis or the literature emphasis. We will come together in a seminar-format to reflect on and practice the pleasures, demands, and rewards of the interconnected processes of reading and writing. We will focus on the imaginative, critical, and social power of reading and writing as acts of creating meaning and beauty, as acts of self-expression, and as acts of social analysis and critique. We will read and write texts from a range of genres, engage literary and cultural criticism and theory, and reflect on the broad question of why reading and writing matter. Our goal is to help you sharpen your sense of focus as an English major—to refine your own purposes and passions in pursuing your course of study within the major—and to help you become a more confident, flexible, and sophisticated reader, writer, and thinker.
This section of ENGL 300 will introduce you to English studies by delving into a foundational literary form: the letter. For many of us, the letter is one of the first forms of writing that we learn to compose, whether it is a thank you note to our grandmother or a letter to Santa. Yet letters serve as the dynamic inspiration for a variety of literary genres, including political manifestos, lyric poetry, novels, short stories and memoirs; collections of written correspondence are also subjects of critical study in their own right. In this class we will read artistic and literary correspondence, epistolary novels and short stories and critical essays on epistolary practices in order to reflect on the historical, aesthetic, psychological, emotional and political qualities of this enduring form of writing. Together we will encounter a wide range of authors such as Sophocles, St. Augustine, Walt Whitman, James Baldwin, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf and Ruth Ozeki.
ENGL 322: Place-Based Writing
Tues / Thurs, 9:55 to 11:40 am
Successful place-based writing captures both our interior and exterior landscapes. Seattle poet and essayist Frances McCue says that writing with a sense of place “captures the torque between temperament and terrain.” How can creative writers capture that elusive torque? That is the central question of this course. In this discussion-based creative writing course, we will explore the concept of “sense of place,” reaching back through three centuries of literary texts. Though our focus as writers will be creative nonfiction, we will read a wide range of literary genres. We will read, write, and offer feedback on one another’s work. About one-quarter of our class time together will be completing writing and revision exercises. Another quarter will be devoted to workshop sessions of your drafts. We will read our work aloud, record it, and learn to present it in digital form. Each student will choose a physical place that is important to them and delve into its past, present and future: researching the history of the place, spending time there, and bringing it to life on the page. This course is open to all curious and motivated students who have completed at least one writing course at PLU and may be taken for either English or Environmental Studies credit.
ENG 327/427: Intermediate/Advanced Poetry Writing
Building on the foundational skills in poetry that students developed in Engl 227 (or an equivalent course) this class will have two aims: to examine the works of some distinct modern poets; and to further develop each student’s skills as a poet. In our analysis of poems we will be governed by the idea that writing poems has as much to do with craft (which can be defined as the writer’s sense of technical possibilities and constraints) as it does with expression (defined as the writer’s feelings and experiences and imagination). Part of our time will be spent reading and discussing poems by established poets to see how their poems succeed—to see how craft and expression came into perfect play. For the most part, however, we will workshop poems generated by members of the class, with an eye towards helping these poems achieve depth and beauty. In the second half of the semester, students who have previously taken Engl 327 will begin fulfilling the requirements for the capstone, culminating in a capstone presentation at the end of the semester.
ENGL 360B: Studies in British Literature
Major Author: George Eliot
Prof. Solveig Robinson
This course will explore questions of gender and genre in the Victorian age by a close analysis of the works of George Eliot (Marian Evans). We will focus on the novels that placed her at the center of the emerging genre of realist fiction, including her masterpiece Middlemarch, but we will also read selected essays and poetry. Written assignments will provide opportunities for careful analysis of form, content, and sociopolitical context.
English 339: Special Topics in Fiction Writing
Prof. Jason Skipper
English 339: Special Topics in Fiction Writing is an advanced fiction writing course that will focus this semester on literary speculative fiction. Over the term students will critically consider different types of speculative fiction, including absurdist, magical realist, literary horror and science fiction. In this workshop students will read texts on craft and study short stories by writers like Nikolai Gogol, Angela Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Franz Kafka, Haruki Murakami, and Karen Russell to gain a rich understanding of why writers work in this mode and techniques they use to create engaging and meaningful fiction. Each student will use this understanding to produce two speculative short stories of their own, which the class will workshop and the student will revise for a final portfolio.
ENGL 368B: Studies in Literary History (L)
The Transcendentalists: The Literary Imagination and Social Reform
This course will focus on the three major American writers who defined the Romantic literary movement known as “Transcendentalism”—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau—and the poet who used their ideas to create a bold new form of American poetry, Walt Whitman. These authors not only penned some of most influential and enduring works of American literature – Emerson’s essays such as “Self-Reliance,” Fuller’s feminist manifesto Woman in the 19th Century, Thoreau’s environmental classic Walden and his seminal theory of democratic protest “Resistance to Civil Government,” and Whitman’s revolutionary lyric “Song of Myself” – but they also envisioned literature, and the writer as a public intellectual, as playing a central role in democratic culture. The transcendentalists wrestled with all the social issues and reforms that shaped the tumultuous decades leading up to the Civil War: the sectional crisis over slavery; women’s rights and gender roles; economic life in a capitalist economy; our relation to nature and the environment; and what God means in an increasingly modern and naturalistic world-view. Perhaps most famously, they approached all these topics with a uniquely American vision of democratic individuality: with a conviction that the cultivation of individuality is central to the health of democratic society.
English 370C: American Literature 1914-1945 (L)
This course, framed by WWI and WWII, explores the writing of North American writers from T.S. Eliot to Richard Wright, F. Scott Fitzgerald to Zora Neale Hurston. Flanked by war novels, the course begins with Edith Wharton’s powerful (and long out of print) WWI novel, A Son at the Front (1923) and ends with Arthur Miller’s only work of fiction, the prescient Holocaust novel, Focus (1945). In between we investigate Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance by focusing on one spectacularly productive literary year – 1925 (the year of The Great Gatsby and the important literary anthology, The New Negro). We’ll study texts that ask us to think about race, gender and nationhood, sexuality and self-construction, and about religion and modernity. This is an upper level course and will include lots of reading, daily writing assignments and critical reflection.
English 393: The English Language
Tuesday/Thursday 9:55 – 11:40
What is language? Where does it come from? How does it work? What are its structures? In what ways is language political, social, personal, economic? What are the rules of language? Who decides? And what are the consequences for not following the rules? Is language the same thing as grammar? And just what is grammar anyway? Should we approach it descriptively or prescriptively? When? Why? What are teachers’ responsibilities to students when it comes to language? What are teachers’ responsibilities to language? How does our understanding of language affect what is taught and how and why (and likewise, what isn’t taught and why not)?
This course is designed to immerse students into the complexities of language. It is divided into two main parts: 1) History, Structures, and the Teaching of Language and 2) Identity, Politics, and Power. Through a variety of in- and out-of-class exercises, students should develop thoughtful and informed answers to the above questions that they can articulate, defend, and put into practice.
English 398A: Literature and the Body (Reading Medieval Bodies) (L)
If a “corpus” can be either a body or a book, what does this say about perceptions of embodied being during the medieval period? As we delve into this question, we’ll analyze texts written between 700 and 1400 CE, with a particular emphasis on depictions of human, animal, plant, monster, and faery bodies. Since this is an advanced class, we’ll also be exploring criticism in depth, by spotlighting articles on gender, sexuality, and other major topics of embodiment by critics like Caroline Walker Bynum and Karen Cherewatuk. Ongoing class discussions will cover medieval views of disability, humanness, manuscript culture, theologies of physiology, humoral theory, human-animal relationships, and the idea of sentience. By the end of the class, students should be able to discuss a wide range of bodily presentations within medieval contexts, using the Oxford English Dictionary and primary source documents to create thoughtful arguments about changing perspectives on corpuses—in all their forms.
The Broadview Anthology of English Literature, Volume One, Third Edition (ISBN: 9781554812028)
PPAP 302: Publishing Procedures
Prof. Solveig Robinson
This hands-on seminar introduces the technical and intellectual skills essential to the modern publishing world. Assignments and sessions reflect the pace and variety of professional publishing work, with an emphasis on book and journal publishing. Required for PPA minors; fulfills “Writing in Specific Contexts” or writing elective credit for English; fulfills elective credit for Communication.
English 429: Capstone Seminar in Fiction Writing
Prof. Jason Skipper
The Capstone Seminar in Fiction Writing is an advanced level workshop that focuses on short story writing. In this course students will explore the ways reading shapes a writer’s critical lens, give a presentation that examines a short story author and a genre in literary fiction, and produce new stories. The semester will culminate with a capstone presentation, during which students will contextualize their writing in terms of literary history, theory, and technique, present a story that they produced in this class, and take questions from the audience.
FYEP 101: The Function of University Education
12:30 pm – 1:35 pm MWF
Hauge Administration Building 211B
What is the function of university education in the 21st century? What do students expect from the university? How does it—or should it—engage students in learning, prepare them for careers, or involve them in politics? Did students sitting in your seats 50 years ago think about their educations the same way you do? With these questions in mind, how is the university not simply a preparation for, but very much part of, the so-called “real world”? In this course we will reflect upon the university as an institution—considering its history, its place in US culture, and our places within it. Course texts include fiction, scholarly essays, films, and testimonials. Students will hone their writing by working in multiple forms, including personal narrative, argument analysis, reportage, and a historically-informed essay about student debt and a field of study.
SYEP 202 One Giant Leap: The Human Experience
Scott L. Rogers
This second course in the two-course SYE Cornerstones sequence “One Giant Leap” will focus on the human experience of the multi-generational starship. The ship designed in the first half of this course sequence (Fall ’17) will be our starting point for asking questions about faith, ethics, social dynamics, political structures, identity, community, and human-centered design. Our goal will be to imagine possible strategies for promoting a stable and fulfilling life aboard a floating biosphere, disconnected from Earth. Importantly, this is a course about asking big questions, pursuing insightful answers, and challenging ourselves to read broadly, think deeply, and synthesize knowledge toward critical ends. It is a thought experiment. This means that it will not be a course in any particular “discipline.” Rather, we will take advantage of the “imaginary” space this course naturally provides to develop skills for thinking across disciplinary contexts, imagining alternative futures, using dialogue and reflection to re-evaluate the nature of our social realities and, perhaps, driving authentic change in the world. Students will complete individual and group projects in print and digital forms. There will be a community engagement requirement.
Writing 101: Literature and Medicine (W)
How do we know what’s healthy—and when is it okay to judge someone else’s health? Going a step further: how can reading and writing lead us to deeper insights about the nature of health itself, including the health of an individual, a group, or even a society? (And what ethics are linked to these questions?) As we read and reflect on a range of material, from journalism (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and memoir (El Deafo; Intern) to a documentary (The Genius of Marian) and a play (Wit), we’ll ask how literature and medicine can interact to teach us about observing details, setting priorities, listening to rarely-heard voices, and (even) writing a strong essay in college. Three portfolios will allow you to draft, revise, and hone your work as you think in complex ways about questions of health and wellness.
Cece Bell, El Deafo (ISBN: 9781419712173)
Margaret Edson, Wit (ISBN: 9780571198771)
Sandeep Jauhar, Intern (ISBN: 9780374531591)
Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (ISBN: 9781400052189)