ENG 217: Topics in Literature Emphasis on Alternative Perspectives: Race and Reparation in Multi-ethnic American Literature. (L/A)
Prof. Jenny James
MTWR 11:30AM – 2:20PM
How does literature reconstruct and re-member American histories of violence and discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities? How do shifting conceptions of race, gender, sexuality and nation impact our understanding and political response to these past injustices? Who are the inheritors of this history of discrimination and what is the responsibility we all bear to the ghosts and remnants of our nation’s fragmented past? What is the role of literature in struggles of collective reparation for historical events such as slavery, segregation, or internment? In this course we’ll read contemporary fiction, drama and poetry within the Multiethnic American literary canon in order to explore the roles that history and memory have played in imagining racial identity, collectivity and interracial solidarity in America. In particular, we will explore the work of such authors as Harper Lee, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Carlos Bulosan and Lorraine Hansberry.
Over the course of the term, we will explore how Multiethnic American literature sets out difficult questions about racial identity, personal and collective memory, and how one bears witness to this complex and often traumatic history in the service of social justice in the present. You will be asked to enter into an earnest, open, and sometimes difficult, set of conversations about race and reparations within and outside the classroom with faculty and peers – using assigned authors and texts as guides. Perhaps the most important task before us this term is to cultivate an engaged dialogue about “the hard work that remains to be done,” as James Baldwin might describe it, and how literature and culture can serve us as ways to imagine alternatives.
ENG 241: American Traditions in Literature: Rethinking Individualism—American Selves in Social Contexts (L)
Prof. Jim Albrecht
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 era 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.
ENG 398A: Studies in Literature and the Body: Reading Medieval Bodies (L/C)
Prof. Nancy Simpson-Younger
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.
ENG 217: Topics in Literature with Emphasis on Alternative Perspectives: U.S. Refugee Literature and the Afterlife of Atrocity (L/A)
Prof. Jenny James
In this course we will explore the literature and culture of refugee communities in the United States, reading literary and filmic texts that bear witness to the traumatic history and resilience of stateless peoples.
Through critical engagement with a range of literary genres (including poetry, fiction, autobiography, film and oral history), students will learn the skills of literary analysis in the thematic and historical context of refugee life and collective practices of psychological and cultural survival. In turn, our encounters with challenging texts that represent the struggles that displaced peoples face during and after resettlement will help us gain a better sense of the psychological, social and political structures that contribute to genocide and displacement – and make possible individual and communal efforts at repair.
Specific refugee communities studied in the course will include Jewish refugees from Europe seeking safe harbor after the Holocaust, Latin Americans seeking asylum from political violence and persecution in Cuba and Guatemala, Vietnamese refugees fleeing Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, and individuals displaced by the current wars and political strife in Iraq and Syria.
ENGL 221: Research and Writing (W)
Prof. Scott Rogers
TR 1:45 to 3:30pm
As the title suggests, this is a course focused on learning to write about research. It is meant to be an extension of the first-year writing course and a transition into field- or profession-specific research-based writing. This course is not, however, an introduction to research and writing in any one discipline. Rather, we will focus our attention on moves and strategies that tend to work across a range of writing contexts as we investigate a central interdisciplinary theme: The Politics of Museums and Monuments. Students in the course will read deeply in the scholarship surrounding the design, construction, and analysis of historical and contemporary museums and monuments. They will have the opportunity to complete original site-based research at a museum, monument, or archive of their choosing and in alignment with their interests.
The class will address a range of research strategies that will take us from the library to the web to the community in search of compelling evidence for our argumentative goals. Importantly, we will focus on research and writing as a form of discovery and meaning making within distinct academic conversations. Variables related to purpose, genre, audience, and ethics will shape what and how we can write on any given subject.
In developing a flexible and dynamic writing process, we will master three central practices: 1) planning and developing good research questions that contribute to important conversation; 2) creating and/or locating effective research materials using primary and secondary research strategies; 3) strategically employing research in pursuit of convincing and well-supported claims. We’ll also learn quite a lot about working with sources, organizing good ideas, and clarifying prose to meet reader expectations. The classroom will function as a community of scholars and writers. We will collaborate, share, and learn from one another throughout the semester. Most of your work will be public to the class and you should expect to actively discuss your writing with peers.
Note: this course is restricted to first semester Running Start students
English 232: Women's Literature: Women Writers and the Body Politic (A/L)
Prof. Lisa Marcus
In this course we’ll read a wide range of literature written by women within the last thirty years. Beginning with the classic (and newly repopularized as a television series) science fiction novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, we’ll use the text as a lens for exploring the body politic. While the novel takes a futuristic approach to questions about reproductive rights and freedoms for women, the questions it raises are certainly appropriate ones to consider and contest now. From there we’ll move through the Iranian comic book Persepolis, Claudia Rankine’s prize-winning collection of women’s poetry on race and citizenship Citizen, a play and subsequent film by Josefina López on body image and culture (Real Women Have Curves), and other recent works written by women, including trans women. Along the way, we’ll look at how women’s bodies are politicized and policed through religious institutions, in war, and as a result of systemic racism and transphobia. Students will have a variety of writing projects, including a visual essay styled as a comic, a monologue, and lots of reading reflections. This course meets the Diversity Requirement for Alternative Perspectives and the General Education requirement for Literature.
ENGL 235-01: Children’s Literature: “Social Justice in Young People’s Literature”
Prof. Nathalie op de Beeck
Young people’s literature has a reputation for being timeless and carefree, yet this deceptively simple literature always speaks to the immense beauty and the deep concerns of its time and place. How have authors and critics defined childhood and imagined a child audience, from past generations to the present day? How do writers and scholars raise questions about important issues—including identity, diversity, social justice, human rights, and environmental sustainability—in materials shared with elementary- and middle-school children? How might we, in the university classroom, engage in a meaningful discussion of children’s and youth literature? In this course, we will explore historical and contemporary studies of young people’s literature, with attention to ideological issues in classic and popular texts. We will think about how gatekeepers, activists, and societal taboos shape the texts children encounter. Our readings include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, comics, and picture books, and will be informed by abundant critical material and community-based course activities.
ENGL 300: English Studies Seminar: Writer as Witness
Prof. Rona Kaufman
T/Th 9:55 – 11:40AM
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 inter-connected 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, as acts of social analysis and critique, and as vehicles of change and memorializing. We will read and write texts from a range of genres, engage 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 particular section of English 300 will focus on issues of witnessing, testimony, and trauma. Trauma comes from the ancient Greek word for wound, and while the concept of trauma was born in the physical dangers of nineteenth-century industrial innovation, it has, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, come to include, perhaps even emphasize, woundings of the mind and spirit. Although some critics have suggested that we live in an age of complaint, more believe that we now live in an age of trauma. A need to testify to trauma, as well as need to understand others’ experiences of trauma, is one of the reasons that many of us read and write. Through our readings, writings, and discussions, we’ll work to answer a range of questions about the relationships among witnessing, testimony, and trauma. What counts as trauma? What must witnessing encompass? What forms can testimony take? How does genre shape testimony? Who can tell which stories? What do we do with manipulated witnesses? unreliable witnesses? And what are our responsibilities to the testimonies we hear and read?
ENG 301: Shakespeare (L)
Prof. Nancy Simpson-Younger
Ben Jonson once wrote that Shakespeare “was not for an age, but for all time.” Is this true? To what extent does Shakespeare’s work help us wrestle with timeless problems, and to what extent is it rooted inextricably in the playwright’s own historical, social, and cultural circumstances? As we delve into these questions, we will explore what it meant to be human in the sixteenth century and what it means to be human now. Specifically, we’ll ask difficult questions about hierarchies, families, governments, gender, acting and disguise, deciding what’s right, dealing with history, and processing ideas through language. Since this is an upper-level course, we’ll also read and respond to critics who address these questions, asking how their work can shed light on perceptions of humanness in early modern literary culture. By the end of this course, you should be able to read Shakespeare with confidence, engaging actively with his ideas, and asking big questions about them in a way that shows a robust critical awareness of both history and text.
English 320: Intermediate Creative Nonfiction / English 425: (Creative) Nonfiction Writing Capstone
Prof. Callista Brown
In this course, writers will expand their repertoire of techniques for crafting creative non-fiction, broaden their reading of 20th and 21st century creative non-fiction writers, and use these resources in concert with their own inspiration and the insights of fellow readers to create memorable texts. We will ask how particular non-fiction genres – and the crisscrossing of those genres – open up avenues for exploration. We will practice reading closely as writers read, asking why this image, this dialogue, this explication emerges at this moment in the text – how does each writerly move serve the piece under scrutiny? We will ponder how creative non-fiction shapes, informs, or subverts cultural narratives and why that matters. Throughout the semester, reading and writing creative non-fiction will serve as modes of discovery and as pathways to insights about self and world.
All students in the course will begin by creating a profile of themselves as writers and readers. Students enrolled in English 320 will produce a portfolio with entries in multiple creative non-fiction genres. Students enrolled in English 425 will produce a 25-30 page manuscript in one such genre – or hybrid genre – and present their work to a public audience to fulfill their capstone requirement.
ENGL 360B: Studies in British Literature: Coming of Age in Victorian England (L)
Prof. Solveig Robinson
This course will look at some of the classic coming-of-age stories of the Victorian period, from Jane Eyre and David Copperfield to Aurora Leigh and Jude the Obscure. We will look at how British authors interpreted and expanded the bildungsroman, a genre that began in Germany as the story of how a young man’s early life would shape his art. British writers opened up the genre to embrace the lives of women, narratives in verse, and even a double narrative. These Victorian novels, written for adults but loved by readers of all ages, set the pattern for much recent young-adult fiction.
English 395: Studies in Literature, Gender and Sexuality: Feminist Approaches to Literature (L/A)
Prof. Lisa Marcus
In this course, which will be framed by twentieth century Anglo-American feminist manifestos, we’ll begin with Virginia Woolf’s classic A Room of One’s Own and consider her pronouncements about gender and the literary canon. We’ll spend some time pondering (and arguing with) Woolf’s thesis, and then move through an examination of ways in which feminists of color have contested and revised her positions. We will explore how women writers recast their own fictive and poetic possibilities in response to the patriarchal canon by reading a variety of texts by a diverse cadre of women writers, including Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Helen María Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus. We’ll also explore how gender is constructed through two transgender texts: Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Woolf’s Orlando. We’ll end the class with more contemporary feminist manifestos by writers like Bell Hooks, and end by reading and performing responses to Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry collection, The World’s Wife. This course meets the Diversity Requirement for Alternative Perspectives and the General Education requirement for Literature. At the same time, this is an upper level course for advanced readers and writers. Expect to do a lot of reading and daily writing prompts as part of the course.
ENGL 400: Studies in Theory and Criticism: Race, Selfhood, and Liberty
Prof. Jim Albrecht
This seminar will introduce students to major schools of literary theory and criticism, guiding them in the skills of using critical texts to inform their own thinking and writing about literature. We will explore theoretical and critical approaches by applying them to a trio of works by African-American authors that explore complex themes of race, selfhood, and liberty: two slave narratives from the nineteenth century, Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) and Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), and Ralph Ellison’s searing novel of twentieth-century race relations, Invisible Man (1952). We’ll begin with a survey of some influential theoretical approaches, considering how these might illuminate the literary and ideological dimensions of Douglass’ and Jacobs’ texts. Next, we’ll explore some of the critical debates that have emerged in response to Ellison’s novel, considering these debates through the “lenses” of selected theoretical approaches. The semester will culminate in two projects: collaborative annotated bibliographies on various critical or theoretical approaches to Invisible Man, and short individual “conference papers,” which students will share in a mini symposium at the end of the term. In these presentations, students will use a selected critical or theoretical approach to situate their own reading of some aspect of Ellison’s novel. In sum we’ll read a lot of fascinating texts—theory, criticism, and primary works—and we’ll practice skills that will equip students for success in their literature capstones.
EDUC 497: Writing Center Theory and Practice
Prof. Scott Rogers
This course will introduce students to a range of theories and practices related to effective work in a university writing center. We will examine major trends and tensions in writing center scholarship, explore course syllabi and assignment prompts, identify best practices for writing center consultations, and reflect on our ongoing work in the PLU Writing Center. The course will run in tandem with regular employment in the PLU Writing Center. Course readings and assignments will have direct application to the daily work of one-to-one writing consultation (some of our assignments will be completed online).
EDUC 497 is required of and restricted to students employed in the PLU Writing Center. Students may elect to take the course for 1 or 0 credit depending on their credit hour totals for the semester.
FYEP 101-06: Writing Seminar – “Wonder, Curiosity, Praxis” (W)
Prof. Nathalie op de Beeck
Environmental activist and marine biologist Rachel Carson, author of The Sea Around Us and Silent Spring, wrote that a deep sense of wonder informed her research and writing. By reporting on the wild places and the small creatures that sparked her vivid sense of wonder, Carson shared her marine research with a wide audience and conveyed the urgency of conserving damaged ecosystems. Carson combined wonder, rigorous study, and an ability to communicate her passions to the public. In our course, we will learn how poets, scientists, philosophers, and others describe awe and wildness, follow their curiosity to new discoveries, develop practical skills to put into action, and speak out for social and environmental justice. We will read, discuss, and write about wonder and curiosity; we will practice asking questions and gathering factual information; and we will develop our future plans as socially engaged scholars.
FYEP 101-13: Writing Seminar - Literature and Medicine (W)
Prof. Nancy Simpson-Younger
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.
FYEP 101- 8: Writing Seminar - 140 Characters: Reading and Writing in the Twenty-First Century
Prof. Rona Kaufman
T/Th 1:45 – 3:30
This course is designed to help prepare you for the reading and writing that you’ll do throughout college and, ideally, show you reasons to write long after you graduate. It understands writing as a process of inquiry that adheres to—or plays with—particular conventions involving genre, form, grammar, and citation. To do this work, we’ll focus on issues of literacy in the twenty-first century. In an age of text messages, Twitter, and Facebook, of high-stakes standardized testing, of “fake news,” of widely and wildly popular novel series like Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games, of research showing the neurological and social benefits of sustained reading and second-language acquisition—what does it mean to be not only a reader and writer but also a good reader and writer? That’s the central question that will drive our work this semester. In this writing seminar, we’ll consider the broad range of literacies in the twenty-first century, examining the rhetorical, social, educational, cognitive, and ethical dimensions of digital and print texts.
FYEP 101-10: Writing Seminar - The Great War
Prof. Solveig Robinson
A century ago, the June 1914 assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, heirs to the Austro-Hungarian throne, set off a chain of events that eventually pulled all the major powers into a global conflict. World War I—known at the time as the “Great War,” or “The War to End All Wars”—fundamentally changed previous arrangements in politics, social developments, science, and the arts. This course will incorporate fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and film to examine the events and some of the effects of the Great War. We will analyze the causes of the war, experience the horrors of trench warfare through the eyes of British and German poets and novelists, and nurse casualties with memoirist Vera Brittain. Along the way we will consider what qualities—physical, emotional, intellectual—enable people to endure, and even surmount, the hardships of war. The course will concentrate on expository writing (writing that explains).
FYEP 101-12: Writing Seminar - How Writing Works
Prof. Scott Rogers
TR 9:55 to 11:40am
This section of Writing 101 examines how writing works in academic and professional contexts. We will take a rhetorical approach to writing, meaning we are most concerned with questions related to purpose, argument, evidence, form, genre, and audience. Focusing on these key concepts will help us develop a writing process that should be transferable across a wide range of contexts, including the classroom, the internship, the non-profit, the corporation, and the small business. As part of our preparation, we will consider how readers read (and think) as a way to better understand how and why writers write. Ultimately, I hope students in this course will come to see themselves as problem solvers capable of using words to deal with circumstances that arise in school or at work. The writer as a problem solver means the writer “writes, speaks, reads, and listens strategically” (Flower and Ackerman). When faced with a writing task they are able to quickly examine the variables at hand in order to produce the right text for the right reader at the right time. People think writing is a natural skill, that we are or are not good writers. The truth is that the best writers practice, they develop flexible skills, they know when and how to use them.
This is a writing intensive course. You will be expected to produce multiple drafts of all formal assignments, including academic essays and workplace documents. You will also write informal papers designed for practice and idea development. You will participate in rigorous peer review with peers in class. Additionally, you will work on a collaborative writing assignment that will require you to navigate the challenges of a team writing environment.