English Literature

Amy J. Yanity, Literature and The Environment, Fall 2013

Course Description:

In this course, students will read and write about the environment and its issues as expressed through literature. Readings in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction will explore how the geography of a location influences the character of its inhabitants and how the forces of nature affect their lives and fortunes. Writing will consist of personal and critical short essays as well as a longer essay/project involving independent readings and research.

Required Texts:

Literature and The Environment, A Reader on Nature and Culture (2nd Edition.)

Amy J. Yanity, Literature And The Environment, Spring 2014

Course Description:

In this course, students will read and write about the environment and its issues as expressed through literature. Readings in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction will explore how the geography of a location influences the character of its inhabitants and how the forces of nature affect their lives and fortunes. Writing will consist of personal and critical short essays as well as a longer essay/project involving independent readings and research.

Required Texts:

Literature and The Environment, A Reader on Nature and Culture (2nd Edition.)

Ann Rea, Detective Fiction, Spring 2014

Course Description:

This course examines detective fiction in terms of its history, its social meaning and as a form of philosophizing. It also seeks to reveal the place and values of popular fiction in our lives.

Required Texts:

Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: Complete Novels & Stories Vol. 1, Publisher: Bantam

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, Penguin

Dorothy Sayers, Strong Poison, Bourbon Street Books

P. D. James, An Unsuitable Job For A Woman, Touchstone

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, Vintage

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, Vintage

Tony Hillerman, Skinwalkers, Harper

Kathleen George, Taken, Dell

Tana French, In the Woods, Penguin

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2015

Course Description:

This course will focus on a number of Shakespeare's major plays from all phases of his career. Class discussion will consider the historical context of the plays, their characterization, theatrical technique, imagery, language, and themes. Every attempt will be made to see the plays both as poems and as dramatic events.

Required Texts:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2016

Course Description:

Shakespeare is a phenomenon unique in English literature. His plays have been read, performed, quoted, studied and written about continually since his lifetime four hundred and fifty years ago, and their influence on English speaking cultures is so enormous that we can scarcely grasp it. Our factual knowledge about Shakespeare himself has some gaps and our access to the plays’ texts sometimes relies on conflicting versions: folios and actors’ prompt books occasionally have missing words and contradictions. But we do have parish records that show that Shakespeare was born on 26th April, 1564 and died in 1616, fifty two years later almost to the day. His family was solidly middleclass and he had a good education which, in those days, consisted largely of the classics, especially Latin. We also have four hundred and fifty years of scholarship about Shakespeare, written by famous writers such as Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and contemporary scholars continue to find richness and complexity in Shakespeare’s works and to reconsider them from new perspectives.

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

This class will focus on the plays, although Shakespeare was also a poet. The plays show an enormous diversity between the histories, the comedies, tragedies, and the many “problem plays” which evade these categories. Many of the plays are based on Latin texts that Shakespeare encountered during his education, others are based on old English stories, and some revise these old stories and combine them to make totally new tales.

This class requires your active participation in a way in which your other classes may not. This is not a lecture class, but one where you will engage with ideas and conversation and express your own thoughts. We get to know one another in this class. But you must prepare for class by reading the assigned plays thoughtfully and by coming to class prepared to be involved in active discussion. This can be lots of fun, and we can often have a laugh, but for it to function we need everyone to make the effort to be reflective about his or her part in it. If you tend to want to talk a lot you might need to check that you do not dominate the discussion. If you are shy and tend to leave the talking to others you might need to push yourself to speak. It is extremely important that we behave respectfully towards others in the discussions. Class participation will form part of your grade.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Introduction to Shakespeare, Fall 2017

Course Description:

For this introductory course we will read eight plays and work on understanding them in their historical contexts, understanding and appreciating the language and the use of verse, prose and stagecraft, as well as characterization. We will examine many of the preoccupations to which Shakespeare returns: kingship and political representation; women and authority; the regulation of sexual behavior; the growing sense of individual sensibility; acting and performance and the prevalent discomfort with dissembling, or inauthenticity. In many cases these are the preoccupations of his era, but the wide popular audience of his plays means that he also intervened on contemporary issues, for example by educating his audiences about their country’s history. Many of Shakespeare’s plays tell stories about England’s fairly immediate history, and we will explore the ways in which Shakespeare influenced contemporary opinion about political matters, perhaps to the point of propaganda, as well as helping to create a cohesive sense of English national identity after a divisive and tumultuous historical period. But his life and work straddle the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and James I’s ascension to the throne: an important political shift which entailed a change in how the theatre was viewed, as well as an increase in censorship, and many of his plays comment indirectly on social and political issues even while they appear to describe very different matters.

Required Text:

The Riverside Shakespeare or The Wadsworth Shakespeare

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Jane Austen: Books and Film, Spring 2015

Course Description:

We will read four of Austen’s novels and watch film adaptations, reading the works’ depths and examining them in their social and historical contexts so that we can understand the influence of Austen’s contemporaries on her thinking.

Required Texts:

Sense and Sensibility, Harper, (1811)
Pride and Prejudice, Penguin (1813)
Mansfield Park, Penguin (1814)
Emma, Penguin (1815)

Ann Rea, Jane Austen: Books and Film, Spring 2016

Course Description:

Jane Austen lived and wrote at a time of enormous social change when England was moving towards modernity. She was born in 1775 and died in 1817 at only 42 years of age, and experienced the shift from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth. At the same time she helped to bridge the development of the eighteenth-century novel into the nineteenth-century novel. This accompanied and expressed the dilemmas of a society moving from a late form of feudalism into capitalism, with the accompanying need for an examination of changing morals and civic relations. As a writer whose interest is primarily with the women of her time, Austen also delineates a domestic world and charts the shifts in the part played by domestic life in the growth of capitalism. As part of this transition, women’s roles themselves changed. We begin the course by reading excerpts from Mary Wollstonecraft on the subject of women’s education and that subject was never far from Austen’s thoughts. Education, for Austen and Wollstonecraft, was concerned with the development of women’s minds, manners, morals and ability to perform meaningful roles in their families and in the slightly wider world. Austen’s palette is the close environs of the immediate home and the close society, but her novels often portray England in these microcosms, and she ponders the bigger questions of the direction in which English society was moving. And always she tells a compelling story, with narrative developments that keep us in suspense and characters who we care about.

Jane Austen has earned recent popularity based on a view of her work as a sort of “Masterpiece Theatre,” romantic set of dramas based in mannered English drawing rooms, in long dresses with up-dos. On one hand I like anything that encourages people to read good books, but this commercialized mobilization of “Janeites” that has exploded in the last decade is not what this course will focus on as it misses many of the complexities of Jane Austen’s work, even though we will watch one of the films that could be argued to be part of that explosion. But part of the “Janeite” phenomenon is based on the fact that readers gain lots of pleasure from reading Austen’s narratives and I am very happy about that.

We will read four of Austen’s novels and watch film adaptations, exploring the works’ depths and examining them in their social and historical contexts so that we can understand the influence of Austen’s contemporaries on her thinking. The film adaptations help us to consider the changing reactions to the novels over time. I will assign at least one essay as a reading to help you to consider the adaptation process as a form of reinterpretation.

So while we explore the historical context that allows us to understand Austen’s concerns, we will also examine the narrative techniques that make her novels function. After we read each of the four novels we will also read a critical article so that we will gradually build our critical abilities and embrace the astonishing complexity of the texts. We will also watch a film adaptation of each finishing the course, while you write your long papers, by viewing Clueless, a film that many students have seen without realizing that it is an adaptation of Austen’s Emma.

Print Texts:

- Sense and Sensibility, Harper, (1811)
- Pride and Prejudice, Penguin (1813)
- Mansfield Park, Penguin (1814)
- Emma, Penguin (1815)

Syllabus: 

Ann Rea, Literature and the Contemporary, Fall 2013

Course Description

This course examines contemporary cultural expression across a range of forms and media. It investigates the contemporary as both a complex reworking of past narratives and traditions and as the production of the experimental and the new.

Required Texts:

Jeannette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Pat Barker, Regeneration
Graham Swift, The Light of Day
William Boyd, Restless

Ann Rea, Literature for Adolescents, Fall 2012

Course Description:

This course will read classics as well as modern works written specifically for an adolescent audience. We will also read and discuss sociological and psychological constructions of adolescents and books on pedagogy. Prerequisite: ENGCMP 0004 and ENGCMP 0006.

Required Texts:

-Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
-S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders
-Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
-Sharon Flake, The Skin I'm In
-Joyce Lee Wong, Seeing Emily
-Walter Dean Myers, Monster
-Nick Hornby, Slam
-Jack Gantos, Desire Lines
-Veronica Roth, Divergent
-Chris Crutcher, Whale Talk

Syllabus: 

Pages