English 298. Experimental Courses
Intermediate Writing: On Not Picking a Side: Addressing Ambivalence and Doubt
This course will focus on responding to issues for which there are no clear-cut answers in order to allow uncertainty and even digression to become a substantial part of the development of an academic essay. In other words, students will be encouraged to take intellectual risks during the drafting process. Prerequisite: English 101. Open to all majors. Requirements: Daily writing, selected readings (Lopate, Woolf, Didion, McPhee and more), two short essays, and a final longer paper that will include research. The course structure will include discussion, peer review and a full class workshop.
Shakespeare: Poet, Playwright, Player
We’ll devote the first classes to selected sonnets and lexical research, examining how Shakespeare innovates the poetic form. Then we’ll study 7 plays (Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Hamlet, King Lear and The Tempest) and act out selected scenes. Extra cultural texts will be read to enrich our understanding of the theatre business and daily culture in Elizabethan/Jacobean England. Two memorization/recitation assignments, two 5-7 page papers, select short writing exercises, and a final exam will deepen our understanding of Shakespeare’s achievement. Film productions will allow us to understand how a play becomes a new text each time it is produced. An additional, longer research paper and written comparison (and leading class discussion) of two film/play productions will enable those who wish to get 300-level credit to do so. If possible we will attend a Shakespeare performance together, depending on availability of live performance during our course.
Transnational Irish Literature and Culture
This course will investigate Irish literature and culture in a transnational context in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. What this means is that it will look at writings about the Irish and by the Irish at home and abroad, specifically in Britain and America. It will investigate how Irish cultural identity has been produced through representations of Irishness on both sides of the Atlantic. We will be reading literature from ‘British’ writers such as William Carleton, Maria Edgeworth, Dion Boucicault, George Bernard Shaw, and W B Yeats, and from American writers such as Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Charles Brockden Brown, Mark Twain, and Finley Peter Dunne.
History of English
How did English get to be the way it is–with its “horrible” spelling system, its strange irregular verbs, and its litany of borrowed words? This course is a linguistic introduction to the history and development of the English language, from Germanic, to Anglo-Saxon (Old English), to Middle English (Chaucer’s tongue), to Early Modern English (Shakespeare’s), to the language we know today. We focus on both the language’s outer history (the historical events and cultural developments that shaped it) and its inner history (specific linguistic changes such as the Great Vowel Shift and Grimm’s Law). Along the way we will learn about the comparative method for historical reconstruction, and practice it using data from different stages of English.