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English Course Offerings

Spring 2015

ENGL 1155: Reading, Writing, and the Literary Imagination
Tammy Birk – W 6:00-9:30 pm
This course will explore and examine texts that wrestle with that which is unsayable: the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that appear to live beyond the limits of language and understanding. Often cryptic and deeply ambiguous, these texts struggle to tell the truth about human suffering, traumatic history, existential dissatisfaction, and ecstatic experience. And because language only allows us to go so far and say so much, these texts strain to find words adequate to their subject. This makes for a challenging—and often unorthodox—reading experience. It also makes for provocative writing opportunities, and the chance to articulate your own relationship to that which goes unsaid. Readings may include the work of Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Jhumpa Lahiri, Dan Chaon, Mary Oliver, Chuck Palahniuk, Alison Bechdel, and Nicole Krauss. Course is not repeatable when offered with a different topic. 

ENGL 1160: Creative Writing Across the Genres
Candyce Canzoneri – TR 12:00-1:45
E.B. White wrote that a writer should, "...cultivate what naturally absorbs his fancy, whether it be freedom or cinch bugs, and should write in the way that comes easy."  This course will deal with the difficulties of achieving readable fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama that have a "comes easy" naturalness.  To that end, we'll be dealing with the problems of clarity, simplicity, tone, style, etc. that go into a voice of one's own. The dynamics of communication are the same whether we are writing opera or rap, poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction—the creative medium is fluid.  While there are obviously distinct differences, many of the same techniques are employed.  All writing should strive not only for the authentic voice of the author, but precision, and emotional depth as well.  We will be discovering how a combination of techniques can often lead to exciting dimensional changes in your writing. It's about finding your voice as a writer, and becoming more accomplished in all aspects of the craft of writing. This class is structured as a Writing Workshop—which means that you will be improving your writing by producing work in the genres of fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry—as well as by improving your critical analysis of others' work.  You will be expected to function as a thoughtful and constructive critic, as well as a writer.  It is vitally important to your development as a writer to become a good reader.  To that end, we will focus on the work of your peers in this class, as well as the work of established authors.  I expect you to be willing to examine your writing honestly, to write with fearlessness, and to honor the craft of writing by being willing to learn its fundamental precepts.  Eudora Welty said:  "All serious daring starts from within."  Hopefully, this class will be an exercise in daring.

ENGL 1175: Introduction to Film Studies: American 1970s Cinema
Karen Steigman – TR 10:00-11:45
The 1970s have been described as the last golden age of American cinema: the Hollywood New Wave. Some important directors came of age in the late 1960s and 1970s to challenge classical Hollywood cinema in a series of landmark films. In addition, the 70s witnessed the advent of the Hollywood “blockbuster” with the commercial success of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws, alongside take-downs of Hollywood in Hal Ashby’s Shampoo and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. In this course we will view and discuss several films of this era, including Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Godfather, and Chinatown. We will discuss the various genre conventions of classical Hollywood cinema and consider how the “auteur” directors of American 1970s film considered and contested those conventions. We will also consider the influence of 70s American film on contemporary North American filmmakers: the Coen brothers, Spike Lee, David Fincher, Mary Harron and Sofia Coppola. A central aim of this course is to introduce you to reading and writing about film, so along the way we will read some key essays and study some fundamental concepts in film criticism and theory.

ENGL 1193: Professional Writing
Margaret Koehler – MWF 9:25-10:35
This course will ask you to apply (and expand) skills from the English major to the practice of professional writing.  Some of the areas we’ll cover will include:  research skills for professional writing, technologies for professional writing, rhetorical theory and practice, audiences and communities fostered by professional writing.  We’ll trace the historical development of professional writing before turning to its current and future trends. We’ll read and write in a variety of genres, and you’ll produce an independent project in an area of interest. 

ENGL 2220: Studies in British Literatures After 1900: Only Connect: Modernism’s Web
Beth Daugherty – TR 8:00-9:45
In this course, students consider the modernist experiment with fragmentation, rebellion, interiority, and open-endedness within the context of connections: between and among authors, cultures, eras, arts, and nations. Students read not only the literature of the modernist era, but also letters, diaries, and book reviews as they examine a modernist milieu constructed in the midst of historical rupture and with borrowings from other art forms, cultures, locations, and times. Each student weaves a web surrounding one author as the class works to recreate modernism’s web, and in the process, all students have opportunities to write autobiographically, reflectively, creatively, and critically. The 1-credit hour research component of the course focuses on the search for and use of primary materials beyond authors’ published literary texts. Pre-req: ENGL 1155.

ENGL 2230: Studies in African American Literatures
Phyllis Lynne Burns TR 6:00-7:45 pm
African American literature contains a rich and complex tradition of satire. Through the use of humor, wit, and various types of irony, Black writers have examined Black identity politics in relation to ideals of “freedom,” “empowerment,” “progress,” and “citizenship.” This course will explore how twentieth- and twenty-first century satirists re-imagine narratives about the historical past, re-configure contemporary ideologies, and suggest alternative futures. Our reading list will include works by Paul Beatty, Aaron McGruder, Zora Neale Hurston, Spike Lee, Gloria Naylor, Ishmael Reed, and Fran Ross. Note: course fulfills the American requirement. Pre-requisite: ENGL 1155 or INST 1500. This course may be used as a substitute for the INST Creativity and Culture requirement. 

ENGL 2232: Studies in Diverse Literary Cultures: Homeland (In)Security
Patricia Frick – TR 2:00-3:45
In his introduction to The Scarlet Letter, the nineteenth- century American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne pondered the fate of those who left their native lands to build new identities on foreign soil.  Hawthorne imagined that by transplanting themselves into new soil, people could become stronger, tougher, and more flourishing.  Human fortunes could be improved, he argued, if men and women could “strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.”   But was Hawthorne right? Does a change in geography always guarantee security, or can it produce more mixed outcomes? What other factors can complicate the happiness of those who are “transplanted”, either by choice, political upheaval, or fate?  This course will test Hawthorne’s assumption by examining narratives from diverse cultures that chronicle the experiences of those who seek happier or more stable lives beyond their homelands.  We will consider both their excitement and anxiety as they cope with the perpetual balancing of here and there, and as they confront leaving behind their home cultures’ constraints and comforts.  It will also examine their shifting senses of what defines “home” and how those they leave behind view their attempts at transformation and new identity.  Readings may include works by Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai, Edwidge Danticat, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, Shaum Tan, Junot Diaz, Joseph O’Neill, Sonia Nazario, and Esmeralda Santiago. Pre-requisite: ENGL 1155 or INST 1500. This course may be used as a substitute for the INST Creativity and Culture requirement. 

ENGL 2250: Studies in American Literatures Before 1900: Traumatic Memory & National Identities
Suzanne Ashworth – MWF 1:40-2:50 BL
Early American literature is an archive of genesis, crisis, and trauma. It chronicles moments in which our national psyche was forged and tested.  This class will take you inside the Salem witch trials, Indian genocide, the violence of conquest and revolution, and the psychological costs of cultural survival. The texts you’ll encounter capture a new nation’s insatiable appetite for power, dominance, and moral certainty.  Here you will meet the marauders, the witch burners, the self-made men, and the disobedient daughters that haunt our collective past and present. Readings will include the work of Harriet Jacobs, Cotton Mather, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Rowlandson, Walt Whitman, and others. We will also engage the tenets of trauma theory and examine ritualistic retellings of American origin stories in contemporary film.  This course will be offered in a blended format that combines classroom instruction with on-line pedagogies and projects. Pre-req: ENGL 1155.

ENGL 2261: Intermediate Fiction Writing
James Gorman – MWF 12:15-1:25
Intermediate Fiction Writing is for story writing junkies, for students who are already good with the basic narrative strategies, students who can summon detail to establish plausibility, plumb the human psyche to show both motive and mystery, and use suspense and surprise to put an audience under a spell. This course will help students committed to narrative as an art form mature into sophisticated storytellers. It will also provide the occasion for self-reflection, allowing writers to become fully conscious of their particular style or voice. The mission of this course, then, is two-fold: to help committed writing students further develop their innate narrative skills and to realize their own narrative identity. Intermediate Fiction Writing has four specific course goals. First, the class will connect maturing writing students with the tradition of storytelling in early societies and help them discover how that tradition continues to this day. Second, the class will take an integrative approach, connecting maturing writers to how story telling is used in a variety of disciplines, especially in history, education, counseling and visual arts. Third, the class will use a variety of specific exercises to help maturing writing students further develop skills in dramatic presentation, characterization, plotting, setting, point of view and tone. Finally, the class will introduce students to outlets for engaging others in their writing, both in face-to-face readings or performances and through both on-line and print publication. Pre-reqs: ENGL 1155 and one from ENGL 1160, 1161, 1162, 1163, or 1164.

ENGL 2262: Intermediate Essay Writing
Shannon Lakanen – TR 10:00-11:45
In The Situation and the Story, Vivian Gornick explains, “The task is to become acquainted with the stranger who lives inside your own skin, the one who answers when your name is called.” Students in this course will hone their creative nonfiction writing strategies while making this acquaintance. Through extensive experiments with and readings in personal essays, writers will investigate the wide varieties of approaches used to create and manipulate persona, craft digressions, experiment with form, and navigate the subjectivity of truth in personal essays. Pre-reqs: ENGL 1155 and one from ENGL 1160, 1161, 1162, 1163, or 1164. 

ENGL 2294: Literary Magazine Practicum: Quiz & Quill
Shannon Lakanen – T 4:00-5:30
Supervised work for student literary magazine, including choosing and editing copy, designing layouts, and promoting and hosting literary events. Students attend weekly staff meetings and edit and publish Quiz and Quill. Note: May be repeated for credit (up to a total of 6 hours). 

FMST 2280: Cinema: History, Theory, and Criticism
Karen Steigman TR – 12:00-1:45
This foundational course in the Film Studies minor will comprise a survey of key essays in film studies alongside a series of landmark films. Films represent a range of directors (Scorsese, Chaplin, Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Campion, Pontecorvo), eras (early cinema, classic Hollywood cinema, the 1970s, Third Cinema), and genres (horror, melodrama, and film noir). Readings include foundational work in film theory and criticism by Kracauer, Bazin, Altman, Metz, Mulvey, Doane, and Williams.

ENGL 3310: Advanced Poetry Writing
Terrence Hermsen – M 6:00-9:30 pm
Students in this class will dive into an intense investigation of the question of form in contemporary poetry, from traditional sonnets (yes, they are still written) to "free" verse, prose poems, sestinas, pantoums, the long poem and jazz-inspired free association. With the skills developed in English 2260, students will test out numerous techniques for throwing their voices new directions. Along with closely reading some "contemporary classics," such as Tony Hoagland's "What Narcissism Means to Me" and Susan Mitchell's "The Water Inside the Water," readings will also branch out to include poets from other cultures, such as Lorca, Neruda, Rilke, Ahkamatova and other less well-known names. Additional projects may include working with translation or collaborating with musicians on improvised recordings. Pre-req: ENGL 2260.

ENGL 3325: Studies in Literature, History and Culture: The Inherited Global:  Literature and Empire in the British 18th Century
Margaret Koehler – MWF 1:40-2:50 BL
This course will trace the influence of New World contacts on 18th-century British literary texts.   It will begin with historical background of the British empire.  We’ll read a selection of early travel narratives to consider some of the ambitions attached to travel during this period:  exploration, colonization, trade, adventure, scientific discovery, and privateering among them.  We’ll also read slave narratives such as Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789) and Swift’s satiric Gulliver’s Travels (1728).  A major question the course will ask is this:  How do literary texts respond to Britain’s contact with the New World and its burgeoning imperial ambitions?  We’ll think about the ways that various genres of 18th-century writing—including the novel, poetry, drama, and essays—articulate colonial modernity.  We’ll also ask why, as the century goes on, British novels and plays in particular displace or sublimate this same colonial modernity in favor of a focus on the domestic.  We’ll think about the emergence of the novel in Britain during this period partly in terms of its transatlantic and colonial origins.  We will ask how the novel moves from Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave (1688), with its detailed picture of colonial life in Surinam and graphic treatment of slavery’s violence, to Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814), with its occasional but pointed references to the colony of Antigua.  Across the entire course we will consider how literary texts help to shape national identity as well as how transatlantic colonial history illuminates—and cautions us about—contemporary narratives of globalization. This course will be offered in a blended format that combines classroom instruction with on-line pedagogies and projects. Pre-reqs:  Two from ENGL 2210, 2215, 2220, 2230, 2231, 2232, 2233, 2234, 2250, 2255; or permission of the instructor. Note: May be repeated once for credit when offered with a different topic.

ENGL 3355: Studies in Literary and Critical Theory: Thinking Queer
Suzanne Ashworth – MWF 12:15-1:25 BL
In 1984, Gayle Rubin wrote, “The time has come to think about sex.”  But we’d never really stopped thinking about it. This class will get into queer theory, examining the paradigms and politics that have propelled it. More specifically, we will wrestle with queer conceptions of the body, sex, and desire. The texts that animate this course are edgy, evocative, and controversial. They say the unsayable. They break rules. They push a culture to unlearn its sexual history, its sexual science, and its sexual shame. As an intellectual movement, queer theory rethinks the marginalized, the forbidden, the kinky, the deviant, and the strange. Reading theory is rigorous; writing about it is challenging. But it’s an invigorating ride, and students interested in this kind of inquiry will really dig it. This course will be offered in a blended format that combines classroom instruction with on-line pedagogies and projects. Pre-reqs: two from ENGL 2210, 2215, 2220, 2240, 2250, 2255, 2230, 2231, 2232, 2233, 2234; or permission of the instructor.

ENGL 3380: Studies in Adolescent Literatures: Other Bodies, Other Minds, Other Worlds
Suzanne Ashworth – W 6:00-9:30 pm
Harry Potter. Divergent. Ash. Skinned. Sci-fi and fantasy lit enthralls teen readers, pervades American media, and captivates our culture.  It also says something significant about the tyrannies of childhood, the oppressions of adolescence, and the power of magical thinking. It chronicles the impact of political revolutions, technological advances, biomedical science, and environmental change. These texts present us with preternatural bodies, dystopian settings, and enchanted geographies. Their protagonists often exhibit an “extra human” capacity to defy physical and social limits.  These “fantastic” physiologies and psychologies raise pressing questions – questions about identity, ethics, justice, fate, and the human condition. Through reading, writing, and spirited discussion, this class will explore adolescent science fiction and fantasy, asking it to teach us what it knows about other bodies, other minds, and other worlds. Pre-reqs: two from ENGL 2210, 2215, 2220, 2240, 2250, 2255, 2230, 2231, 2232, 2233, 2234; or permission of the instructor.

ENGL 4060: Senior Creative Writing Project – Writing Intensive
Shannon Lakanen – TR 2:00-3:45
Facilitates the development and production of an original creative project. Students participate in seminar meetings with a course coordinator and peer cohorts, reflect on their intellectual and personal growth in the major, work individually with a director and reader, present work in a senior reading, complete a project defense, and submit their work to the department in an electronic format. Creative Writing majors take this course during Spring semester of their senior year. Pre-reqs: one from ENGL 1160, 1161, 1162, 1163; two from ENGL 2261, 2262, 2263, 2264; one from ENGL 3310, 3311, 3312, 3313, 3314, or 3360; and senior standing.

May Term 2015

ENGL 2910: “Loose Baggy Monsters”: Reading the Long Novel
Beth Daugherty – May 4-21: TR 9-12:00; May 26-29: TWF 9-12:00
Henry James once described big 19th-century novels as “loose baggy monsters.” In this reading course, students will have the opportunity to read four such novels, novels that no longer appear regularly on syllabi because of their length. Students will also read a few short readings about the novel genre. Time in class will be devoted to discussion based on passage selection and notes kept in a daily reading journal. Together, the students in the class will compile a list of additional “loose baggy monsters” to serve as a future reading list. Students will write a personal reflection about the novels and the process of reading them at the end of the course, and that will function as the final exam, but no other papers or exams will be required. The course is an elective open to all students in the university; the only requirements are a willingness to read a lot, keep a reading journal, and discuss and reflect on one’s reading. Open to all students. 

/ Department of English

Shannon Lakanen
Department Chair
Towers Hall 228

p / 614.823.1211
e / slakanen@otterbein.edu 

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