Courses

Below is a list of all the courses offered by the English Department. For the up-coming semester’s schedule, see the English Department Spring 2019 Brochure for more specific descriptions of each individual course that will offered for that semester. For an explanation of requirements for the majors and minors offered by the English department, see its Academic Programs webpage for a detailed explanations of the requirements.

An introduction to the writing process and to the requirements of college writing. This course is only to be used to make up for a student’s failure of the freshman RFT writing component. Offered spring semester. (One Unit)

Foundation Courses:

All three foundation courses are open to non-majors. Majors should take these courses by the end of sophomore year.

An introductory course covering fiction from English-speaking countries other than the U.S. and Great Britain such as Canada, India, and South Africa and writing in translation from such areas as Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The course will focus on a specific theme. Sections of the course taken as part of a freshman learning community may not be used to fulfill the writing-intensive course requirement. The course is part of the foundation of the English major and should be taken by the end of the sophomore year. Students who take EN109 cannot take EN111. Offered fall semesters. (One Unit)

An introductory course covering fiction from English-speaking countries other than the U.S. and Great Britain such as Canada, India, and South Africa and writing in translation from such areas as Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The course will focus on a specific theme. Sections of the course taken as part of a freshman learning community may not be used to fulfill the writing-intensive course requirement. The course is part of the foundation of the English major and should be taken by the end of the sophomore year. Students who take EN109 cannot take EN111. Offered fall and spring semesters. (One Unit)

A reading of major works from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century with a focus on their historical context. Readings will be selected from such authors as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Pope, Keats, Austen, Conrad, Eliot, Joyce, and Woolf. The course is part of the foundation of the English major and should be taken by the end of the sophomore year. Offered spring semester. (One Unit)

This course is an introduction to the conventions of literature and to a variety of theoretical approaches to it (psychoanalytic, Structuralist, Marxist, Feminist, etc.). Readings will include poetry, fiction (the works of authors such as Nicolai Gogol, Salman Rushdie and Nicola Griffith), and various critical articles and introductory readings on theory. Students will learn the research tools necessary to locate and evaluate literary critical sources. Writing assignments will require the integration of literary interpretation, critical ideas, and theoretical approaches. The course is part of the foundation of the English major and should be taken by the end of the sophomore year. Offered fall and spring semester. (One Unit)


Core Courses

Core courses are open to everyone, and there are no prerequisites. English majors should take three core courses to fulfill the pre-1800 British, post-1800 British, and American literature requirement. Any additional courses beyond that required three may count as electives toward the major.

Pre-1800 British or European Literature

Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the most humorous writers in English literature. From his perspective as a middle class man rubbing shoulders with the aristocratic employers at the royal court, he saw the foibles of all the social classes in the rapidly changing England of the fourteenth century. We will read a selection of his Canterbury Tales told by such pilgrims as the Pardoner and the Wife of Bath, tales that take the form of confession, romance, and bawdy tale, to name just a few. (One Unit).

Crime and violence are prevalent features of 18th century English literature, reflecting the sensational crime stories in the newspapers of the day. This course explores criminal and violent behavior in works by authors that may include Defoe, Pope, Swift, Fielding, and Johnson, exploring how the authors confront violence in the context of class and gender conflicts. We will also read selections from factual crime narratives in 18th century media sources and commentaries on the punishment of crime.  (One Unit)

Medieval France was at the forefront of a new flowering of interest in romantic love in Europe. At the same time, the Church began to impose a new level of control over sexual behavior of all kinds. Emerging from these twin forces was a rich literature both celebrating and condemning a wide variety sexual attitudes and practices, composed by churchmen, noblemen, and the very few women who had the education and authority to write. We will read Arthurian romances, troubadour love lyrics, poems debating the merits of same-sex love, and selections from Christine de Pizan, who is widely considered to be Europe’s first feminist. All texts will be read in English translation. Cross-listed w/FR 255. (One Unit).

The course will explore important medieval texts from the tenth through the fifteenth centuries in both the British Isles and the continent. We will cover a range of genres, including epic (Beowulf) and romance (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) as well as allegory, lyric, and drama.  (One Unit)

A study of the non-dramatic literature of the English Renaissance and Restoration periods, with emphasis on discoveries in language, genre, nationality, and the identity of the self.

Drama, one of the most powerful of artistic experiences, reaches its height in the late English Renaissance and again in the late twentieth century. This course will look first at some of the most compelling of Renaissance non-Shakespearian plays and then at some of the experimentation that has made contemporary drama particularly fascinating. Among the authors we may study from the Renaissance are Kyd, Webster, Middleton, Behn, and perhaps Polwhele. The playwrights of today may include Beckett, Hansberry, Soyinka, Puig, and Wilson.  (One Unit)

Post-1800 British or Post-Colonial Literature

The impact and aftermath of the revolutions in France and America, opposition to slavery and the slave-trade, and debates around human and women’s rights all characterize the years from about 1789 to 1830 in Britain. The works of writers as diverse as Mary Wolllstonecraft, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Olaudah Equiano, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen will be part of our study. The expansion of ideas about individual rights and the exploration of the power of the imagination and supernatural intersect with the social and political concerns of these thinkers. Some of the works we will study are Frankenstein, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and Sense and Sensibility. (One Unit)

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Britain experienced great changes in class and gender relations, hastened by the devastation of World War I. The British Empire began its long decline, and nineteenth-century norms eroded. Visual artists, composers, and writers alike experimented with new aesthetic forms to capture the uncertainties and freedoms of the new age. We will read writers such as Conrad, Woolf, and Forster, as well as Yeats and Joyce, who register the concerns of Ireland –Britain’s first colony to declare independence in modern times. (One Unit).

The plight of orphans such as Dicken’s Oliver Twist, the poverty that drives flawed decision-making for Braddon’s Lady Audley and the fear of scandal that haunts many of Sherlock Holmes’s clients are examples of the issues we will study in this course. The tension between a rapidly changing society and tradition and social conventions wreaks havoc for Victorian characters. Expanding views of women’s rights, the pressure of maintaining a vast empire and the influence of increasing industrialization all challenged the familiar and comfortable ideas of nineteenth-century English people. Not open to students who have taken EN 309 or EN 324. (One Unit)

This course focuses on the English novel as it evolves from the 18th century through the end of the 19th century. The gothic tradition that begins with Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto includes explorations of the supernatural, human emotions, family psychology and dysfunction, gender, social norms and their violation, and monstrosity. We will discuss such texts as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  (One Unit)

This course presents some of the finest in contemporary Irish novels, short stories, and plays from the Emerald Isle, including: drama by Martin McDonagn, Conor McPherson and Marie Jones; and fiction by Frank McCourt, Roddy Doyle, Edna O’Brien, Anne Enright, William Trevor and Seamus Deane. Also considered are the films of Neil Jordan, Pat Sheridan and others.  (One Unit)

In this course we will examine how different writers from the colonized and formerly colonized world have discussed the problem of the nation. How do these writers depict colonial and postcolonial societies? How do they confront continuing problems of ethnic, class, and gender divisions? Is nationalism represented as a solution, or part of the problem? While we will focus on African and Asian writers — like Achebe, Aidoo, Chandra, El Saadawi, Gordimer, Ngugi, Rushdie, and Roy — we may also consider Irish, Caribbean, Latin American, and Palestinian texts in order to compare themes and writing styles.  (One Unit)

American Literature

What is American culture and what is the role of literature in society? In this course, students will analyze how different forms of American literary and popular culture express the diversity of American culture. The course may address how literature and popular culture responds to various issues in American culture such as social identity, political movements, the environment, technology, etc. (One Unit)

This class will reflect upon the beginning of American literature. In it, we will study many of the classic works of the “American Renaissance” such as those by Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, and Emily Dickinson in their historical context. (One Unit)

A survey of major works, literary movements, and historical contexts for American literature beginning with the reconstruction of American society and culture after the end of slavery and continuing to the present day.  (One Unit)

English 315 studies African-American literature from the late eighteenth century to the present. We will draw on a broad range of genres including autobiography, travel narrative, poetry, oral tradition, short story, essay, and novel. As we seek to understand these texts within their historical contexts through lectures and secondary readings, we will also pay particular attention to the stakes of literacy for African-American writers. Toward this end, we will consider such questions as how do African-American writers work within and against the expectations and assumptions of their audiences? What are the benefits and risks of the idea of the writer as spokesperson for African-Americans collectively? Why do certain texts and authors receive attention at particular moments in time? (One Unit)

Reading literature from colonial America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa from a comparative trans-Atlantic perspective, students will study a multiplicity of voices and literary figures such as pirates, puritan ministers, economists, adventurers, statesmen, journalists, and slaves. For the world we live in today, the eighteenth century was a foundational moment when three of the most significant documents for American culture and economics were written: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Students will critically examine the unique literary culture of that time. This course is intended to be of general interest not only to English majors and future high school teachers, but also to majors in Economics, History, Political Science, and Business. (One Unit)

In this course, we will consider the South as a contested space, a region that writers variously define, criticize, and defend. We will examine how these conversations develop and shift in response to changing perceptions of the region’s racial, cultural, agricultural, and economic dynamics. For many of our writers, the South represents an endangered or dangerous space. To some, the authentic South is vanishing, while to others, the South is everywhere American racism exists. We also will investigate how understandings of region work within and against conceptions of the nation and the global South. Additionally, we will consider how the South functions as a contested space in scholarship where critics debate what southern literature is, whether it ever really existed, and what categories should govern our readings of it. (One Unit)

This course is designed to introduce you to a selection of influential Southern Women Writers working in a variety of gemes and across a broad historical period. As we explore these writers in the context of the South, we will also investigate the cultural complexities of “Southern Women Writers” as a category in order to assess the benefits and risks of this designation. Toward this end, we will consider such questions as what counts as the South?; what are the historical stakes of literacy and literary production for women in the South?; and what are our assumptions about women’s writing, and are they valid? Additionally, we will examine how the writers on our syllabus write within and against conceptions of womanhood and region, particularly as they intersect with issues of sexuality, race, class, and ability. (One Unit)


Upper-Level Courses

A study of selected plays representative of Shakespeare’s career as a dramatist. The course is required of the English major and should be taken by the end of the junior year.  Offered fall semester. (One Unit)

This course, taken in conjunction with EN425, combines theory and practice. It presents selected literary theories that pertain to the texts studied in the senior seminar, at the same time that it provides a structure and vocabulary for analyzing the experiential component of the course, whether that takes the form of an internship or research paper. Prerequisites: Senior standing in the English major and successful (C- or higher) performance in EN212. Offered spring semester. (One Unit)

This course is a culminating experience for the senior English major. The advanced level will permit an intensive study of the subject, and the seminar format will permit active student participation. Topics may include an author, genre, or the relationship between the study of literature and another discipline. Prerequisites: Senior standing in the English major and successful (C- or higher) performance in EN212. Offered spring semester. (One Unit)


Electives

An examination of some major pieces of literature, which draw heavily upon religious themes and concepts for their content. How, for example, do fictional works deal with the issues of guilt, punishment, faith, and the quest for salvation? What is salvation? How, also, are God and Christ conceived in contemporary fiction? Cross-listed w/RE 203.  (One Unit)

This is a course in English designed to introduce several masterworks of the Spanish and Latin American literary traditions to students who may or may not be ready to read the texts in the original language. Readings include selections from early peninsular works, such as El Cid and the Quixote, pre-Columbian texts, such as the Popul-Vul, poetry from colonial Mexico’s Sor Juana and, finally, contemporary works from both Latin America (Borges, Cortázar, Allende) and Spain (Matute, García Lorca, Arrabal). (Cross-listed as SP 213.) (One Unit)

This course is devoted to discussing and practicing the art of creative writing. Fiction is the focus. Forms such as the short story, play and novel will be examined. Poetry and other modes will also be analyzed. The goal in the readings will be for students to wonder, “How can I become a better writer?”  (One Unit)

This course introduces students to Comparative Literature as a discipline. Students will examine different methods of comparative study, including the comparison of different national literatures, different regional literatures, and literatures written in different languages. The course is structured around a series of essays taken from the groundbreaking study Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism, which are paired with a series of literary texts. (One Unit)

This is a fundamental film course which should create good critical viewers with a basic knowledge of film form, concepts, and terminology. On a practical level, students will be applying what they’ve learned to film and video of all kinds. Students will also learn basic film history, including the cultural role of international cinematic trends. Equally importantly, students will learn how to identify and disarm the covert political and social assumptions in which films immerse audiences. The amount and level of reading as well as writing standards will be high. Two short papers, a research paper, and class presentations will be required, as well as a mid-term and final exam. (One Unit)

A course dealing with literary topics not covered in the standard courses of the department; its content will be determined by the instructor. Sections of the course taken as part of a freshman learning community may not be used to fulfill the writing-intensive course requirement.  (One Unit)

A detailed reading of some of the major literary works written in fin-de-siècle Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Barcelona. Along with readings by authors such as Marcel Proust, Colette, Thomas Mann, Rainer-Maria Rilke, and Arthur Rimbaud, this class also addresses the rise of psychoanalysis, the exploration of sexuality, and café culture. Students will visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and attend a concert at Carnegie Hall. (One Unit)

A course for students who have demonstrated previous ability in creative writing. They will
develop their skills in genres such as longer fiction, play-writing, and memoir-writing, with an
eye to publishing their work. Attention will be given to the challenges of and opportunities
for publication in a digital age. (One Unit.)

We will study science fiction from the nineteenth century to the present. Science fiction as social critique will be a focal point of the course. Issues that science fiction works address include crises of self-definition, the interplay between technologies and the humans who create and use them, the fear, anticipation and acceptance/rejection of the alien, the future of society’s institutions (from government to religion) and the links between progress, humanity and the natural environment. Reading for the course may include works by H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Nicola Griffith, Octavia Butler and Orson Scott Card. There will also be significant critical reading in this course. (One Unit)

This course explores some noteworthy contemporary films from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and other places.The movies screened will vary widely in style and approach, from commercial blockbusters to experimental art-house films. We’ll combine aesthetic analysis and interpretation with an investigation into the historical and cultural contexts of each film., and we’ll look at how filmmakers across nations and cultures have addressed topics such as gender relations, war, and globalization.

We will focus on some traditional European tales, some Asian versions of tales, as well as critical reading and some more modern versions of the stories. Various authors’ renderings of “Beauty and the Beast,” “Cinderella,” and “Bluebeard” are a few of the tales we will take up. Angela Carter’s versions of some of these tales as well as McGuire’s Wicked and Emma Donoghue’s Kissing the Witch may be among the twentieth century texts we read. (One Unit)

This course explores women’s writing from the unique literary and cultural perspectives of French speaking society. Readings include such authors as Madame de Sevigne, George Sand, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Nathalie Sarraute, and Marguerite Duras. The course also includes writings by francophone West African, Caribbean, and Canadian authors. Cross-listed w/FR 351. (One Unit)

This course introduces students to the major developments in the history of French cinema. The course aims to develop students’ skills of analysis and interpretation in order to enable them to read and appreciate film as an art form. The course is divided into three parts which present the three principal moments of French cinematic history: the films of Poetic Realism from the 1920s and 1930s; the films of the New Wave from the 1950s and 1960s and fin-de-siècle films of the 1980s and 1990s. Film-viewings are supplemented by the study of film theory. Taught in English. Cross-listed w/FR 356.  (One Unit)

Italian cinema provides a fascinating portrait of Italy in the 20th century, chronicling such phenomena as the rise of fascism, the tensions between North and South, and the changing role of women. In addition, it has exhibited impressive narrative and technical innovation, which have been influential on American filmmakers. Directors such as Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, and Sergio Leone will be studied. Cross-listed w/IT 357.  (One Unit)

Supervised independent research projects developed by the student with a faculty mentor. Restricted to advanced English majors. Students planning to write a thesis for the honors program or departmental honors in English should register for EN 593 for the fall semester of their senior year. Prerequisite: EN 212 or permission of instructor. Offered fall and spring semesters.


Journalism

Intensive participation in the student newspaper in the area of writing. Students will complete articles assigned by the instructor, who will grade them. Not required of staff members of student publications, but recommended for English majors with a minor in Journalism. May be repeated. Prerequisite: completion of the English composition requirement. Offered fall and spring semesters. (One Unit)

As  the journalism industry undergoes a digital transformation, journalists need broader skills to sort and report a relentless flow of information. This course explores the shifting journalistic landscape and best practices for journalists to navigate through the changes. Student will build a foundation of skills necessary to be successful journalist in any medium. These include defining news, conducting an interview, writing a lead, reporting stories in real-time and following Associated Press Style. (One Unit)

A course dealing with journalism topics not covered in the standard courses of the department; its content will be determined by the instructor. Offered as required. (One Unit)

Every day journalists risk their lives to tell a story to the world. Many of them are killed in the line of duty; the Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial in Washington, D.C. lists more than 2,000 names from around the world. Many others are permanently injured physically and psychologically by what they witness and record. Some even take their own lives. This course surveys works by the valiant reporters, past and present, who put themselves in harm’s way to shed light on unrest, tragedy and injustice. (One Unit)

An introduction to design and editing, which work in tandem in the newsroom. In the editing segment, students learn copy editing, Associated Press style, headline and caption writing, news gathering techniques, budgeting and story assigning. They develop news judgment and leadership skills. In the design segment, the history of design, the elements of design, typography, photography and the current and evolving trends in new media are explored. Students receive training in Mac design and learn how to successfully assemble a newspaper or magazine page.   (One Unit)

Whether printed on glossy paper or presented online, magazines continue to offer the best in narrative writing. Students will strengthen the traditional skills required to produce great journalism while learning how to develop strong feature stories, pitch them to editors, analyze a target audience, and design and market their work. The course includes opportunities to meet editors and writers who work at magazines published in New York City.(One Unit)

The art and craft of reviewing theatre, dance, recordings and concerts, restaurants and cuisine, television and film, new books and magazines, exhibits, and a variety of culture events. The course will focus on freelance techniques for devising story ideas, researching publications, proposing story ideas to editors, writing letters of inquiry, and completing assignments. Students will contribute articles to the Wagnerian. (One Unit)

An introduction to the craft and business of sports writing, with emphasis on conceiving, researching, drafting, and revising marketable sports stories. Students learn to prepare feature columns, Profiles, interviews, and editorials for both newspapers and magazines. Readings in the New York Times, Daily News, New York Post, Sports Illustrated, and other publications, as well as in collections of contemporary sports writers. Assignments include news coverage of Wagner College sports as well as local professional teams and events (live and televised). Emphasis on publishing in the Wagnerian and freelancing for commercial outlets. (One Unit)

An exploration of the codependent relationship between these two fields. Students will learn how news people rely on PR people for story ideas and information, and how PR people rely on news people to bring credibility and success to their concepts. They will learn how to market an idea creatively, prepare press releases from press kits, and deal with reporters and editors from the PR angle. They will also learn how to identify and develop a story idea from a press release, and become proficient in handling “rewrites.”   (One Unit)

Newspaper editors make tough calls every day, based on a professional code of ethics that differs from newspaper to newspaper. What’s un-publishable for one is front-page news for another. This course explores ethical issues including sensationalism, libel and slander, the right to privacy, conflicts of interest, and the blurring line between journalism and entertainment.  (One Unit)

This course traces journalism from the primitive days of wooden type, invented by the Chinese, to the implications of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and the computerized complexities of the field today. Students will read articles by some of America’s earliest reporters (Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Edgar Allan Poe) and study how writing styles, topics, and newspaper design have changed through the centuries. A collection of old newspapers will be used to illustrate the changes.  (One Unit)

Part-time, on-the-job experience at a New York area newspaper, magazine, television network, or public relations outlet.Prerequisites: JR 261, minimum 2.5 GPA in the major, and approval of the advisor to the journalism minor. Offered as required. (One Unit)

Part-time, on-the-job experience at a New York area newspaper, magazine, television network, or public relations outlet. Prerequisites: JR 261, minimum 2.5 GPA in the major, and approval of the advisor to the journalism minor.  (One Unit)

Supervised independent research projects developed by the student with a faculty mentor. Prerequisites: JR 261, and approval of the advisor to the journalism minor.  (One Unit)