New Courses

Read about new undergraduate courses offered by the Literature Program.

ENGLIT 0601: Protests, Politics, and Black Lyrical Traditions (Spring 2022)
Black poetic traditions span print, the spoken word, song lyrics, especially, the Blues, and rap. This course considers the history of Black lyrical traditions in the context of various moments of protest and various political movements. The course examines the mutual influences of Black music—sound, rhythm, voice, and orchestration—and Black poetry—verse, spoken word, and song and rap lyrics. Extending the analytical practice of “close reading,” this course asks students to also engage in practices of “close listening” to the Blues and rap as well as to the sounds of the written word. Practicing these together, students will gain an intricate understanding of the mutual influences between sonic and print forms of Black lyrical traditions. Additionally, this course will examine the role that Black lyrical traditions play in the cultural movements that address anti-Black racism in American culture.

ENGLIT 0648: Narrative and Graphic Perspectives in Health Humanities (Fall 2021)
This course emphasizes the narrating and understanding of difference as central to the education of those engaged in/with the healthcare field and examines the ways in which narratives have the power to inform and transform social spheres. Students will consider how narratives of neurodiversity; gender barriers; racial inequities in education and health services, for instance, are all crucial issues for providers and receivers of medical care. By studying literature about medicine/the health professions from diverse perspectives, students in the course will learn to observe, parse, appreciate, critique, and creatively reimagine points of contact between individuals in healthcare sphere.

ENGLIT 0670: Queer and Transgender Literature (Fall 2021)
"Queer and Transgender Literature" will examine the changing relationship between queer and transgender identities in literature, science and culture from the early twentieth century to the present. Students will learn to read literature in its historical context, pairing it with primary sources from relevant scientific and medical discourses, as well as locating it in competing literary criticism traditions in queer theory and transgender studies. The weekly course meetings will revolve around discussion of key works in queer and transgender literature, paired alternately with important literary criticism and primary sources. Classroom discussion and in-class writing assignments will focus on building these historicist and critical skills in sequence, so as to prepare students for their main assignment sequence, which asks them to apply the skills they are learning to generate their own contributions to debates in criticism about the proper boundaries between queer and transgender identities.

ENGLIT 0717: The Fairy Tradition and Fairy Tales (Fall 2021)
Fairies go by many names: the Folk, the Good People, the Other Crowd, Sidhe, fey. Usually beautiful, ethereal, and morally ambiguous, fairies are a staple of western folklore and legend. Once associated with the realm of the dead and lost magic, fairies are now creatures of children’s literature and fantasy. The fairy tradition encompasses vital cultural questions about the work of imagination, magic, and vision in our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Either elusive or non-existent, depending on perspective, fairy lore evokes issues related to: the reliability of witness and of the senses; privileged and discounted perception; the interplay of the imagination and knowledge; and the role of cultural authority. Students will consider the significance of these themes through aspects of fairy folklore, book history, portrayals of childhood, reception studies, and an end-of-term creative project.

ENGLIT 0732: Post-Digital Gaming (Coming 2022-2023)
This course will examine the narrative, social, and material dynamics of games that have emerged within the era of ubiquitous digital media, yet employ analog elements as either a rejection of the digital, a critical response to it, or an exploration of the hybrid potentials of analog-digital systems. We will also examine hybrid games that incorporate both digital and analog elements, such as early video games that promiscuously combined the two, or more recent digital games that “spill into” analog space and incorporate analog dynamics into their hybrid simulations. How do these games frame the relationship between the analog and the digital, the body and code, open systems and closed worlds? In the course of this adventure through narrative, emergent social dynamics, and simulated worlds, we’ll play innovative tabletop games from recent years, some older games that have been remediated in various ways, early video games, and recent innovations in hybrid analog-digital games. We’ll consider how the narrative architectures and gameplay mechanics employed by these games enable emergent storytelling and critical simulation at the same time, reflecting on and probing identity, social dynamics, traumatic histories, and ethics in an era of digital media. Game design will play a significant role in a series of assignments. No prior gaming or game design experience is required. 

ENGLIT 0880: Shakespeare and Social Justice (Spring 2022)
When Shakespeare’s King Lear finally turns his attention to the plight of “poor naked wretches” who have no clothing to protect them from a “pitiless” storm, he realizes he has taken “too little care” of human suffering in his kingdom. Departing from scenes such as this one, this course explores the work of artists and critics who have used Shakespeare’s plays to confront a range of social injustices, including US persecution of Native Americans, the legacies of white settler colonialism across the globe, and intimate partner violence. Examining adaptations, remediations, and appropriations of Shakespeare plays, such as Toni Morrison’s Desdemonaor AiméCésaire’s A Tempest, students will be invited to consider what Shakespeare signifies in different cultural contexts and to examine related contests of cultural authority and ownership. Focusing on scholarship, performances, poetry, and art by people from various marginalized groups, students will explore the histories and futures of Black Shakespeare, Indigenous Shakespeare, Trans Shakespeare, Chicano Shakespeare, and many others. Several short writing assignments will build students’ skills in a range of critical and creative practices that can contribute to social justice and diversity: archival research, critical fabulation, social network mapping, oppositional reading, comparative analysis of two or more productions, and personal reflection.

ENGLIT 1011: Milton to Minecraft (Coming 2022-2023)
In this course, we will examine literature pertaining to the long history of relations among humans, technical devices, and the natural world, situating changing views of nature within larger cosmic and socioeconomic contexts.

ENGLIT 1015: Unruly Bodies (Coming Fall 2022)
This course studies the body as a phenomenon of cultural construction, as a product and process of lived experience, as the object of societal techniques of control, and as the subject of radical liberation. This course will examine the body in literature and other forms of representation. It will examine the ways that demands of “unruly bodies” to conform to normative body images intersect with gender, sex, sexuality, age, race, and other identity categories.

ENGLIT 1201: Digital Narrative and Interactive Design (Spring 2022)
How are computational artifacts currently designed, and how can they be designed differently? What stories can be told by collaborating with computers? What stories can't be told? This project-based course will enable students to engage with and create computational narratives and interactive projects with data, hardware and algorithms. Each collaboratively taught iteration of the course will include 3-4 of these units, such as: fabrication, interactive hardware, computational narrative, interactive data, and prototyping. Students will consider what it means to compose with computers for human audiences, and with humans for computer audiences. Designed for Digital Narrative and Interactive Design (DNID) majors to take midway through the major, it will help students consolidate the interdisciplinary knowledge they have obtained in their prerequisite courses, introduce them to examples of interdisciplinary work that will inform their later capstone projects, and give them practice in working on collaborative projects that span the humanities and information/computing fields.