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Senior Seminar Topics, spring 2014

Seminars are concentrated studies in a particular area (writing or literature). Students select either the literature or the writing seminar based on their major; writing seminars are offered in several different genres. These courses are generally taken senior year and are a capstone to the DePauw English major.

The following seminar courses will be offered spring semester of the 2013-2014 school year.

ENG412a:  Seminar in Writing: Fiction/Non-Fiction (S course) (Professor Chiarella)

In this course, students will practice both the fiction and non-fiction forms.


ENG 412b: Knowing the Art of the Art of Knowing Seminar in Writing: Poetry, Memoir, and Short Fiction:  (S course) (Professor Heithaus)

In this class we will examine a variety of texts, many of them chosen by the seniors in the class as a way to anchor our discussions of the senior projects the students produce.  This is a culminating class for the senior writing major and so our focus is on helping each student write a work that reflects what they’ve learned thus far.   But these projects should build on that knowledge toward something greater.  Ideally, students leave this class in May having written something they didn’t think themselves able to do when we begin in February.  We will work toward knowing more intimately the art of crafting words to create worlds--both real and imagined--we had not thought possible to articulate.


ENG 412c: Seminar in Writing: Fiction/Screenwriting/Poetry (S course) (Professor Hillis)

The short story and the screenplay share important common elements. These include brevity, structure, reliance on imagery, dialogue, and a singleness of point of view to name a few. But at the root of all literary writing is the charged, compressed language of poetry which is likewise built of the above-mentioned elements. It follows then that the writers of short stories, screenplays, and poetry are qualified to offer informed critiques across these genres.  In this seminar your capstone project may be either in short fiction, the screenplay, the poem, or a combination.  It is assumed that you will have successfully completed a 300 level workshop in the genre in which you are planning to work.


ENG 412d: Seminar in Dramatic Screenwriting and Playwriting (S course) (Professor White)

 In this capstone seminar, students will focus on creating a longer work of dramatic writing, such as a feature-length screenplay or a full-length play, with a strong research component. Students will propose projects, create outlines (depending on genre, these will vary), write a first draft, recieve comments at all points in the process, then revise to create their final draft. It is recommended that students work in a genre with which they have had some experience in an upper-level class, but it is not required. However, extra time will be required to work in a new genre, and students should be willing to absorb and complete extra work and assignments if deciding to go that route.


ENG 451A: The Paranoid Style: History, Fiction, and Conspiracy (S course) (Professor Brown)

History and fiction seem incongruent. One relates factual events, the other imaginary ones. Blending the two can reconfigure and reinterpret historical events in imaginative ways. In historical fiction and alternate history, writers and readers mutually recognize and submit to the delusion, experiencing one of the fundamental pleasures of literature in their suspension of disbelief. In literary hoaxes and conspiracy theories, writers or readers, or both, do not recognize the delusion as such, become unmoored from fact, and come to inhabit paranoia, or “a separate mind.” The implications reach beyond ranting talk radio hosts. As historical, political, and scientific discourse drifts from a consensus reality in which contested questions of fact may be reasonably resolved, conspiracy theory fills the void of meaning with an alternative historical narrative of a world governed by hidden design. The whole world becomes a “separate” and continuously evolving work of fiction. In this context, the seminar will consider questions about the relation between storytelling, historical knowledge, and social identity, exploring conspiracism in relation to other types of communal narratives deriving from folklore, myth, and religion. How do stories shape our knowledge and assumptions about the past? How do they shape our values, our fears, our sense of identity, and our political behavior? What imaginative possibilities open when storytellers adopt a paranoid frame of mind? Our reading will survey conspiracy theories, literary hoaxes, alternate histories, and novels depicting conspiracies or reflecting on the nature of conspiracism.