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ENG 255

Topics in Literary Studies

While refining students' general analytical and interpretive skills, this course offers intensive examination of specific issues in literature and culture, often those at the center of current critical interest. Recent sections have focused on The Gangster Film, Memoir and Sexuality, Quest for the Grail, and Native American Literature. Students may only count one ENG 255 that is a cross-listed Modern Language course toward the major or minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Fall Semester information

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay

255A: Tps:Contemporary American Science Fiction by Women

Literary science fiction in our present age differs considerably from science fiction even of the recent past, and even more so from the "sci-fi" of films and television. This is due in large part to the influx of new perspectives from women writers. In this course, we will study literary works by U.S. women writers who are still living and producing literary fiction. Writers may include Nnedi Okorafor, Nisi Shawl, Eleanor Arnason, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemison, Karen Joy Fowler, Ann Leckie, Pat Cadigan, Ada Palmer, Misha, and one digital outlier, Janelle Monae.


Angela Flury

255B: Tps:Writing About Film

This course teaches you to write about film in both conventional and unconventional ways. As you move from writing film reviews to more experimental forms, you are at the same time studying cinema in all of its splendor and complexity, from the basics to more thematic, historical, and socio-political frameworks. The diverse group of films in this course aims to challenge your cinematic sensibilities and broaden your repertoire. Warren Buckland's concise little text book condenses film studies into an accessible general approach (introducing his readers to all the requisite terms); Corrigan's Guide teaches you the skills necessary to write critically in specific genres, and Robert Ray uses the avant-garde arts as model for more experimental ways of writing and thinking about the movies. By studying and practicing different forms of writing, your relationship to cinema and culture-at-large is bound to become more nuanced, expansive, and nimble.


Deborah Geis

255C: Tps:Contemporary African American Drama

This course is for students who are interested in learning about the major playwrights and artistic/political movements in mid-twentieth and twenty-first century African American drama. We will begin with some earlier works from the Civil Rights and Black Arts eras (e.g., Douglas Turner Ward, Amiri Baraka), but most of the course will focus on later plays, including significant Black women playwrights of the seventies (e.g., Adrienne Kennedy, Ntozake Shange), and major theater voices from more recent times (e.g., Tarrell Alvin McCraney, Suzan-Lori Parks). Students should be prepared to participate actively in discussions and scenes, as well as to do a significant amount of writing since this is a "W" course.


Nicole Lobdell

255D: Tps:Dead Bodies in Literature

In our books, movies, and television shows, the corpse has a leading role. From Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus to Hitchcock's Psycho to George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, dead bodies occupy positions of real power. We like to play with dead bodies, according to Fintan O'Toole, "spinning stories around them that can be austere or grotesque, tragic or farcical, haunting or hilarious." Why are we so fascinated and simultaneously repulsed by corpses? How do writers treat dead bodies as characters, plot devices, and symbols? How are corpses represented by writers such as Stephen King compared to other writers such as William Faulkner or Mary Shelley? This course will use literature as its primary vehicle for discussion but will also include short nonfiction writings on the cultural anthropology of the dead and the business of death. Although this course is about corpses, students should anticipate lively discussions and a significant amount of writing.