ENG L379 American Ethnic and Minority Literature: New American Frontiers
Frederick Jackson Turner famously proclaimed in 1893 the importance the frontier had played in sustaining the democratic spirit of American society. In this seminar we will rethink Turner’s thesis along cultural lines to explore how new sources of democratic dynamism have emerged on the frontiers opened up by ethnic and minority authors of American literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will chart new American frontiers that exceed physical borders and that take the shape of boundary-expanding American cultural and racial identities. As we trace these new frontiers through multiple literary genres (novel, drama, poetry, short story, and essay), we will explore the politics and poetics of genre mixing, immigration, linguistic hybridity, and the cultural contact zones of a modern America.
ENG L350 Early American Writing and Culture to 1800: Reason, Rage, Revolution
What sparked the American Revolution? Plain old Common Sense,to borrow a phrase from Thomas Paine? Or throbbing passion and despair? Take this class to learn about the other, darker revolution of the United States—the one inspired by rage and heartbreak, the one that promised abstract “liberty” for “all men” at the expense of so many concrete freedoms. We will trace the origins of the self-made man through the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. We will uncover the revolt against marriage in Hannah Webster Foster’s novel, The Coquette. And we will compare first-hand descriptions of the Middle Passage and American slavery to contemporary films, like 12 Years a Slave. If you want to read some classic American literature, or if you hope to learn more about our political heritage, this is the class for you.
ENG L351 American Literature, 1800-1865: The Dream and the Nightmare
The American Dream took shape with the Declaration of Independence in 1776, proclaiming the Enlightenment ideals of human freedom and the hope for a better life. In this course, we will read foundational literature of the early nineteenth century, including such authors as Hawthorne, Dickinson, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Stowe, and Poe, to trace the challenges and promises, the nightmares and possibilities, of post-revolutionary America. Focusing on such issues as democracy, slavery, gender, protest, frontier, individualism, and community, our discussions will survey major literary movements—the Gothic, Sentimentalism, Romance, and Transcendentalism—as well as diverse genres, from the novel, short story, and poem, to the essay and slave narrative. As we ground ourselves in the form and content of these texts, we will consider their complicated role in reflecting and constructing national identity and what it means to be an American.
ENG L207 Women and Literature: Disturbed Minds
How has literature variously constructed the medical condition of insanity? In this course, we will examine famous madwomen in prose literature, from Charlotte Brontë’s imprisoned Bertha Mason and Henry James’ zealous governess, to Toni Morrison’s young Pecola Breedlove. Delving into the historical archive of psychological science, we will unpack the convoluted figures of insanity developed by physicians and literary authors, alike, to answer such questions as: What cultural and political work does the ailing woman perform in fiction? Do these literary madwomen suffer from diagnosable psychological ailments? Are they social rebels? As we trace the evolution of this popular figure through the literary traditions of the epistolary novel, sentimentalism, Gothicism, realism, and thebildungsroman, we will practice archival reading and interdisciplinary research in the history of psychology. Discussions will also consider the core principles of bioethics.
ENG L352 American Literature, 1865-1914: Between the Wars
The period between the Civil War and the First World War was a tumultuous moment for American literature and art. In this course, we will examine American “civilization and its discontents,” to borrow Freud’s famous 1930 title. As we delineate various aesthetic developments, including realism, naturalism, and regionalism, we will read texts by such authors as Mark Twain, Henry James, W.E.B. DuBois, Kate Chopin, and Stephen Crane. Students will also investigate a host of social and political changes emerging in the postbellum period: Reconstruction, urbanization, industrialization, immigration, booming technology, and the “closing” of the western frontier.
ENG L371 Critical Practices
In this course students will explore critical approaches to literature through the burgeoning field of the medical humanities. How can critical theory and literary analysis help us understand urgent questions about the mind and body involving health, illness, sanity, madness, ethics, and autonomy? We will investigate critical methodologies such as new historicism, psychoanalysis, gender theory, political criticism, and Marxist theory. Students will gain a familiarity with these practices by thinking about the intersection of literature and medicine. Using novels such as Henry James’ Turn of the Screw, Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, José Saramago’s Blindness, and Richard Powers’ Gain as our test cases, we will experiment with the practice of critical theory in this literary clinic.
ENG L209 American Gothic
Why do we draw close to that which horrifies us? In this course we will confront the tropes of American gothic fiction, including: live burial, murder, ghosts, ventriloquism, the occult, madness, and contagion. Discovering its aesthetic, cultural, political, and historical dimensions, we will learn how the American literary gothic is as much about the nation’s historical horrors—slavery, revolutionary violence, and disenfranchisement—as it is about escapism, thrill seeking, and the fearsome power of imagination. Our journey through the macabre will include such authors as Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Brockden Brown, Louisa May Alcott, Eden Robinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Henry James, Octavia Butler, Cormac McCarthy, and Charles Chesnutt. We will supplement our readings with contemporary horror films that may include Laughton’s Night of the Hunter and Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. As we “peer into the abyss” of the American gothic, we will reconceive our relation to traditional narratives of American progress, optimism, and possibility.
ENG L354 American Literature Since 1914: The American Century
The twentieth century was proclaimed to be “The American Century” by Henry Luce in the February 17, 1941 issue of Life magazine. A “baffling, difficult, paradoxical, revolutionary” era marked by the global hegemony of the United States, the American Century was a period of both stability and disruption, punctuated by military conflict abroad and social upheaval at home. Amidst radical transformations in patterns of migration, immigration, and urbanization, as well as countercultural revolutions and civil rights movements, American writers developed new aesthetics of personal, regional, and national expression that we will trace through the literary movements of modernism and postmodernism. We will read chronologically through the century, beginning with T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and concluding with Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien, and Julie Otsuka. We will also learn to think temporally about the American Century, as we analyze the anticipations, afterlives, and repetitions of nineteenth-century traumas and twenty-first century challenges in the literary narratives of the American Century.
ENG L202 Literary Interpretation
What does a degree in English enable you to do? This course will survey the theories and methods of literary interpretation. We will explore conceptual problems and paradigms, including authorship, subjectivity, ideology, history, and differences, and apply them to literary study through the practices of close and distant reading, research, and argumentation. You will also be introduced to the basics of the profession, including the craft of the personal statement and resources for job searches in the humanities. So much depends upon storytelling: art, law, literature, business, communication, history, publishing. How you tell the story of yourself, your work, and your aims matters for your future. So, too, does your ability to parse other people’s stories. “Literary Interpretation” will train you in the art of close reading and critical thinking. It will also verse you in a set of critical theories that prepare you to think creatively, solve big-picture problems, and narrate our world in surprising and productive ways. We will direct our skills towards literary texts and cultural objects, alike, sharpening our interpretive acumen, honing our argumentative writing, and thinking explicitly about the practical applications of literary study.
ENG L498 Internship in English
Field: A Journal of Arts & Sciences is a peer-reviewed annual campus publication that features scholarly research, creative writing, and visual art produced by IU Kokomo students. Intern duties may include submissions recruitment and review, editing and copyediting, social media, marketing, and PR, design and layout, website content development, honing the journal’s mission and vision, and other tasks as specified. Interns will participate in biweekly staff meetings. They will also schedule board meetings and leadership team meetings as needed.