Modern Drama (ENG 261)
European, American, and British drama from Ibsen to Pinter with emphasis on the major movements within Western theater: realism, naturalism, expressionism, Epic Theater, and Theater of the Absurd.
Bodies at Risk in American Drama (ENG 262)
In the first two decades of the 21st century, human existence has been made more precarious by racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia; war and conflict; global warming; health inequities; and widening social and economic disparities. Contemporary American playwrights have held up a powerful mirror to such inequities, and deployed the real bodies of actors to bring to light the stories of those whose very existence has been placed at risk. In so doing, they do not simply reify simplistic stories of either victimhood or inspirational overcoming. Rather, they assert these stories as a fundamental part of American identity, taking a more complex, nuanced look at what it means to navigate systemic inequity while asserting identity, integrity, and dignity. In this course, we will look at plays from the last two decades of American drama that take inequity and its aftereffects as their main concern. The plays we read take up issues including gender transition; the school-to-prison pipeline; bullying; the institutionalization of disabled people; the immigrant experience, especially that of women; the erasure of people of color; the effects of the loss of heavy industry in rural America; and the lack of universal health care. How does the stage invite us to debate the ethical questions at the heart of such inequities? How does drama not only invite our empathy, but spur us toward the deeper understanding of experiences different from our own that might result in meaningful systemic change?
Literary Analysis (ENG 220)
Designed for potential English majors. Emphasizes theoretical approaches and critical strategies for the written analysis of poetry, fiction, and drama and/or film. Writing intensive. Required for the major.
Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSS 101)
This class provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the analytical tools, key scholarly debates, history, and research subfields of gender and sexuality studies. It pays particular attention to the construction and deployment of gender as a cultural category across various social institutions. Students will learn to assess and analyze documents pertaining to the history of and contemporary state of feminisms and women’s rights, masculinity, queer theory, disability studies, body image and consumer culture, intersectionality, as well as a host of gendered questions related to health, work, the family, violence, and politics.
British Literature to 1800 (ENG 240)
Designed for majors and prospective majors. Introductory survey of the British literary tradition in poetry, drama, and narrative during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Eighteenth Century, with special emphasis on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, and Milton.
#MeToo: Speaking Sexual Violence (Writing 101)
This course examines the rhetoric of #MeToo, the most recent iteration of the movement against gender-based violence, in the context of earlier representations of sexual harassment and assault. We will begin by studying recent historical flashpoints in the national dialogue about sexual abuse, including the Anita Hill hearings (1991); David Mamet’s controversial play Oleanna (1992); President Bill Clinton’s impeachment (1998); the Boston Globe’s exposé on the Catholic Church (2002). Approaching #MeToo as a genre of storytelling still taking shape, we will uncover emerging tropes and patterns in the narration of experiences of sexual abuse, in media portrayals thereof, and in the critical backlash. Based on our investigations, we will attempt to answer the questions, “Whose and what kinds of stories of sexual violence are likeliest to capture a national audience? Whose and what kinds are likeliest to be silenced or ignored, and why?” Our rhetorical analyses will follow the method advanced in David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen’s Writing Analytically. The first assignment asks students to analyze the organizing themes and contrasts of a popularly circulated #MeToo story of their choosing. In the second, we will uncover assumptions about who and what constitutes an “ideal victim” in our class readings. The third assignment asks students to use a theoretical text on narratives of sexual abuse as a lens through which to interpret characters’ actions and motivations in a fictional work on the topic. For their final project, students will perform close textual analyses of interviews with women faculty about their experiences of workplace sexual harassment and situate them with respect to the narrative priorities, possibilities, and limitations we have identified as shaping the broader movement.