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Spring 2019 Undergraduate Courses


Spring 2019 Undergraduate Courses

Gateway Course Required for the Beginning Major

Engl 25000 - Introduction to Literary Study


39145             sec. B                     Bradley Nelson                    M, W 9:30 – 10:45am

39144             sec. F                     Elizabeth Weybright            M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm

39146             sec. G                    Joshua Barber                      M, W 5:00 – 6:15pm

39234             sec. L                     Mark-Allan Donaldson         T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am

39147             sec. M                    Robert Higney                       T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm

39148             sec. R                     Harold Veeser                       T, TH 3:30 – 4:45pm


This course offers an introduction for beginning English majors to the practices and concepts in the study of literature. We will think carefully about literature as a form of representation – about what literary texts mean as well as how they mean. The course will help students to develop a critical vocabulary and method for reading and writing about literature, as well as introduce them to the cultural contexts and backgrounds of various literary traditions. Our readings will explore a variety of genres and styles – short fiction, the novel, narrative poetry, lyric poetry, and forms of drama. Above all, this is a class in reading and (frequent) writing which will emphasize close reading techniques, interpretive approaches, the making of arguments, and the development of individual critical voices in order to prepare students to succeed in advanced English elective courses.

Literature Courses

200- Level courses

Please note: These 200-level courses are designed to introduce beginning students to literary history, critical approaches, and formal terminology. They typically have a minimum of 3-5 shorter assignments, a variety of in-class writing tasks, and assume no prior background in the discipline. For this reason, majors are not permitted to take more than four (4) 200-level classes.


Engl 25100 - Historical Survey of British Literature

46348                   sec. L                  Elizabeth Mazzola                     T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am

This course is a basic introduction to the literary tradition in England, surveying its beginnings in Anglo-Saxon verse and ending with John Milton’s reconstruction of the epic in Paradise Lost. Along the way, we will read widely and deeply, looking for recurring themes (the fall of kings, the desire for intimacy, the changing role of the community) but also considering what happens when literacy becomes more common, and printed texts start circulating widely. In addition to our reading of well-known and canonical works like Beowulf and Shakespeare's sonnets and The Faerie Queene, we will also consider writings by lesser-known authors like Margery Kempe, Marie de France, and Lady Mary Wroth, aiming to grasp a lively, noisy world where men (and women) transformed their lives by writing about them and reshaped history by wrestling with language.


Engl 26105 - Studies in Genre: Tragedy

51821                   sec. C                    Daniel Gustafson                     M, W 11:00 – 12:15pm

As a literary genre, tragedy refers to much more than just a sad or catastrophic story. In this course, we will explore the history of tragic forms and ideas in Western literature (mostly in staged drama) and grapple with some important questions: why do people remain drawn to, and even find pleasure in representations of horrific events? Do tragic representations bear a politics, and how have shifting identity politics over time determined who counts as a tragic subject? What is tragedy’s relation to violence and loss, on the one hand, and ritual and communal affirmation on the other? How has tragedy changed to fit the needs of different cultures from its origins in ancient Greece to our contemporary moment? In addition to reading plays, we will read selections on the history and theory of tragedy in works of philosophy, aesthetics, and critical theory. Possible authors include Sophocles, Euripides, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Racine, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Raymond Williams, Wole Soyinka, Caryl Churchill, Howard Barker, Sarah Kane, and Will Eno.



Engl 27006 - A Historical Survey of African American Literature from 1919-1965: Pre-Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement

53754                   sec. E                   Gordon Thompson                    M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm

This seminar will be devoted to surveying African American Literature while concentrating on works written during the Harlem Renaissance period.  We will examine aspects of African American literature as it challenges Euro-American aesthetics, looking at distinctions between high and low forms of artistic expression.  In the process, we will also examine the works of classic Black writers while observing related black visual art and as well as listening to Black popular music.



Engl 28000 - Introduction to Comparative Literature

41100                   sec. R                        Vacláv Paris                        T, TH 3:30 – 4:45pm

This course introduces students to the study of comparative literature. Its aims are both practical and theoretical: to develop critical reading and writing skills and a shared vocabulary for literary analysis, whilst also extending our understanding of literature as a whole. Our approach will be both international and interdisciplinary, addressing questions such as: what is the relation between a painting and a poem? What makes a national story? And what are the connections between, say, Virginia Woolf and Junot Diaz? In order to achieve these aims, the course proceeds through a range of different genres and traditions of writing—from poetry and essays to drama and a novel. Together a familiarity with these different texts and different approaches will enable students to interpret any literary work. Students will be evaluated on the basis of a number of short assignments, regular quizzes, and their in-class participation. Originality of thought is encouraged. A course pack of shorter texts will be provided. Electronic devices are not permitted in this class.


300- Level Courses

Please note: 300-level classes assume some background and prior experience at the 200-level. Students should complete two 200 level courses before embarking on 300 level work; however, they may register for a single 300 level course if they are still completing 200 level requirements. Generally, these classes require two shorter essays and one longer assignment or final paper involving research or reference to secondary materials.


Engl 31158 - Contemporary African-American Female Playwrights

Cross-listed with THTR 31113

51978                   sec. 1EF                Eugene Nesmith                       M 2:00 – 4:40pm

In the past quarter of a century there has been a plethora of new, young, African American playwrights who have written and acquired major productions of their works nationally and internationally to wide critical acclaim and major awards.  This course will trace this development beginning with Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 groundbreaking A Raisin in the Sun, to Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning drama Sweat. This course is designed to accommodate students at all levels of study. As a basic reading and text analysis class we will begin our critical analysis from an Aristotelian approach to critical approaches inclusive of Cultural Theory, Feminist Theory, Performance Theory and Critical Race Theory. This is a reading and discussion class. We will certainly examine how the roles of women have changed in the past fifty years, as well as racial and gender issues as they relate to love, family, oppression, history and economics. In the process, hoping that students will gain a higher level of critical and analytical consciousness, and a more empowering voice. By the process of close reading we will analyze texts from the social, historical, cultural, political and psychological perspectives.  Throughout the process of this course, we attend to a broader analysis of the relationship between African American Theatre and the broader American Theatre.


Engl 31172 - Jews of Eastern Europe

Cross-listed with JWST 31172

51936                   sec. M                    Elazar Elhanan                        T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm

The majority of the Jewish people lived up until the World War II in the region known to us as Eastern Europe. A unique and specific civilization developed there, with its specific language --Yiddish, and its rich and diverse cultural institutions. The Jewish civilization of Eastern Europe with its thousand years of history was destroyed during World War II. Surprisingly what is left in memory from a history of centuries is the popular image of the Jew as ‘fiddler on the roof’, the sentimental, nostalgic image of a community now gone.

In this course we will read novels, poems and comics and learn of key moments in the history of Eastern European Jews through their artistic representation. Through the reading of major novels, stories and poems we will ask why the image of Jewish Eastern Europe was reduced to sentimental description we are familiar with today. We will also examine the stakes involved in the definition of a part of Europe as “eastern” in general and specifically in relation to the Eastern European Jews, as they were defined as “an oriental foreign body” inside Europe, a definition that brought dire consequences with it. This course will investigate the crisis caused by the imposition of an “eastern” identity and the ways in which Jews accepted, rejected or negotiated it, a painful engagement that goes beyond but also explains the myth and sentimental kitsch of “Fiddler on the Roof”.

The goals of this course are to familiarize students with the literary discourses dominant in literature by and about eastern European Jews and their history. The students will also acquire the basic tools and methodology of comparative and political literary analysis as well as key concepts of critical and post colonial theory. The students are expected to be able to perform close reading and analysis of literary texts in their historical context.


Engl 31173 - Culture of Resistance in New York

Cross-listed with JWST 31713

51932                   sec. D                    Elazar Elhanan                        M, W 12:30 – 1:45pm

From 1880 to the 1920 over two million Jewish immigrants arrived in New York from Eastern Europe. Faced with terrible conditions of exploitation and nativist racism, these immigrants created a rich and unique culture of resistance. Through this culture, expressed in their own language, Yiddish, they coped with the shock of immigration, with the reality of poverty, sweatshops, crime and discrimination they found in the “Golden Land”, and called to task the American Dream itself.


Engl 31317 - Literature and Theory of Migrations

53523                   sec. G                      Mikhal Dekel                         M W 5:00 – 6:15pm

Hundreds of millions of people across the globe are or have been migrants. Literature and Theory of Migrations centers on literary, psychological, economic, legal and political works that engage with this experience. Works include migrant memoirs; films and fiction by and on migrants; refugee rights treaties; and theoretical works on the migrant experience by political scientists and psychologists. We will consider questions of identity – does it shift? Is it constant?; of rights – what is the philosophical basis of refugee/ migrant rights?; of politics; and of art and migration. There will be short quizzes throughout the semester, a midterm, and a final paper. 


Engl 31712 - Protest and Dissent in Israel

Cross-listed with JWST 31712

51934                   sec. L                     Elazar Elhanan                        T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am

This course explores the surprisingly diverse and varied history and practices of protest and dissent in in Israeli culture, concentrating on film, theater and literature, this class will examine the different forms the Zionist project was criticized from within.


Engl 31717 - Film Adaptation

Cross-listed with MCA 31300

51854                   sec. 2LM              Michael Gillespie                      T 9:30 – 1:15pm

This class considers theories and strategies of film adaptation across a variety of films. Rather than measuring these films in terms of their successful fidelity to the source work, the emphasis of the course will address the creative negotiation between film and literature as raising questions of narrative, genre, historiography, desire, the idea of race, gendered subjectivity, and intertextuality. Students will read original works with in-class screenings of the adaptations. Drawing from critical work across disciplines, the course serves as an opportunity to focus on the aesthetic, cultural, and political properties of film and the art of adaptation. Some of the film adaptations and ideas include: Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (2002) Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992), Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis (2007), film noir, queer cinema, Latin American cinema, the idea of black film, and the work of Stanley Kubrick.


Engl 31890 - Detective Fiction

46349                   sec. C                     Chet Kozlowski                       M, W 11:00 – 12:15pm

Detective novels, a.k.a. whodunits, have been a staple of popular American literature since the 1930s. An escapist response to the rigors of WWI and Prohibition, this subgenre of Pulp appealed to the masses by offering vicarious trips into the dark side of human nature, under revealing aspects of ourselves while seeking “the truth.” This course examines the writings of Raymond Chandler (“The Big Sleep”), Dorothy B. Hughes (“In a Lonely Place”), James Ellroy (“LA Confidential)”) and George Pelecanos (“Soul Circus”), and when possible their film adaptions, in a wild ride of thrills, chills, double crosses, kingpins, and femme fatales.


Engl 34200 - Advanced Grammar

39169                   sec. G                              Nicole Treska                            M, W 5:00 – 6:15pm

39125                   sec. L                              Anna Voisard                             T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am

39233                   sec. S                              Nicole Treska                            T, TH 5:00 – 6:15pm

Advanced Grammar reviews principles of traditional English grammar and usage (parts of speech, sentence structures, punctuation, pronoun/verb form/agreement, etc.) for English majors and minors, especially for those who plan to teach or work as tutors or editors.  It is not a remedial course for non-majors who struggle with writing problems, though many non-majors take it.  There is a custom-published workbook for the course, and used copies of it are not allowed.


Engl 35302 - Shakespeare II

39155                   sec. M                        Estha Weiner                                T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm

Shakespeare is the most influential and most successful writer in English. Shakespeare 2 is a survey of Shakespeare’s plays in the second half of his career. The readings will probably include the “problem comedy” Measure for measure, the twisted tragicomedy of love Troilus and Cressida, the major tragedies Hamlet, Othello, and Coriolanus, and the late romance Cymbeline. The reading of these stories of love, power, violence, jealousy, and loss will be accompanied by occasional critical readings and short clips from movie adaptations. Regular quizzes, short written assignments, in-class performances, and a final project.


Engl 35402 - Selected Topics in Medieval & Early Modern Literature: Baroque and Neo-Baroque

61520                   sec. S                       Harold Veeser                       T, TH 5:00 – 6:15pm

Baroque poets including Shakespeare favored the rich, the strange, even the bizarre. Early Modern Poet John Donne compared a young girl to a gory beheading, love to a fleabite, God to a rapist, a hermaphrodite to an inside-out glove. "The most heterogeneous objects are yoked by violence together," complained an early critic. This course begins with Early Modern shocks and outrages (Donne, Milton, Crashaw, Anne Bradstreet, Amelia Lanyer, Margaret Cavendish). We then proceed to new American radical neo-baroque interventions: the Flarf school of (chiefly women's) poetry; neo-metaphysicals (Edward Hirsch's "Still Life: An Argument" and Djuna Barnes’s great novel, Nightwood); classics of neo-baroque such as Marianne Moore, Severo Sarduy, and John Ashbery. These writers have one thing in common: they defy expectations, exceed all limits, and explode poetic conventions.

One presentation and two short papers are required.​


Engl 36100 - Representative US Writers 19th Century

39176                   sec. B                        Alec Magnet                        M, W 9:30 – 10:45am

In the 1830s, Ralph Waldo Emerson declared the independence of American literature from “our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands.” Yet Emerson also thought of himself as part of the community of world literature. He drew inspiration from European, Asian, and Middle Eastern writers. And he was painfully aware of the conflicts threatening to fracture the United States from within—North and South, free and slave, rich and poor, masculine and feminine, sexually “normal” and otherwise, white (particularly Anglo-Saxon) and everyone else. These were some of the thorny questions that nineteenth-century US writers had to tackle. What does it mean to be an American, and for whom? What should it mean? What does it mean to write in America, a country that called itself into existence with two written documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—just before the nineteenth century began? In this course, we will explore the intersection of these questions: Between 1801 and 1900, what did US writers think literature could do, artistically, politically, and emotionally? How did they navigate writing about—and as—various sorts of “others?” How did they use literature to critique the world around them and call new worlds into being? We may read texts by Louisa May Alcott, William Wells Brown, Charles W. Chesnutt, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Julia Ward Howe, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and others. Because we do our best thinking about literature by writing about it, you will write and revise three formal assignments for this course, along with a number of informal responses. Other requirements will include careful, patient reading of sometimes difficult texts, as well as regular attendance and participation in class discussions.


Engl 36401 - Selected Topics in American Literature: War and Post-War 20th Century US Literature

61523                   sec. P                       Keith Gandal                         T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm

The unprecedented, meritocratic mobilizations for the World Wars and Vietnam effected dramatic social transformations in masculinity, the role of women, gender relations, sexual behavior, and the status of ethnic Americans and African-Americans. This course explores the representation of these mobilization-inspired transformations in modernist and postmodern literature, a brand new project in literary study.

Tentative Texts:

            F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned

            Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms

            Katherine Anne Porter, “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”

            William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, Soldiers’ Pay

            Victor Daly, Not Only War

            William Burroughs, Junky

            Jack Kerouac, Vanity of Duluoz  

            Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

            Robert F. Williams, Negroes with Guns

            Norman Mailer, The Armies of the Night

            James Fallows, “What Did You Do in the Class War, Daddy?” (handout)

            Keith Gandal, “Why the Vietnam Antiwar Uprising?” (handout)


Engl 36501 - James Joyce

41121                   sec. T                        Vacláv Paris                        T, TH 6:30 – 7:45pm

James Joyce is often considered the greatest writer of the twentieth century. If you complete this course you will understand why. By turns hilarious, tragic, lyrical, smutty, and often formidably difficult, Joyce’s prose slices apart the reality of the modern world, offering the banal and the everyday back to us in forms that are fresh and full of meaning.

This course involves a lot of reading. Looking at selected stories from Dubliners and parts of Joyce’s early autobiography, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, we will begin by establishing Joyce’s background and context. Class discussion will include topics such as modernism, nationalism, war, race, religion, and sexuality. We will then spend the majority of the course reading Joyce’s great epic, Ulysses. Published in Paris in 1922, this book created a sensation that permanently changed the literary world. It is a work that continues to challenge our conceptions of what literature is about and what it can do—and one that amply repays the time spent studying it.

James Joyce is a difficult author. This course is meant for upper level students only: it is highly recommended that students have completed English 250: “Introduction to Literary Study” and at least one other 300-level course in order to register.

The writing requirement will be two long papers focused on developing the skills of close reading, critical thinking, and original research.


Engl 36507 - Selected Topics in 20th Century & Contemporary Literature: David Foster Wallace

61525                   sec. F                        Casey Henry                        M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm

David Foster Wallace holds an outsized place in contemporary literature. Due to his status as perhaps one of the last American writers to provocatively be deemed “genius,” critics are still poring over and sifting through Wallace’s “difficult gifts,” as Zadie Smith called them. His 1996 mega-novel Infinite Jest marks a hinge point in contemporary fiction. The book was meant to move beyond the spiritual hollowness and self-aware gimmicks of his postmodern predecessors and accomplish something “sincere,” engaging both transcendent and ordinary human concerns in the process. Yet, the fact that he sought emotional directness through a thickly layered, mammoth tome (approximately 1,100 pages with endnotes) speaks to the dualities, complexities, and paradoxes of his work.

The course will primarily consist of working our way through Infinite Jest. We will analyze its structural facets (Wallace’s editor once described its organization as like a “piece of glass… dropped from a great height”), its theoretical concerns (e.g. tennis, continental philosophy, avant-garde film, addiction, depression), and what its dystopian fascinations say about the social and political landscape of our present. We will touch on the farcical continental catastrophes brewing beneath the novel’s surface, suggesting the global repercussions of a U.S-centered internationalism, manifest in strong-armed pacts, cultural subterfuge, and apocalyptic provocation. We will also reflect on how to diagnose the era of complicated sincerity Wallace has ushered in.

The course will require dedicated readers. But, it will yield understanding of one of the seminal “encyclopedic” novels of the recent past—a full list including Don QuixoteMoby-Dick, and Gravity’s Rainbow. The book is, also, quite fun; its title is meant to self-consciously reference the “infinite” jokes and high-concept hijinks potentially contained within its bulk. Aside from the novel, students will be asked to read several essays critical to Wallace’s formulation of IJ’s purpose, and short pieces of fiction that put IJ in relief. Additionally, we will analyze critiques of Wallace’s writing from angles of gender, race, and sexuality, integral to placing his work in context. (Some brief background reading before the course starts may be required.) Assignments will chiefly include two papers, regular participation, and a “game” mentality for tackling a major work with a committed group of readers.


Engl 36603 - Selected Topics in Anglophone Literature: Literature & Suicide

61527                   sec. H                     Aaron Botwick                        M, W 6:30 – 7:45pm

Strictly speaking, no one can testify to the physical and psychological experience of suicide—perhaps this is what has made the subject so prone to literary expression.  This course will begin in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, where an anonymous author wrote the first known suicide text: “Dispute between a man and his Ba.”  We will then consider Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts on suicide before looking at four major revolutions in the modern understanding of voluntary death: the invention of “suicide,” a sympathetic and progressive word coined by Sir Thomas Browne in 1643; the Romantic obsession with self-destruction; the modernist challenge to religious and Romantic approaches to suicide; and finally the reassessment of suicide in a clinical context and the subsequent phenomenon of “suicide memoirs.”  Authors include Sophocles, Shakespeare, Goethe, Mishima, Chopin, Woolf, Larsen, Soyinka, Plath, Sarah Kane, and Kay Redfield Jamison.


Engl 36903 - Selected Topics in Language, Writing and Rhetoric: Students’ Right to Their Own Language

61529                   sec. P                      Melissa Watson                      T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm

In 1974, the now-renowned resolution on “Students’ Right to Their Own Language” was adopted by leaders of the largest national organization on college writing (the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication). This resolution not only affirms the validity of all students’ dialects; it further asserts that “The claim that any one dialect is unacceptable amounts to an attempt of one social group to exert its dominance over another” and calls for teachers to gain “experiences and training that will enable them to respect diversity and uphold the right of students to their own language.” More than forty years later, the resolution remains far from common knowledge and practice. This class examines the research undergirding the SRTOL resolution and explores the (often controversial) efforts in the field of composition and rhetoric to reignite its mission.


Engl 37103 - Selected Topics in African-American Literature

Cross-listed with BLST 31144

61570                   sec. 2PR                 William Gibbons                     T 2:00 – 4:45pm

This is a collaborative course between the English Department, CCNY Libraries Archives and Special Collections and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Students will be exposed to the treasures of these repositories and will learn to select, assess, and utilize primary sources to explore Harlem's socio-cultural history, economic development & gentrification, and its political significance. The course will explore Digital Humanities and OER initiatives by developing students' research, critical thinking, content development, and WordPress/digital publishing skills.



Engl 38105 - Modern Drama II

39178                   sec. D                    Daniel Gustafson                     M, W 12:30 – 1:45pm

This course will provide a survey of the developments in modern and contemporary drama from the mid twentieth century to the present. Beginning with absurdist drama and Bertolt Brecht’s epic theater, the class will explore how late twentieth- and twenty-first-century playwrights experimented with inherited dramatic forms and traditions and how their work contributed and responded to such issues as globalization, technology and new media, post-structuralist theories of subjectivity, and the debate between theater as part of the mass culture entertainment industry and theater as a locus of high aesthetics and social responsibility. Our readings will be drawn from the works of writers such as Brecht, Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Wole Soyinka, Caryl Churchill, August Wilson, Annie Baker, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Stephen Adly Guirgis.


Engl 39102 - Vampire

41126                   sec. R                  Paul Oppenheimer                     T, TH 3:30 – 4:45pm

A serious and thorough study of the Western obsession, as reflected in much of its literature and art over the past 5,000 years, with vampirism—or the philosophy of physical immortality, often referred to as life-in-death. The winged and cannibalistic figure of the vampire, in its various forms—these ranging from Dante’s Satan to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and more modern poems, plays and films— will be explored, with a view to exposing Western ideas of evil and some of the chief premises of Western culture.

Readings and studies of Dracula (novel and film version), The Inferno, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Beowulf, Dr. Faustus, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, The Chinese Torture Garden (by Mirbeau), Keats, Coleridge, Baudelaire, James Merill, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and more; examinations of pertinent works of art by Bosch, Goya, and certain decadent artists, as well as films. Students should consult my book, Evil and the Demonic: A New Theory of Monstrous Behavior (Spring, 1996) for background. Two essays, one rather short, are required.


Engl 39104 - New Urban Fiction

46558                   sec. E                       Amir Ahmadi                        M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm

Many literary theorists show that the novel has always been the literary form of urban life. It came to prominence wherever cities grew in the eighteenth century. As we come to the nineteenth century, certain cities take on a literary character. Some are even treated to a literary version, often attached to the name of an author: Balzac’s Paris, Dickens’ London, Dostoevsky’s Saint Petersburg. In the twentieth century, New York joins the club and overtakes imperial metropolitan areas, to the extent that even boroughs have authors’ names attached to them: Edith Wharton’s Manhattan, James Baldwin’s Harlem, Paul Auster’s Brooklyn.

As we enter the new century, new contestants have emerged. The literary cities are no longer exclusive to Europe and North America. Around the world, many countries shrugged off their colonial past in the last century, established their own literary voice, their particular literary rendition of their cities. Within half a century a great amount of fiction written in metropolitan areas of non-Western cultures appeared. Now we can confidently talk about Salman Rushdie’s Bombay, Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo, Vargas Llosa’s Lima.

This course is an overview of this evolution, with focus on new literary metropolis. We will start off discussing theories pertinent to city and the novel. Those theories will give us the analytical toolbox we need for talking about the stories. I select six cities (Lima, Istanbul, Cairo, Calcutta, Kiev, Beirut), and will assign six novels written by authors (Mario Vargas Llosa, Orhan Pamuk, Naguib Mahfouz, Amitav Ghosh, Andrey Kurkov, Rabih Alameddine) whose names have come to represent those cities. We discuss these books within the context of the new urban fiction.


Capstone Seminars – recommended after 24 credits in the major

These courses are strongly recommended upon completing 24 credits in the major and can only be registered with an English Advisor.



Engl 49013 - Melodrama

51953                   sec. 3BC                 Renata K. Miller                     W 10:00 – 12:00pm

Melodrama has not always been celebrated or appreciated.  When Allardyce Nicoll wrote in 1930, “Melodrama, like the poor, will always be with us,” he expressed distaste for melodrama as a popular art form.  He also, however, highlighted melodrama’s enduring power as a mode of expression, understanding, and pleasure across time periods.  Melodrama is associated with excess, emotion, recognizable conventions, and clearly defined virtue and villainy.  It began as a particular theatrical form in 18th century France, flourished in the 19th century, and became an array of conventions and modes of expression employed in film, politics, and literature.  Precisely because of its prevalence, it is no longer viewed with contempt but has come to occupy an important place in cultural history.  This course will examine theatrical and cinematic melodramas, the melodramatic mode in fiction and politics, and the use of melodrama as a scholarly critical lens.  In addition to class discussions of assigned readings, the course will function as a research workshop, providing support for primary research conducted in carefully staged and supervised steps.  Grades will be based on the successful completion of an array of research steps and a final project to which these contribute.


Engl 49014 - Shakespeare as Dramatist

51957                   sec. 4ST                 Paul Oppenheimer                  TH 5:30 – 7:30pm

How great a dramatist is Shakespeare really, and what does it mean to be a great dramatist? Are there special qualities in his handling of “the essentials of declaimed verse,” in its music, psychology, grammar, conflicts, originality, characterizations, directness and even deliberate obscurity that render his poetry for the stage, as well as his prose, eternally satisfying, exciting, influential and magnetic? The course will examine a number of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies and history plays with a view to elucidating these issues, or to working out his perpetual attraction for actors and audiences alike.

Two papers, the first fairly short, the second longer, but both focused especially on the dramatic aspects of Shakespeare’s verse and prose.


Engl 49015 - The Gothic and Otherness in Our Americas and Beyond

51959                   sec. 1DE                      Lyn Di Iorio                       M 12:30 – 2:30pm

Contemporary culture is characterized by, among other tendencies, a reawakened interest in “Gothic”—the aesthetic discourse of horror and terror that arose following the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764.  This seminar weaves together most of the primary critical strands that constitute the main approaches to the Gothic: early British Gothic, American Gothic, Female Gothic, Queer Gothic, the sublime, the uncanny, the abject and trauma theory.  The course also proposes that the contemporary Gothic aesthetic in our Americas—the terrain of the U.S. in a dialectic with its minority groups and the populations in the Caribbean and Latin America—uncovers important issues of race, ethnicity and border politics on which there has been scant commentary.

We will consider the following questions among others.  How do Gothic tropes function to elicit issues of race and identity politics in works by writers from the most populous—African American, Asian American and Latinx— U.S. minority groups?  What is the relationship, if any, between the trope of the Haitian “zombi,” as the soulless shell of the slave in the Caribbean, and the George Romero zombie figure, which highlights an embattled and post-apocalyptic humanity?  From U.S. writer Shirley Jackson to Argentinian Mariana Enríquez, from Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to its revision in Mary Reilly, why are we so drawn to the Gothic?  Do horror, mutilation, melancholia, and loss constitute a new aesthetic structuring of the contemporary human psyche, connecting the Freudian vision of the human mind to the dynamics of Gothic villainy and victimization?


Engl 49016 - Global Modernism

51960                   sec. 2NP                    Robert Higney                     T 12:30 – 2:30pm

“Modernism” is one of the most significant terms in the study of literary history, and also one of the most difficult and contested. Modernism attained prominence with 19th and 20th century avant-garde artistic and literary movements, but its uses and effects extend to many places, periods, and cultures. As recent scholars in the “new modernist studies” have shown, modernism has always been a global phenomenon. In this capstone seminar, we will read works from the rise of Anglophone modernism in the early years of the 20th century; examine writers who used the vocabulary of modernism to address war, decolonization, and migration at mid-century; and trace modernism’s rejuvenated influence in the 21st century in the work of contemporary novelists. We will also read a substantial amount of recent criticism and scholarship on modernism in global contexts, and students will draw on some digital archives of modernism to inform their own research and writing. Authors may include Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Rabindranath Tagore; Sam Selvon, Jean Rhys, Elizabeth Bowen; Michael Ondaatje, Taiye Sellassie, Zadie Smith, and others. Assignments will include journal entries, midterm essay, at least one in-class presentation, and a final research project. 


Creative Writing Courses

Engl 22000 - Introduction to Creative Writing

39134                   sec. B                              Emily Wright-Rosenblatt             M, W 9:30 – 10:45am

39135                   sec. D                              Felice Neals                                  M, W 12:30 – 1:45pm

39136                   sec. E                              Suzanne Weyn                              M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm

39137                   sec. F                               Peter C. Jones                              M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm

39138                   sec. H                               Salar Abdoh                                  M, W 6:30 – 7:45pm

39139                   sec. L                               Elaine Sexton                                T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am

39140                   sec. P                               Sheila Maldonado                         T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm

39141                   sec. U                              Robert Balun                                  T, TH 8:00 – 9:15pm

While studying various forms of creative writing, emphasis will be placed on the creative process of writing while encouraging students to find their writing voice.


Engl 22100 - Intermediate Creative Writing: Reading As Writers

Prerequisite: English 22000

39159                   sec. E                       Laura Hinton                        M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm

39142                   sec. F                       Laura Hinton                        M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm

This intermediate creative-writing course will be experimental in that it will focus on issues of language and its potential for observing and investigating the mind, the body, perception and the experience of our world—all from the point of view of our own writing practice. We will work in this course to divest ourselves of preconceived ideas about “point of view,” as in authoritarian or moralistic speech (presumed in so much U.S. commercial discourse and “creative writing” expression alike).  Our emphasis will be on “poetics” in the sense that the language we draw from in stating some aspect of our experience is social, shared, but also new—as we engage with our own feel for language and “activate” it in a series of creative “experiments.”  We will treat language as having its own activity on the page and in the mind. We will try to avoid cliché traps, the usual cultural narratives, or expected “points of view” of a “narrator” or “speaker.”

We will not constrain ourselves in this course to a study of traditional literary “genres”—these are transformable and ever changing, culturally and historically defined. We will engage together in a number of writing experiments modeled by and/or intellectually informed by assigned literary readings and a critical response to those readings. These readings include pieces by contemporary authors like Langston Hughes, both Amiri and Amina Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Rae Armantrout, Barbara Guest, Claudia Rankine, and several others. Issues of sight and image, sound and performance, reality and experience, and the language that invokes our “experience,” will be our focusing concepts as we work through the literary readings together, and as all participate in student writing workshops.


339143                 sec. M                     Brendan Costello                 T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm

39167                   sec. S                      Estha Weiner                        T, TH 5:00 – 6:15pm

This intermediate creative writing workshop focuses on the continued improvement of student writing through reading and discussing models in literature.  These may include poems, short stories, essays and plays.  The emphasis of the course is on reading texts as writers, and discussion of craft, based on the work of a few published authors considered in-depth.  It operates with the belief that writers must read deeply and extensively in order to hone their work.


Engl 23000 - Prose Writing Workshop

39117                   sec. B                        Laura Yan                                M, W 9:30 – 10:45am

39118                   sec. C                        Rebecca Minnich                    M, W 11:00 – 12:15pm

41071                   sec. E                        Casey Henry                            M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm

39119                   sec. H                        Casey Henry                            M, W 6:30 – 7:45pm

41072                   sec. L                        Susan Konig                            T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am

39120                   sec. R                        G.D. Peters                              T, TH 3:30 – 4:45pm

39121                   sec. T                        Yahdon Israel                           T, TH 6:30 – 7:45pm

This workshop will focus on the art of writing the analytic and non-fiction essay.  The craft of the essay will be explored through the study of various styles including the critical, memoir and travel essay. The course will include the writing of a Proposal toward a non-fiction piece, which can serve as one of two major papers assigned.  Students will read and consider the strategies of established writers in this genre.  Students will be expected to write and revise several short essays.  The class is designed as a workshop in which students will receive critique and respond to the work of their peers.


Engl 32000 - Workshop in Fiction

Prerequisite: English 22100

39150                   sec. E                             TBA                                M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm

39151                   sec. F                             John Fox                        M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm

This workshop is designed for students seeking a launch pad and a community for writing short fiction.  It is only to be taken by those who have already completed English 220 and 221 -- Intro. and Intermediate Creative Writing.  Students will read a range of exemplary short stories over the course of the semester using the critical vocabulary of the craft.  This includes: characterization, point of view, point of entry, dialogue, pace, setting, tone, structure, and ending.  Assigned stories will serve as models for regular brief in-class writing exercises during the first half of the semester.  Mid-semester, students will turn in a short story that is likely to have developed out of one or more of these exercises.  In the second half of the semester, students will read and evaluate each other's work in a workshop model.  Students will also be performing regular in-class writing exercises.  At the end of the semester, each student will turn in a drastic revision of their short story.


Engl 32004 - Craft of the Novel

Prerequisite: English 22100

51919                   sec. S                    Keith Gandal                            T, TH 5:00 – 6:15pm

This is an analytical “craft” course. In this course, you are not being asked to write creatively but instead to analyze novels from the writer’s point of view.  Your writing assignments will be analytic essays.  We will not be concerned, as in literature courses, with meaning or historical context, but rather with the construction of a novel. 

We will look at just a few novels as we analyze all aspects of the novel-writing craft:  plot and action; conflict and suspense, promises and questions; setting a scene; openings, climaxes, and endings; issues of pacing; issues of style; characters; flashbacks, background information, and reveal; dialogue and description; sense of place and time; interior monologue, and so on. 

The focus will be on dramatic structure, which involves many of these elements—and whose effective achievement makes a book exciting to read. Dramatic structure is complex and counterintuitive, and thus we will use an analytic “textbook” on novel writing (the one I feel is the best on the subject).

Regarding the choice of novels:  Iris Murdoch is a British literary novelist; the novels we’ll be reading were published in the 60s and 70s.  She has won a number of prizes, including the most prestigious British award for a novel, the Booker Prize, and she is arguably one of the great novelists in English in the second half of the 20th century.  Tom Clancy is best known as a writer of a series of thrillers about the character Jack Ryan. We will thus be looking at a conventional genre novel (Clancy) as well as a couple of literary novels (Murdoch) to understand how novels work in general, regardless of type.

*This course is a response to requests by 320 students.

Tentative Texts:

Jack Bickham, Writing Novels That Sell

Tom Clancy, Patriot Games

Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head, A Fairly Honorable Defeat


Engl 32100 - Workshop in Poetry

Prerequisite: English 22100

39153                   sec. P              Michelle Valladares                       T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm

In this course you will read contemporary poets, study various aspects of craft and write poems.  Students will memorize poems, workshop poems and write one paper on a poet of their choice.  Students will be expected to attend several poetry readings during the semester.  In short you will, both in and out of class, immerse yourself in the poet’s experience, and observe the world through the eyes of a writer.  Texts include, A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver and The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry edited by Rita Dove.


Engl 32300 - Workshop in Film and Television

Prerequisite: English 22100

41099                   sec. 1CD              Marc Palmieri                            M 11:00 – 1:45pm

We will examine the storytelling possibilities of writing for this highly technical and collaborative art form.  Students will develop a script for the large or small screen – either film, television or webseries, and participate in brief “read-alouds” of portions of the drafts, and feedback discussions of classmates’ work.

Those interested in adapting one of his or her works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry to a screenplay form are encouraged to do so. This process comes with its own interesting set of expectations and strategies, and can be an enlightening exercise in the general honing of your story structure.


Engl 32400 - Children’s Writing Workshop

Prerequisite: English 22100

46350                   sec. M                   Pam Laskin                              T, TH 11:00 - 12:15pm

This course explores all the essential aspects of writing for children, including language/appropriate vocabulary, voice, audience, style and technique. The class will be taught sequentially in terms of age level, starting with pre-k and progressing to young adult. This class will be conducted as both a lecture/discussion and a workshop. Every week a select group of students will be required to bring in Xeroxed copies of their work for class critiquing. The skills of editing, revision and presentation will be explored.


List of Interdisciplinary Electives that will be counted toward major requirements

Only one literature course offered outside of the English Department will count toward the English major requirement

ASIA 33200 – Modern Chinese Literature

BLST 37005 – African Literature

EDCE 25600 – Language Mind and Society

JWST 11400 – Introduction to Jewish American Literature

JWST 31132 – Arab-Jews in Literature and Cinema: before and after Israel

JWST 31502 – Jews in Film/ Fiction


Publishing Courses

NOTE: Publishing courses do not count toward English major or minor requirements, but only toward fulfillment of the publishing certificate program, or as general electives. For more information, contact the Director of the program, David Unger at (212) 650-7925.


Engl 31131 - Digital & E-Book Publishing

Philip Rappaport

39171               sec. 4ST                    TH 4:50 – 7:20pm

This course will examine the rise of the eBook from the advent of the internet and Google’s plan to digitize all books in print to the current debates about eBook formats offered via Kindle, the Sony Reader, the nook and the iPad. Rights, pricing and formats will be addressed. Ultimately, the future of publishing and the “book” will be discussed.


Engl 32501- Introduction to Publishing

Carol Taylor

39122            sec. 2LM                   T 9:30 – 12:15pm

Introduction to Publishing introduces students to trade books (books for the general consumer) and their publishers. The course is designed to give an overview of the book business--from how manuscripts are made (role of the author, agent and acquiring editor); to how books are made (design, production and distribution of the finished book); to how books are sold (publicity and marketing).

An important aspect of the course is helping students find their potential niche in the publishing business, should they continue on for the Publishing Certificate. The course concludes with how to get a job, stressing resume preparation, writing query letters to publishers, and preparing for interviews. The course aims at inculcating professionalism in students as it prepares them for satisfying careers in book publishing.


Engl 32502 Publishing Practicum

Lisa Healy

39174           sec. 2ST                   T 5:00 – 7:30pm

Students simulate the complete book-publishing process from contract negotiations to bound book.


Engl 32600 - Books for Young Readers

Tanya McKinnon

39123          sec. 1GH                  M 5:00 – 7:30pm

A look at the world of publishing for children and young adults. Licensing, merchandising, sales and marketing to all age groups and reader categories will be discussed. Includes substantial reading of children’s titles 


Engl 32700 The Editorial Process

Carol Taylor

39124          sec. 3HJ                  6:30 – 9:00pm

An in-depth look at the editorial process from a corporate and employment-seeking perspective. Includes visits from authors and industry professionals.


Engl 31003 - Independent Study (3 credits)

Students may register for a three-credit independent study that represents an internship in the Publishing field. Permission of the Director of the Publishing Program, David Unger, is required. Please fill out an independent study form with Mr. Unger and submit it to the English Advising Office (NAC 6/219) before registering through an English Advisor.