Fall 2016 Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions 2016

English 110: Intro to College Writing for ESL Students

Deborah Sundmacher (and STAFF)
A writing workshop designed for non-native speakers of English to prepare them to take ENGL 121. Instruction in the fundamentals of various modes of written expression, including English grammar, sentence structure, understanding the importance of audience, editing and revision. Readings selected from non-fictional prose works and film documentaries. Students are encouraged to use the Writing Center, staffed by trained peer-tutors.

English 115: Intro to College Writing (formerly numbered Engl 100)

Dennis Clausen (and STAFF)

The purpose of English 115 is to strengthen students’ writing skills so they will have a better chance of succeeding at the University of San Diego. Indeed, the course is titled “Introduction to College Writing” because its purpose is to introduce students to the writing standards and strategies they will encounter in all of their college courses.

College administrators and faculty agree that writing is one of the most important skills that students need to master if they are to succeed in our nation’s universities. The evidence is so overwhelming that some universities already base their admissions policies largely on how well students write.

Educators have known for some time that writing plays an essential role in discovering ideas, understanding their significances and relationships, and articulating them to inform and influence other people. In short, writing is indispensable in the various stages of our attempts to fully comprehend any subject matter or academic discipline. It is not an overstatement to say, “We do not understand something until we are required to write about it.”

On a more practical level, one can argue that never before in our nation’s history has there been more demand for our universities to emphasize writing instruction in all academic courses. Seemingly every day there is another newspaper article or report urging greater emphasis on improving the writing skills of our nation’s students. Many employers also test the writing skills of potential employees before hiring them.

The message is clear. The computer age has provided all of us with more information than ever before, but we still need writers to communicate this information clearly and persuasively in our universities, businesses, and professional communities.

English 115, “Introduction to College Writing,” provides students with more sophisticated writing and editing strategies so they can continue to improve these skills in other academic courses. It also prepares them for the writing standards that will be required of them when they enter the business and professional communities after graduation.

English 121: Composition and Literature

Various Professors
Fulfills the core curriculum requirement in lower-division written literacy. Practice in developing skills of close observation, investigation, critical analysis, and informed judgment in response to literary texts. Students are encouraged to use the Writing Center, staffed by trained peer tutors.

English 222-02: Introduction to Poetry

Jeanie Grant Moore
A world of poetry awaits you in this course. You will explore a range of poetic genres thematically, historically, structurally, technically, and aesthetically. In addition to reading, responding to, and writing about poetry, you will try your hand at writing a few poems of your own. You will be required to be active and interactive in class, as you will read aloud and sometimes dramatize the poetry we study.

English 222-01: Introduction to Poetry

Vivienne MacAdam
Readings include a variety of poetic forms and range across literary periods and nationalities.

English 222-03 & 04: Introduction to Poetry

The primary emphasis in this course will be on British poetry from the late sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. However, it will also include some classical Greek and Latin poetry, as well as French, German, and Spanish poetry from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, along with a collection of more recent poems in English. What we won’t be doing in this course is approaching poems as coded messages; instead, we’ll be looking at poetry in relation to its aesthetic medium. That is, we’ll be studying poetry as poetry, and therefore emphasizing versification, imagery, diction, figurative language, structure, density, tone, and resonance. This will be a useful course for anyone with a special interest in poetry, and it should also be very helpful—I would hope, even transformational—for those who feel that they haven’t yet made, but would very much like to make, a strong connection with it.

English 223-01: Short Story

Lisa Smith
Readings in a type of literature, ranging through periods and nationalities. May include drama, narrative, epic, tragedy, comedy, biography, autobiography, or others.

English 223-02 & 03: Graphic Novels

Jason Crum
The course is a survey of the emerging genre of graphic novels. We will analyze the ways in which graphic novelists use and manipulate historical and contemporary social issues in their literature, and we will trace the rise of the graphic novel from its early use to its current manifestations. Our readings will be grounded in such theoretical perspectives as cultural studies, visual culture theory, poststructuralism, and postmodernism. Students will work critically and creatively with the material to consider the oftentimes contradictory ways in which popular culture struggles with difference, class, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, & sexuality. We will read such works as Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum, Marjane Satrapi’s Perespolis, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde, Rutu Modan’s Exit Wounds, Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note (manga & anime), and Charles Burns’ Black Hole. Additionally, we will read substantial critical and theoretical material, including works from Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Foucault, Scott McCloud, Fredric Jameson, Adrienne Rich, Judith Jack Halberstam, and Raymond Williams. Assignments will include both critical essays and creative collaborations.

English 224-01: Love & Desire in Literature

Timothy Randell
This course will study representations of love and desire in literature and their various manifestations in different time periods and cultures within the Western literary tradition. Students will learn and apply tools of literary analysis from various interpretive traditions (including New Criticism, Psychoanalytic Criticism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism/Deconstruction, Feminism, LGBT Theory, Post-Colonialism, and Marxism) while considering the nature/construct of love and desire. Texts will include Plato's Lysis, Symposium, and Phaedrus; Ovid's “Orpheus and Eurydice”; Marie de France’s The Lais of Marie de France; William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights; Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God; Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera; and love poems by poets of various times and places.

English 224-02: Literature and Cultural Hybridity

Atreyee Phukan
This introductory course focuses on literature’s capacity as a mode of resistance against socio-cultural hegemony. We will read primarily from the work of minority writers, for whom “hybridity”—a diversification of both literary form and content—provides unprecedented freedom to examine and re-imagine the contours of human existence from alternative perspectives. In addition to fiction, we will read excerpts from key literary and cultural theorists, such as Stuart Hall, Frantz Fanon, bell hooks, and Homi Bhabha, to learn about the specific challenges minority writers must take on in order make language “speak” according to their vision. Our examination of the literary aesthetic will occur in conjunction with the study of other expressive genres, such as film, painting, and music, that also serve as mediums of social and cultural critique.

English 224-03 & 04: Intro to the Middle Ages

Stefan Vander Elst
This course provides an introduction to the great works of Western European literature of the Middle Ages. Starting with the early medieval writings of the Germanic migrants into the Western Roman Empire, and concluding with the fourteenth century writings of Dante and Chaucer, we will not only analyze texts but also use them to discuss wider socio-political and historical movements. Readings will include, among others, Beowulf, El Cantar de Mio Cid, The Song of Roland, Lancelot, The Romance of the Rose, The Divine Comedy, and the Canterbury Tales. Special attention will be devoted to imitation and emulation, to reception and cultural continuity, and how these contributed to the formation of Western European literary culture.

English 224-05: Fact, Truth & Fiction

Bradley Melekian
What is fact, what is truth, and how are the two distinct from one another? What does the blending of nonfiction stories with fictive storytelling elements say about the nature of the truth, of facts, of what is important in storytelling? In this course, we will examine the idea of “truth” in contemporary literature, particularly as it relates to questions of genre. Our study will begin with factual nonfiction writing, and will end with pure narrative fiction, and we will look at the broad spectrum that exists between these two forms. The central aim of our course will be to examine writers’ attitudes toward the essential truths that their stories hold, and the ways in which each writer either uses, turns away from, or bends facts in fidelity to the broader truths they intend their stories to convey. Texts will range from the works of “new journalism” authors like Joan Didion, Gay Talese and Norman Mailer to authors of fictionalized memoir/biography like Tim O’Brien, Dave Eggers and Jeannette Walls.

English 224-50: Philosophy & Literature of Love

Malachi Black

As much an idea as it is an emotion, love has long been one of western civilization’s central preoccupations. But what is love, and what does it mean? From the earliest philosophers to the latest scientists and a multitude of writers in between, human beings have indefatigably sought to measure, define, taxonomy, and analyze the powerful if seemingly indescribable force of love. In this course, we will both evaluate and contribute to that preexisting discourse. In light of the highly interdisciplinary nature of our endeavor, we will accomplish a variety of distinct but correlated objectives. While this is in part a writing class, we will also encounter, interrogate, and analyze competing views of love through the lenses of literature, history, philosophy, psychology, physiology, and sociobiology. Along the way, we will crystallize and articulate the origins and evolution of notions of love from Plato’s Greece to contemporary America; internalize, critique, and appraise the chief love-related contributions of Greco-Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern societies; and, complementarily, generate original (but not necessarily unprecedented) perspectives on the nature, significance, and substance of love through creative dialogues, stories and/or poems, and a final essay or “treatise.”

Section 50 is Preceptorial only.

English 225D-02(H) & 71: U.S. Lit: Native American Literature

Sr. Mary Hotz

In this course we will read and study literature written by Native Americans about Native American experiences. To deeply appreciate and understand Indian cultures at the heart of these literatures, some basic knowledge of the tribal histories and mythologies, in addition to crucial moments of Native American history of the last two centuries, will be necessary. Such moments and historical fact figure prominently in indigenous literatures and inform the actions of the subjects within the works we will read this semester. The reading material for the course is structured around what Paula Gunn Allen has termed “the three waves in Native American literature (“Introduction,” Song of the Turtle, 3-17). The first wave deals with issues of recovery and identity engendered by the long war and the reservation era. Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the second wave of Native literature focuses on a sense of renewal and home, a reassertion of Native identity and the incorporation of ritual elements drawn from the ceremonial traditions. The third wave seeks to articulate Native American identity as constituted by “inclusion, incorporation and transformation of alien elements into elements of ceremonial significance” (Allen 13). We will read works by M. Scott Momaday, James Welch, Leslie Marmon Silko, Susan Power, and Sherman Alexie, among others.

Section 02 is Honors only. Section 71 is Transfer Preceptorial only.

English 225D-03 & 04: U.S. Lit: Food & Literature

Koonyong Kim
This course examines Asian and Asian American literature and culture through the lens of food and foodways. Far from being a mere site in which our basic instinct for survival is satisfied, food is embedded in a complex network of economic, social, cultural, and ecological meanings. For example, food oftentimes functions as a marker or metaphor for various issues such as collective identity (national, ethnic, and religious), class differentiation, globalization and transnationalism, body image and gender formations, ethics, and ecology and sustainability, among others. Centering our inquiry on such diverse meanings of food, we will study what significance food has in Asia and Asian America and how Asian and Asian American literature and culture can be understood through food.

English 225D-05: U.S. Lit: Immigration & Literature

Immigration is foundational to our understanding of American social formations and identity. This course will broaden our notion of the American experience to include the Americas, voluntary immigration, migration, conquest and slavery. We will explore literature and historical texts that reflect on European immigration, Asian and Latin American immigration as well as communities that are indigenous but are now viewed as “immigrant.” In addition, we will look at key policies that have shaped our sense of “who is American.” Texts might include works by Junot Diaz, Luis Urrea, Fae Myenne Ng, Brian Roley, Chitra Divakaruni, Le Thi Diem Thuy, and many others.

English 225D-06 & 51: U.S. Lit: Chicana/o Literature & Art

Marcelle Maese-Cohen

San Diego is home to a rich tradition of Chicana/o literature and art. Our introductory survey of Chicana/o culture will engage this living archive by studying local histories and inviting guest speakers. In particular, we will study the way contemporary works (autobiography, novels, poetry, film, murals, and teatro) incorporate Mesoamerican forms of music and visuality. Students will learn of local art and literary events throughout the semester.

Section 51 is Preceptorial only.

English 225D: U.S. Lit: African American Literature

Robin Brooks
This is a survey course that introduces students to representative works by and/or about African Americans from the nineteenth century to the present, including writing by authors such as Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Octavia Butler. The course will highlight themes such as community, identity, language, and religion/spirituality to better explore the insight that the readings provide on African-American life and thought. In addition to closely reading the texts and providing literary analyses, students will study the cultural, historical, and theoretical contexts surrounding the readings.

English 228-01: Celtic Literature

Joseph McGowan
This course will consider the earliest known literatures of the British Isles, those with the greatest longevity in European vernacular tradition: the Brythonic, Goidelic, and Continental Celtic literatures. We will focus in particular upon texts from medieval Welsh (the Mabinogion), Irish (Táin Bó Cúailnge, Lebor Gabhála Érenn, Acallamh na Senórach), and the Cumbric ‘Old North’ (Yr Hen Ogledd, the ‘old’ British regions of Northern England: the bardic poems of Llywarch Hen, Taliesin, and Aneirin’s Y Gododdin). From heroic epic to stories of the Otherworld the legacy of Celtic literature upon English is profound (not least of which is the figure of King Arthur); Celtic mythology, with roots as old as those of Greece or Rome, has left its imprint on world folklore and literature. Though the Celtic languages are found now mainly in the British Isles (Irish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Manx; Welsh, Cornish) and France (Breton), the historical record of Celts spans all of Europe (the many tribes of Ireland, Britain, Gaul, Belgium, Switzerland, northern Italy, Bohemia, the Balkans) to Asia Minor (the Galatians of central Turkey). In addition to the literary and linguistic, we will consider also the artistic legacy, as the ancient Celts developed among the most distinctive of figurative artistic traditions, on stone and wood, in metal, on parchment (the Book of Kells among the many manuscript treasures of the Middle Ages illuminated in Celtic style).

English 228-02 & 03: Reading to Remember

Irene Williams
We will be reading and studying modern fiction, essays, plays and poems by writers from Latin America, Europe, and the United States, some of whose works bear witness to catastrophic events, some to intimate personal occasions. Possibly: Proust, Genet, Rudolfo Walsh, Poniatowska, Lispector, Alexievitch, Drndic, Levi, Chekhov, Freud, Raymond Williams, Baldwin, Ginsberg. Reading and rereading, writing and rewriting, seminar-style class. Independent thinkers welcome!

English 228-04 & 52: Slavery & Abolition in the Atlantic World

Ivan Ortiz

This course introduces students to the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world through works of literature, art, and film. Abolitionists and proponents of slavery produced a wide variety of literature in order to sway white readers across the English empire and in America on the issue. As a class, we will weigh the political efficacy of memoir, fiction, poetry, drama, essays, and political tracts and work toward understanding the complexities of ideas like human capital, humanitarianism, pity, and social justice. In a series of essays and a final exam students will be asked to think critically about race, property, sympathy, gender and power, and representations of violence in writings about the history and afterlife of slavery.

Section 52 is Preceptorial only.

English 280-01: Intro to Shakespeare

Jeanie Grant Moore
The purpose of this course is to provide a college-level introduction to Shakespearean drama that will be stimulating and challenging, as well as enjoyable. Engaging with major plays in several genres, we will examine the social and political contexts of drama, the role of the theatre in Elizabethan England, and the plays as performance texts.

English 280-02: Intro to Shakespeare

Maura Giles-Watson
400 years after his death, William Shakespeare’s works are now more widely read and performed than ever before. Why? This course will probe that question by introducing you to his language, drama, and poetry, and to the historical contexts and contemporary controversies surrounding his work. In the process, we will read closely, analyze, and discuss plays from each of the Shakespearean dramatic genres: comedy, tragedy, history play, romance, and ‘problem play.’ This is a highly participatory class in which each student memorizes, recites, and explicates one sonnet, and students work together in small groups to prepare and perform walking read-throughs of two selected scenes over the term. Participants will study Shakespeare’s works within the Early Modern literary, theatrical, cultural, print, political, and religious contexts that contribute so much to our appreciation of his plays and poems now four centuries after their first performances and printings. In addition, we will discuss issues of religion, gender, power, justice, war, and peace that often emerge in Shakespeare’s works, and we will engage critically with his frequent representations of socially marginalized people.

English 280-53: Shakespeare: Green World

Maura Giles-Watson

Northrop Frye observed that in several of Shakespeare's comedies, characters escape the cruelty, ambition, and corruption life at the royal court by taking to the forest or the countryside--an idealized green space in which people reconnect with their own humanity and grow to appreciate the humanity of others. In this course, we will explore the ways that the natural environment changes people's characters in comedies, tragedies, and other genres in which Shakespeare explores the classical mode of pastoralism and otherwise places nature and culture in tension or opposition. In so doing, we will read, study, and perform scenes from 6 plays and study approximately 20 sonnets, learn about Shakespeare's use of music to celebrate and critique nature in his plays, and explore Renaissance understandings of human nature and of the natural world.

Section 53 is Preceptorial only.

English 298: Southeast San Diego Tutoring Project

Timothy Randell

This is a ten-week course/internship during which you will tutor children in a local elementary or middle school in basic reading, writing, and math (depending on your assigned teacher/class). You will work at the school to which you are assigned with a teacher who will structure your activities with the children. Each week you will write a short journal to reflect on your experiences concerning a specific element of the school, your pupils, and other experiences concerning lesson plans or the learning environment (see the attached journal assignment sheet for specific topics). You will turn in the journal assignments periodically throughout the semester (not once a week or all at once at the end of the semester) to ensure accurate, unhurried, and thoughtful reflection. Tutors may commit to 3, 6, or 9 hours of tutoring per week (for 1, 2, or 3 academic credits per semester, respectively), and the course may be taken more than once (as often as tutors wish) to accommodate academic needs and time schedules.

The course counts as academic credit in an English elective. Lower Division students register for English 298, and Upper Division students register for English 498.

English 300-01 & 02: British Literature to 1800

Sara Hasselbach
This course explores about a thousand years of English literature, beginning with medieval texts, moving on to literature from the Early Modern period, and ending with Eighteenth-Century works. Engaging closely with representative texts from each period, we will gain a better understanding of the religious, political, social, and cultural climates from which these works emerged. The course covers various literary genres, including poetry, drama, essay, and the novel. Authors may include: the Gawain poet, Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, More, Queen Elizabeth, Spenser, Sidney, Marlowe, Donne, Lanyer, Milton, Behn, Swift, Equiano, and Blake.

English 304W-01: Advanced Composition

Timothy Randell
This course offers intensive practice in active reading, critical thinking, and close analyses of texts and writing within various rhetorical situations, genres, and discourse communities. The course highlights academic skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It emphasizes an understanding of what Wayne Booth calls “the rhetorical stance,” which includes “discovering and maintaining in any writing situation a proper balance” among three aspects of the communicative process: the available arguments about the subject itself; the interests and peculiarities of the audience; and the voice (the implied character) of the speaker. This course asks students to consider how different audiences and contexts shape the rhetorical situation. We will analyze texts from pop culture in class to explore ideas related to the assignments, and you will research examples of pop culture on your own as part of your writing projects.

English 304W-02: Advanced Composition: Writing Autobiography

Fred Robinson
A workshop in improving your writing structurally, analytically, descriptively and mechanically, by writing about your own life. We will focus on the nature of your upbringing by writing five-page essays on topics such as your parents, neighborhood, values and cultural influences. At the end you will have used this material to create a twenty-page paper.

English 312: Old English

Joseph McGowan
This course will serve as an introduction to Old English (c. 500-1100) and the earliest tradition of writing in English. We will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of Old English to enable a reading of selected poetry and prose of the period; this will include examples of heroic poetry (Battle of Maldon, The Wanderer, extracts from Beowulf), religious poetry (The Dream of the Rood), perhaps the earliest love lyric in English (Wulf and Eadwacer), the chronicles and histories (Hengest & Horsa and the migration to England, the coming of the Vikings, Arctic exploration & the whale hunt, the poetic transformation of Cædmon), and selections from laws, charms, riddles, and Runic inscriptions. We will also investigate the culture that produced this literature: the architecture and archaeological discoveries, inscriptions and sculptures, metalwork and manuscript illumination (Lindisfarne Gospels, illustrated Genesis and Wonders of the East). Besides offering a glimpse of the beginnings of literature in English, the study of Old English is of interest as well in strengthening one’s knowledge of how modern English and the language of poetry work.

English 314: Chaucer

Stefan Vander Elst
This course offers an in-depth look at the works of the medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400). Widely credited with reviving English as a literary language after a long period of Latin and French domination, Chaucer compiled an extensive and varied body of works. We will discuss Chaucer’s writings from his earliest poems to his last and greatest work, the Canterbury Tales. We will devote special attention to Chaucer’s use of continental literary traditions; we will see how works such as Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, the Romance of the Rose, and Boccaccio’s Decameron influenced Chaucer, and helped him create a truly English literature of wit and learning.

English 318: Development of the English Language

Joseph McGowan
This course will trace the origins and historical development of the English language from its IndoEuropean roots to contemporary dialects of American English and varieties of World English. By the end of the course students will have mastered the fundamentals of language analysis and introductory linguistics and developed the ability to describe and analyze language and language varieties. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of current American English, with additional emphases upon dialectology, language change, and theories of language acquisition.

English 328: Milton

Abraham Stoll
He rewrote the Bible, advocated cutting off the king’s head, argued eloquently for a free press and for the freedom to divorce – and yet Milton still made it into the center of the English canon. We will devote the semester to Milton’s uncommon career, both his poetry and his prose. We will begin anachronistically, with Paradise Lost. Then we will follow Milton’s progression from college-age poet to political polemicist to the blind man who wrote his greatest works.

English 342: Romanticism & Politics of Literature

Ivan Ortiz
In the few decades scholars have come to call the Romantic period (1780-1830), literature became both politically expedient and politically dangerous. By the end of the 18th century, the reading public grew at an unprecedented rate, and books and periodicals proliferated to meet its raging appetite for literature. A literate social body produced high anxiety in European governments who feared the increasingly influential hold that philosophers, poets, and novelists had over their readers. It is no surprise, then, that a period of unprecedented literacy is also one of unprecedented political engagement. This course will pose the following question: is the literature of Romantic-era England a symptom of its politics, or did its transformative political moment spur its electric literary production? We will frame major political events and developments in the period—the slave trade, the French Revolution, women’s rights, major changes in property laws—using major works of literature and the literary forms with which they engage. From the politics of lyric possession in abolitionist balladry to the development of anti-pastoral in the face of the enclosure of property and the politicization of romance by popular female writers, this course will contextualize great works of Romantic literature in one of the most politicized moments in human history.

English 344W: Victorian Studies

Sr. Mary Hotz

We will explore the literary history of the Victorian era as an expression of (and participant in) broader political, cultural, and intellectual developments of this crucial period. Drawing on readings from a wide range of forms, genres and disciplines, we will examine several quintessentially Victorian issues and describe the ways these issues make themselves felt within literary texts. In particular, the relationship of Victorian culture to social relations will be a primary focus for the course. Further, we will analyze and write about Victorian literature through a variety of aesthetic, ideological and theoretical approaches. Analyses of literary criticism invite students both to formulate and assess the arguments of others and to present their own questions and answers about the literature under discussion.

For English majors only.

English 352: U.S. Literature to 1900

Dennis Clausen
This class will analyze the development of American fiction and poetry from the beginnings to 1900. The emphasis will be on poems, short stories and novels, although occasional films and essays will also be used to reinforce major themes and issues in the course. Various interdisciplinary approaches—especially from history, philosophy and art history—will be used to give students a broader sense of the development of the history of ideas that provides the foundation for American literature. The course will focus on various tensions that develop early in our nation’s history, and how they are reflected in our art, culture and literature. The course will also address the technical development of the American short story, novel and poetry as works of art.

English 355W: Emerson & His Circle

Irene Williams
Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Peabody, Mary Peabody Mann, Amos Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, Theodore Parker, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Henry Thoreau— these men and women lived, thought, wrote, preached, lectured, and taught in mid-nineteenth century New England, striving to enact in their lives the promise of America. Emerson was a forceful advocate for self-reliant individualism. Others were progressive educators, social reformers, advocates for a just system of governance. We will be reading their writings from the perspective of several centuries and evaluating the effects of their efforts to achieve a better world. Reading and rereading, writing and rewriting, seminar-style classroom where everyone may contribute to shaping the work of the course. For English majors only

English 370-01: New Media & Literature

Koonyong Kim
The rise of cybernetics, digital technology, cyberspace, and neuroscience has heralded a wide array of influential futuristic narratives such as Neuromancer and The Matrix. Such technological advances and the resulting formations of new media or digitally mediated cultural forms offer critical vantage points from which we can reconsider and reconfigure our traditional ideas of humanity, gender, society, culture, communication, and storytelling, to name only a few. Building upon recent theoretical discourses on network society, computerization/digitization, and new media, this course looks closely at innovative contemporary narratives that thematize and incorporate digital cybernetics and its potential. Our objects of inquiry will include not only such familiar genres such as SF, cyberpunk, anime, and manga but also other emerging media, including video art, digital literature, hypertext, online computer gaming, social media, and the cell phone novel. Special emphasis will be placed on how digital technology and computer-based new media transform our contemporary society; how our digitized reality inspires innovative forms of communication and storytelling; and what insights new modes of literary and cultural production can, in turn, bring to our understanding of the rapidly evolving globalizing world and its future.

English 370-02: Nation, Gender, Bildungsroman

Atreyee Phukan
A German word, meaning “a novel of formation,” and a genre supposedly beginning with the German writer Johann Goethe in the late 18th century, the Bildungsroman is arguably one of the most widely used genres in world literature today. Unlike the rigid borders and boundaries of modern nation states, and thoroughly unlike the demands of social conformity, the Bildungsroman itself resists containment within Europe and has evolved substantially from the colonial to the post-colonial contexts. What makes this genre so popular and contemporary? Why are marginalized subjectivities, e.g. women, postcolonial, and queer writers, especially drawn to recycling the Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story, as a means of articulating their ways of being and belonging? What kind of life and/or whose perspective is typically portrayed in the traditional western literary canon? Does the story of the maturation of some/one take precedence over another’s, and to what consequences? To examine such questions, our reading will include writers from both the Western literary tradition and the fiction of post-colonial writers from the Caribbean, South Africa, and the U.S.A. This comparative approach will help frame our enquiry into the transitional and transcultural nature of the contemporary Bildungsroman. Authors include D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Patricia Powell, V. S. Naipaul, J. M. Coetzee, Marguerite Duras, and Sherman Alexie. Students will also be introduced to literary theory and criticism on modernism, post-modernity, queer studies, and the post-colonial.

English 375-01: Intro to Creative Writing

Course objective is to introduce students to the rigorous study and training required by the craft of creative writing; to prepare them for further, focused study in one (or more) genre(s) of creative writing at USD at the intermediate and advanced level and completion of the emphasis; to make students stronger writers, whether or not they take additional creative writing courses at USD or continue to practice creative writing after completing the emphasis; and to empower students as more discerning readers of any text, whether or not they take additional creative writing courses at USD or continue to practice creative writing after completing the emphasis. Text: The Making of a Story, by Alice Laplante.

English 375-02: Intro to Creative Writing

Brad Melekian
We will approach this course with the understanding that studying creative writing is different from the study of something more analytical—mathematics, say. To that end, some basic premises will serve as the foundation for this course: That good writing is the culmination of serious thinking, heartfelt conviction, diligent work and a commitment to rewriting, reshaping, rethinking. That learning to write seriously, originally and creatively—which must be the goal of every student enrolled in this course—is more an instruction in process than a process of downloading information. Your enrollment in this course is a signal of your dedication to the craft of writing, & to doing the work necessary to further your abilities as a writer. It is the operating premise of this course that the most effective means of doing this is to read, & to write. In this course, students will be expected to write creatively every week, to read voraciously, & to write commentaries on the techniques they encounter in what they read. With this operating premise, it's important that students are dedicated to the coursework that will be expected of them. This course will be time-consuming and demanding. We will read & write in the genres of fiction, nonfiction & poetry.

English 380: Narrative Theory

Fred Robinson
A study of how narrative techniques shape the about-ness of narrative. How a story is not a vehicle for ideas, but is itself a complex language of ideas. We will focus on a poetics (or formal classification) of narrative voice put together by the instructor, but also read some essays by writers/theorists. Our method will be to read short stories, two novels (Morrison’s Sula and Carol Shields’ The Stone Diaries), and narrative poems by James Tate and do two kinds of writing: 1) analyses of the narratives we read, and 2) pieces of narrative that the students will create, using particular techniques of voice.

English 381: Intermediate Poetry Writing

Malachi Black

This course is designed to serve as an immersion in the study and practice of poetry. With both study and practice in mind, participants will divide their attention between reading, thinking about, writing about, composing, and revising poems. We will begin by elaborating critical foundational notions concerning the nature and components of poetic discourse, and will operate under two general assumptions: (1) that the medium of poetry is subgenre of literary fiction, and (2) that poetry’s existence is formed and in effect defined by the presence of one or more features of rhetorical and/or musical activity. While these features are too numerous to be exhaustively or even comprehensively defined within the limits of a single semester, we will nevertheless proceed by dedicating each week to the examination and habitation of a different major category of poetic exercise with the express purpose of developing deeper intimacy with poetic technique and possibility. Our specific areas of focus will include both discrete (non-repetitive) and repetitive elements of style and method. Among these will be: evocation; imagery (both literal and figurative); disjunction and lyrical procedure; diction, tone, and voice; personae and personification; rhythmic and musical effects; repetition of words, phrases, and lines; syntax; and lineation. Through regular engagement with exemplary texts from a wide range of living and dead writers, we will also interrogate a series of poetic forms—e.g., the couplet, the stanza, the sonnet, blank verse, the villanelle, and the prose poem—and poetic genres such as the dramatic monologue, the ode, and the elegy. In short, we will be attending to how poems work, considering their families and varieties, and then using that knowledge to compose and revise new poems. Each class meeting after the first will be split between seminar and workshop discussions. Students should budget for printing and/or photocopying.

Prerequisite: Engl 375 Intro to Creative Writing

English 382: Intermediate Fiction Writing


Workshop in fiction writing, especially the short story, with examples drawn from literature.

Prerequisite: Engl 375 Intro to Creative Writing

English 383: Intermediate Nonfiction Writing

Bradley Melekian

In this Intermediate Nonfiction Writing course, students will generate works of creative nonfiction, ranging from the memoir to the personal essay to nonfiction feature writing. We will explore the genre of narrative nonfiction—that is, nonfiction subjects written with fictional techniques. We will approach this course with the understanding that good writing is the culmination of serious thinking, heartfelt conviction, diligent work and a commitment to rewriting, reshaping, rethinking. Our understanding will further be that learning to write seriously, originally and creatively—which must be the goal of every student enrolled in this course—is an instruction in process. To that end, students will read landmark works of nonfiction from writers like Baldwin, Didion, McPhee, Mailer, Capote, Wolfe, Talese, Dillard and others to explore the ways in which the genre has developed and changed, and to consider how the best nonfiction writing goes beyond factual reporting to access truths about the human experience. Students will be expected to generate original writing each week, to read and critique the work of their classmates, to read and discuss exemplary works of the genre, to workshop (read aloud) their work and to consider the artful pairing of factual experience with creative writing.

Prerequisite: Engl 375 Intro to Creative Writing

English 494: Alcalá Review

Malachi Black

Reserved for active members of the editorial staff of the Alcalá Review only, this course serves as a practicum in literary magazine editing, concentrating on the strategies, activities, and procedures associated with all facets of managing, planning, and publishing a literary periodical.

1-Unit Internship; Instructor Approval required. 

English 495: Senior Project

Marcelle Maese-Cohen
A capstone course designed to guide seniors in the development and production of an original research paper. This course will hone your research methods and critical thinking, connect you with English faculty who specialize in your area of interest, and deepen your engagement with literary theory and with the writing-revision process. Senior Project is open to all senior English majors and minors who are interested in performing in-depth guided research and producing a substantial research paper on a specialized topic (interdisciplinary interests and approaches are welcome). This course is highly recommended for students planning to pursue graduate study in English or related fields.

English 498: Southeast San Diego Tutoring Program

Timothy Randell

This is a ten-week course/internship during which you will tutor children in a local elementary or middle school in basic reading, writing, and math (depending on your assigned teacher/class). You will work at the school to which you are assigned with a teacher who will structure your activities with the children. Each week you will write a short journal to reflect on your experiences concerning a specific element of the school, your pupils, and other experiences concerning lesson plans or the learning environment (see the attached journal assignment sheet for specific topics). You will turn in the journal assignments periodically throughout the semester (not once a week or all at once at the end of the semester) to ensure accurate, unhurried, and thoughtful reflection. Tutors may commit to 3, 6, or 9 hours of tutoring per week (for 1, 2, or 3 academic credits per semester, respectively), and the course may be taken more than once (as often as tutors wish) to accommodate academic needs and time schedules.

The course counts as academic credit in an English elective. Lower Division students register for English 298, and Upper Division students register for English 498.