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Text course descriptions below:
Gateway Course Required for the Beginning Major
Introduction to Literary Study
26017 sec. D Gordon Thompson M, W 12:30 – 1:45pm
14837 sec. E Gordon Thompson M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm
A class in Literary Studies provides the skills necessary for appreciating, engaging with, and analyzing texts. Because literary studies is interdisciplinary in scope, the literary works in this class will focus predominately on American literature that is chiefly concerned with the natural world as it impacts marginalized communities. This class can equip students with the tools to discuss texts from a cultural and aesthetic point of view. The ability to effectively engage with narratives and critically, communicate your observations are highly desired in many areas of study and by employers of all kinds.
14841 sec. H Václav Paris M, W 6:30 – 7:45pm
14842 sec. L Kedon Willis T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am
9897 sec. R András Kiséry 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.
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.
The New Human “Nature”: The Rise of Meritocracy, Psychology, and Materialist Medicine
9691 sec. E Keith Gandal M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm
The 1880-1919 period in the US saw technological, scientific, demographic, and epistemological changes unprecedented in history: the conquest of age-old diseases, the mobilization of a multi-million-man army along largely meritocratic lines, and the Great Immigration from southern and eastern Europe that made the country significantly multicultural and urban. These developments fundamentally transformed the terms of human experience and identity. Modern American literature registers and dramatizes these shocking changes.
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Sigmund Freud, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (excerpt)
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Rebecca Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron Mills”
Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
Willa Cather, One of Ours (excerpt)
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Victor Daly, Not Only War
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (excerpt)
Class participation, two papers, and a final exam.
9889 sec. M Elizabeth Mazzola T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm
The curious flipside of a global world where ideas, things, and people seem to travel far and wide is an increasingly locked down world, where scores of people are detained, put away in camps or relocation centers, or kept alive and offsite in prison. How have writers described the role of prisons in society? What kind of history does the prison have, and what is its future? How does the prison operate as a business, as an architectural experiment, and as a setting for behavior modification, rehabilitation, or torture? How do writers use the prison as a metaphor for madness? For marriage? For modern life?
This class supplies a broad survey of prison writing from a variety of sources. We will read Kafka, Malcolm X, Richard Wright, romances about medieval prisoners, and writings from the Tower of London. We will also look at paintings and photographs, and think about prison fashion, songs, rituals, and lingo. Our final destination will be an exploration of mass incarceration as a phenomenon rooted in racism, reconstruction, and some peculiarly American ideas about freedom, big business, and criminal behavior.
Cross-listed with JWST 21300
Humor and Despair in Modern Jewish Fiction
14845 sec. C Amy Kratka M, W 11:00 – 12:15pm
This course examines the literary trajectory of the American Jew from the immigrant experience to contemporary lifestyles with respect to the depth of human feeling. The fictional reading list focuses on characters that straddle both the joyful and melancholy. We will investigate character development, narrative style, and the ways in which Jewishness informs the central themes of humor and despair.
Cross-listed with BLST 31970
From Blues to Black Feminism(s)
14669 sec. P Janée Moses T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm
What do Ma Rainey and Beyoncé have in common? Are blues performances the origin of black feminism(s)? How has each, in her own times, shaped black women’s conceptions of identity? Their negotiations with race, gender, sexuality, and class? Through the lenses of music, performances, and fiction, this course will explore these questions, examining the tradition of early blues women such
as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Billie Holiday and the impact of their feminist legacies on artists and writers in the 20th and 21st centuries. The course is divided into four parts: Part 1 provides the theoretical foundation for our examination of the blues as both sound and language practice, or song and text. Part 2 explores the method of the blues tradition in novels and performances to examine how black women give language to complex circumstances in their romantic and familial relationships. Part 3 examines the legacies of blues women in black feminist rhetoric and scholarship of the late 20th-century, focusing specifically on the emergence of new black radicalisms and hip-hop culture. Part 4 interprets popular formulations of Black Feminism with 21st century performer, Beyoncé.
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.
Cross-listed with JWST 23200
Jews in Film and Fiction
14847 sec. L Amy Kratka T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am
This class explores the portrayal of Jewish characters in (mostly) post-WWII fiction and film. It discusses the depiction of Jewish identity and asks what role religion plays in these depictions. It also looks at the representation of women and men, parents and children, the importance of bearing witness to tragedy, and it investigates the way in which stories change when subjected to different media, discussing, in general, the larger questions that are posed by being Jewish in America.
11731 sec. P Grazyna Drabik T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm
The immigrant experience is at the heart of American identity and has been richly represented in American literature since the beginning of the 20th c. Numerous narratives, in fiction and non-fiction, chart the dynamics, variations, and stages of the migration experience, addressing such themes as forging new individual and communal identities; dramas of hopes and disappointments; intercrossing of ethnicity/ race/ class and religion; politics of diaspora and networks of intercontinental connections. The diverse literary works constitute a fundamental part of American cultural history and broaden the canon in challenging ways.
This semester we’ll pay attention in particular to the redefinition of gender roles and family relations under the impact of immigration (conflicts and readjustments in the difficult dynamic of father-son and mother-daughter relationships; the role of grandparents) and look more closely at special problematics of the second generation of immigrants, often navigating under pressure their multi-cultural points of reference. We’ll read three full-bodied novels and a wide selection of short texts presenting the above themes from different ethnic/cultural perspectives.
• Mario Puzo, The Fortunate Pilgrim (1965).
• Cristina García, Dreaming in Cuban (1992).
• Akhil Sharma, Family Life (2014).
Short stories, excerpts from memoirs, and poems by
• Frank McCourt, Greg Delanty, Helen Barolini, Stuart Dybek (European perspectives);
• Richard Rodriguez, Sandra Cisneros, Oscar Hijuelos, Junot Diaz, Pat Mora, Julia Álvarez, Justin Torres (Mexican American and other Latinx perspectives);
• Claude McKay, Paule Marshall, Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid (Afro-Caribbean perspectives);
• Bharati Mukherjee, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jumpha Lahiri, Hanif Kureishi (East Asian perspectives).
Cross-listed with JWST 31915
Absurdist Jewish Film and Fiction
14846 sec. M Amy Kratka T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm
This course aims to introduce students to the concept of The Absurd in Jewish religion and culture. Emerging from a global pandemic seems an apt time to examine such a concept! We will begin the semester by offering some definitions of “The Absurd” as it relates to human experience, and we’ll move
forward to incorporate philosophical, literary, cinematic, and religious connections to Absurdity.
Literature of the Diaspora: Belonging, Estrangement, Ambivalence
14988 sec. M Dalia Sofer T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm
This course will examine the plural identities revealed in the works of European, Middle Eastern, and North-African writers of Jewish descent, including Marcel Proust, Giorgio Bassani, Imre Kertész, Eva Hoffman, Naïm Kattan, and Lucette Lagnado. Exploring autobiographical writings as well as works of fiction, we will address the complexities of acculturation, the pervasiveness of estrangement, and ambivalence toward identity. We will pay attention not only to content but also to form, examining how, for many of these writers, innovation was a key aspect of self-expression.
In addition to the readings, students will undertake writing assignments. The course is open to students of all backgrounds who wish to deepen their understanding of themselves in relation to the world.
9910 sec. G Nicole Treska M, W 5:00 – 6:15pm
9909 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.
11684 Sec. E Estha Weiner M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm
Shakespeare II is a survey of Shakespeare’s later plays, beginning with Measure For Measure, a “problem comedy,” bursting genre boundaries, as all his genres defy boundaries. We’ll continue to three of his major tragedies, Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth, and, finally, to one of his finest romances, The Tempest. The class will focus on Shakespeare’s language, on its physicality, as well as the physicality of his theatre, in light of the prevailing ideas and politics, secular and religious, in Early Modern England. We will never lose sight of his necessity to “put on a show.” We will always read the plays aloud, and students will memorize a monologue or scene of their choice to present. A variety of critical readings and movie viewings will illuminate our work: occasional in- class questions, short essays, the mid-term memorized pieces, and a final project chosen by each student, in consultation with the professor.
The Vulgar Middle Ages
11679 Sec. T Mark-Allan Donaldson T, TH 6:30 – 7:45pm
Over the course of the Middle Ages language and literature, like almost every other area of medieval culture, existed within a strict Hierarchy. In the Western hemisphere Latin – and eventually French – dominated the “serious” modes of textual production and served as the languages of History, Law, Politics, and Religion. This course will focus on the opposite end of the spectrum, exploring the vulgar or common tongues and texts which spoke to and for the people, and which operated as expressions of comedy and commentary on the world around them. We will discuss the importance and effect of writing in relatively accessible languages during and beyond the Middle Ages (e.g., Shakespeare’s low brow writing and modern creoles, code switching, and digital languages).
All non-English texts will be available in translation and our medieval texts will focus on works which contribute to the creation and popularization of Vulgar languages. For example, Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia for Italian; Cantar de mio Cid for Spanish; and Chaucer’s assorted works for English.
Rhetoric of Social Movements: Queer Liberation
9814 sec. D Olivia Wood M, W 12:30 – 1:45pm
This course examines the verbal and non-verbal rhetorical strategies of groups and individuals attempting to effect social change and the counter-strategies of those who oppose them. We look at how social movements attempt to transform perceptions of social reality, alter the self-perception of protestors, legitimize the movement, prescribe courses of action, mobilize for action, and sustain the movement. We begin by understanding how the rhetoric of social movements operate by looking at three time periods in the United States: the emergence of gay identity and early homophile societies (late 1800s-1960s), the emergence of the Gay Liberation movement post-Stonewall (1969s-1980s), and the response to the AIDS crisis (late 1980s-1990s). We then move to examining contemporary topics in LGBTQ+ studies, including the fight for marriage equality, anti-trans legislation, intersections of oppressions, LGBTQ+ content in schools, and others. Students will choose a contemporary topic in the fight for queer liberation and examine the rhetorical techniques used, from songs and slogans to television and social media.
Please note: 400-level courses are designed for students who have completed at least two classes at the 300-level. Longer essays which involve research and work with secondary materials are typically required at the conclusion of the semester; and students are also expected to demonstrate their familiarity with a range of methodological approaches and critical perspectives.
14859 sec. R Mark J. Mirsky T, TH 3:30 – 4:45pm
Fifty years of the magazine Fiction
This course will take you into the pages of a magazine founded over fifty years ago in 1972 at the City College of New York, by a professor in its English Department, Mark J. Mirsky, together with National Book Award Winner Donald Barthelme, Jane DeLynn and the Swiss novelist Max Frisch and his wife, Marianne. The course will study the work of contributors over the last fifty years from Nobel Prize Winners: Samuel Beckett, Knut Hamsun, Heinrich Boll, Gunter Grass, Jose Camilo Cela, S.Y. Agnon, Peter Handke, Primo Levi, many international figures post-modernis: Italo Calvino, Silvina Ocampo, Curzio Malaparte, Marguerite Duras, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Musil, Max Frisch, Manuel Puig, contemporary American writers: Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Gayl Jones, John Barth, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Gordon and Kenneth Koch together with talented students from the undergraduate and graduate creative writing classes.
Many of these authors were known in person to the editor-in-chief, Professor Mirsky, who will teach extracts from the magazine’s fiction and some of his reminiscences of meeting the authors whose work we will study. He will discuss how the magazine was put together and the editing of selections. Copies of the magazine either in print or PDF form will be distributed either free or at a deeply discounted cost to the class.
Students will be encouraged to either write about these authors’ contributions to the magazine or to respond to the selections with writing that takes its inspiration from them.
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.
9927 sec. 3BC Robert Higney W 9:30 – 11:30am
“Modernism” is an important term in the study of literary history, and also one of the most confusing and contested. Modernism attained prominence with 19th and 20th century avant-garde artistic and literary movements, but its uses and effects have extended to many places, periods, and cultures. Modernism has always been a global phenomenon. In this seminar, we will read works spanning the 1890s to the 1960s, from the rise of Anglophone modernism in the early years of the 20th century, in London and Harlem, to its influence on postcolonial literatures in Ireland, India, the West Indies, and beyond. What has it meant to be “modern” in these places and times? We will also read a substantial amount of recent criticism and scholarship on modernism in global contexts. Authors will include, for example, James Joyce, Nella Larsen, Virginia Woolf, Mulk Raj Anand, Jean Rhys, and others. Assignments will include short journal entries, midterm and final research essay, short presentation.
The Caribbean and the Modern Narrative
14860 sec. 2DE Kedon Willis T 12:30 – 2:30pm
The Caribbean has experienced enormous political and social shifts in the past century. Since the end of the first World War, patterns of revolution, intervention, migration, modernization, and natural disasters have contributed to the region’s strange modernity. That is to say, because of heightened conditions, operations of the everyday seem to border on the surreal. This seminar explores how some of the region’s most important authors try to capture this everyday through storytelling. Instead of making any definitive claims about a distinctive form from the region, however, the course is more interested in studying the various forms and techniques writers have marshaled in response to the shifting realities around them. We will therefore engage with authors from a range of Caribbean islands to get a scope of the region’s diverse histories and heritages. We will also examine how global movements such as modernism operate alongside indigenized forms of the gothic, the folk, and the marvelous real within the literature.
Creative Writing Courses
Introduction to Creative Writing
9896 sec. C Doris Barkin M, W 11:00 – 12:15pm
19223 sec. E Laura Hinton M, W 2:00 – 3:15pm
54618 sec. F Laura Hinton M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm
18974 sec. G Benjamin Swett M, W 5:00 – 6:15pm
19224 sec. M Jane Bolster T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm
19225 sec. P Julia Francis T, TH 2:00 – 3:15pm
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.
Prerequisite: English 22000
Intermediate Creative Writing: Reading as Writers
14856 sec. C Estha Weiner M, W 11:00 – 12:15pm
Reading and Writing go together. This Intermediate Creative Writing class, Reading as a Writer, links reading and discussing poems, short fiction, and drama with improving your own writing in those three genres. You will read the texts as readers and writers, becoming more aware of the tools of each genre, as you do so.
In addition to the readings, our one required text is the aptly titled, Reading Like a Writer, by the aptly named, Francine Prose. The readings should act as a catalyst/prompt for your own work. Be prepared to discuss them. Then comes presentation of your own first drafts in a workshop format, culminating in a final manuscript, and a required Reading Day. If we are able to workshop or privately meet about your final drafts, we will. And, of course, attend as many on-line, or, when possible, in-person readings as you can, within the College community or wherever, whenever!
19016 sec. S Emily Rosenblatt 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.
Prose Writing Workshop
18965 sec. D Liana DeMasi M, W 12:30 – 1:45pm
18967 sec. F Brendan Costello M, W 3:30 – 4:45pm
18968 sec. L TBA T, TH 9:30 – 10:45am
18969 sec. R Laura Yan T, TH 3:30 – 4:45pm
In this course prose will be explored through the study of nonfictional works such as critical texts, memoirs and various forms of essay writing. The course will include two major papers assigned. There will be reading and consideration of the strategies of established writers in the genre. Students may also be expected to write and revise several short papers, while receiving critiques from and responding to the works of their peers in the class.
Prerequisite: English 22100
Workshop in Fiction
53584 sec. G Keith Gandal M W 5:00 – 6:15pm
Students in this advanced workshop course will develop the art of writing and rewriting stories. 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 variety of exemplary published short stories over the course of the semester, learning the elements of short fiction and using the critical vocabulary of the craft. Students will also read each others’ work: they will submit their own original works for discussion and learn to critique their peers’ writing. The workshop trajectory of the class will be to move from short writing exercises to a rough draft of a short story to a polished story.
Just a reminder that Creative Writing differs from almost all other courses in several basic ways. First, you the student are a large part of the subject matter of the course. Your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and perceptions are the stuff out of which your stories must be written. Second, your willingness to know yourself and explore who you are and how you understand the world are basic to developing as a writer. If you are not willing or able to engage in this kind of exploration, share it with other students, receive commentary on your writing, or give (honest yet constructive) reactions to other students’ writing, this course is not for you. Third, anything of value you may have to say is, in this course, directly dependent on your skill in using the English language. Thus much of the course will center on helping you to find what you have to say that is worth saying and then discovering the best way to say it. Finding fresh ways to see and to say things is absolutely essential to good writing. Superficial perceptions and clichés are touches of death in creative writing.
Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry and Other Stories, available online
Collection of short stories – available online
9898 sec. M Shamecca Harris T, TH 11:00 – 12:15pm
Course description is forthcoming.
Prerequisite: English 22100
Workshop in Poetry
18960 sec. S TBA T, TH 5:00 – 6:15pm
Sometimes the muses just don’t show up. Or not as often as we’d like. This workshop is designed to lure them to your door and keep them coming back—through reading contemporary poets, discussing their techniques and styles, then incorporating them in some fashion into your own poems, even if it’s just as a source of inspiration. Drafts will be workshopped and revised on a weekly basis. Topics will include Persona, Form, Imitation, Narrative, Repetition, Found Poetry, and Direct Address. In addition, there will be some time spent on ways to revise more bravely, going beyond line edits and actually re-seeing poems.
There will be occasional in-class writing exercises and prompts to get things started. While each assignment is meant to develop an element of craft, you will be encouraged to forge your own voice and style. One aim might be to create a foundation for a chapbook or series. By the end of the semester, seven (or more) revised poems will be submitted with a process paper that reflects on what you experienced and learned while creating them—whether it’s about poetry, craft, or yourself as an artist.
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 31104: Modern Japanese Literature and Films
BLST 31175: AfroLatina/o Literature
BLST 31903: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Literatures of the Luso-Afro-Brazilian World
FREN 28300: The Literature of Contemporary France
ITAL 31105: Writing the Self in Contemporary Italian Literature
SPAN 28100: Masterworks of Spanish Literature
THTR 31115: LGBT Film and Theatre
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 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Assistant Director, Christina Marie Castro, at (212) 650-7927 or email@example.com.
Introduction to Publishing
19232 sec. LM Cherise Fisher TU 9:30 – 12:00pm
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.
Fundamentals of Copyediting & Proofreading
19233 sec. TU Pamela R. Maines TH 6:30 – 9:00pm
Students will employ universal copyediting/proofreading symbols in type-marking a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks and references. They will learn design coding; drafting of style sheets; querying; and preparing a manuscript for author review, etc.
Legal Issues in Publishing
19234 sec. ST Steven Weissman TU 5:00 – 7:30pm
A course covering the crucial clauses in an author-publisher contract; intellectual property issues; the First Amendment; general copyright matters; defamation; invasion of privacy; obscenity; and internet copyright issues.
eBooks and Digital Publishing
54292 sec. 3GH Philip Rappaport W 4:50 – 7:20pm
This course delves into the transformative impact of the digital revolution on the publishing industry and reader behaviors over the past 30 years. Engage with industry experts through in-person talks, readings, videos, and podcasts. Topics include eBook production and design, SEO and metadata, audiobooks, digital marketing, social media strategies, and generative AI like ChatGPT. Coursework involves online discussions, written assignments exploring virtual and indie bookselling, backlist publishing, cover design, and a final group project to edit, design, and market an original eBook.
Independent Study (3 credits)
Students may register for a three-credit independent study that represents an internship in the Publishing field. Permission of the Publishing Certificate Program directors is required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com with your request for approval. Once approved, visit, call or write to the English Advising Office (NAC 6/219) for registration.