Courses – Summer and Fall 2024 | Department of English

Courses – Summer and Fall 2024

Summer 2024 Course Descriptions

General course descriptions can be found in the English Catalog

*Course Descriptions are subject to change when a class is taught by a new instructor.*

ENG 106-01: Introduction to Poetry 

Professor Terry Kennedy

This is an introductory yet intensive course in the study of poetry with a particular emphasis given to historical, cultural, and literary backgrounds. Poets studied will

include Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Lucille Clifton, Seamus Heaney, and Rita Dove.

ENG 208-81: Topics in Global Literature – Lives and Journeys of Things in Contemporary World Fiction

Professor Christian Moraru

This is an online, asynchronous Topics in Global Literature course that deals with material culture in twenty-first-century world fiction, specifically with novels whose focus is on objects—humans included—and their global presence, trajectories, and transformations in the contemporary era. In this class, the contemporary is defined as the post-Cold War period, principally as the decades lapsed since 9/11. If the contemporary is, as some have argued, a time of permanent crisis, then how do humans handle other living and (apparently) non-living objects in such times? How do human and nonhuman objects interrogate and complicate existing modes and views of contemporaneity? These are some of the questions raised in a course where everything that exists is treated as an object being on the same existential level as any other object, alive or not.

Our 208 section has a global focus twice. First, it has a cross-cultural, transnational, and, indeed, planetary scope, covering several literary and cultural traditions, Western and non-Western, and spanning continents. Second, the works discussed are recent and speak to a growing feeling worldwide that we have entered a new age, the age of “time-space compression,” “network society,” and the “global village,” in which peoples, cultures, and communities around the world are more interconnected, more mobile, but also more vulnerable than ever before. Our authors include Daniel Kehlmann, Emily St. John Mandel, and Mohsin Hamid, among others. The class will be run on Canvas. Written responses and a final exam due June 12th

ENG 212: Major British Authors: Romantic to Modern

Dr. Ben Clarke

This course surveys British literature from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century. Students will read texts by major authors who worked in this period and analyze developments in literary technique and genre. They will also consider the relationship between these texts and the historical conditions within which they were produced.

ENG 251-01: Colonial and U.S. Literature to 1865

Dr. Karen Weyler

In English 251, we will read literary texts drawn from the time of European exploration of North America through the fraught decades of the 1840s and 1850s, as questions about abolition, women’s rights, and Native American rights roiled the nation. Our readings include short stories, poetry, essays, and more by well-known writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as writers who may be new to you, such as Fanny Fern, Phillis Wheatley, and Frances Harper.


Fall 2024 Course Descriptions 

ENG 108.01: Graphic Narratives Across the African Diaspora 

Pooja Shah 

How do authors use graphic narratives to explore issues such as visibility, censorship, and surveillance? What do graphic narratives reveal about looking, seeing, and watching—and how do they critique these practices? Drawing on graphic narratives and other visual modes of self-expression, this course develops a multimodal understanding of the place of literature in responding to surveillance and policing. Through a deep engagement with literatures across the African diaspora—including texts such as War Brothers and Graphic Memories: Tales from Uganda’s Female Former Child Soldiers, we will examine how contemporary writers use the theory of comics to challenge racialized and gendered forms of surveillance. 

ENG 108.02: Fandoms, Digital Pop Culture, and Internet Drama 

Virginia Weaver 

What would you do if social media turned the world against you? Internet drama used to be a minor concern, mostly affecting small fan cultures, or fandoms. Now, fandoms and Internet drama undeniably affect careers and lives, as well as world politics and massive industries. To explore the effects of digital pop culture, this course will look at how seemingly small fandoms, such as the superhero fandom, evolve over time and can eventually impact the world in significant ways, for better or worse. Whether you’re into superheroes or not, if you use social media, this course will engage deeply with heated issues and confusing trends you’ve encountered frequently – maybe even daily. 

ENG 208 – Topics in Global Literature – The Art of Travel 

Gary Lim 

In this global literature course, we will focus on travel narratives from diverse historical moments and geographical locations. Spanning narratives from classical Greece, ancient China, and contemporary America and Japan, we will explore how narratives convey the journeys through lands, exotic and mundane, actual and imagined. How do literary languages and structures shape the experience of travel? Is journeying made more meaningful when crafted into literary narratives? What role does literature as an art form play in helping us understand the lessons of travel?  Over the semester, we will read and watch a range of texts and films that dramatize the art of travel: excerpts from Homer’s  Odyssey; the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and its Broadway incarnation “Hadestown”; highlights from Wu Cheng’en’s “Journey to the West” and the graphic novel “American Born Chinese”; selections from Haruki Murakami’s short story collection, “After the Quake” and the film “Lost in Translation”; Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and its film adaptation. 

ENG 209 – Multispecies Justice in Postcolonial South Asian Literature 

Mohammad Ataullah Nuri

The course you are taking is highly interdisciplinary, bringing together issues including colonial legacies, climate changes, species extinctions, and social and environmental justice. By the end of this course, you will recognize deep connections between literary studies, colonial-capitalist power structures, and multispecies ethics. 

The class has a thematic-geographic focus. As a theme, the course focuses on multispecies justice or distributive justice, an emerging socio-environmental justice approach that extends personhood and the right to justice from humans to more-than-human beings, including nonliving objects. This course seeks to familiarize students with non-Western literary texts and cultures. So, as a geographical area, the course focuses on South Asia, a region that has a long colonial history. While it has been well documented how humans are subjected to oppression and violence under various colonial and capitalist power structures, in this course we will critically examine how colonial histories and their contemporary legacies impact both the postcolonial human and more-than-human subjects and their inter and intra-relationships. As mentioned above, these impacts are observed in South Asian postcolonial contexts. The course combines primary and theoretical texts, with priority given to critically reading and analyzing the primary works.  

The course will equip students with critical thinking and writing skills as well as an awareness of the interconnected issues of colonial legacies, social and environmental justice, and the impact of power structures on multispecies relationships.  

By the end of the course, your definition of “literature” and “justice” may never be the same!   

ENG 211 – British Authors: Medieval to Neoclassical 

Gary Lim 

This course introduces students to the major authors and works of early English literature, a period that covers eight hundred years of literary history, from Anglo-Saxon England to the18th century. In the process we will encounter a wide-range of genres (epic, verse romance, comic fabliau, lyric poetry, dramatic tragedy, satire, and proto-novel) as well as assorted ideas about politics, religion, and desire. While the course is primarily structured as a chronological survey of early English literature, we will also think about how each era conceived of what it meant to be “human” and come to some conclusions about how being human was variously conceptualized throughout our period of study. 

ENG 223 – Advocacy Writing

Janie Raghunandan 

Drawing on contemporary social movements—such as the Reproductive Justice Movement, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Climate Change, etc.— we learn how advocacy has evolved in the 21st Century. From local to national organizations, we examine how grassroots beginnings can evolve to national concerns through different methods and rhetorical strategies. While studying advocacy via social movements, students practice writing skills centered on critical thinking, reflection, and developing public-facing arguments connected to an issue of concern for them. 

ENG 227: Storylab: Multimodal Storytelling 

Short stories and novels tell stories, of course, but storytelling is also at the heart of comics, podcasts, video games—essentially all forms of contemporary, creative media. In this course, students will examine how traditional elements of storytelling—such as character development, theme, world-building, and plot—can be augmented with interactive and/or multisensory narrative techniques. In addition to studying published multimodal forms, develop will develop their own multimodal projects, which may include graphic stories, audio stories, podcast and videogame scripts, and hypertext writing. Due to the collaborative nature of these forms, which often require not simply imaginative generation of original material but co-work with visual artists, audio/visual production, actors, coders, and others, students will be expected to formally articulate and present their ideas in a manner that fulfills the Oral Communications MAC requirement. 

ENG 237-1: The Visual Novel

Evan Moore

An expanding genre are point-and-click adventure games, sometimes called “visual novels.” These games often include changeable stories and multiple outcomes. Our class conversations will use the course games as our main texts, which we will analyze like we analyze books, poems, and films, but with the added aspect of gameplay. Why is this story a game, not a TV show? Do my choices matter? What do we do when there are no good options? Why might we call them “novels” when they’re games? What about narrative games that aren’t called visual novels? We will play some together as a class, some in the Esports Arena, and some individually for homework. Students will need access to the course games, either with a laptop or with some console (all games will be available on all major platforms), but this “videogaming as literature” course requires no previous gaming experience.

ENG 237-2: Narratives of Community, Identity, and Setting in RPGs

Josh Benjamin

When we play roleplaying games (RPGs), we interact with characters, events, and worlds that are often similar to and yet unlike our own. RPG stories are a deeply interactive way to experience various communities and identities in settings that are sometimes very different from our own life experiences. As these narratives take us into unfamiliar territory, how do they let us think about the elements of identity, community, and culture that we bring to games and that games ask us to interact with? How do we express ourselves and our agency within games, and how do games have their own expression and agency? We’ll play and look at RPGs alongside literature, visual art, music, film, and other media as we wonder about and discover how RPG stories contribute to building their worlds and shaping our encounters within them.

ENG 237-3​: Influential Narratives

Gia Coturri Sorenson

How do narratives change how we see the world? How do narratives enable us to ask questions about our identity and culture? When we encounter narratives, whether they are in videogames or elsewhere, we are offered an opportunity to see another perspective. This class offers students tools to ask thoughtful questions of the narratives they encounter, which will help them better understand how narratives influence and change how we approach the world. Students who take this course will encounter videogames, prose, and other narrative types that showcase the intersectional questions we need to ask ourselves as we engage with stories.

ENG 240 – Language, Culture, and Health: The Rhetoric of Wellness 

Abby Bryan

What does it mean to be well? “Wellness” is everywhere in our contemporary culture: from social media accounts dedicated to wellness and self-care, to university initiatives focused on student wellbeing, to the mass market of wellness products and services promising to optimize consumers’ health. In this class, we will consider contemporary wellness culture by analyzing a wide range of wellness materials from self-help books to podcasts. We will ask: How is wellness, as a concept, embedded in social and cultural contexts? How does the language we use to talk about wellness shape our beliefs about what it means to be well? What kinds of messages about health and wellness circulate in contemporary wellness culture? And how do these messages work on our bodies and influence how we move in the world and orient to other people (for good or for ill)? 

ENG 241-01 – Food and Literature: Tales of Hunger 

Kathryn Burt 

Food and stories go together like peanut butter and jelly.  We tell each other stories around the kitchen table, pass down history and tradition with recipes, and find comfort in familiar foods and stories in times of stress.  In this class, we will partake in a banquet of stories that use food to explore the relationship we have with our histories, with our bodies, and with our communities.  More specifically, we will think about what it means to be hungry—for food, for love, for belonging—and the various dietary, culinary, and social practices we’ve developed to soothe that hunger. 

ENG 241-02 – Food and Literature: Culture, Identity, and Place – The Pub and the People: Drinking, Literature, and Identity

Ben Clarke

Eating and drinking are not simply functional activities but meaningful ones, used to both reproduce relationships and mark divisions. What we consume, how and where we do it, and who we do it with are central to our understanding of who we are and what communities we belong to. Studying these practices consequently enables us to explore broader questions about how identities are negotiated and the specific material and social contexts within which this occurs. We may think that what we eat and drink is determined solely by our individual preferences but in practice it is shaped by everything from the cultural traditions we inherit to the resources available to us.

In this course, we will examine the significance of food and drink by analyzing its representation in literature. We will read everything from novels to essays to recipe books, focusing on drinking and public houses in Britain from the late nineteenth century to the present day. We will consider, amongst other things attitudes to drinking, the connotation of different drinks and the different places they were consumed, the rituals around alcohol consumption, and the ways in which drinking can be used to reproduce or challenge established ideas of class, gender, and race.

 ENG 270 – Big Questions in the Humanities and Fine Arts – “What is the Meaning of Life?”

Anthony Cuda

This course draws from a variety of stories, essays, and poems to think about common and uncommon answers to this perennial question about the meaning and purpose of life. Poets and thinkers of antiquity often regarded glory and fame as paramount; theologians proposed the individual fulfillment of a divine ideal. Some early modern writers thought in terms of perfecting our various faculties; some modern writers argued that the only meaning in life is what we give it, while we live. This course is about our restless search for meaning, and what this particularly persistent “big question” tells us about ourselves.

We’ll read authors ranging from Plato, Sappho, and Dante to Eliot, Satre, and Arendt.

ENG 301 – Environmental Theory: Ecocriticism and Beyond
Gia Coturri Sorenson
As environmental crises intensify and our lives become increasingly digital, we find ourselves inhabiting new environments. As we shift to new relationships with the world around us, it is more important than ever to pause and ask how we got here. This theory class focuses on ecocriticism, a strand of literary theory that seeks to understand and redefine the relationship between humans and their (natural) surroundings. This course is deeply interdisciplinary and students will find our discussions and assignments relevant to them despite their major and career goals. The gift (and curse) of ecocriticism and its evolution into “the environmental humanities” is the approach’s capaciousness. There is something in this class and this theoretical approach for everyone.
We will study a variety of texts across time and geography as we seek to better understand how people interact with the natural world, and we will practice using theory to analyze and comprehend those interactions. Our readings will include canonical selections as well as ones that challenge us and force us to ask new questions for a new era. Thus, voices like Henry David Thoreau will be paired with writers like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Rebecca Solnit; we will also venture into new forms of media, looking at how film, videogames, and podcasts shift environmental perspectives. Our interdisciplinary approach will help us better understand why ecocriticism is relevant regardless of background, political affiliation, or education/employment. Students will complete informal writing assignments and maintain a nature notebook as well as engaging in a formal, semester-long research project that will combine personal experience with academic research.
This class does not require prior environmental knowledge and only asks that students are open to engaging with environmentalism and writing regularly.

ENG 303 – Literary Theory 

Gary Lim 

What are some of the assumptions that inform how we analyze texts? Did we always read as we do today? Is there a difference in reading a text for pleasure and studying it for college credit? Why will two English professors have vastly different interpretations of the same poem? What defines English as a discipline? By studying several major areas of literary and critical theory we will begin to formulate answers to these questions. We will consider several major approaches to the study of literature that came to the forefront of the American literary studies from the mid-twentieth century: New Criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalytical theory, feminism and queer theory, and cultural-historical approaches. While we will spend a good deal of the course considering these theories in their own right, we will also study scholarly articles with an eye to exploring how they are applied to spark literary insight and develop arguments about interpretation.

ENG 305 – Contemporary Rhetoric 

Sam Phillips 

This course explores how rhetoric offers valuable tools for making sense of how people influence others, direct attention toward issues of concern, rally around firmly held positions, and change their minds over time. Our shared readings and sustained discussions will reveal rhetoric to be:   

  • A flexible tool for analyzing situations and interpreting your experiences of the world around you;
  • An art or practice, rooted in careful consideration of particular circumstances;
  • A rich area of inquiry for anyone fascinated by language and its role in human communities.

You’ll read texts carefully, analyzing how they work and supporting arguments about the consequences of particular language choices, and you’ll engage with rhetorical theory to develop conceptual tools that can be applied to specific instances. 

ENG 307 – Public Advocacy and Argument

Heather Adams

*ENG 307 is the core course in the English Department’s minor in Rhetoric and Public Advocacy, a minor open to majors in any discipline.

Do you want to develop and refine techniques for advocating change that is important to you? Do you want to cultivate strategies for shifting attitudes and fostering action in relation to a matter that is of concern to you? Do you want to improve your capabilities for advocating for yourself in professional contexts? Get course credit for working toward these goals in ENG 307: Public Advocacy and Argument.

In this course, you will learn how to become a more strategic and persuasive advocate (through writing, speaking, and other means). Together, we’ll consider the differences between activism and advocacy, and we’ll explore why that difference is important. We’ll study real-life advocates as models of best practices in advocacy. We’ll also learn about “argument” from traditional perspectives and from newer perspectives that question long-held goals and forms of engagement. Throughout the course, each student will apply this learning to their own “matter of concern”—an issue or curiosity that you want to learn more about and, ultimately, advocate on behalf of.

In short, this hands-on class will provide you with a host of tools for your advocacy and argument toolkit, enabling you to apply this learning to whatever is most meaningful in your life.

ENG 310 – Young Adult Literature

Jeanie Reynolds

This course focuses on the critical study and evaluation of the YA genre; examination of modes and themes found in the literature; ways to write about and support your choices in contemporary YA literature; strategies of effective reading; and discussion techniques for teachers. This course is NOT about how to teach a book (although that might happen) but it is about WHY we teach particular books. However, as with any course I’m hoping much more will happen than just learning about YA literature. Literacy is a powerful tool in our society, but it is often used as a way to keep some people “in” and others “out” of reach of such power. It is my belief that this course is strengthened by the diversity of thoughts, perspectives, and backgrounds that students bring with them. We will draw upon our own backgrounds as readers and writers in order to critically examine the literature in this course and discover how it applies to our own lives, education, future careers, and most importantly, your future students.

ENG 321 – Linguistics for Teachers

Jeanie Reynolds

This course is geared towards student who seek teacher licensure. The primary focus is on the role of language in the English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. We will focus on the interconnected and lifelong relationship between language use and power and use that build pedagogic tools for working with ELA learners. We will examine issues related to language and language learning such as dialects, multilingualism, gender, language standards and conventions (correctness/error), language variations/varieties, technology and language, oral/literate traditions, direct/indirect speech acts, etc. We examine definitions of language, communication, discourse, and literacy and the political ideologies implicated in those definitions. We investigate the language structures and systems, including an understanding and application of phonology, morphology, and syntax as well as a review of school grammar and how it enables and silences ELA students.

ENG 322 – The Teaching of Writing

Jeanie Reynolds

The primary focus of this course is on writing and teaching writing in the secondary English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. We will focus on the interconnected and lifelong relationship between creativity, reading and writing and use that to build pedagogic tools for working with ELA learners. This is a writing intensive course which will engage students in creating, reading, writing, and discussion so that we may better understand the challenges faced by ELA students in the ELA classroom when they are required to write. It is my belief that teachers who actively engage in the literate processes such as writing are better able to teach those processes.

There are three interwoven strands in this course: 1) Writing ourselves, 2) Understand how/why students do/do not write (and what we can do about it), and 3) Pedagogies of writing. Course assignments and activities reflect these strands.

ENG 331 – Women in Literature: Amazons and Other Fierce Women

Jennifer Feather

Beyoncé has an alter ego called “Sasha Fierce.” Serena Williams has been called a “fierce advocate” for gender equality. Producer Shonda Rhimes’ book The Year of Yes has been called “lessons in being fierce.” This course examines the concept of fierce women by looking and literary amazons and others as varied as Virgil’s Camilla, Shakespeare’s queen Hippolyta, and Wonder Woman. How do amazons as figures of gendered and ethnic defiance undergird our ideas of what it means to be a fierce woman? What historical changes have informed gendered behaviors of defiance over time?

Note: You cannot take this course for credit if you have taken ENG 331 before. Carries a WGSS marker.

ENG 332-01 – English Women Writers before 1800

Jennifer Keith

We will explore the great variety of achievements by women writers from the seventeenth century to the Romantic era and consider them in relation to their cultural and historical contexts. Questions addressed will include: How do writers represent their identities and experiences as defined by gender, class, race, and other categories? How do their works reflect or challenge dominant views of gender, class, and race? How do writers experiment with genre and form to establish their literary authority and challenge patriarchal restrictions? We will study poems by Katherine Philips, Aphra Behn, Anne Finch, and Phillis Wheatley Peters; feminist arguments by Margaret Cavendish, Mary Astell, and Mary Wollstonecraft; and prose fiction and nonfiction by Eliza Haywood (Fantomina), Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and Mary Prince (The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave).

WGSS elective.

ENG 333 – Southern Writing

Scott Romine

This course will be loosely organized around recurring themes, topoi, types, commonplaces, tropes, and memes that have survived the conditions of their origin to continue to define “the South.”  Critical and theoretical readings will supplement a range of southern texts—mostly fictional, but involving also journalism, political writing, food writing, and popular media—from the antebellum period to the present that foreground cultural attributes (hospitality, violence, white supremacy, “love of the land,” localism, leisure, etc.), types (planter, belle, mammy, poor white, etc.), and material objects (flags, grits, plantation houses, etc.), the common feature of which is they are recognized, for better or for worse, as “southern.”  There will be a midterm, final, and two research projects (one short, one more substantial).

ENG 337 – The Global Middle Ages 

Amy Vines 

This course will push the literary and geographical boundaries traditionally associated with medieval literature. Although students will read some texts written in England or France, we will also move through the medieval world and read works by Islamic and Jewish writers of the Middle Ages. We will explore how the Middle Ages was a time of great global connection and cross-cultural influence. Writers traveled along trade routes, engaged in Crusading, and produced narratives that reflect the myriad connections between the medieval east and west. Readings will include Alexander romances, medieval travel narratives, and writings of authors in the medieval Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. All texts will be read in translation. 

ENG 347-02 – Medicine in American Literature

Scott Romine

This course will explore a range of literary texts involving medicine and American culture.  Units will explore evolving and competing ideas about health and wellness; the professionalization of medical science; the history of pseudo-medical practices; and the intersection of medicine and competing regimes of social power.  There will be two hour exams, a final, one short research project, and one longer research project.

ENG 371 – Literary Study of the Bible 

Chris Hodgkins 

Read the Bible through the literary traditions that it adopted, transformed, and inspired. Substantial selections from both the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and from the New Testament—from Genesis through Revelation, from origin narrative, lyric poetry, and wisdom literature to epic, drama, gospel, and prophecy. Throughout the course, we will examine the text through questions about its literary elements: genre, plot, characterization, figurative language, verse and narrative structure, etc. Secondarily, we will attend to historical and archeological contexts, and to varied theories of textual composition. Class will consist of lecture, discussion, and some group work. Regular reading quizzes, two examinations (midterm and final), one short psalm analysis paper. Previous knowledge of the Bible helpful, but not expected. Required texts: any good English translation of the Bible, and the print edition of Christopher Hodgkins, Literary Study of the Bible: An Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020) 

ENG 372-01  

Dr. Karen Weyler  

Writing and printing are technologies that have enabled the literate to control who speaks and what stories they tell.  Prior to the beginning of printing in Europe, and even throughout the first three hundred years after the invention of the moveable type printing press (c. 1450), literacy was limited to the elite; only the very wealthiest had access to the technologies of reading, writing, and printing.  The earliest American texts that we see in anthologies tend to represent the “official” colonizing voices of the Americas, especially those of explorers, ministers, and governors. And yet these elite men were very much in the minority.  The Americas were largely populated, not by elite white men, but by people with less access to the technologies of literacy:  indigenous peoples, enslaved Africans, indentured servants, and common laborers—not to mention that at least half that population was female and had even less access 

How can we fill in the blank spaces to tell a larger, more complete story of early America?  Certainly, we can read across the grain, but another way to do so is by thinking about our syllabus as a dialogue across time and invoking certain inflection points.  

Although we will focus in English 372 on the writings of British America, we’ll begin our study of the literatures of the New World by reading European exploration writings and Native responses to settler colonialism.  We’ll consider the impact of competing models of colonialism and colonization, how religion shaped responses to the New World and its inhabitants, how different groups engaged with the rhetoric of revolution and personal freedom, and how the revolutionary era shaped cultural ideas about gender that endure even today.  

This class will include a number of archival projects, involving both digital archives and UNCG’s Special Collections.    

ENG 379 – American Women’s Writing – “The Romance Novel” 

 Maria Sanchez

This course will read a wide range of romance novels, and analyze the historical and cultural contexts that have made it a commercially successful yet critically denigrated genre. In other words: how did romance become gendered, why does it sell, and why does romance get no respect? We will begin the semester with romance “forebears” – some combination of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and/or Wuthering Heights – before immersing ourselves in a range of late 20th – 21st century romances. We will cover romance’s intersections with other genres (history, fantasy) and investigate its most enduring controversies (racial, ethnic, and queer representation, and lack of prestige). Contemporary authors may include Julia Quinn, Stephenie Meyer, Adriana Herrera, Casey McQuiston, Beverly Jenkins, and Isabel Cañas. Assignments will include short essays and a research project on a subject of the student’s choice.  


Anthropocentrism and the Anthropocene Legacy in U. S. Postapocalyptic Fiction  

Christian Moraru 

This English 380 class focuses on recent American postapocalyptic fiction and its efforts to extrapolate critically from our present and recent past to project a planetary future marred if not irrevocably compromised by the environmental disasters that have marked the Anthropocene and its various “developmental” narratives all over the world. We will discuss novels by authors that may include Ben Lerner, Jonathan Lethem, Ruth Ozeki, and Cormack McCarthy, among others. We will also read some ecocritical criticism, “ecopoetics,” and theory of the posthumanist and speculative-materialist sort (Donna Haraway, Timothy Morton, and some scholarship on the Anthropocene). Midterm and final papers.

ENG 383: Queer Poetry & Poetics

Emilia Phillips

In the poem “Queer,” Frank Bidart writes that if you “lie to yourself [about being queer], what you will // lose is yourself.” In this course, we’ll read poets who proudly articulate, hesitantly code, or even intentionally hide their queer identities in their poetry so that we might better understand the genre’s historical and contemporary relationships to the representation and embodiment of queer experiences. Starting with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, the course will primarily focus on writers from the 20th and 21st centuries whose gender and sexual identities either directly embrace or analogously correlate to the gender and sexual identities in the contemporary LGBTQIA2S+ acronym. Some writers we will read include Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O’Hara, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Thom Gunn, CAConrad, Natalie Diaz, Jos Charles, Danez Smith, Chen Chen, and more. As we read these poets, we will ask and (attempt to) answer the following questions:

  1. Is there such a thing as a “queer poem”?
  2. Is “queer poetry” an operative and distinct poetic aesthetic and ethos?
  3. How does one write about queer experiences in one of the most colonizing languages in the world?
  4. How might LGBTQIA2S+ poets innovate with language and form to represent uniquely queer experiences?
  5. How does queer poetry and poetics intersect with queer theory?
  6. What are the sociohistorical contexts for queer representations in poems?
  7. How does queerness intersect with race, ethnicity, class, citizenship, and disability?

These questions will inform the course’s major assignment: a Queer Documentary Poetics Project, in which students will conduct archival research at Jackson Library’s Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and/or oral histories into LGBTQIA2S+ experiences at UNCG, the Piedmont Triad area, or their own communities. This project will be guided by the professor with help from archival research and oral history experts, especially SCUA archivists and librarians.

No previous experiences with archival research, oral history, or even poetry writing are needed for this project, but these skills will expand students’ dexterity at undergraduate research as well as critical and creative thinking. Students considering this course also do not need to have previous positive experiences reading and/or understanding poetry. These skills will be taught and refined throughout the course. All students, regardless of their own gender and sexuality dimensions of their identity, are welcome in this course.