Here are descriptions of some of the courses I teach:
ENG 201: Survey of British Literature
In ENG 201, we will read and discuss examples of British literature spanning a 1500-year period, from about 600 to the present. While we will focus our attention on significant texts and will consider the structural and stylistic devices of each text, we will do so in the larger context of a discussion of the thematic concerns of the writers and their relevance to us today, as well as the specific historical events and cultural influences to which these writers responded.
ENG 225: British Fantasy
The recent movie versions of The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the Harry Potter series--and their popularity with filmgoers--testify to our perennial interest in tales of good and evil, an interest that seems to grow as we face "dark times." In this course, we will read examples of British fantasy from medieval times to the present in order to explore some of the typical features of this sub-genre, trace the sources and evolution of modern fantasy novels, discuss the cultural contexts to which fantasy literature responds, and consider what happens when text is translated to the big screen.
ENG 225: The Gothic Tradition in British Literature
Haunted houses, haunted minds. Beginning in Britain in the 1790s and continuing well into the 20th (and now 21st) century, the Gothic genre in fiction, drama, and, most recently, film has fascinated, terrorized, and enlightened readers and spectators asked to confront the “monstrous” without and within. In this course, we’ll focus primarily on examples of “terror Gothic” in order to explore mechanisms of cultural and psychological anxiety and repression as these are expressed in British literature from the 18th century to more modern times. We’ll read works by Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle and others; we’ll consider the Gothic dimensions of films and plays influenced by British novels (such as Frankenstein and The Phantom of the Opera); and we’ll consider the evolution of the Gothic in the work of contemporary writers, including Angela Carter, Patrick McGrath, and Diane Setterfield.
ENG 225: Victorian Pop Fiction
Ghost stories, romances, detective fiction, adventure stories, horror stories, science fiction. These literary genres with contemporary mass-market appeal were developed and devoured by a nineteenth-century reading public and continue to inspire modern imaginations. In this course, we will read examples of Victorian popular fiction in the context of literary history and as reflections and critiques of Victorian social fantasies and anxieties about new forms of technology, urbanization, exploration and empire building, the human psyche, changing gender roles, sexuality, and the “other.”
ENG 311: Shakespeare
In ENG 311, we will consider the characteristics of Shakespeare's work that made him respected among his contemporaries and influential to audiences and other writers in succeeding centuries, including our own time. As part of our study of Shakespeare's dramatic productions, we will talk about the culture and ideologies of Renaissance England, as well as Shakespeare's philosophies about human nature and the human condition. We will discuss various critical interpretations of Shakespeare's work and ideas, and their implications for early twenty-first century audiences. We will take advantage of the ongoing cinematic interest in the Bard and consider how the plays are "re-produced" for us moderns. And we will participate in the process of making sense of Shakespeare's texts and his vision of the world by developing readings of our own.
ENG 317: Jane Austen and Eighteenth-Century Culture
This semester, we will read five of Jane Austen’s novels (Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and the uncompleted Sanditon) and one of her shorter fictions (Lady Susan). We will consider these works in the context of the eighteenth-century culture that Austen inherited and will see why Austen is a "cusp" figure, standing on the edge of the eighteenth-century and Romantic periods. Among our topics for discussion will be eighteenth-century novel forms, including the epistolary novel tradition and the Gothic novel; economics and the definition of the middle-class; British imperialism; evolving prescriptions for men's and women's behaviors; and the interest in landscapes, both outer and inner, as these topics are reflected in Austen’s novels.
ENG 318: The Romantics: Rebels and Dreamers
This semester, we will explore what "Romantic" literature meant to the writers who produced it at the turn of the 19th century and to the readers who responded to it. To many, the literature produced was revolutionary in its call for the abolition of slavery, the recognition of women's rights, the righting of class injustices, and the development of what were seen as new literary forms. Other voices responded to such revolutionary calls with amusement or alarm; still others chose to withdraw to imagined worlds. We will consider many different "Romantic" voices and texts to try to determine for ourselves what was important about the period and its literature for its writers and for us as readers two hundred years later.
ENG 318: The Victorians: Work, Dirt, Desire, and Empire
Economic downsizing, obsolescence, poverty, sexual politics, religious crisis, the global economy: descriptions of our contemporary society, yes—but these words also describe the experience of inhabitants of nineteenth-century Britain. In this course we’ll look at Victorian poetry, prose, and fiction to see how writers used the medium of literature to grapple with complex social issues such as the ones we face today. We’ll also explore, as the Victorians did, what role literature could/should play in society. As part of our study of the Victorian period, we will take a field trip to the Delaware Art Museum to view its collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.
ENG 380: Women Writers
ENG 380 is a three-credit course in which we read and discuss older and contemporary literature written by women of different races, ethnicities, and life circumstances. In this course, we will use the lens of feminist theory in its various developments to help us to consider what difference gender makes to a woman's creative process as a writer.
HON 206: Webs and Imagined Spaces: Victorian Lit and Hyperlit
Have you ever wondered whether you think or read differently, depending upon whether you grew up reading books or surfing the Internet? In this course, we'll consider what's different about a story told on a page versus on a computer screen, with possibilities for multimedia interactions. To help us answer this question, we begin with a consideration of fairy tales and their many variations, then move to an examination of nineteenth-century fiction and contemporary hypertext "revisions." Along the way, you'll have the chance to craft your own hypertext fairy tale and collaborate on a group hypertext project.