Fall 2018 ENGH 400: Vikings, Knights, and African Kings: Race and History in the Nineteenth-Century US
Professor Samaine Lockwood
Nineteenth-century Americans were obsessed with history. And every story they told about the past had something to do with their other grand obsession: race. In this course we will explore how nineteenth-century American writers and artists worked out their ideas about race and racial inheritance, about whiteness and blackness, about the present and the future, through their use of history. Early in the century, white readers could not get enough of Sir Walter Scott’s historical romances, many of them set in medieval times. Young white boys across the country read tales of King Arthur and, as adults, joined all-male organizations, many of them modeled on supposedly medieval codes of conduct. By late century, bohemian women writers and artists began to use the figure of the medieval knight to re-think gender identities and social-sexual practices. Mid-century, white New Englanders became interested in the idea that the Viking, Leif Erikson, had reached the new world before Christopher Columbus and that the place where a settlement was attempted—Vinland—was somewhere on the northeast coast. They created poems, short stories, sculptures, and paintings about Vikings in an effort to imagine an alternative discovery narrative for the na-tion, one that, by late in the century, sought to upend claims made by recent Italian immigrants who saw in Christo-pher Columbus an important story about their own right to national belonging. And in the latter half of the nine-teenth century, in an age of widespread terrorism against blacks, African American writers retold the histories of ancient Ethiopia and Egypt for a readership hungry for narratives about black history and civilization. We will read a range of literary works, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and we will also consider works of art and popular culture. With the exception of a few well-known authors such as Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, we will study lesser-known writers. Students will complete an extended research project that will include work at the Library of Congress.
Spring 2019 ENGH 400: Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern England
Professor Urvashi Chakravarty
In this course, we shall read a number of early modern texts alongside recent work on gender, sexuality and queer theory to address a series of questions: how are our understandings of gender and sexuality historically constructed and contested? How do we (re-) conceive of the role of acts or identities in articulating gendered, embodied and/or sexualized selves? How might the field of early modern studies not only respond to but also inform work in queer studies? And how might these intersections cast new light on critical studies of race and transnationalism; temporality and historicity; religion and theology; form and philology; materialisms and ecocriticism; class and capitalism; family and kinship? Readings in early modern literature will include works by Shakespeare, Marlowe and Donne; we shall also read foundational work in the fields of gender, sexuality and queer studies by Butler, Foucault, Halperin and Laqueur alongside more recent criticism in early modern studies by DiGangi, Masten, Sanchez, Traub and others.
Spring 2019 ENGH 401: Honors Thesis Writing Seminar
Prerequisites: permission of department and ENGH 400. This course gives students who wish to write an Eng-lish honors thesis guidance in research methods, while offering the opportunity to share works in progress in a workshop format. Theses of about 20-25 pages in length are written under the supervision of the instructor and a faculty mentor with expertise in the thesis area. Students may take the thesis seminar concurrently and in coordination with another approved course offered by the English Department. In this case, the instructor in that course serves as thesis reader and advisor. Students choosing this option receive credit for the thesis seminar and second course; however, thesis work may substitute for some assigned work in the second course by arrangement with the instructors of both the thesis seminar and second course. Please contact the instructor during the fall semester if you have any questions about what might constitute a topic for the the-sis.
Note: BA students with a concentration in Creative Writing may substitute ENGH 495 for ENGH 401 with per-mission of the instructor and Honors coordinator.
ENGH 402: Honors Independent Study
Prerequisites: permission of department and ENGH 400. Students in the BFA program can take an independent study in the either the fall or the spring semester. Applications are available in the main office, Robinson A487. These must be completed, including signatures by the faculty advisor and the English Honors coordinator, before students can enroll.