Undergraduate Courses Summer 2009

Undergraduate Courses Summer 2009

Department of English

Undergraduate Course Descriptions - Summer 2009

 

Summer I

4720: Language Variation in American English 5220: Studies in American Literature: The Language of American Literature
4790: Writing in the Secondary Schools 5400: Contemporary Literature
4800: Teaching Literature in the Secondary Schools 5970: New Play Project

Summer II

4440: Studies in the Novel 4800: Teaching Literature in Secondary Schools
4620: Advanced Writing 5550: Major Authors
Hitchcock and Authorship

 

Summer I

English 4720: Language Variation in American English 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00 - 7:20; Brown 3002
Dr. Paul Johnston

In this course, students learn about the variation in English in North America, and why it exists: the factors, geographical, social, and ethnic that cause dialects to form, to spread, to be sustained or to die out over time, and that a sociolinguistic view, paying attention to how social groupings in American society work and interplay with each other, is necessary for talking about dialect intelligently. We shall also examine the methodology used in studying dialects; the educational implications of dialect variation; and the techniques writers use in representing different dialects in literature, as well as "hot topics" such as language in the African-American community, multilingualism in America, and gender similarities and differences in language forms and use.  Students will be expected to take an essay midterm and final and to do one project of first-hand investigation of dialect variation.

 

English 4790: Writing in the Secondary Schools 
Monday through Thursday, 10:00 - 11:40; Brown 3037
Erinn J. Bentley

English 4790 is designed as a professional resource for upcoming secondary educators.  It will give prospective English teachers some intensive, practical instruction in ways to write and, more importantly, ways to teach writing at the middle and high school levels.

Students will be expected to read, write, and respond in many different ways.  Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in a teaching practicum associated with The National Writing Project.  The concepts of this course are founded in the principles of “best practices in writing” and are designed in accordance with the NCTE English Language Arts “Standards in Practice” Series and the Michigan Department of Education’s Standards for English Language Arts.

 

English 4800: Teaching Literature in the Secondary Schools 
Monday through Thursday, 1:00 - 2:40; Brown 3037
Cheryl Almeda

English 4800 is a capstone course which considers fundamental questions of why and how to teach literature; we will also focus on recent waves of reform, reader response, cultural studies, and the impact of the internet. Using both reader response and cultural studies approaches, we will examine the ways that culture and literature intersect to inform--and transform--our practice. We will use a thematic approach to explore a variety of themes in a problem-posing, student-led format.
Of special emphasis in this section of 4800 are the following: examining the reading process—how effective readers engage texts and use strategies to make the most of their reading experiences; understanding the history, current state, and influence of the English literary canon; examining issues of censorship, and designing curriculum and lessons sensitive to students of diverse abilities and backgrounds.

A variety of technologies are examined in this class: digital storytelling, website creation, wikis, webquests, and podcasting, to name a few.  Guest speakers will include area teachers and administrators.

English 5220: Studies in American Literature 
The Language of American Literature 
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3045
Dr. Lisa Minnick

In the Language of American Literature, we will consider the relationships between linguistics and literature, exploring the functions and effects of literary dialect and other literary-linguistic devices and features in 19th- and 20th-century American literature.

Using computational and other methods, we will explore the ways that literature can add to our knowledge about language use and about linguistic variation and change among real speakers, as well as the ways that a linguistic-analysis approach can open works of literature to new levels of interpretation.

Students will design and conduct an original analysis of literary works applying methods learned in class. Students who are creative writers are encouraged to experiment with the theories and methods of literary-linguistic analysis in relation to their own original texts. No prior knowledge of linguistics, literary stylistics, or computational text analysis is assumed.

Authors whose work we will consider may include Stephen Crane, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Laurence Dunbar, June Jordan, Charles W. Chesnutt, and Wallace Stevens. There will also be extensive reading on theoretical and methodological issues.

For graduate students, this course fulfills the Ph.D. requirement for English language or linguistics course OR for American literature II (but not both); M.A.-level elective.  (Graduate students are advised to check with Dr. Schulman or Dr. Kuchta for confirmation of the American literature II option.)

 

English 5400: Contemporary Literature 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 3048
Dr. Jon Adams

Description (from the Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog):
Readings in representative writers who have come to prominence chiefly since 1945.

We’ll focus this broad description by examining “postmodern” novels and theories of the postmodern.  Many postmodern theorists will claim that the novel is a ‘dead’ genre, all new (and hence, “novel”) ideas and/or stories having been already exhausted.  Novelists of the period appear to disagree.  But because “postmodern,” aside from ‘contemporary,’ is the only far-reaching label commonly used for the period, we “go with what we have,” as Joan Didion writes.  Nevertheless, we will actively contemplate the efficacy of the moniker as a label for the works and their craft, as an aesthetic, and as what Frederic Jameson calls “a periodizing concept”.  Together, we’ll generate ideas about what’s next for writers and the novel, for critics and aesthetics, and, by extension, for the act of reading and the discipline of English studies.

Novels
Cooper, T.                               Lipshitz 6, or Two Angry Blondes
Didion, Joan                            Democracy
Doctorow, E.L.                        The Book of Daniel
Hawkes, John                           Death, Sleep, and the Traveler
Pynchon, Thomas                     The Crying of Lot 49
Robbe-Grillet, Alain                  Jealousy
Swift, Graham               Waterland

Theorist/Theories (short selections from):
Barthes, John                            “The Literature of Exhaustion”
                                                “The Literature of Replenishment”
Baudrillard, Jean                       The Precession of Simulacra
Haraway, Donna                      “The Cyborg Manifesto”
Hutcheon, Linda                       “Historiographic Metafiction”
Lyotard, Jean Francois  The Postmodern Condition
White, Hayden             “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact”
Woods, Tim                             Beginning Postmodernism

 

English 5970: New Play Project 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 - 11:50 and Tuesdays, 8:00 - 10:00; 
Gilmore Theatre Complex 1119
Dr. Steve Feffer


What:
Now in its sixth year, the Western Michigan University New Play Project has developed and presented almost seventy plays over five summers to standing room only audiences in the York Arena Theatre.  Twelve-fifteen short plays will be competitively selected to be developed for a public staged reading in the York in a class with a company of actors and directors from the Theatre Department.  Each play will receive two weeks of rehearsal for the script-in-hand reading.  Additionally, while the playwrights are not in rehearsal on their own plays, they will serve as dramaturgs, stage managers, and, sometimes, actors on the other readings.  Other classroom activities include workshops on other ways that plays are made and activities that examine the new play rehearsal process

When:
Summer I. Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00 AM - 11:50 AM, with public readings and rehearsals Thursdays 8 pm - 10:00 pm.

How:
All interested playwrights or creative writers or theatre artists—graduate and undergraduate—should submit two copies of a completed short play (10-30 pages, standard play format) to the mailbox of Steve Feffer in the English Department office on the sixth floor of Sprau Tower by 5 PM, Friday, March 13.  Between 12 and 15 plays will be selected from among these submissions.  The selected playwrights will then be enrolled in ENGL 5970.

Please note: Playwrights currently enrolled in 3680 or have only taken 3680 (and not 5660 or another New Play Project) are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED by the professors to submit a ten minute play.

Who:
The course will be team taught by Prof. Mark Liermann, Theatre Department, and Dr. Steve Feffer, English Department.

Why:
The course will provide the unique opportunity for playwrights, actors, directors, and dramaturgs to explore the process by which new plays are developed and produced through the rehearsal process, as well as through full company classroom discussions, readings, and devisings.  Plays from the New Play Project have gone on to publication and further local, regional and national productions.

For more information please contact Dr. Steve Feffer at Steve.Feffer@wmich.edu.

 

Summer II

English 4440: Studies in the Novel 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 - 5:20; Brown 2021
Dr. Christopher Nagle

See course catalog or contact instructor.

 

English 4620: Advanced Writing
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:20; Brown 1037
Professor Jason Beaudin

This course is designed to take advantage of the skills you have developed in previous writing courses, and push them even further. This class will focus heavily on analyzing the conventions and requirements of various genres and subgenres of writing with possible applications in both the public and professional fields. The work accomplished here will additionally examine the constantly negotiated relationship between author and audience, along with the critical choices of rhetorical presentation. This class will be primarily concerned with the consideration and production of digital texts, with the intention of both honing critical analytical skills and producing a portfolio of work in these areas.

 

English 4800: Teaching Literature in Secondary Schools 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:20; Brown 3037
Dr. Karen Vocke

English 4800 is a capstone course which considers fundamental questions of why and how to teach literature; we will also focus on recent waves of reform, reader response, cultural studies, and the impact of the internet. Using both reader response and cultural studies approaches, we will examine the ways that culture and literature intersect to inform--and transform--our practice. We will use a thematic approach to explore a variety of themes in a problem-posing, student-led format.
Of special emphasis in this section of 4800 are the following: examining the reading process–how effective readers engage texts and use strategies to make the most of their reading experiences; understanding the history, current state, and influence of the English literary canon; examining issues of censorship, and designing curriculum and lessons sensitive to students of diverse abilities and backgrounds.

A variety of technologies are examined in this class: digital storytelling, website creation, wikis, webquests, and podcasting, to name a few.  Guest speakers will include area teachers and administrators.

For additional information, contact Dr. Karen Vocke at Karen.Vocke @wmich.edu

 

English 5550: Major Authors
Hitchcock and Authorship 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00 - 6:20; Brown 2037
Dr. Casey McKittrick

Although it may seem counter-intuitive to discuss the notions of authorship and authorial vision in a highly collaborative medium like film, cinematic scholarship has been intermittently preoccupied with such a discussion since the early 1950s.  In this course, we will perform a brief historical survey of Auteur theory, from its roots in the Cahiers du Cinema with Francois Truffaut to the American popularization of the theory in the 1960s by Andrew Sarris.  In doing so, we will examine some of the theory’s more provocative and controversial claims: 1) That directors, not screenwriters, are the real “authors” of film; 2) That there are not good and bad films; only good and bad directors; and 3) That successful auteurs have either a consistent theme or a distinctive style that permeates their body of work in an easily recognizable way.

This seminar focuses on the iconic status of Alfred Hitchcock as a director, as a public figure, and as the subject of much auteur criticism, in order to pose and answer some of the following questions:  How did Hitchcock’s early training in German Expressionism and Soviet Montage influence his ideas of filmmaking?  What recurring stylistic techniques and thematic preoccupations constitute Hitchcock’s “thumbprint” or “signature” upon his films?  Does Hitchcock’s “signature” change or evolve over time?  Did Hitchcock’s issues with control hinder or engender his status as auteur?  When contemporary works are described as “Hitchcockian,” what auteurist signifiers are at work in determining cinematic Hitchcock-ness?  Finally, we will ask:  What are the benefits and drawbacks of considering films and filmmakers through the auteurist lens?  What critical blindnesses and insights ensue? 

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER:  Even if you leave this class wholly unconvinced of Auteur theory as a worthwhile theoretical concept, the foundational questions in this class nevertheless have a great heuristic value in that you will become conversant with the fundamentals of film theory and authoritative in matters of Hitchcock, his career, and his aesthetic.

Films:  The 39 Steps (1937); Rebecca (1940); Shadow of a Doubt (1943); Notorious(1946); Strangers on a Train (1951); Rear Window (1954); The Man Who Knew Too Much(1956); Vertigo (1958); North by Northwest (1959); Psycho (1960); The Birds (1963);Marnie (1964).

Texts:  The Art of Alfred Hitchcock, Donald Spoto; The Hitchcock Romance, Lesley Brill;The Murderous Gaze, William Rothman; The Women Who Knew Too Much, Teresa de Lauretis; The American Cinema: Directors and Directions,Andrew Sarris; excerpts fromHitchcock/Truffaut; essays by Francois Truffaut, Alexandre Astruc;  Jean-Luc Godard.

Note: Readers should consider all course descriptions and booklists to be tentative and are encouraged to confirm all times and locations before attending class.

 

 

Department of English
6th floor Sprau Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331 USA
(269) 387-2572 | (269) 387-2562 Fax