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Our seminars in creative writing are workshops that focus on the development of poetic craft with the goal of producing a portfolio of poems. We encourage students to complement their literary and critical theory studies by taking the creative writing seminar. The department is committed to developing additional offerings, such as fiction writing, in the creative writing seminars.Critical Theory
This course builds on the breadth provided in "Introduction to Critical Theory and Literary Studies” by focusing on specific theoretical perspectives, such as feminist theory, ecocriticism, or post-colonial theory. Examples of theorists students have studied include Said, Cixous, Derrida and Lacan. Within the context of this class, students develop a prospectus for their capstone senior seminar project.Literature
Building on the historical range of the surveys, and the theoretical base of the criticism classes, these seminars provide in-depth study of broad themes or specific topics in literature. Some courses our English majors have taken advantage of include:
The Work of the Theatre
When we go to the theatre, we go for the "play.” But what of those who put together that "play,” the writers, the directors, the actors, the stage managers, those who design sets, etc., do they work or do they play? How do we understand the endeavor of make believe? This class will explore the concepts of the "play” and work during the early modern period in England. Readings will include plays that either explicitly or implicitly examine the work of creating illusion, such as Shakespeare’s plays Midsummer’s Night Dream, The Tempest, and Hamlet. We will compare Shakespeare’s understandings with those of some of his contemporaries. We will read Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist and Epicoene, as well as Beaumont and Fletcher’s Knight of the Burning Pestle. We will visit the debates about the "work” of the theater in the creation or destruction of virtue, as well as issues concerning the "business” of theater. The class will include presentations by those working in the theatre and field trips to working theatres both on and off campus.
The Romance of the Individual
In many ways, the rise of the modern world coincided with the rise of the concept of the individual. Students in this class will read texts composed during the height of our love affair (roughly, the 19th century) with the idea that each person’s life, no matter how lowly, is worthy material for art and that an artist’s own vision and the unique expression of it is just as valuable as adherence to artistic convention for convention’s sake. Texts for this class will include Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, David Copperfield, The Scarlet Letter, Frankenstein, the poetry of Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Mallarme, and the Ibsen play A Doll’s House.
Americans are a people defined by movement. With a history profoundly influenced by the mass migration of Americans westward in the 18th and 19th centuries, the United States remains a country where people are constantly on the move in search of better work opportunities and living conditions. Although many Americans have made the conscious decision to journey to new places to start new lives, many have been forced to begin anew because of economic or environmental conditions. Hurricane Katrina, for example, scattered people from the Gulf Coast throughout the United States by forcing a mass migration comparable to no other event in American history. Our discussions in this course will focus on narratives about Americans making the passage to new places and the implications of those journeys. Among the texts we will read are Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, thie diem thuy le’s The Gangster We are All Looking For, and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.