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Take a look at our Returning an item help page for more details. Offered annually. Main topics include the essentials of narrative form plot, character, voice, perspective as well as their different functions aesthetic, social, cognitive.


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Discussions will explore a wide range of issues including the power of narrative closure; the narrative representation of the individual mind; how narrative patterns time; the development of realism across the history of the novel; the practice of narrative in psychology and medicine; and the ethics of narrative engagement. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or the requirement for the major.

It is open only to first-year and sophomore students. An introduction to the major plays, this course emphasizes questions of language and modes of reading as the entryway into key themes and topics e. An initial in-depth study of a single play will enable us to acquire a base knowledge of rhetorical strategies, considerations of performance and thematic development that we will subsequently apply to our readings of other plays.

Assignments reinforce reading and writing strategies. There is a growing sense among both literary and journalism scholars that the line between what is fact and what is fiction is blurred consistently within U. This blurring is especially challenging in journalism, which is ostensibly charged with reporting the factual, verifiable "truth.

The course will be divided into two units, one in which we explore the ways in which U.

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Undergraduate English Courses

We will also address and evaluate the influence of "citizen journalism," and of new media on journalistic practices. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or the post requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL or and permission of instructor. We will read the most important works written in Middle English by women, placing these in the context of continental traditions of women's writing. Our readings will range across time, space and genre: from the letters exchanged by history's most famous ill-fated lovers Abelard and Heloise , to some of the most sophisticated works of theology produced in the Middle Ages by Julian of Norwich and Hildegard von Bingen , to the first autobiography in English, in which a married mother of 14 travels around the world on pilgrimage, challenging clerics and stirring up trouble along the way The Book of Margery Kempe.

We also will read writing by women in lesser-known genres: purgatory vision letters, parenting manuals, as well as some of the advice and conduct literature written by men that shaped expectations of female behavior. Most texts will be in modern translation, with a few short pieces in Middle English no previous experience expected. Chaucer's final great work profound, moving, sometimes disturbing, often hilarious can be considered both a medieval anthology and a framed, self-referential narrative anticipating modern forms and modern questions.

Reading in Middle English and exploring the social and historical contexts of Chaucer's fictions, we will pay special attention to Chaucer's preoccupations with the questions of experience and authority, the literary representation of women, the power of art and the status of literature itself. Tolkien was not just a beloved novelist but also a distinguished scholar who edited, translated and analyzed medieval poetry including "Beowulf", "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales.

In this vein, our reading of medieval texts will pay particular attention to "popular" genres such as purgatory vision narratives, romances and drama. While our reading will primarily focus on the medieval narratives that inspired Tolkien, there will be occasional student-led opportunities to connect this medieval material to Tolkien's own fiction and poetry. From the invention of Valentine's Day, to the notion of love as a sickness, to the articulation of courtship as a game with specific rules, many of our ideas about and expectations for romantic love come to us from medieval literature.

Yet in the popular medieval genre of adventure story known as "romance," things do not always go according to love's rules: Men fall in love with other men, women resist getting married, and married women seduce their unsuspecting houseguests. In this course, we will explore the complex messages about love and sex encoded in medieval romances.

Our readings will include poetry by Geoffrey Chaucer, the anonymous romances "Roman de Silence" and "Amis and Amiloun", Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun's "Romance of the Rose", and the rules of love offered by both Ovid and Capellanus, and other medieval texts as well as contemporary works of theory and criticism.

Undergraduate English Courses | English | UMass Amherst

This course examines the profound cultural matrix that shaped the golden age of English literature. The course will focus on nondramatic poetry, especially that of Sidney, Shakespeare and Spenser, with attention to the development of the Renaissance lyric and the Renaissance conception of the vocation of poet. The sonnet will be studied extensively in relation to gender and love relations, and to the cult of the individual. We also will examine the origins of Elizabethan drama and the relation of emblem, allegory and spectacle to Elizabethan drama and epic.

How does Elizabethan literature represent, celebrate and critique the power relations found in Renaissance social institutions? Using contemporary critical and cultural theory, we will analyze the roots of Elizabethan nationalism, the emergence of London as a central literary milieu, and the iconic dominance of Queen Elizabeth in the literary and cultural landscape of the late 16th century.

Offered two of every three years. This study of the Renaissance poem opens up a delicate world of intensely structured language. We will develop strategies of micro- and macro-reading for understanding how sparks of meaning lattice across a poem to create a whole effect: we will see how a single letter can change everything, how much a single word can do, a single line, a stanza within a poem, an entire sonnet within a series of sonnets. We will explore ways poems draw us into their worlds by transforming us into the "I" of the lyric speaker, by articulating our own emotions in a beautiful and intricate arrangement of words designed to amplify or soothe.

Fall 12222

In the light of early modern poetic studies as well as contemporary methodologies e. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or the pre requirements for the major. When T. Eliot declared that there had been a disassociation of sensibility that set in after the early 17th-century metaphysical poets, he was deliberately claiming a connection between his own work and the writing from this earlier period that he admired.

This course will investigate this affinity between early modern literature and the literature of the 20th century. In the process, we will consider the importance of early modern literature in forming the critical taste and formalist methods of reading that were central to the New Criticism. This counts toward the pre and 20th century requirements for the major. We will begin this course by spending several weeks on Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" examining in passing another work of the 18th century inspired by "Gulliver's Travels", "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen".

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Satire is one of the predominant forms of the 18th century and finds its grotesque complement in the graphic arts. We will study various examples of visual satire -- notably the "progress" narratives of William Hogarth. We will examine the emergence of the novel in this period, focusing on its multi-generic character.

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Periodical literature first appears in the long 18th century. We will explore the phenomenon of spectatorship in this period in relation to the institution of the masquerade, the science and philosophy of empiricism, and the rise of the penitentiary and systems of surveillance.

This counts toward the requirement for the major. This course presents a survey of 18th-century literature from Jonathan Swift to such writers of the s and early 19th century as Mary Wollstonecraft, Olaudah Equiano and Maria Edgeworth. Early 18th-century literature is dominated by satirical works that ostensibly aim at reform through ridicule, even while the great satirists doubt that such an aim can be achieved. Beginning in mid-century, the literary movement of sentimentalism and sensibility rejects the satirical impulse and embraces sympathy, immediacy and the "man of feeling.

These ideals include progress, secularism, universal rights, the systematization of knowledge and the growth of liberty through print and education. Through an examination of works in a variety of literary genres prose and verse satire, periodical essay, novel, tragedy, comedy, descriptive and lyric poetry, and travel writing , the course will introduce students to such authors as Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke and Thomas Gray.

This course will focus on the lyric poetry of the Romantic period, from William Cowper to John Keats. In this course, we shall investigate two central claims: first, that Romantic poetry is not simply nature poetry but rather philosophical poetry about the interrelationship between natural objects and the human subject; and, secondly, that Romanticism develops a notion of aesthetic autonomy out of very specific political and historical engagements.

Her question was echoed by many other writers throughout the 19th century, nonetheless -- or all the more -- a great age for literary women.

Writing Between Cultures: A Study of Hybrid Narratives in Ethnic Literature of the United States

This course will introduce major writers of the Romantic and Victorian periods, exploring the relationships between their lives and works, and examining issues such as women as readers; the education of women; the changing roles of women in the home, in the workplace and in the community; the growth of the reading public; and the gendering of authorship. We will consider relations between genres as we read fiction "Gothic" and "realistic" novels , poetry, letters, journals, biography, autobiography and essays on education, travel, literature and politics.

This counts toward the or approaches to literary study requirements for the major. The modernists, writing between and , tried in various ways to make literature newly responsive to the movements of a rapidly changing modern world. Alienated by the upheavals of modernity, or inspired by modern discoveries and developments in psychology, technology and world culture, modernist literature reflects new horrors and traces new modes of insight.

Experimental, often difficult and shocking, modernist literature pushes language to its limits and tests the boundaries of art and perception.


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This course studies the nature and development of modernist literature, reading key texts in the context of the theoretical doctrines and cultural movements that helped to produce them. The key texts include poetry and fiction by T. The secondary material includes essays, paintings and manifestoes produced at the moment of modernism, as well as later criticism that will help explain what modernism was all about.

This counts toward the post requirement for the major. This course will survey two centuries of "Irish Classics" by reading, in translation, poems and narratives from the vibrant Gaelic literary tradition and by returning to their Irish milieu a number of classic texts that have been conscripted into the canon of "English Literature. We will read a bawdy Irish epic once banned in Ireland, analyze early lyrics by W. Yeats, consider Joyce's "Dubliners", and conclude with some rousing examples of the Irish political ballad. Offered every other year.