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Course Descriptions Fall 2015

English Classes (ENG)

ENG 1050        Understanding Literary Language                                                   Curtis, Trout
In this general education English course, students will focus on the craft of reading and understanding texts in a variety of genres such as poetry, fiction, drama, and the essay while developing the technical literary vocabulary required to write about them. Students will learn to perform close readings of texts and should thereby gain a heightened appreciation of connections, patterns and themes. Students will also be introduced to the study of grammar, syntax, and etymology.  As the first of four core courses for undergraduate English majors, this course aims to begin students on a four-year (and ultimately lifelong) path to better, stronger, more critical reading and writing skills.   This semester we will be reading, among other texts, Shakespeare’s Henry V and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

ENG 2000        Critical Reading and Writing                                                                        John
This course is designed to introduce English majors and minors to the nature of critical reading and writing. Students will be exposed to a number of theoretical approaches that they will practice applying to several major literary works. We will also spend the semester cultivating effective, critical writing skills. This is both a reading and writing intensive course. The class will also foster serious critical discussion and effective oral communication. Course texts will include Atonement, Passing, and The Handmaid’s Tale.                      

ENG 3000        Junior Seminar in English                                                                               Trout
(Pass/Fail, 0 credit hours). Prerequisite: Students should be in their Junior or Senior Year.   This requirement for all English majors, though open to English minors as well, is designed to be taken late in the junior year or early in the senior year. Students prepare for their future, considering such issues as preparation for graduate school, teaching, and writing as a profession.  Guest speakers and graduates of the program will help introduce students to a variety of career paths.

ENG 3960        Internship                                                                                                          Overall
The purpose of the writing internship course is to provide practical application of classroom learning in an off-campus professional setting.  Students enrolled in the course are in the process of performing the work of an internship designed and approved the prior semester in collaboration with Dr. Overall, the English Department’s Internship Coordinator.  The number of hours you must complete in your work as an intern at your chosen workplace varies according to the number of credit hours for which you are enrolled: 3 hours Belmont course credit = 8 hours/week (approximately 96 hours total); 2 hours Belmont course credit = 5 hours/week (approximately 60 hours total); 1 hour Belmont course credit = 3 hours/week (approximately 36 hours). Class sessions are devoted to discussions of workplace writing issues and strategies. Students write reflections in which they describe their internship experiences; complete a series of short professional-writing “cases”; and compose and design a digital portfolio with documents they produce on the job. Half of the course grade will be determined from the above assignments while the internship supervisor evaluation will determine the other half. For more information, see http://www.joeloverall.com/courses/ENG3960/

ENG 4900        Seminar in English Studies                                                                               Sisson
In Senior Seminar, you will consider “where you have been” by reflecting on your academic and co-curricular experiences at Belmont and how your study of the Humanities fits into your understanding of the education that you have gained over the past four years. You will also consider “where you are going” by exploring where your path will take you after graduation and how your English major will inform your efforts to “make a life” as well as to “make a living.” You will revisit old writing, write reflectively about your experience as an English major, and write analytically and creatively in response to Jack Gilbert’s The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, and Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. You will also enter into the conversation about the field of English Studies and produce a major research project about your individual future interests.                                                                                                                     

Literature Classes (ENL)
ENL 2110         British Literature I                                                                                                  Yeo
This course witnesses the unfolding of literary history from Medieval to Augustan British Literature (1100-1700), to discover how epic, lyric, drama, and prose evolved into the modern forms we have today. This course will increase your analytical competency and appreciation for subtlety and literary device, but I also hope it will help you to simply enjoy the literature of the past. We will cover a number of historical and cultural contexts, including war, civil rights, class conflict, and intercultural exchange, as well as universal human themes such as violence, liberty, hospitality, love, and sexuality. Assignments in this course will include reading responses, essays, a midterm, and a final exam.

ENL 2210         American Literature I: From the Beginnings to the Civil War              John (online)​  
This course will examine the formation of America’s cultural and literary identity from the colonial period to the Civil War.  We will analyze literary texts in relation to their cultural and historical contexts.  This course expects that students demonstrate not only a knowledge of the historical development of the culture from which these texts come, but also an ability to apply analytical and interpretive skills to the examined texts and contexts through reading, writing, and critical thinking. As this is an online course, students are expected to maintain a vigorous level of self-directed reading and writing.

ENL 2220         American Literature II                                                                                        Trout
American Literature II surveys the development of America’s literature and cultural identity from the Civil War to the present.  We will read the works of authors that are most often placed into convenient “isms”—Realism, Modernism, Postmodernism.   We will identify these movements in America’s literature and question the validity of these handy categories.  The literature of this country will be addressed from a number of historical, social, and critical perspectives.  This course will foster better critical reading, writing, and research skills and encourage thoughtful oral communication.  American Literature I is not a pre-requisite.

ENL 2310         European Literature I                                                                                    Paine
In this course we will discuss major works of European Literature from earliest times through 1650. Much importance will be placed on careful reading of and reflection upon these texts.  We will seek to uncover not only their literary value, but also their contribution to the cultures from which they arose, as well as their relevance to today.

HUM/ENL/ASN 2850 Modern Japanese Literature and Culture                                     Paine
This course will consider a wide variety of Japanese writers of prose fiction and of Japanese cultural practices, from the early twentieth century to the present. They will be discussed in the context of a developing tradition of Japanese and international modernism, as well as in their Japanese cultural and historical context. The aim of this course is not only to introduce students to modern Japanese literature, but especially to use this medium as a window into Japanese culture and sensibilities.

ENL/ENW  3500         History of Language and Linguistics                                                Monteverde
Recognizing that any description of this course is destined to be off-putting, let me begin by stating that ideally this course should make your own language come alive for you as a living entity whose current form is the result of all its childhood experiences and whose future shape though predictable to some extent is also yet to be determined.  We will study the growth of our language from its origin as a descendant of the Indo-European language family in distant prehistory to its current position as the 2nd most widely known language in the modern world.  Tests will be augmented with a variety of assignments, such as a personal language history, designed to help you appreciate the on-going and individual process of change that can be experienced in the study of English. An optional service learning unit can also be taken as part of the course.  While class content is the same for undergraduates and graduates, out of class assignments differ, with graduate students, for example, producing either a teaching unit or researched essay in conjunction with the course.      

ENL 3720         Romanticism in Britain                                                                                        Murray
An in-depth study of the literary movement known as Romanticism with particular focus on the British Isles from 1789-1837.   A major focus of the class will be to analyze the expressions of Romanticism in multiple forms, including poetry, novels, paintings, and music.  Assigned reading will include the poetry of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats; a novel by Jane Austen; and shorter works by writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Walter Scott.  The art of J.M.W. Turner and John Constable and the music of composers from Schubert to Mahler will also be interwoven into the class. Using the critical approaches of New Historicism (Cultural Poetics), Feminism, and Ecocriticism, students will produce studies of the continuing presence of Romantic themes in contemporary culture.

ENL 3880         Gender Studies: Feminist Literary Theory                                                     John
“Re-vision--the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction--is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society. A radical critique of literature, feminist in its impulse, would take the work first of all as a clue to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped as well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name--and therefore live--afresh. […] We need to know the writing of the past, and know it differently than we have ever known it; not to pass on a tradition but to break its hold over us.”

So argued Adrienne Rich in 1971. This course will aim to be both an act of re-vision as well as an exploration of others’ re-visionings. We will explore the major schools of thought within feminist literary theory. We will spend a considerable amount of time reading theoretical works about feminism in relation to issues such as canon formation, genre studies, race studies, individual agency, the politics of writing, and the social construction of identity. We will also spend time applying the theoretical frameworks to our novels. This is a reading intensive course (we will read seven novels and approximately 30 secondary articles), as well as a course that relies heavily on your oral and written participation. ​

ENL 3895         Shakespeare: Selected Comedies and Histories                                           McDonald
This course serves as an upper division elective in the English major and can also be used to fulfill the Single Author requirement.
Note:  To highlight the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (April 23, 2016), the English Department is offering Shakespeare courses in both the fall and spring semesters.  The fall course (described below) will be taught by Dr. McDonald and focus on the comedy and history plays; the spring course will be taught by Dr. Yeo and focus on the tragedies and romances.  For English majors and minors:

You may take either or both courses; both courses can count towards your English major or minor requirements, including the single-author and the upper level hours requirements. 

Professors McDonald and Yeo are currently planning year-long, collaborative projects: a community-based educational project with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival and a research project with the digital Map of Early Modern London. We anticipate having a grand Shakespeare session at BURS in the spring of 2016 involving students from both courses.

This set of two courses is for this academic year only; next year (2016-17) will return to the one-semester Shakespeare: Representative Selections.

In the fall 2015 course, we will begin with Henry V, the August/September Nashville Shakespeare-in-the-Park presentation, and work back through the series of histories that chronicle the formation of England’s model monarch:  Richard II, Henry IV, parts 1 & 2 (with the unforgettable Falstaff).  The histories enable us to explore the interactions among politics, character, social forces, and pleasure—just as we are gearing up for a national presidential election. Comedies will include The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, and possibly one other “problem” comedy (Merchant of Venice or Measure for Measure).  The comedies keep on asking “what’s Love (or gender, or sex, or status, or personality, or family) got to do with it?”  The class format is active discussion, and students will build ability and confidence as readers of Shakespeare through the projects noted above, an individual paper, line quizzes and/or reflective paragraphs, and the seminar final.  

ENL 4380         Advanced Studies in Literature: The Activist Novel                       Gustke
In this course, we will examine the activist novel as a strategy of resistance, defiance, critique, and reform, exploring the way in which these novels demonstrate a wide-range of political protests —some more hopeful than others.  The activist novel affirms that compelling stories can contribute to social change; the genre exposes injustice and maintains that people can choose to lead their lives differently. Seeking to understand how activism is at once culturally oriented and globally connected, readings will be selected from countries such as New Zealand, Afghanistan, Argentina, the United States, South Africa, Romania, and Russia. Novels may include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Land of Green Plums, The Round House, and Waiting for the Barbarians. By the end of the course, students will:

  • Be able to formulate an analysis of the strengths and limits of the activist novel as a genre
  • Identify how activism relates to our contemporary experience of democracy
  • Articulate, through a range of mediums, in revolutionary class discussions and riotous presentations,  the important relationship between activism and the novel

Writing Classes (ENW)

ENW 2430       Intermediate Creative Writing                                                                   McDowell
This course is designed to introduce you to the beginning writing of poetry and fiction.  The course will also be used to develop and foster a community of working writers.  Through workshopping and class discussion of your own work and readings of creative and critical texts, you will learn 1) what makes a poem or story effective to the audience of your choice; 2) how to manipulate your own life experiences, even the small, seemingly insignificant ones, into powerful poems and stories; and 3) how to learn about your own writing through the close reading of your classmates drafts.  This class will set the groundwork for future writing by leading you through the motions of writing, revising, and rewriting.  You will also gain insight into the creative process by reading past and present masters of fiction and poetry.  With this new set of skills, you will be ready to embark on further writing away from class with a basic foundation in how not just to write but how to be a writer. This semester, we will focus on fiction and poetry.

ENW 2510       Art of the Essay                                                                                            Stover, Lovvorn
What is an essay, exactly? You may be relieved and surprised to learn that the genre is far more varied, intimate, and malleable than the reductive five-paragraph structure we have come to call an “essay.” Instead, true to Michel de Montaigne’s notion of the essay, it is a “trial” or an “attempt” to follow the pattern of one’s thinking when examining one’s experiences, observations, and inner life. We will read a wide variety of essay forms (braided, segmented, lyric), along with the distinctly hybrid forms of the imagessay and the video essay.  After reading literary criticism of the genre and essays ranging across time (from Montaigne to David Foster Wallace), students will be responsible both for their own theoretical reflections on the genre and for their own “essais” or attempts at producing the genre.

ENW 3050       Peer Tutor Seminar                                                                                                    Blomeley
Tutoring others in writing heightens our awareness of just how complex the craft of writing is.  No matter how many skills and rules we have mastered, tutoring involves us in human interaction complicated by unarticulated emotions, expectations, biases, and assumptions held by both tutor and writer. In other words, in any given tutoring session we tutors must learn to read more than the text before us. We also learn to read the body language of the student writer; to negotiate silence; to determine the one issue that will most help the student develop as a writer; to gauge the success or failure of the approach we have taken; to recognize our own biases and limitations as writers and tutors; to understand our own writing process; to understand writing processes that differ from our own; and to quickly scan our store of rhetorical prowess . . . all in 30 minutes!
In this course we will unpack all these complications by reading theories, stories, and practical advice from experienced tutors and scholars of writing. As we read and discuss theory, students will also engage in tutoring their peers. Finally, students will write extensively to keep in touch with their own writing processes as they help other writers with theirs. We will share our work in the classroom, gaining even more experience in tutoring by providing feedback, guidance, and support to one another, and by frankly discussing which tutoring strategies work—and which don’t. 

This course is open to Writing Fellows only. Applications for the Writing Fellows program are due to Dr. Blomeley by Friday, April 4. Email sarah.blomeley@belmont.edu for more information.

ENW 3420       Creative Writing: Fiction                                                                                             Finch
In his book, Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern describes a creative writing workshop as a place where “you are learning to articulate your reactions to a story…[while] teaching yourself to look at your own work with the same critical eye.” The ability to critique is not an innate skill, and instead, writers must learn how to analyze a story through practice and instruction. For this class, we will be reading and writing in two forms: flash fiction and the short story. This course strives to accomplish three primary goals: to expose writers to a variety of styles, story shapes, and authors, to encourage the critical examination of both published work and workshop material, and finally, to inspire writers to create a variety of original pieces, working in different points of view and structures, some of which may exceed the boundaries of the writer’s comfort zone. In order to accomplish these goals, you, as the writer, must be willing to try different techniques and exercises, and you must be open to criticism from peers as well as your instructor. The more you are willing to challenge yourself as a writer (and risk failure), the more you will gain from this class. As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

ENW 3570       Professional Writing                                                                                                  Overall
“The medium is the message.” As Marshall McLuhan’s oft-quoted statement suggests, writing is more than merely putting words on a page. How do the forms we choose create meaning? As a class, we’ll investigate this question by writing within a variety of professional genres (grants, pamphlets, websites, Tweets®, reports, etc.) to learn to pay attention to both the form of a message as well as its content. As a Service Learning course, we will be working in partnership with the Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE) to craft documents in support of this organization that help the many immigrants that arrive from war-torn countries all around the world. One early class meeting will involve a trip to the Nashville Airport, and other class field trips may also be involved. In the classroom, we will be learning to use a variety of industry-standard software such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and HTML/CSS code to create the necessary documents for NICE.
For more information on this organization, see: http://www.empowernashville.org

ENW 3590       Writing and Spirituality                                                                                            Pinter
What matters?  What is your story?  How does your story fit, or not, in the larger human story?  We will ask and attempt to answer these questions through various forms of writing, such as spiritual autobiography, creative non-fiction, and multimodal writing.  We will also engage in the classic spiritual practices such of paying attention, keeping silence, and reading.  These practices will provide a container for our own spiritual questions as we write about them.  We will also read from several spiritual traditions, including the following authors: Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, and Barbara Brown Taylor.

ENW 4010       Writing Seminar: Portfolio                                                                                     Stover
Prerequisite: ENG 1010. This course serves as the capstone for students completing the Writing Minor. Students will compile a professional portfolio of their best writing for public exhibition.

Graduate Offerings (Fall 2015)

ENG 5000        Practical Literary Criticism                                                                                       Sisson
We all use some kind of interpretive strategy when we read, view, or listen to texts. One purpose of this course is to make you more aware of the variety of assumptions people make about literary texts and the implications these have for critical reading and writing. This course should help you develop an awareness of reading as a creative act with social and political implications as you practice major critical approaches. In addition, by the end of the course you should have a better grasp on the controversies and tensions (productive and otherwise) that drive the teaching of English as a profession—and should have a familiarity with the critical conversations and research methods required to write a thesis.
We will use two textbooks in order to learn the vocabulary of, and to become familiar with, the various critical approaches we will be exploring. We will also read several (3-4) literary texts over the course of the semester. Through the writing of a number of shorter pieces, you will practice applying these theories and incorporating these critical approaches in your interpretations of these texts. Ultimately you will produce 1-2 longer interpretive readings, which will be further developments of some of your shorter, earlier pieces of writing.

ENG 5810        Readings in British Lit I                                                                                          Monteverde
Readings emphasizing the historical development of British Literature from a broad spectrum of representative works from Old English up to the Elizabethan period. More specifics forthcoming.

ENG 6000        Double Author Seminar—Angelic (Post)Modernism: The Poetry of R. M. Rilke and the Fiction of Don DeLillo.              Paine
Rilke, among the foremost of 20th-century poets, and DeLillo, perhaps the most haunting of (post)modern novelists, challenge us to reconsider our readings of ourselves and of our world. This course offers the opportunity for close examination of Rilke’s poetry, especially Duino Elegies, and for thoughtful reflection on several of DeLillo’s novels and short stories. Angels will play important roles for both authors.

ENG 6100        Genre Seminar: Writing and Trauma                                                                Hodges-Hamilton
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story.     --Maya Angelou
The area of writing and trauma is complex and contradictory for many scholars; however, the genre has gained attention in what Jeffrey Berman calls a “post-traumatic century,” perhaps based on our immediate access to trauma through the internet, social media, and news journalism, as well as the popularity of reality and talk shows that glorify personal pain.  Combine these collective traumas (or testimonies) with more immediate personal traumatic experiences, and it becomes clear why there is a need for more scholarly attention to the subject. 
In this seminar, we will read a variety of theoretical and psychological studies on trauma, writing, and the brain from experts like James Pennebaker and Alice Brand, as well as memoirs like Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, and we will draft our own personal narratives.  Finally, the class will consider how personal and traumatic writing fits pedagogically into an academic writing course.

Graduate Offerings (Summer 2015)

ENG 6000         Single Author Seminar: Faulkner                                                                              Trout             
This single author’s course will offer an intensive study of the life and work of William Faulkner.  We will consider his place in American Modernism and Southern Literature, and his influence on contemporary writers like Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy.  Since this is a concentrated study of one writer, we will look at Faulkner’s major novels, his short fiction, and his interviews.  You will also be required to read secondary scholarship including biography.  The novels will include The Sound and the Fury, Sanctuary, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, The Wild Palms, The Unvanquished, The Hamlet, and Go Down, Moses.  I strongly urge you to begin reading as soon as possible.

ENG 6200        Creative Writing Seminar: The Novel – Plot and Point of View                           Finch
For Creative Writing Seminar: The Novel, we will be examining the structure of the novel – specifically as it deals with point of view and plot. Percy Lubbock says in The Craft of Fiction: “The most important question of method in the craft of fiction is point of view,” and yet, most early novelists feel more concerned with the issue of plot, determining what story to tell and how to structure it. Both craft issues deserve examination and often can only be discussed together. This class strives to expose writers to a variety of points of view, story shapes, and authors, to encourage the critical examination of both published work and workshop material, and finally, to inspire writers to create a variety of original pieces in various points of view and to plot the early stages of a novel.
In order to accomplish these goals, you, as the writer, must be willing to try different techniques and exercises, and you must be open to criticism from peers as well as your instructor. The more you are willing to challenge yourself as a writer (and risk failure), the more you will gain from this class. As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ​​