Course DescriptionsEngl 100: Exposition and ArgumentEngl 101: English for International StudentsEngl 200: Literary StudiesEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Language, Form, InspirationEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Crime FictionEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Utopian/ Dystopian LiteratureEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Into the WildEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Banned Books and Novel IdeasEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Horrible Husbands and Wicked WivesEnglish 200: Literary Studies--Innocence and ExperienceEngl 231: Film AestheticsEngl 300: Introduction to Professional WritingEngl 301: Introduction to Creative WritingEngl 310: Introduction to Technical WritingEngl 321: Intermediate CompositionEngl 365/565*: Studies in American LiteratureEngl 380/ 580*: Topics in WritingEngl 386: Internship in EnglishEngl 389: Teaching English to Speakers of Other LanguagesEngl 390/590: Topics in LiteratureEngl 396/596: Traditions of Giving and Serving in American LifeEngl 400: New Literacies, Cultures, and Technologies of WritingEngl 401: American Literature 1English 402: American Literature 2Engl 405/505*: Masterpieces of World LiteratureEngl 408/508: Methods of Literary Criticism and ResearchEngl 409/509: Literature of the Medieval PeriodEngl 410/510: ShakespeareEngl 420/520: Literature of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth CenturiesEngl 423: Short Story WritingEngl 424: Poetry WritingEngl 425: Creative NonfictionEngl 430/530: Literature of the Restoration and Eighteenth CenturyEng 431: Advanced CompositionEngl 441/541: History of the English LanguageEngl 442/542: Modern English GrammarEngl 443/543: Introduction to LinguisticsEngl 450/550: British Literature of the Nineteenth CenturyEngl 456: The NovelEngl 460/560: Twentieth-Century DramaEngl 470/570: Twentieth-Century FictionEngl 475/575: Twentieth Century PoetryEngl 478: Literature for ChildrenEngl 479/ 579: Literature for AdolescentsEngl 481: Cooperative Education in English 1Engl 482-483: Cooperative Education in English II-IIIEngl 489: The Teaching of EnglishEngl 491: Seminar in Professional WritingEngl 492: Seminar in WritingEngl 493: Seminar in EnglishEngl 495*: Independent Study in EnglishEngl 497: Honors Work in EnglishEngl 498: Honors Candicacy in EnglishEngl 609: Theory and Practice of Expository WritingLS 610: Seminar in HumanitiesEnglish 610: Studies in Nineteenth-Century British LiteratureEngl 615: Shakespeare and His ContemporariesEngl 635: Studies in American Literature

Professor Sponberg, fall 2009, section B, MWF 8:00-8:50 a.m.     

I’m interested in the reasons people choose to become writers and in the ways writers try to analyze and control their creative processes. This course explores the relationship between the evolution of the English language, the major forms of literary expression (drama, poetry, fiction), and the dynamics of the human imagination.

For the last 150 years, Western societies have regarded the autonomous writer as the most inspiring (or dangerous) example of our highest values. Especially in Europe and America writers are often seen as profound social critics embodying democratic principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This course asks: Is this sort of adulation warranted?

When we examine the last 1000 years, though, the evolution of the writer’s place in society seems more complicated. Two long-term dynamics “set the menu” for writers: the evolution of the language they choose to write in and the birth and death of forms of story-telling. Writers have very little control over either. At the same time, the individual human imagination seems to function most creatively when “boxed in” by limits on its freedom. Can we give a rational explanation of this paradoxical relation between freedom and loss of control?

To help us find answers to these questions, we’ll begin with a glance back to Aristotle’s “theory” of Tragedy as an early Western example of trying to analyze the creative process. Then, we’ll pick up the story of the English language and, throughout the term, follow its evolution up to our own time. Finally we’ll focus on writers who are often credited with “changing” the art of writing but who also inherited much that they could not change. Our main texts will be provided by Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Fanny Burney, William Wordsworth, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglas, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur Miller, and Louise Erdrich.

Quizzes, mid-term and final exans, two short essays, and a 3,000-word paper form the work of the course.