2022 Summer Courses


(June 6-July 8)

2370 Intro to Fiction (20)

Strangers, Aliens, and the Other

Dr. Sonya Fritz, online asynchronous

Fiction is an essential part of the fabric of our lives. Stories entertain, comfort, challenge, and convict us—stories tell us who we are. Throughout this semester, we will be reading, discussing, and analyzing fiction in a variety of forms, including short story, novel, sequential art (i.e. comics), and film. In the process, you will be initiated into beginning-level literary study from the perspective of a practitioner of English as a discipline; in other words, we will be focusing on learning how to both read and write deeply, critically, and rigorously. We will address the following questions, among others: How can the elements of a story be understood as working together to communicate greater meaning beyond a basic sequence of events? What kinds of social, cultural, political, and moral values can a story have? How can a work of fiction support a variety of interpretations? How are typical components of fiction, such as characterization, plot, and theme, incorporated and communicated across a variety of media? How can reading stories make us better people?

In particular, the fiction we study during this semester will focus on representations of the Other–people and other beings that come across as profoundly “Not-Me” or “Not-Us.” In the fiction we’re reading, these Others can vary from supernatural monsters to regular human bad guys, from actual extraterrestrial aliens to innocent people who are nothing more than culturally, ethnically, or racially different from those around them. In exploring these portrayals of strangers, aliens, (both literal and figurative) and the Other, I hope we can enrich and expand our perspectives on the world in which we live, and better appreciate how reading and thinking about fiction can impact the way we understand and interact with others.


(May 16-July 8)

1355 Film and Literature (20)

Medieval Legends

Dr. Dwayne Coleman, in-person, TR, 6-9

Welcome to Film and Literature: Medieval Legends. In this course, we will explore films that portray some of the popular narratives from medieval culture, stories about Beowulf, King Arthur, Robin Hood, and legendary Vikings.  We’ll begin by analyzing the literary origins of these legends and compare them with their portrayals in film in order to understand the differing ways in which a common narrative can be told. Along the way, we will also consider the ways in which these legends have adapted not only to a different medium, but also to a different cultural context. Ultimately, we want to arrive at an understanding of narrative modes, the ways in which a story can be told, and the way those modes shape our understanding of a story. Most importantly, though, we’ll get to read and watch a bunch of great stories!

2316 English Literature I (20)

Love, Death, and Honor in Early English Literature

Dr. Katherine Conley, online asynchronous

It’s common to find literature from these periods strange, off-putting, or even downright boring. My goal is to give you the tools to appreciate it and explore the perspectives of people far removed from us in terms of time, but closer to us in their passions, worries, and hopes than you might expect. Authors and audiences centuries ago were invested in many of the same questions that captivate us today, and many of the texts wrestle with issues that are central to the human experience. In this course, we’ll look in particular at how medieval, renaissance, and restoration and 18th century texts explore matters of love, death, and honor:

  • What does it mean to be fully and authentically human?
  • What is the role of a person in society and in their relationships?
  • What do experiences of love look like, and how do they give meaning to our lives?
  • To what extent are the circumstances of our lives and of our world within our control?
  • What is the nature of death?
  • What does an ideal society look like?
  • What is an honorable life? What kinds of ethics should guide our behavior?

Along the way, you will also acquire foundational research and writing skills. You will learn to develop arguments, to support your ideas with specific information from the text, to understand a work in its historical context, to find and incorporate relevant scholarly resources, and to use MLA formatting correctly.

Regardless of what type of career(s) you plan to pursue, reading literature of all kinds is an excellent way to enrich yourself as a human being and live a better life. In other words, this class should be fun, but it will also have practical benefits for you. Interpreting stories is an enjoyable way to gain empathy and learn about other perspectives, to strengthen your critical reading and writing skills, and to practice creative and imaginative thinking.

2319 English Literature II

Gothic Fictions 

Dr. Sonya Fritz, online asynchronous

Gothic fiction has been a vital tradition within English literature since the eighteenth century, providing the bedrock for modern genres such as horror, noir, and paranormal/supernatural narratives. Rooted in the aesthetic and romance of the Middle Ages, the Gothic literary tradition is most recognizable as a body of stories set in grandiose castles or gloomy mansions that revolve around hauntings, murders, and insanity; diabolical tyrants and hapless damsels in distress; family curses and family secrets; the bizarre, the supernatural, and the grotesque. But the Gothic as a genre has a rich and complex history and identity that belies caricature and oversimplification even as it maintains its most familiar tropes. In this course, we will use the lens of the Gothic to study key specimens of literature in every period of English literature from the Romantic to contemporary, and to explore the varied goals each text is working to accomplish through its participation in the genre. The goals of this course are to:

  • Analyze the social, political, cultural, and religious contexts that surround and inform English texts over the course of more than two hundred years, from the late 18th century through the 21st century
  • Explore the interrelations of various texts to one another and to their common English heritage, including the legacies of British imperialism
  • Discover and analyze the treatment of universal themes and issues in various works in order to better compare and contrast writers and their literary periods
  • Hone our skills as practitioners of literary and cultural criticism and we read, think about, and discuss the texts selected
  • Develop our skills as academic writers and researchers through various writing assignments

4335 Senior Seminar (12)

Machines Like Us: Exploring AI in Lit, Film, & Society

Dr. Glenn Jellenik, in person, MW, 6-9

It’s no accident that three of the finest novelists in Britain published works that center artificial intelligence in the last two years (Ian McKewan, Machines Like Me (2019); Jeanette Winterson, Frankissstein (2019); and Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (2021)). The fact is, a subject that used to be on the fringe–territory of speculative and sci-fi writers–has very recently become a central issue for literary fiction. This class will work through a series of recent texts (novels, short stories, and films) that treat AI in order to consider the questions, anxieties, and possibilities that such explorations allow us to rehearse, as literary critics and as human beings.

In doing so, we will consider the ways in which transhuman and posthuman possibilities permit us to rehearse, process, and question what it means to be human, as well as consider if technological advances in our society are forcing (enabling?) us to re-evaluate the driving assumptions of western humanism (you know … the philosophical underpinnings of the Enlightenment).


(June 6-Aug 12)

6307 Seminar in American Lit 1900 to Present

The New Southern Noir in Fiction and Film

Dr. Ty Hawkins, in person, MR, 6-9

Since it emerged in the early 20th century, American noir largely has been an urban, coastal, and Northern phenomenon. Typically, it also has been claustrophobically homosocial and racially homogeneous, producing texts in which white men use first-person narration to write about white men for a reader assumed to be a white man. Against this unlikely backdrop, one of the most intriguing developments in 21st-century American fiction and film is playing out: the blossoming of a new Southern, and typically rural, multimedia noir. Challenges to myriad boundaries animate this new Southern noir, to include innovations in how we think about genre, geography, gender, race, ethnicity, and nation. The new Southern noir is self-consciously insurgent; it critiques and posits alternatives to our polarized Southern political climate, one marked by resurgent white and Christian nationalisms, and strident backlashes to the same. Writers on whom we will focus will include John Brandon, Wiley Cash, Junot Díaz, Gillian Flynn, Cormac McCarthy, Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, and Daniel Woodrell. We also will view adaptations of several of the aforementioned writers’ texts (e.g., the recently released film Arkansas, an adaptation of Brandon’s first novel, and the award-winning adaptations of Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone and McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men).


(May 16-Aug 12)

1320 Interdisciplinary Research and Writing

Mad Science

Professor Kristen Figgins, online asynchronous

Today, we think of science and literature as being very different modes of thinking about the world. Science is concise, unbiased, and factual, while literature is sprawling, messy, and creative. However, the two disciplines are actually very symbiotic, drawing upon one another in many productive ways. In this course, we will investigate how writing and research within the humanities can be deeply interdisciplinary by examining literature that engages directly with science.

3345 Literature and the Examined Life

Sublime Nature and the Ethics of Enjoyment

Professor Kristen Figgins, online asynchronous

In literature, as in life, the environment and animals are often relegated to the background. So, what happens when we begin to think of nature as a protagonist? In this class, we will center nature as our topic of discussion: how we enjoy it, how we are often scared of it, and how it benefits us. We will analyze literature that grants nature protagonist status, beginning in the nineteenth century and ending in the present day. As we do so, we will consider: Do our representations of nature change as our methods of interacting with nature change (e.g. post-Industrial Revolution)? What are the ethical ramifications of our interactions and representations of nature? Perhaps most importantly, what responsibility do we have to our environment and how might literature enable us to understand or even meet that responsibility?