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Introductory Courses

Introductory courses serve as an entry into literature and writing. “Art of” courses introduce genres, close reading, and textual analysis. Two “Art of” courses (LIT 201-206) are required for the Literary Studies concentration.

Guest Writers
Literature 100 Filkins, Mathews
2 credits
This course gives students the opportunity to get to know the work of the authors who are visiting campus as part of the Poetry and Fiction series in a given semester. Course work includes attending the authors’ four public readings, as well as the afternoon master classes offered by each writer, and one preparatory session on each writer, for which students read one of the writer’s works. Students write responses to each of these sessions and complete a final project, which might be a review for the newspaper, an analytical paper, or a story, personal essay, or poem in imitation of one of the writers. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Nature Writing/Writing Nature
Literature 101m Hutchinson
2 credits
This course offers students the opportunity to write personal essays about the natural world while also studying some classic and contemporary nature writers. Regular writing assignments and activities will be complemented by discussion of selected readings by classic and contemporary nature writers. In the tradition of many nature writers, we will occasionally make use of our own “backyard” (in this case, the College campus) as a source for observation, writing, and reflection. At the end of the module, students will submit a portfolio of their work that includes both the informal and formal writing done during the course, a nature journal, a major revision of an earlier piece, and a substantial self-evaluation. Students interested in the sciences as well as the humanities are encouraged to enroll. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S11.
Creative Nonfiction
Literature 106m Hutchinson
2 credits
Creative nonfiction is sometimes called “the fourth genre,” or the literature of reality. It includes various forms of writing based upon personal experience, including personal narratives, personal essays, memoirs, literary journalism, and more experimental lyric or hybrid essays. During the term, students write a series of working drafts, which are then read and discussed in class. In addition, students read and discuss the work of published authors in the field and engage in informal exercises that help to expand their awareness of style, content, structure, and point of view. At the end of the module, students submit a portfolio of their work that includes all of the working drafts, a major revision of one of these drafts, a write-up of an oral presentation on at least one of the assigned writers, a writer’s journal, and a substantial self-evaluation. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S11.
Introduction to Creative Writing
Literature 150 Filkins, Mathews
3 credits
The course will explore the challenges posed by different forms of creative expression, especially, but not limited to, fiction, poetry, and essays. Students will be introduced to the repertoire of strategies—voice, irony, metaphor, style—available to creative writers as they choose a medium in which to express themselves. By looking at selections of contemporary writing in a variety of genres, the students will deepen their critical abilities as well as sharpen their own skills as writers. Unlike more advanced workshops, this course is open to all students, and does not require submission of writing samples.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Modes of Making
Literature 151 Filkins
3 credits
This is a creative writing workshop that uses some of the techniques and strategies of translation to provide students with a unique means of generating material for their writing. While students with at least a year of foreign language study will be encouraged to work directly from the original, no prior knowledge of a foreign language is required. Exercises will include the adaptation of a classical poem to a more contemporary idiom, work on new versions of previously translated poems or stories, the alteration of a text’s voice and imagery to affect its dramatic context, and the creation of original works through imitation. Specific emphasis will be given to stylistic and tonal choices made in the translation process. Completion of the course serves as a prerequisite for advanced writing workshops. No prerequisites.
Last taught F10.
Art of Poetry
Literature 201 Filkins, Holladay
3 credits
“Poetry takes the top of my head off,” said Emily Dickinson, but whatever could she have meant, and what makes a poem a poem? How has the definition and shape of poetry changed over the centuries? How do we listen to poems? How do we speak them, and what do they have to say to us? By fostering the knowledge and skills essential to the understanding of poetry, this course cultivates the sensibilities crucial to a rich and full enjoyment of verse, as well as to help our lives become richer in thought and feeling through reading poems. By placing classic poems side by side with contemporary poems, we will examine what they share, what they do not, and just how they ask us as readers to inhabit “imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F09.
Art of the Short Story
Literature 202 Hutchinson, Mathews
3 credits
Frank O’Connor once wrote that an inferior writer could still be a great novelist, but that no inferior writer could ever be a great storyteller. After touching on the roots of storytelling in fable, parable, and tale, we will focus on the work of major storytellers (a.k.a. short story writers) of the 19th and 20th centuries, exploring their contributions to the ongoing evolution of this literary genre. Writers studied include Poe, Hawthorne, Chekhov, Joyce, Mansfield, Kafka, Hemingway, O’Connor (Flannery), Borges, and Munro—as well as new voices from Jhumpa Lahiri to Junot Díaz. Although this is a literature course and not a course in writing fiction, students planning to major in creative writing will benefit from the discussions of literary craft and exposure to the broad range of writers and stories. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F11.
Art of the Novel
Literature 203 Mathews, Rodgers
3 credits
According to one contemporary author, all novelists share a single goal, “to create worlds as real as but other than the world that is.” Free to tell us what might happen, what might have happened, or even what couldn’t happen “once upon a time,” novelists help us understand the social, political, intellectual, and emotional frameworks shaping what did happen. This course examines the worlds of novelists from the 17th to the 20th centuries whose works both embody their individual visions of what the novel can be and do and offer examples of a range of novelistic forms, such as the romance and anti-romance, the Gothic, science fiction, realism, naturalism, impressionism, surrealism, and stream of consciousness. Most recently, students read novels and novellas by Cervantes, Fielding, Austen, Mary Shelley, Balzac, Zola, Dostoevsky, Mann, Kafka, Ford Madox Ford, Joyce, and Woolf. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F10.
Art of Literary Analysis
Literature 204 Fiske
3 credits
This course acquaints the student with ways of thinking and writing about literature at the college level. The class reads and discusses poems, short stories, and at least one novel as a means of introducing the formal study of literature and the disciplines of contemporary critical analysis. Attention is also given to various modern and contemporary critical approaches and their underlying assumptions. Frequent short papers, an oral presentation, and a survey of critical responses to an assigned text constitute the main course requirements. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S11.
Art of Autobiography: Textual Constructions of Identity and Culture
Literature 205 Browdy de Hernandez
3 credits
In this introductory literature course, we will read a series of contemporary personal narratives in prose, poetry and graphic memoir formats from different cultures and geographic regions, including the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and China, exploring the various ways the self is textually constructed across a range of cultural contexts. We will use these texts as springboards for literary analysis, as well as inspirational prompts for students’ own autobiographical writing. Texts will include autobiographies by James McBride, Marjane Satrapi, Lijia Zhang, Joy Harjo and Dara Lurie, among others. Weekly response journals, a midterm and a final paper will be the primary assignments. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S12.
Art of Film
Literature 206 Burke
3 credits
Starting with some of the earliest examples of motion pictures dating back to 1895, this course examines a selection of films that are significant in the development of cinema as an art form. We will investigate the various ways in which the artistic impulse found a place in this new medium, including avant-garde and experimental works, as well as the narrative form as realized in such acknowledged masterpieces as Citizen Kane and Vertigo. In conjunction with the viewing of these films, the class will examine and discuss a number of significant essays on the nature of art and cinema. Through close analysis of film sequences, as well as through discussion and readings of film theory and criticism, the class will seek to develop critical viewing skills, an understanding of cinematic structure, and an appreciation of cinema’s place in the Arts.
Last taught F10.
Art of Drama
Literature 207 Rodgers
3 credits
This course examines drama as a literary genre and mode of artistic expression as it has evolved from the 5th century BCE to the present. Readings will include both plays and theoretical statements that span centuries, countries and cultures and introduce students to categories such as tragedy and comedy, epic and poetic drama, realism, naturalism, expressionism, surrealism, existentialism and absurdism. Writers and works will vary each time the course is taught. This semester, they will include Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes and Seneca; The Wakefield Master; Kyd, Marlowe, Shakespeare and Jonson; Calderon and Sor Juana de la Cruz; Moliere and Racine; Wycherly and Behn; Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg and Shaw; Pirandello, Brecht and Beckett.
This course is offered once every two years. Last taught S12.