Spring and Summer 2016 Topic Courses in Literature

The literature faculty at the University of Maine-Farmington will offer several special topics courses for Spring 2016. Please see below for descriptions of those courses.

Spring 2016 Topic Courses

ENG 277H/01 Emily Dickinson.(Case)

This course will be an intensive study of the work, life, and writing practices of the

poet Emily Dickinson. While grappling with Dickinson’s poems will be the main

focus of the course, we will also investigate her fascinating biography, her unique

approach to publication, and the role of gender and religion in her work and its


No prior experience with poetry required.

Prerequisite(s): ENG 100; for students in CWR, ENG, SEN, or ELE-Language Arts,

ENG 100 and ENG 181.

ENG 377/01 Worlds of the Victorian Novel. (Darrohn)

How do British Victorian novels evoke complex worlds and welcome readers into

them?  How did the diverse kinds of novels that were popular in the Victorian age

enable writers and readers to understand themselves, their minds, their relation

to others, and their place in the world?  We will explore the multifaceted worlds–

physical, social, and, especially, psychological–created in a wide variety of

Victorian novels, such as the sensation novel, the multiplot novel, and the

adventure novel, by some of the following writers: Mary Elizabeth Braddon,

Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, H.

Rider Haggard, Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Bram Stoker.

Prerequisites: For ENG majors following the catalogs of 2014-2015 or later, ENG

300; for all other students, one 200-level ENG literature course.

ENG 377/02   Ancient Epics. (Brown)

A study of four texts in their entirety–Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the

Aeneid–fundamental to the western literary tradition.  We will consider the epic

as a (lost) genre, conceptualizions of epic theory from Aristotle to the present

(Bakhtin, Frye, etc.), and consider various adaptations and subversions of the epic

mode, including the mock-epic.

Prerequisite(s):   ENG 300 or one 200 level course.

ENG 477/01 Popular Genres. (Johnson)

This course investigates the field of popular genres through examples in a variety

of media (fiction, film, television, comic books, etc.) and through critical readings

in the theory of genre, focusing primarily on the western, superhero, zombie, and

romance genres. For each genre we examine, we will be attentive to the

narratives, character types, conventions, and iconography typical of the genre as

well as to innovation and variation in those forms. We will also look at

intersections between the literary and the popular through books by established

literary artists (such as Cormac McCarthy and Colson Whitehead) who adapt the

conventions of popular genres. As we will see, the line between the literary and

popular is a blurry one, as is the line between one genre and another, and as the

semester progresses we will be increasingly interested in hybridized and

experimental approaches to genre. In the later part of the course, students will

develop independent projects that further the exploration of a popular genre,

either building on the genres studied earlier in the course or branching off into

other popular genres (science fiction, fantasy, horror, melodrama, etc.).

Prerequisite(s): One previous 300-level literature course.

ENG 477/02     Jane Austen and Contemporary Culture. (Gunn)

Reading and discussion of four Austen novels (Pride and Prejudice, Emma,

Mansfield Park, and Persuasion), followed by consideration of Jane Austen as a

presence in contemporary American and European culture, not just in the many

film and television adaptations of the novels, but also in texts like Clueless,

Austenland, Lost in Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, young adult novels

based on Austen, graphic texts, parodies, fan fictions, and the like. Students will

have the opportunity to do independent research into these latter phenomena,

following their own interests.  Our goal will be to come to terms with the

explosion of interest in Austen since the mid-1990s and to see this interest in the

context of the reception of Austen’s work since the early nineteenth century.

Prerequisites: One previous 300-level literature course.

Summer 2016 Topic Courses

ENG 277H Jane Austen’s Adolescent Angst (Krueger)

Do you think that you know Jane Austen? If you haven’t read her early writings, you will be surprised at what you will find. Long before Pride and Prejudice was published, Jane Austen had written three volumes of juvenilia (including parodies, poetry, plays, and short fiction), submitted a novel entitled “Susan” for publication (posthumously published as Northanger Abbey), and published a novel (Sense and Sensibility). This course explores Austen’s pre-Pride and Prejudice works in order to give students an understanding of the young, developing writer’s body of work. Readers will encounter a writer who can be immature and sarcastic at times, yet witty and clever at all times. Students will consider both what Austen’s early work shows about the author’s range of style, subject matter, and characterization, and how a look at the younger Austen’s writing produces a full image of the famed writer.

Prerequisite: ENG 100

Published by

Michael K. Johnson

Michael Johnson is Professor of English at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s