English and Writing Program Course Descriptions - Spring 2021

Spring 2021 Course Descriptions
English Program and Writing Program
Penn State Abington 
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ENGLISH MAJOR REQUIREMENTS:

Traditions of Innovation

  • ENGL 200 or 201: ENGL 201
  • Medieval through Sixteenth Century: ENGL 455
  • Sixteenth Century through Eighteenth Century: ENGL 455
  • The Nineteenth Century: 
  • Twentieth Century to the Present: ENGL 400, ENGL 403 
  • Literature, Writing, or Rhetoric: ENGL 050, ENGL 133, ENGL 142N, ENGL 170N, ENGL 182A, ENGL 211, ENGL 212, ENGL 215, ENGL 221W, ENGL 224N, ENGL 400, ENGL 403, ENGL 412, ENGL 415, ENGL 420, ENGL 455 
  • Diversity: ENGL 455, ENGL 403
  • Senior Seminar: ENGL 487W

Writing and Literature in Context

  • ENGL 200 or 201: 201
  • Pre-1800: ENGL 455
  • Post-1800: ENGL 400, ENGL 403 
  • Literature, Writing, or Rhetoric: ENGL 050, ENGL 133, ENGL 142N, ENGL 170N, ENGL 182A, ENGL 211, ENGL 212, ENGL 215, ENGL 221W, ENGL 224N, ENGL 400, ENGL 403, ENGL 412, ENGL 415, ENGL 420, ENGL 455 
  • Diversity: ENGL 455, ENGL 403
  • Senior Seminar: ENGL 487W

WRITING MINOR COURSES: ENGL 050, ENGL 211 (REQUIRED), ENGL 212, ENGL 215, ENGL 412, ENGL 415, ENGL 420 (REQUIRED)
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ENGL 50: Introduction to Creative Writing (GA)
Professor Thomas Heise
 
Want to write, but aren’t quite sure how to get started or what to write about? This course is meant to ignite your interests, hone your skills, and introduce you to the foundational elements of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction so as to set free your imagination. You will learn to craft images, music, lines, and narrative in the poetry we practice. In fiction, you will learn how to create characters, develop themes, modulate tone and atmosphere, plot a conflict, and manipulate setting. And you will learn to translate and reconstruct personal experience, memory, and research into arguments, scenes, and narratives for creative nonfiction. Along the way, our conversations will turn to the writing and revision process, to why one writes in the first place, and to age-old inexhaustible questions, such as, what are the functions and purposes of poetry, short story, and the essay, what is the difference between truth and fact, and what are the ethics of writing about our own lives and the lives of others. In this course, you’re a writer. And that means you will be writing all the time in an exercise of imagination and perseverance. ENGL 50 welcomes all students interested in creative writing: no previous creative-writing experience is necessary.

 

ENGL. 050: Introduction To Creative Writing (GA, Second Seven-Week Session)

Professor Jimmy J. Pack Jr. 
 
In our Introduction to Creative Writing class, we will explore our artistic sides by playing with language, plot, history, and character through the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, scriptwriting, and poetry. Two concepts to keep in mind while you work on your writing: that writing is mostly the act of revision, and that all writers start out by imitating those writers they love the most. You will be given ample time to revise your work, and we’ll spend half of our class time reading the work of established writers (Toni Morrison, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Raymond Carver, John Keats, Anne Sexton, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, W.B. Yeats, Thomas McGuane, Zora Neale Hurston, Ray Bradbury, and John Guare, among others), and the other half of class time in a workshop environment where students submit their work to a class critique. Our workshops will be run in a civil, encouraging manner meant to assist each writer with revising their writing. We will all be working as a team to create publishable works of art.

 

ENGL. 133: Modern American Literature to World War II

 Professor Linda Miller   
 
This course will focus on the American expatriate writers whose experimental art emerged triumphant during the 1920s, the heyday of Modernism in France.  We will assess the art (writing and painting) and the relationships (both professional and personal) among F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other American artists who, following World War I, had come to France and then stayed the decade.  These artists gathered in Paris and on the French Riviera, particularly at Gerald and Sara Murphy’s Villa America, where they collectively helped to shape American modernist art.  The reading and class discussions will emphasize works by Fitzgerald and Hemingway, along with selections from experimental writer Gertrude Stein, modernist poet Archibald MacLeish, and such New Yorker writers as Dorothy Parker.  Our assessment of this art in its historical, biographical, and cultural contexts will include a class trip to the Barnes Foundation to see the modern art brought back from Paris to Philadelphia during this time.  This class will be conducted as a kind of literary “salon” reminiscent of 1920s Paris, where those with creative minds and spirits gathered to redefine their world through their art.

 

ENGL 142N: Science in Literature (Interdomain)

Professor Karina Vado

In May 1959, C.P. Snow, an English novelist, and chemist delivered a now-famous academic lecture on “The Two Cultures,” in which he declared that the “intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups.” These two groups, the “literary intellectuals” and the “scientists” are engulfed, according to Snow, by “mutual incomprehension,” “hostility and dislike” but “most of all lack of understanding.” Indeed, he tells us, the two cultures “have a curious distorted image of each other.” Modern-day headlines such as “Humanities aren't a science. Stop treating them like one” and “Why Science Will Never Replace the Humanities” attest to the continuing relevance of Snow’s view of a deep-seated antagonism between the humanities and sciences. Yet what factors led to these disciplinary distinctions? Are the sciences and humanities as rigidly polarized as Snow made them out to be? In this course, we will attempt to answer these questions by critically interrogating the relationship between science and literature, past and present. To focus our discussion and course readings, we will be primarily engaging key texts and developments in the history of biology alongside science fictional treatments of biological theories/concepts (ex. evolution, genetics, the “modern synthesis,” DNA, genetic engineering, cloning, etc.) 
Possible texts include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frederick Douglass’s “The Claims of the Negro, Ethnologically Considered,” excerpts from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, various influential works of anti-racist science and scientific racism, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, José Vasconcelos’s La Raza Cosmica/The Cosmic Race, Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis, excerpts from Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene and E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia, Raquel Cepeda’s Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, and selected episodes from the popular television series Orphan Black and Watchmen.

 

ENGL. 170N: Introduction To American Folklore (Interdomain)

Professor Jimmy J. Pack Jr. 
 
“Folkloristics” is the study of folklore that records and analyzes the traditions of people in terms of the form, manner, and content of the traditions. In our class, we will study the oral, customary, and material folk traditions of the United States. We will pay close attention to the oral/custom-related traditions of all regions of the United States, tracing the creation and the consistent passing by word-of-mouth storytelling, or through the sharing and singing of songs, in order to discuss how these traditions helped the U.S. develop into the nation, we currently inhabit. We’ll read of heroes, boosters, jesters, liars, and legends, as well as listen to music, and rhymes, and view artworks that capture U.S. folklore. We’ll also utilize class time to reflect on those folktales that shaped us into the people we are, as well as work on developing our own folktale as members of the Penn State Abington community.

 

Engl 182A: Literature and Empire (Interdomain)

Professor Alisha Walters

In this course, we will read a variety of literary works emerging from countries that were once part of the British Empire. Often, authors writing from colonized spaces engage in a process of “writing back,” or referencing--and challenging--the literary traditions of the imperial, colonial nation, and in this course, we will read and investigate the literary works of writers engaged in this process of “writing back” to the empire. We will read and analyze texts to see how authors from these former British colonies set about defining personal and national senses of self in the wake of the empire. We will closely examine the complicated questions of gender, ethnicity, and nationality that arise in the imperial context, and we will also interrogate the complex identity questions of who is “self” and who is “other” in the postcolonial context.

 

ENG 201: What is Literature?
Professor Charles Archer

What is literature? What makes a work “literary,” and what are some of the characteristics that allow a text to gain admission to our literary canon? This course addresses those questions, and it does so by focusing on genre (poetry, plays, and prose) and by looking at texts through major theoretical lenses. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the major theoretical schools and their historical contexts and will be able to apply those theories to works of literature and to culture more broadly. This course is broken down into three units, each of which includes four weeks of lecture and discussion writing followed by one major essay assignment. Readings include selected works by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Willam Shakespeare, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Sojourner Truth, and others.

 

ENG 211: Introduction to Writing Studies

Professor Zack De Piero

In recent years, “Writing Studies” has become synonymous with the composition/rhetoric field and its expansive interest in investigating the production, consumption, and distribution of texts.  At times, Writing Studies has also been used to refer to other disciplines that take a similar interest in studying writers, readers, texts, and textuality such as English/literature, linguistics, and education.  For our purposes, though, Writing Studies will take up the goals of the composition/rhetoric field. 

In this course, we will step into the role of an emerging Writing Studies scholar.  We’ll begin by reflecting on how our lives have been shaped by particular literacy “sponsors.”  Next, we’ll explore how writing (and reading) are taught and learned in particular contexts by connecting it to our current (and/or past) academic coursework.  With this overview, we’ll begin to start thinking about how we can participate in the upcoming 2021 “4 Cs” conference: the Conference on College Composition and Communication.  To prepare for that, we’ll survey a range of research areas in the field (e.g. genre theory, transfer, reading, assessment, code-switching, second-language acquisition, gaming, research methods) to find an area that piques your interest.  Once you do, you’ll write a review about how this area is currently being studied by various composition researchers based on multiple presentations that you’ve attended at this year’s 4Cs.

 

ENGL 212: Introduction to Fiction Writing

Professor Thomas Heise

Maya Angelou once remarked, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This course is designed to bring that story out. ENGL 212 / ENGL 412 is a “stacked course,” which means that you can enroll in it at the intermediate (212) or advanced level (412), but whichever level you choose, your goal will be to produce quality short stories or novel excerpts through intensive writing, reading, and workshopping. ENGL 212/412 provides a greenhouse environment in which you can grow and thrive as a writer. To that end, over the course of the semester, we will immerse ourselves in writing in ways that will be fun, challenging, and eye-opening. The writing you generate during the semester will form the basis of the workshop – your small community of fellow writers whose work you will learn to read, debate, praise, and critique fairly, informatively, and intelligently. Our workshops will be complemented with discussions focused on the fundamentals of craft, such as character, structure, atmosphere, point of view, figurative language, with the goal of understanding how they mysteriously move us in body, spirit, and mind and with the goal of learning how they can be put together in our own well-crafted writing.

 

ENGL 215: Introduction to Article Writing

Professor Stephen Cohen

Share your perspectives on campus and community issues! In this course, you will research, compose, edit, and publish articles for our digital news outlet The Abington Sun. Students in ENGL 215 will be expected to conduct primary research--conducting interviews and analyzing data, in order to generate ideas for stories of interest to our campus community. Students will pitch their story ideas weekly to an audience of their peers, and decide collectively with editors which stories will move forward. Over the course of the semester, each student should plan to produce and publish several news articles and feature pieces, improving writing skills in a hands-on process as they work to publish well-researched, impactful articles. Subjects for articles range from politics to current events, sports and arts and culture. Feel free to browse past topics at The Abington Sun. If you like to write, are interested in learning and writing about current events, and want to see your work published, ENGL 215/415 is the place for you! If you haven’t worked with us before, you should enroll in ENGL 215. If you’re a veteran of our writing staff who wants to further hone your skills, you should register for ENGL 415.

 

ENGL 221W: British Literature to 1798
Professor Marissa Nicosia

In 1492 Christopher Columbus, and his European shipmates, arrived on the shores of the Americas. 1492 also often marks the divide between the medieval era and the Renaissance as distinct literary and historical periods. However, medieval, Renaissance, and eighteenth-century authors alike depicted the known world, documented global exploration, and imagined possible places. In this course, we will read accounts of real and imaginary places described in English and American literature from the premodern era (beginnings to 1800) by authors such as Marie de France, Aphra Behn, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas More, Phillis Wheatley, Margaret Cavendish, John Donne, and John Milton, as well as anonymous texts by indigenous authors. Class discussions and assignments will address histories of race and colonialism, issues of gender and authorship, and utopian studies that emerge from our readings. We will use free, online textbooks for this class and the final project for the course will invite students to remix and augment these online resources for future students enrolled in the course. This course is “stacked.” Students can enroll in this course at an introductory level (ENGL 221W – fulfills a writing-intensive requirement) or at an advanced level ENGL 455.

 

ENGL 224N/ARTH 224N: Authors and Artists (Interdomain)

 Professor Ellen Knodt
 
Authors and Artists explore links between writers and artists, including fiction inspired by visual artists, illustrators of fiction, pop culture including music and fiction, and comics and graphic novels. Literature and art connections in the course will include many American favorites like Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” reflecting the influence of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Stephen Crane’s stories create in language what Impressionist painters accomplished in art. Kate Chopin depicts artists of several kinds in her exploration of what constitutes the “proper” life for women, and Pennsylvania artist Mary Cassatt illustrates certain of those roles. Ernest Hemingway famously said that he wanted to write the way Cezanne painted, and F. Scott Fitzgerald reflects the Roaring Twenties in style and song in The Great Gatsby. African American writer Richard Wright explores the nightmare world of police brutality and injustice in 1940’s Chicago, and Westchester, PA artist Horace Pippin depicts acts of discrimination and racism in his work. Graphic novels and memoirs make us feel and see in new ways, and, of course, Marvel comics entertain us and inspire film scripts.

 

English 400: Modernism and the Lost Generation

 Professor Linda Miller 

This course will focus on the American expatriate writers whose experimental art emerged triumphant during the 1920s, the heyday of Modernism in France.  We will assess the art (writing and painting) and the relationships (both professional and personal) among F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other American artists who, following World War I, had come to France and then stayed the decade.  These artists gathered in Paris and on the French Riviera, particularly at Gerald and Sara Murphy’s Villa America, where they collectively helped to shape American modernist art.  The reading and class discussions will emphasize works by Fitzgerald and Hemingway, along with selections from experimental writer Gertrude Stein, modernist poet Archibald MacLeish, and such New Yorker writers as Dorothy Parker.  Our assessment of this art in its historical, biographical, and cultural contexts will include a class trip to the Barnes Foundation to see the modern art brought back from Paris to Philadelphia during this time.  This class will be conducted as a kind of literary “salon” reminiscent of 1920s Paris, where those with creative minds and spirits gathered to redefine their world through their art.

 

ENGL 403: African Women Writers

 Professor Karen Weekes  

In this course, we will study women's writing from a variety of countries in and regions of Africa. We will learn the broad outlines of the complexity that is African history, as we consider controversies around the creation of that history, especially from Feminist and New Historicist standpoints. Modes of literature covered will include fiction, graphic novel, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. Students will complete independent research and present their findings to the class, as well as develop their analytic and writing skills through practice and feedback. ENGL 487W requirements will vary in length and complexity from those of 403.

 

ENGL 412: Advanced Fiction Writing

Professor Thomas Heise

Maya Angelou once remarked, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This course is designed to bring that story out. ENGL 212 / ENGL 412 is a “stacked course,” which means that you can enroll in it at the intermediate (212) or advanced level (412), but whichever level you choose, your goal will be to produce quality short stories or novel excerpts through intensive writing, reading, and workshopping. ENGL 212/412 provides a greenhouse environment in which you can grow and thrive as a writer. To that end, over the course of the semester we will immerse ourselves in writing in ways that will be fun, challenging, and eye-opening. The writing you generate during the semester will form the basis of the workshop – your small community of fellow writers whose work you will learn to read, debate, praise, and critique fairly, informatively, and intelligently. Our workshops will be complemented with discussions focused on the fundamentals of craft, such as character, structure, atmosphere, point of view, figurative language, with the goal of understanding how they mysteriously move us in body, spirit, and mind and with the goal of learning how they can be put together in our own well-crafted writing.

 

ENGL 415: Introduction to Article Writing

Professor Stephen Cohen
Share your perspectives on campus and community issues! In this course, you will research, compose, edit, and publish articles for our digital news outlet The Abington Sun.
Students in ENGL 415 will build on the skills they learned in ENGL 215 to conduct primary research--conducting interviews and analyzing data, in order to generate ideas for stories of interest to our campus community. Students will pitch their story ideas weekly to an audience of their peers, and decide collectively with editors which stories will move forward. Over the course of the semester, each student should plan to produce and publish several news articles and feature pieces, improving writing skills in a hands-on process as they work to publish well-researched, impactful articles. Subjects for articles range from politics to current events, sports and arts and culture. Feel free to browse past topics at The Abington Sun. If you like to write, are interested in learning and writing about current events, and want to see your work published, ENGL 215/415 is the place for you! If you haven’t worked with us before, you should enroll in ENGL 215. If you’re a veteran of our writing staff who wants to further hone your skills, you should register for ENGL 415.

 

ENGL 420: Writing for the Web

Professor Stephen Cohen  
Social media has become central to our collective lives. Digital technologies enable messages composed by anyone, anywhere in the world to spread further and faster than ever before. Writing has always been social, but technologies continue to create new avenues for meaning-making and new ways to build credibility, shape relationships, and make arguments. How do social media items get produced? How do you know which messages to trust? This course will help you think through the social and ethical implications of web-assisted communication as you discuss, research, plan, and carry out digital projects that address issues in your community. Over the course of the semester, we will investigate how writing on the web affords opportunities to convey ideas and arguments in visual, aural, spatial, and gestural modes, and in turn, how communication in those modes shapes credibility and relationships.

 

ENGL 455: Topics in British Literature

Professor Marissa Nicosia

In 1492 Christopher Columbus, and his European shipmates, arrived on the shores of the Americas. 1492 also often marks the divide between the medieval era and the Renaissance as distinct literary and historical periods. However, medieval, Renaissance, and eighteenth-century authors alike depicted the known world, documented global exploration, and imagined possible places. In this course, we will read accounts of real and imaginary places described in English and American literature from the premodern era (beginnings to 1800) by authors such as Marie de France, Aphra Behn, Anne Bradstreet, Thomas More, Phillis Wheatley, Margaret Cavendish, John Donne, and John Milton, as well as anonymous texts by indigenous authors. Class discussions and assignments will address histories of race and colonialism, issues of gender and authorship, and utopian studies that emerge from our readings. We will use free, online textbooks for this class and the final project for the course will invite students to remix and augment these online resources for future students enrolled in the course. This course is “stacked.” Students can enroll in this course at an introductory level (ENGL 221W) or at an advanced level ENGL 455. Students enrolled in ENGL 455 will read and deliver presentations on articles and book chapters written by literary critics and historians. ENGL 455 fulfills the diversity requirement. In the “Writing and Literature in Context” English major, ENGL 455 fulfills the “Pre-1800” requirement. In the“Traditions of Innovation” English major, ENGL 455 can fulfill either the “Medieval through Sixteenth Century” OR “Sixteenth Century through Eighteenth Century” requirements, BUT it cannot fulfill both requirements. Students must take one course to meet each requirement.

 

ENGL 487W: African Women Writers

 Professor Karen Weekes 

In this course, we will study women's writing from a variety of countries in and regions of Africa. We will learn the broad outlines of the complexity that is African history, as we consider controversies around the creation of that history, especially from Feminist and New Historicist standpoints. Modes of literature covered will include fiction, graphic novel, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. Students will complete independent research and present their findings to the class, as well as develop their analytic and writing skills through practice and feedback. ENGL 487W requirements will vary in length and complexity from those of 403.