Literature Courses 2022-23

Midway 102

Literary Genre: LG  
Literature (Theory): LT
Literature (Before 20th-C): LC
General Literature: any course listed on this page

*Asterisked courses* include a creative writing component and may be of interest to students; they do not indicate an additional requirement.

All courses listed here are approved to count towards the Creative Writing major as general literature courses. Course codes indicate approval-specific distribution requirements. Students may register for eligible courses under any course number. 

These courses are offered by other departments, not the Program in Creative Writing. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course. The course descriptions below are the most recent available, to the best of our knowledge.

For courses taken prior to 2022-23, check our literature course archive. All other courses not on this list must be approved by the DUS. Contact Julie Iromuanya about approval. 


 2022 - 2023

ENGL | English Language and Literature
ANTH | Anthropology
CMLT | Comparative Literature
BIBL | Religious Studies
EALC | East Asian Languages and Civilizations
GRMN | Germanic Studies
HIST | History
MAPH | Master of Arts Program in the Humanities
NELC | Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
PHIL | Philosophy
RLLT | Romance Languages and Literatures 
REES | Russian and East European Studies
SALC | South Asian Languages and Civilizations
TAPS | Theatre and Performance Studies



Any class offered by the Department of English Language and Literature beyond the Core can satisfy the general literature requirement for Creative Writing. Please see below for a selection of English classes that satisfy specific requirements in genre (LG), theory (LT), and period (LC). Browse the full English catalog here.

ENGL 10101 The University in Literature

How has the university been imagined in American literature during the 20th and 21st century? And how has a rise in its interest complemented or contrasted the rise of higher education in the same time period? This course will combine literary studies alongside critical university studies to assess how higher education has been intertwined with literature—sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes in subtle ways—since the early 20th century.

Francisco Olvera 2022-2023, Autumn, LG


ENGL 10102 London Program: Literature, Property, and Violence

Ranging from the spectacular to the hidden, from the national to the domestic, affecting people unequally across races and genders, violence often confounds our expectations for representation. Similarly, property, itself unequally distributed, either appears or disappears depending on how we tell a story. Narrative is a crucial aspect of how we both reveal and conceal the presence of violence and property in everyday life.
Taking its material from US literature prior to the twenty-first century, this course examines how both violence and property intertwine throughout the literary history of the United States. In this course, we will focus on the ways that literary texts, primarily prose narrative, represent these confusing phenomena to understand the political, aesthetic, and historical implications of both property and violence. We will read a variety of literary texts, including work by Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, and Toni Morrison with supplemental readings from a variety of critical and theoretical perspectives.


Admission to the London Program (study abroad) is required.

Adam Fales2022-2023 Autumn, LG-F


ENGL 10103 The "Bad Moms" Renaissance Crosslistings GNSE 12116 

From the murderous matriarch to the overbearing stepmother, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literary representations of mothers reveal the anxieties, fantasies, and social ideals of reproduction, family, and gender in the period. This course argues that what makes a mom “bad” in these texts is bound up in the racial, gendered, and sexual imagination of early modern England. We will read a broad range of early modern texts from epic poetry to prose fiction, from midwifery manuals to the plays of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. In doing so, we will confront past (and present) understandings of motherhood, care, femininity, and family structures.

Sarah Gray Lesley2022-2023 Autumn LC


ENGL 10104 What is nonfiction?

The aim of this course is to approach nonfiction as literature, to think critically about what the term “nonfiction” means and why the writings it describes have traditionally been seen as less “literary”: we will ask such questions as, what do nonfiction genres like journalism, essay, and memoir share with each other? Is the writing’s claim to truth something we can discern in the form of a text, and if not, what purpose does the concept of nonfiction serve in our publishing and reading culture? We will explore a few different theoretical approaches to “nonfiction” and some of the concepts or histories that shape our use of this term and sense of its meaning, including language philosophy, narratology, and literary theories of fiction. And we’ll read these theories alongside texts that work as case studies by either exemplifying or challenging what we think of as “nonfiction,” such as: WEB DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk, Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and Joan Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Dr. Spock’s The Common Sense Manual of Baby and Childcare and Irma S. Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking, Robert Lowell’s Life Studies and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.

Dana Glaser2022-2023 Autumn, LT, LG-NF


ENGL 10105 Hypnotic Modernism: Literature, Psychology, Automaticity

The idea of automatic writing, or writing undertaken without conscious control, animates some of literary modernism’s most groundbreaking works. This course traces a history of automatic writing from late-nineteenth-century hypnotism and literary impressionism, through Gertrude Stein and Surrealism, to midcentury photography and the emergence of postmodernism. Readings in psychology and literary criticism will guide us as we investigate not only the modes and meanings of automatic writing, but also, and more fundamentally, the concept of the “automatic” that underpins how we think about art, mindedness, and agency. Course texts may include the prose of James Agee, Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane, Ford Madox Ford, Guy de Maupassant, Frank Norris, and Muriel Spark; the poetry of André Breton and Gertrude Stein; and the critical writing of Stanley Cavell, Sigmund Freud, Michael Fried, Pierre Janet, and Ruth Leys.

Chris L. Gortmaker2022-2023 Winter, LG-F


ENGL 10106 The American Story Cycle

In this course, we will examine the short story “cycle,” a textual form which is structured as a collection of shorter narratives but expresses a certain interconnectedness (by way of common themes, characters, settings, etc.) between the stories that compels us to treat the work as somehow “whole.” In our discussions of these works, I aim to: explore the relationship between the generic unit of the story cycle and literary movements like American literary regionalism/”local color” fiction, the Harlem Renaissance, and Southern Gothic; delineate the popular-aesthetic mandates of the post-Reconstruction publishing industry in the US; and interrogate the ascendancy and prestige of the category of “the Modernist Novel” relative to short fiction in the early 20th century. Possible authors include: Eudora Welty, Jean Toomer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Chesnutt, Mary Hunter Austin.

Michael Anthony Esparza2022-2023 Winter, LG-F


ENGL 10107 The Experimental Life: Eighteenth-Century Literature and Science

In this course we will attend to several kinds of experimental texts that emerged during the long eighteenth century in Britain: descriptions (and critiques) of scientific experiments featuring microscopic observation (Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, and Margaret Cavendish); early fictional and non-fictional ethnographic narratives (Daniel Defoe, Lady Mary Montagu, and Samuel Johnson); and the emergence of the first science fiction novels (Cavendish and Mary Shelley). Throughout we will pay close attention to the rhetoric of witnessing in both literary and scientific texts, and we will also consider the relation between early scientific writing and ideologies of colonialism.

Will Thompson2022-2023 Winter, LG-F, LC


ENGL 10108 The Good Enough

What does it mean to establish, challenge, or respect interpersonal boundaries—for the imagined wellbeing of a child, lover, or stranger? What does it take, in other words, to be a “good enough” (rather than distant or overbearing) parent, partner, or friend? And how does a person’s psychic development in a “good enough” environment bring about their participation in various spheres of cultural activity? In this course, we will closely attend to essays by key figures in object relations psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Wilfred Bion, Masud Khan, Jessica Benjamin, Christopher Bollas, Adam Phillips) and literary criticism (Barbara Johnson, Leo Bersani, Mary Jacobus, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Lauren Berlant) alongside recent novels and films that play out the surprising difficulty of being good enough.

Yao Ong2022-2023 Spring, LG-NF, LT


ENGL 10109 Chicago's Worlds and Exhibitions: Archives and Memory Work

To prove itself as a world-class city, Chicago has amassed a large collection of objects and artifacts, putting them on display in archives, museums, libraries, and in events like The Columbian Exposition of 1893. This course will explore the ethics of curation, utilizing examples with respect to the traditional homelands of the Council of Three Fires (Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa) as well as the Menominee, Miami, and Ho-Chunk nations. 

Samantha Maza2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 10110 Intro to Porn Studies

Crosslistings GNSE 23143

This course is a multi-media introduction to the Western history and study of the mode/label/genre of aesthetic production called pornography and its other appearances as “obscenity,” “erotica,” “porn,” “filth,” “art,” “adult,” “hardcore,” “softcore,” “trash,” and “extremity.” We will study how others have approached this form, how they have sought to control it, uplift it, analyze it, destroy it, take it seriously, or learn to live with it. This course is both an introduction to the academic field of “porn studies” and to its equal and opposite: the endless repository of historical and current attempts to get pornography out of the way, to keep it somewhere else out of sight, to destroy it, or to deem it unworthy of study. We begin with a conversation about what the stakes are and have been in studying porn and how we might go about doing it, and then move through history and media technologies beginning with the category of pornography’s invention with regards to drawings from Pompeii. The course is meant to introduce students to various forms pornography has taken, various historical moments in its sociocultural existence, and various themes that have continued to trouble or enchant looking at pornography. The goal of this course is not to make an argument for or against porn wholesale, but to give students the ability to take this contentious form and its continued life seriously, intelligently, and ethically.

Gabriel Ojeda-Sague2022-2023 Spring, LT


ENGL 10404 Genre Fundamentals: Poetry

The study of poetry has been fundamental to criticism, certainly to literary criticism, for nearly as long as “English” has existed as a modern discipline. It served liberal education well in this central role in developing the capacities of aesthetic sensibility and the powers of analysis and judgment. But when the lyric was enshrined at the heart of “practical criticism” by I. A. Richards in the 1920s, it was initially all about the focus on “the poem itself.” And typically it was about the poem on the page--rather than in the air, or the ear--and often about the poem in isolation from other considerations. Much good came of the decades of attention bestowed on poetry understood in this way--a great refinement in critical attention and appreciation, and a rich repertoire of terms for critical description and discrimination. In this course, we will try to reap some of the advantages of proceeding in this way with the study of poetry. But we will also be looking at poetry beyond the page, at poems in relation to other poems, at poems in relation to other forms and other things, including the history of poetic innovation. Selecting examples from across the English language and beyond, we will proceed from simple examples to more complex ones, and from more elementary topics in prosody and poetics to more advanced issues.

James Chandler2022-2023 Autumn, LG-P


ENGL 10610 Sondheim and After

Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) reinvented the American musical. This course explores his work as a lyricist and composer, and his influence on writers including Jonathan Larson, Jeanine Tesori, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

John Muse2022-2023 Autumn


ENGL 10620 Literature, Medicine, and Embodiment

Crosslistings, GNSE 20620

This class explores the connections between imaginative writing and embodiment, especially as bodies have been understood, cared for, and experienced in the framework of medicine. We’ll read texts that address sickness, healing, diagnosis, disability, and expertise. The class also introduces a number of related theoretical approaches, including the medical humanities, disability studies, narrative medicine, the history of the body, and the history of science.

Julie Orlemanski2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 10703 20th Century Short Fiction Crosslistings AMER 10703

This course presents America's major writers of short fiction in the 20th century. We will begin with Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" in 1905 and proceed to the masters of High Modernism, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Porter, Welty, Ellison, Nabokov; on through the next generation, O'Connor, Pynchon, Roth, Mukherjee, Coover, Carver; and end with more recent work by Danticat, Tan, and the microfictionists. Our initial effort with each text will be close reading, from which we will move out to consider questions of ethnicity, gender, and psychology. Writing is also an important concern of the course. There will be two papers and an individual tutorial with each student.

William Veeder2022-2023 Autumn, LG-F


ENGL 10709 Genre Fundamentals: Fiction

What are basics of complex storytelling? What are its conventions and deviations? This course explores fiction by focusing on specific narrative strategies and how they change over time. Authors will most likely include Herman Melville, Henry James, Edith Wharton, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, and Ali Smith, among others. 

Josephine McDonagh2022-2023 Spring, LG-F


ENGL 12320 Critical Videogame Studies Crosslistings CMST 27916, GNSE 22320, MAAD 12320, SIGN 26038

Since the 1960s, games have arguably blossomed into the world's most profitable and experimental medium. This course attends specifically to video games, including popular arcade and console games, experimental art games, and educational serious games. Students will analyze both the formal properties and sociopolitical dynamics of video games. Readings by theorists such as Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Alenda Chang, Nick Dyer‐Witheford, Mary Flanagan, Jane McGonigal, Soraya Murray, Lisa Nakamura, Amanda Phillips, and Trea Andrea Russworm will help us think about the growing field of video game studies. Students will have opportunities to learn about game analysis and apply these lessons to a collaborative game design project. Students need not be technologically gifted or savvy, but a wide-ranging imagination and interest in digital media or game cultures will make for a more exciting quarter. This is a 2021-22 Signature Course in the College.

Patrick Jagoda2022-2023 Autumn, LT


ENGL 13512 The Future

This course focuses on the future as imagined by American science fiction of the 20th century. On the one hand, we will pay attention to the scientific, political, and cultural contexts from which particular visions of the future emerged; on the other, we will work to develop an overarching sense of science fiction as a genre. We will deploy different analytical paradigms (Formalist, Marxist, Feminist, &c.) to apprehend the stakes and the strategies for imagining future worlds. After some initial attention to the magazine and pulp culture that helped to establish the genre, we will spotlight major SF movements (Afro Futurism, Cyberpunk, Biopunk, etc.) and major authors (including Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel R. Delaney, William Gibson, and Octavia Butler). Finally, we will use this 20th-century history to think about 21st-century SF work in different media (e.g., film, radio, graphic narrative).

Bill Brown2022-2023 Winter, LG-F, LT


ENGL 13570 Conspiracy, Theorized.

This course will explore the function of conspiracy theorizing in American politics and culture, focusing in particular on the relationship between the affective life of conspiracy theory and conspiracy theories’ function as vernacular epistemologies of populist political critique. Why have conspiracy theories been so popular in American culture from the founding on? Why do they have such renewed energy today? How have conspiracy theories built upon one another to develop an alternate history of America and the world? In asking these questions, we will track how these theories reproduce ideologies of race, nation, empire, and gender.

Christopher Taylor2022-2023 Spring, LT


ENGL 13580 Introduction to Asian American Literatures

This is a survey course that introduces students to the complex and uneven history of Asians in American from within a transnational context. As a class, we will look at Asian American texts and films while working together to create a lexicon of multilingual, immigrant realities. Through theoretical works that will help us define keywords in the field and a wide range of genres (novels, films, plays, and graphic novels), we will examine how Asia and Asians have been represented in the literatures and popular medias of America. Some of the assigned authors include, but are not limited to, Carlos Bulosan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Joy Kogawa, Fae Myenne Ng, Nora Okja Keller, Cathy Park Hong, Ted Chiang, and Yoko Tawada.

2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 13590 Race and Time

In this advanced undergraduate course, we will explore the relationship between race and time. How might a concept of time already be racialized? How does the racialized subject experience time? How might such a temporality be figured through literary narratives? We’ll take up these and a host of other questions pertaining to the politics and poetics of time through a literary, theoretical, and cinematic study that asks us to think critically about schemas of time in the works of writers of colour. Some of the assigned authors and writers include, but are not limited to, Ted Chiang, Shani Mootoo, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Jamaica Kincaid, Anna Lee Walters, Yoko Tawada, and Frantz Fanon.

2022-2023 Spring, LT


ENGL 14001 Rethinking Consumption: Food Writing and Immigrant Literature

In anglophone immigrant literary narratives, there is a place of particular poignancy and longing reserved for meditations upon food. What is the role, the space, and the import of food in immigrant lives? What diminution accompanies the loss of your own food, and what desire attaches to the rediscovery, or the replication of it in a foreign land? What are the stakes involved in charting out a dominion of your own familiar flavors or adapting to a new palate in an unfamiliar milieu? This course charts a few of these concerns and uses food writing as a point of entry into modes of being and making in immigrant literature, considering that emigration is a displacement that is sometimes impelled and accompanied by trauma, and characterized by rapid modes of adaptation to an unfamiliar and frequently hostile environment. Readings are likely to include fiction and poetry by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Amy Tan, Imtiaz Dharker, Amarjit Chandan, Monique Truong, and Cristina Henríquez. These primary texts will be supplemented by critical and analytical readings about patterns of displacement and consumption in immigrant lives and literature.

Upasana Dutta2022-2023 Spring, LG-F, LG-P, LT


ENGL 15002 Reading Disability in Medieval England

Drawing on critical disability studies and a range of literary sources from medieval England, this course asks how pre-modern texts can provide new paradigms for theorizing and celebrating disabled embodiment.

Jo Nixon2022-2023 Winter, LC, LT


ENGL 15004 War, Culture, and Imperialism: Russia and the West from the 19th Century to the Present

This course will survey literature shaped by the history of imperial conflict between Russia and “The West,” ultimately with a view to better understanding our current geopolitical situation and mediascape. The course will be anchored in the nineteenth century, focusing on writing related to the Crimean War (1853-6) and the long contest between Britain and Russia for domination in Central Asia and India known as “The Great Game,” but it will also provide a snapshot of Cold War cultural production, with an emphasis on ideological dissent among Black radicals and Russian emigres, before turning finally to our contemporary moment.

Kevin King2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 15600 Medieval English Literature

Crosslistings GNSE 15600

A course on experimental poetry of the late 14th century, with special attention to how formal techniques of disorientation and discontinuity are related to the philosophical, ethical, and political ambitions of poetry.

Mark Miller

2022-2023 Spring, LG-P, LC


ENGL 17002 Early Modern Love: Eros in British Literature 1500-1700 

Crosslistings GNSE 17002

This course examines an age-old problem of erotic love: how can love be a chief component of the well-lived life, when at its most celebrated it departs from reason, even to the point of madness? We will consider the challenges that love presents to human knowledge and ethics through the lens of early modern English literature, where the theme of love was at the center of aesthetic creativity, but our discussion will also draw on the philosophy of love, the history of emotions, Christian theology, and psychology. With these resources at hand, we will explore the phenomenon of erotic love, the relation of Eros to self and identity, and the reasons for love, finally leading up to the question: what does it mean to love well? Readings will include poetry, drama, and prose by prominent sixteenth- and seventeenth-century authors such as Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and John Milton, as well as less studied voices in the period, alongside theoretical works by thinkers throughout the ages, from Plato and Augustine to Harry Frankfurt and Lauren Berlant. Students will have an opportunity to approach the topic through analytic and creative assignments.

Michal Zechariah 2022-2023 Spring, LG-P, LG-F, LC


ENGL 17501 Milton Crosslistings RLST 25405, FNDL 21201

A study of John Milton’s major writings in lyric, epic, tragedy, and polemical prose, with particular emphasis upon his evolving sense of his poetic vocation and career in relation to his vision of literary, religious, political, and cosmic history.

Joshua Scodel2022-2023 Spring, LG, LC


ENGL 19500 Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley

Crosslistings FNDL 29501, GNSE 19500

This course examines the major works—novels, political treatises, letters, travel essays—of two of Romanticism’s most influential women writers. We will attend to historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts as well as matters of literary concern, such as their pioneering development of modes like gothic and science/speculative fiction, Wollstonecraft’s stylistic theories, and Shelley’s scenes of imaginative sympathy.

Alexis Chema

2022-2023 Spring LC, LG-F


ENGL 19960 Comedy from the Margins

This course examines the centrality of normativity to our conceptions of funniness, reading theories of comedy alongside stand-up, sitcoms, dramedy, and romantic comedy. We will ask: in what ways do comedic formulas establish ideas of the “normal” in order to subvert (or perhaps reinforce) them? How, does comedy about the “strange”—as the foreign, the queer, the excessive or the abject—reframe structures of sociality often taken for granted, forcing us to grapple with questions of citizenship and belonging, gendered and sexual norms, racialization and power? In addition to theories of comedy and joke theory, students will analyze theoretical works on race, gender and sexuality alongside popular television series, talk shows, and comedy specials. Possible texts and comics include: Chewing Gum, Fleabag, Insecure, Reservation Dogs, Ramy, Atlanta, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, Julio Torres, Hasan Minhaj, Ali Wong, Jacqueline Novak, Dave Chappelle, Hannah Gadsby, and Ronny Chieng.

Shirl Yang 2022-2023 Spring, LT


ENGL 19970 Organized Crime Fiction 

This course takes up cultural representations of organized crime in literature, film, and television as loci for thinking about intersections of capitalism, globalism, migration, violence, and family. Texts may include My Brilliant Friend, The Godfather, Infernal Affairs, The Wire, Eastern Promises, and Shark Tale.

Jennifer Yida Pan2022-2023 Spring, LG-F, LT


ENGL 20140 London Program: London: From Industrial City to Financial Center

Over the last two centuries, London has undergone two “revolutions,” the industrial revolution and the financialization revolution, both of which have had significant impacts on the built landscape and residential patterns of its neighborhoods. Some of the materials we will look at are Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, George Gissing’s The Netherworld, Mike Leigh’s High Hopes, John Lanchester’s Capital, among other supporting texts (on urban globalization, the poverty maps of Michael Booth).


Admission to the London Program (study abroad) is required.

Elaine Hadley2022-2023 Autumn, LG-F


ENGL 20156 London Program: Staging Identity in the Eighteenth Century Crosslistings GNSE 22156

This course will consider connections between theatre, performance, and identity in the eighteenth century, a time when selfhood is everywhere depicted as both metaphorically and literally theatrical. We will ask: How does actual theatrical practice shape the way that identity was understood in this period?  What components of identity, particularly in terms of race, class, gender, and sexuality, are privileged or destabilized by the eighteenth-century stage? Course reading will focus primarily on Restoration and eighteenth-century British drama, but may also include short works of eighteenth-century fiction and philosophy, as well as selected secondary readings in theatre history, performance studies, and gender and sexuality studies. The final syllabus will be shaped by what’s on in London in the fall; we will hopefully be able to attend a performance or two, and consider how recent playwrights look back to the eighteenth century in their own work.


Admission to the London Program (study abroad) is required.

Heather Keenleyside2022-2023 Autumn, LC


ENGL 20212 Romantic Natures

Our survey of British Romantic literary culture will combine canonical texts (especially the major poetry) with consideration of the practices and institutions underwriting Romantic engagement with the natural world.  We will also address foundational and recent critical-theoretical approaches to the many “natures” of Romanticism. Our contextual materials will engage topics such as the art of landscape, an influx of exotic and dangerously erotic flora, practices of collection and display, the emergent localism of the naturalist Gilbert White, the emergence of geological “deep time,” and the (literal) fruits of empire and vegetarianism.

Timothy Campbell2022-2023 Winter, LG, LC


ENGL 20360 Shrews! Unladylike Conduct on Stage and Page in Early Modern England

Crosslistings, GNSE 20126, TAPS 20360

This course will move between three sites of inquiry to investigate the social and material history of an evergreen trope: the domestication of a refractory servant or wife. From rare book libraries and museum collections, we will track the common features of popular entertainments that traffic in this scenario. We will then bring our findings to bear in a theatre lab environment, where we will assay scenes from The Taming of the Shrew, The Tamer Tamed, and the City Madam.

Ellen MacKay2022-2023 Winter, LC


ENGL 20720 Film and Fiction

Crosslistings CMST 25820

This course addresses three distinct but related critical problems in the contemporary understanding of film and fiction. The most general is the question of how we might go about linking the practice of criticism in the literary arts with that of the screen arts. Where are the common issues of structure, form, narration, point of view management, and the like? Where, on the other hand, are the crucial differences that lie in the particularities of each domain--the problem that some have labeled “medium specificity” in the arts? The second problem has to do more specifically with questions of adaptation. Adaptation is a fact of our cultural experience that we encounter in many circumstances, but perhaps in none more insistently as when we witness the reproduction of a literary narrative in cinematic or televisual form. Adaptation theory has taught us to look beyond the narrow criterion of “fidelity” as far too limiting in scope. But when we look beyond, what do we look for, and what other concepts guide our exploration? The third and final problem has to do with the now rampant genre of the “film based on fact,” especially when the facts derive from a particular source text, as in the recent case of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman? Why has this genre become so popular? What are its particular genre markings (e.g., excessive stylization, the use of documentary footage of the actual persons and events involved)? How does fictionalization operate on the facts in particular cases?

James Chandler2022-2023 Autumn, LG-NF, LC


ENGL 21785 Black in Colonial America: Three Women

Crosslistings CRES 21785, GNSE 21725, SIGN 26076

Through a survey of texts by and about Sally Hemings, Phillis Wheatley and Tituba, “the Indian,” we will consider the lives of three black women in colonial America. In this period of expansion and contraction of the concepts of race and bondage, what kind of “tellings” were possible for these women? By reading texts written as early as 1692 and as late as 2008, we will also consider how representations of these women have changed over time.

SJ Zhang2022-2023 Spring, LC


ENGL 22322 Introduction to Game Design Crosslistings MAAD 22322

This course introduces students to the theories and processes underlying game design for both analog and digital projects.

Patrick Jagoda, Ashlyn Sparrow, 2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 24252 Black Quietude

This course considers modes of quietude as they intersect experiences of blackness. What can be conveyed or contained in moments of stillness or quiet? Is black quietude a moment of universalism that transcends the determinations of race? Or do black subjects carry or project the experience of racialization into their spaces of quiet? Do we define quiet for the black subject on the same terms as for other racial categories?

Tina Post2022-2023 Winter, LT


ENGL 24400 Brecht and Beyond

Brecht is indisputably the most influential playwright in the 20th century, but his influence on film theory and practice and on cultural theory is also considerable. We will explore the range and variety of Brecht's work, from the Threepenny hit to the agitprop film Kühle Wampe) to classic parable plays, as well as Brecht heirs in German theatre and film (RW Fassbinder & Peter Weiss) theatre and film in Britain (Peter Brook & John McGrath), African theatre and film influenced by Brecht, and the NYC post-Occupy adaptation of Brecht’s Days of the Commune.
This course also includes a weekly screening session.


Note: This is not a basic introductory course. Students must have completed HUM Core and one or more of the following: International Cinema or equivalent and/or TAPS and/or working German. Please ask about other courses you have taken that may count as PQs.

Loren Kruger2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 25232 Reading Nineteenth Century Feminisms Crosslistings GNSE 23144

Disputes about sexual difference set feminist factions against each other during the nineteenth century, as in the present; and, like the feminisms of our own moment, nineteenth-century feminisms diverged sharply on questions about race and racism. This course reads US and British prose from 1850-1915 in order to study the debates that shaped feminist thought during that period. Considering a range of varied feminisms (among them: liberal feminism, difference feminism, eugenic feminism, white feminism, etc.), we'll encounter conflicting arguments about the right to vote, access to education, marriage, mothering, and sex. Authors may include: Anna Julia Cooper, George Eliot, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emma Goldman, Frances E.W. Harper, John Stuart Mill, Lucy Parsons, John Ruskin, Mary Arnold Ward, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Emily Coit 2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 25262 Global Feminist and Queer Aesthetics Crosslistings GNSE 20125

This course examines ways of seeing, or representation, in the making of gender and sexuality across time and place. We will study feminist and queer literature and arts, and theories of representation across disciplines, on questions from migration and borders to care. For example, how do practices of mapmaking, or narratives of crossing, help us understand intimacy or estrangement? And how might visualizing care move us toward repair or a new world? In taking this lens, we will also consider how gender and sexuality are co-constituted with race, the nation-state, and labor. Through a workshop model, we will build on these foundational and new approaches to representing gender and sexuality together. Participants are encouraged to bring in supplementary texts to build out our archive of transnational gender and sexuality. Our class will culminate in a glossary, made up of short essays by participants on aesthetics, interpretative approaches, and imaginaries.

Kaneesha Parsard2022-2023 Winter, LG-NF, LT


 25805 Popol Vuh: Epic of the Americas, Crosslistings FNDL 25805, LACS 25805

One of the oldest and grandest stories of world creation in the native Americas, the Mayan Popol Vuh has been called “the Bible of America.” It tells a story of cosmological origins and continued historical change, spanning mythic, classic, colonial, and contemporary times. In this class, we’ll read this full work closely (in multiple translations, while engaging its original K’iche’ Mayan language), attending to the important way in which its structure relates myth and history, or foundations and change. In this light, we’ll examine its mirroring in Genesis, Odyssey, Beowulf, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Diné Bahane’ to consider how epics struggle with a simultaneity of origins and historiography. In highlighting this tension between cosmos and politics, we’ll examine contemporary adaptations of the Popol Vuh by Miguel Ángel Asturias, Ernesto Cardenal, Diego Rivera, Dennis Tedlock, Humberto Ak’ab’al, Xpetra Ernandex, Patricia Amlin, Gregory Nava, and Werner Herzog. As we cast the Guatemalan Popul Vuh as a contemporary work of hemispheric American literature (with North American, Latin American, Latinx, and Indigenous literary engagement), we will take into account the intellectual contribution of Central America and the diaspora of Central Americans in the U.S. today. As a capstone, we will visit the original manuscript of the Popol Vuh held at the Newberry Library in Chicago, thinking about how this story of world creation implicates us to this day.

Edgar Garcia2022-2023 Spring, LG-P, LC


ENGL 26210 The Roaring Twenties: Then and Now 

As we begin to get a feel for the aesthetic, social, and political moods and modes that will come to be the hallmarks of the 2020’s, critics have begun turning back to the 1920’s and its uncanny historical similarities to our current decade—both being preceded by pandemics and eruptions of racial violence, for instance— to think the present. In studying the aesthetic responses of individuals and movements in and to the 1920s, this class will also ask students to consider the utility and limits of this lens in helping us make sense of our emerging now.

Adrienne Brown2022-2023 Autumn, LG


ENGL 26312/36312 Worlding Otherwise: Speculative Fiction, Film, Theory Crosslisting: CMLT 26311/36311

This course examines literary and cinematic works of speculative fiction in a comparative context. An expansive genre that encompasses science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, horror, as well as utopian and dystopian literature, speculative fiction envisions alternate, parallel, possible or imagined worlds. These worlds often exhibit characteristics such as: scientific and technological advancements; profound social, environmental, or political transformations; time or space travel; life on other planets; artificial intelligence; and evolved, hybrid, or new species. Speculative works frequently reimagine the past and present in order to offer radical visions of desirable or undesirable futures. We will also consider how this genre interrogates existential questions about what it means to be human, the nature of consciousness, the relationship between mind/body, thinking/being, and self/other, as well as planetary concerns confronting our species. Fictional works will be paired with theoretical readings that frame speculative and science fiction in relation to questions of gender, race, class, colonialism, bio-politics, human rights, as well as environmental and social justice. In addition to studying subgeneres - such as Afrofuturism - we will explore speculative fiction as a critical mode of reading that theorizes other ways of being, knowing, and imagining.

Hoda El Shakry2022-2023 Autumn, LG-F, LG-NF, LT


ENGL 26907 American Culture During World War II

With the mass mobilization of the US following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, artists of all kinds served in the armed forces or in the war bureaucracy. That doesn’t mean that cultural production stopped. It did, however, mean drastic changes the kind of art that was produced and the ways in which it was disseminated. In short, World War II instigated a dramatic change in the relationship of art to the state. For example, the Library of Congress was established; American publishing was completely overhauled (the first volume of the redoubtable Viking Portable, for instance, was an anthology issued to soldiers); Japanese internment camps had as one of their unintended consequences the opportunity for a new generation of Nisei writers to share and publish their work; American theater saw its boundaries stretched to embrace a wider cross section of the US public; Hollywood and the war department enjoyed a collaboration on mass market as well as training films; refugee intellectuals from Europe congregated in New York and had a remarkable reshaping effect on American culture. The course will follow various streams—mass culture and high culture, film and literature, drama and the visual arts—to explore how new institutions, new cultural producers, and new audiences transformed US culture during the war years.

Deborah Nelson2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 27250 Wealth, Democracy, and the American Novel

Numerous commentators have remarked on similarities between late 19th-century Gilded Age America and turn-of-the 21st-century neoliberal America. By focusing on several American novels, beginning with the late 19th- and early 20th-century decades, we will explore the way that US novelists sought to understand the political, social, and imaginative challenges presented by the concentration of great wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

Kenneth Warren2022-2023 Autumn


ENGL 27500 Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance: Issues and Methods

Crosslistings CRES 27520

In this course we will examine that period known as the Harlem Renaissance, partly as an exercise in literary criticism and theory, partly as an exercise in literary and intellectual history. Our objectives will be to critique the primary texts from this period and at the same time to assess the efforts of literary scholars to make sense of this moment in the history of American cultural production.

Kenneth Warren2022-2023 Spring, LG, LT


ENGL 20228/30228 William Blake: Poet, Painter, Prophet

Crosslistings ARTH 20228, ARTH 30228, FNDL 20228

A survey of the major poetic and pictorial works of William Blake, centrally focussed on his illuminated books, from the early Songs of Innocence and Experience to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and the books of the revolutionary period of the 1790s: Europe, America, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, and The Book of Urizen. We will also consider the later prophecies, Milton: A Poem and Jerusalem, along with Blake’s work as an illustrator of Milton, Chaucer, and the Bible. Blake’s engagement with the political and religious controversies of his time will provide context, along with his pioneering exploration of dialectical modes of thought and radical forms of humanism.

W. J. T. Mitchell2022-2023 Spring, LG-P, LT, LC


ENGL 20230/30230 Iconology East and West

Iconology is the study of images across media and cultures. It is also associated with philosophical reflections on the nature of images and their relation to language—the interplay between the “icon” and the “logos.” A plausible translation of this compound word into Chinese would describe it as “Words in Pictures, Pictures in Words”:  中有画,画中有.
This seminar will explore the relations of word and image in poetics, semiotics, and aesthetics with a particular emphasis on how texts and pictures have been understood in the Anglo-European-American and Chinese theoretical traditions. The interplay of painting and poetry, speech and spectacle, audition and vision will be considered across a variety of media, particularly the textual and graphic arts.
The aims of the course will be 1) to critique the simplistic oppositions between “East” and “West” that have bedevilled intercultural and intermedial comparative studies; 2) to identify common principles, zones of interaction and translation that make this a vital area of study.
This course will be coordinated with a parallel seminar at Beijing University.

W. J. T. Mitchell2022-2023 Winter, LT


ENGL 20250/30250 The Means of Production: Contemporary Poetry and Literary Publishing

This course will introduce students to the editorial principles and collaborative practices of literary evaluation in the making of contemporary American poetry. How does a poem 'make it' into the pages of Chicago Review . . . or The Paris Review? How do individual readers and editorial collectives imagine the work of literary assessment and aesthetic judgment in our time? We will begin the term with a survey of new directions in Anglophone poetry (and poetry in translation) as a preparation for weekly editorial exercises in the evaluation and assessment of literary manuscripts. We will 'simulate' editorial deliberations at contemporary literary periodicals like Poetry magazine and book publishers like the Phoenix Poets book series at the University of Chicago Press. The course will include visits from contemporary literary publishers at Chicago-area magazines and presses.

Srikanth (Chicu) Reddy2022-2023 Autumn, LG-P


ENGL 32104 Hymns Crosslistings RLVC 32104

The course will track hymns from the early modern period through the late eighteenth century. We’ll examine the evolution of the hymn as a literary form, focusing on obsolescence and adaptation in literary transmission. We’ll start with the Psalms of the Hebrew Bible, and analyze psalters (such as the one produced by Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, and her brother, Sir Philip Sidney) and the metrical psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins that were used in Anglican services. We’ll then take up the development of congregational hymns, hymns sung by everyone in a congregation, to track the way that literary adaptation among Dissenters became both common and controversial. We’ll look at Isaac Watts’s multiple hymns for each of the Psalms, his later Hymns and Spiritual Songs, and his Divine Songs for children to get at the importance he and other Dissenters (such as Anna Letitia Barbauld) attached to supplying words to all who could sing or say them. We’ll end with a discussion of “Amazing Grace” and its use in the British abolition movement, and with a discussion of the movement of the literary hymn away from religion altogether in literary hymns, Shelley’s and Keats’s odes.

Frances Ferguson2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 32312 Virtual Theaters, Crosslistings, TAPS 32312

This course probes the nature and limits of theater by exploring a range of theatrical texts whose relation to performance is either partially or fully virtual (philosophical dialogues, closet dramas, novel chapters in dramatic form, twitter theater, digital theater, algorithmic theater, transmedia games, remote theater.) One unit attends to experiments in remote theater since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

John Muse2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 25970/32314 Alternate Reality Games: Theory and Production, Crosslistings BPRO 28700, ARTV 20700, ARTV 30700, CMST 25954, CMST 35954, MAAD 20700, TAPS 28466

Games are one of the most prominent and influential media of our time. This experimental course explores the emerging genre of "alternate reality" or "transmedia" gaming. Throughout the quarter, we will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of transmedia games. These games build on the narrative strategies of novels, the performative role-playing of theater, the branching techniques of electronic literature, the procedural qualities of video games, and the team dynamics of sports. Beyond the subject matter, students will design modules of an Alternate Reality Game in small groups. Students need not have a background in media or technology, but a wide-ranging imagination, interest in new media culture, or arts practice will make for a more exciting quarter.


Third- or fourth-year standing. Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing through online form at; see course description. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Patrick Jagoda, Heidi Coleman, 2022-2023 Winter, LT


ENGL 24528/34528 Seeing Ourselves: Photography and Literary Non-Fiction

What knowledge about ourselves can photographs provide? Can photographs change the way we see ourselves--collectively, individually? Photography has been around for almost 200 years, yet its dominance in our lives seems only to increase. This course examines photography’s influence on our everyday lives, particularly on conceptions and portrayals of the self. We will see how theorists have grappled with the phenomenon of photography, engaging the written word to address its conundrums, dangers, and attractions. With the help of these theorists, we will question the promises that photographs seem to make about representing the world. The purpose of this course is also, however, to take seriously the affective, documentary power of photography. We will thus analyze the creative use of photographs in the non-fiction (or nearly non-fiction) of major 20th- and 21st-century writers (philosophers, critics, journalists, essayists, poets, novelists, activists). Photography will emerge as a productive medium for navigating issues of memory, identity, race, gender, authenticity, agency, publicity, and art. With keen attention to the different capabilities of writing and photography, we will explore the dynamics of self-expression, the ethics of representing others, and the politics of image-text depictions.

Christine Fournaies, 2022-2023 Winter, LT


ENGL 34800 Poetics Crosslistings MAPH 34800

In this course, we will study poetry ‘in the abstract’. We will study various efforts on the part of philosophers, literary critics, and poets themselves to formulate theories of poetic discourse. We will examine a range of historical attempts to conceptualize poetry as a particular kind of language practice, from Greek, Chinese, and Indic antiquity to the present.

David Wray, 2022-2023 Autumn, LG-P


ENGL 24960/34960 California Fictions, 1884-2018 Crosslistings MAPH 34960

This course will consider works of literature and cinema from 1884-2018 that take place in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and rural California to offer a case study for everyday life and critical space theory. Beginning with Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona and ending with Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother you, we will also consider how “the west” provides an opportunity for reconsidering canon formation and genre.


Open to MAPH students: 3rd and 4th years in the College email 2-3 sentences about why you want to take the course for consent.

Megan Tusler, 2022-2023 Autumn


ENGL 35700 Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle Ages

Crosslistings GNSE 35700

The field of gender and sexuality in medieval Western Europe is both familiar and exotic. Medieval poetry is fascinated by the paradoxical inner workings of desire, and poetic, theological, and philosophical texts develop sophisticated terms for analyzing it. Feminine agency is at once essential to figurations of sexual difference and a scandal to them. Ethical self-realization gets associated both with abstinence and with orgasmic rapture. This course will examine these and other topics in medieval gender and sexuality through reading a range of materials including poetry, theology, gynecological treatises, hagiography, and mystical writing.

Mark Miller2022-2023 Spring, LC, LG-P


ENGL 26250/36250 Richer and Poorer: Income Inequality, Crosslistings, LLSO 26250, SIGN 26004

Current political and recent academic debate have centered on income or wealth inequality. Data suggests a rapidly growing divergence between those earners at the bottom and those at the top. This course seeks to place that current concern in conversation with a range of moments in nineteenth and twentieth century history when literature and economics converged on questions of economic inequality. In keeping with recent political economic scholarship by Thomas Piketty, we will be adopting a long historic view and a somewhat wide geographic scale as we explore how economic inequality is represented, measured, assessed and addressed. Charles Dickens, Richard Wright, HG Wells, will be among the writers explored.

Elaine Hadley2022-2023 Winter, LG-F, LT


ENGL 28230/38230 Fashion and Change: The Theory of Fashion Crosslistings GNSE 28230, GNSE 38230

This course offers a representative view of foundational and recent fashion theory, fashion history, and fashion art, with a historical focus on the long modern era extending from the eighteenth century to the present. While engaging the general aesthetic, sociological, and commercial phenomenon of fashion, we will also devote special attention to fashion as a discourse self-reflexively preoccupied with the problem of cultural change—the surprisingly difficult question of how and why “change” does or does not happen. We will aim for a broader appreciation of fashion’s inner workings—its material processes, its practitioners—but we will also confront the long tradition of thinking culture itself through fashion, to ask how we might productively do the same.

Timothy Campbell2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 28290/38290 Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, Crosslistings FNDL 28290

This course will examine the very long and possibly—very probably—the greatest novel in the English language. We’ll consider the effect of Richardson’s decision to conduct his novel as a series of letters, and we’ll pay particular attention to his extraordinary effectiveness in creating complexity in a fairly simple plot and in tracking an ever-expanding cast of characters. The Penguin edition we’ll be using comes to 1499 pages, and they are over-sized pages. This is a course for committed readers!

Frances Ferguson2022-2023 Autumn, LC


ENGL 18860/38860 Black Shakespeare  Crosslistings CRES 18860, TAPS 20040, TAPS 30040

This course explores the role played by the Shakespearean canon in the shaping of Western ideas about Blackness, in long-term processes of racial formation, and in global racial struggles from the early modern period to the present. Students will read Shakespearean plays portraying Black characters (Othello, Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, and Antony and Cleopatra) in conversation with African-American, Caribbean, and Post-colonial rewritings of those plays by playwrights Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, Bernard Jackson, Djanet Sears, Keith Hamilton Cobb, Aimé Césaire, Derek Walcott, Lolita Chakrabarti, and film-makers Max Julien and Jordan Peele.
This course is open to MAPH students and to PhD students upon request.

Noémie Ndiaye 2022-2023 Spring, LC


ENGL 20161/40161 21st Century Ethnic American Literature Crosslistings AMER 40161, CRES 22161, CRES 40161, MAPH 40161

This class will read US novels and short stories by African-American, American Indian, Asian-American, and Latinx writers from the last twenty years to conceptualize the shifting categories of race and ethnicity, paired with critical and theoretical works in critical cultural race studies.

Megan Tusler, 2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 20180/40180 Women Writing God

Crosslistings GNSE 25180, GNSE 45180, MAPH 40180

This course examines imaginative works by women that take on the task of representing divine or supernatural being from the medieval era to the present. Drawing on the work of critics such as Luce Irigaray, Caroline Walker Bynum, and Judith Butler, we explore what strategies these writers employ to depict an entity simultaneously understood to be unrepresentable and to have a masculine image. Texts range from premodern mystics such as Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila to Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.


Instructor consent required for first and second year undergraduates.

Sarah Kunjummen, 2022-2023 Winter, LC


ENGL 20260/40250 Housekeeping: Domestic Drama and Material Culture 

The theatre represents a new and wildly successful commodity in the early modern English market. Yet it is often kept separate from other fashionable goods of the period by virtue of its intangible form. This course overturns the orthodoxy that an early modern play was a co-imaged event and the early modern theatre was an “empty space” by attending to the Renaissance theatre's frequent recourse to household stuff.
We will read plays designed for private performance, that use the fixtures of the household to build theatrical worlds. We will investigate dramatists who liken the playhouse to key venues of commodity culture, including the pawnshop, the Exchange (the precedent of the shopping mall), and the fairground. We will draw from Henslowe's Diary to recover the business of theatrical property-making and the allure of a company as disclosed by its holdings. All the while, we will question how the fiction of emptiness takes hold in theatre history, and how plays that depict a furnished world are relegated to second-class genres like domestic tragedy and city comedy.

Ellen MacKay2022-2023 Autumn


ENGL 40260 Writing in the Humanities: Genres of Literary Scholarship

What kinds of writing can literary scholars use to share their discoveries? What new audiences can they reach? How can we best communicate with those audiences, and how can we spark broad and enduring interest in humanities subjects? Taking the changing landscape of academic publishing as a point of departure, this course offers students opportunities to develop writing skills for a variety of academic and professional contexts. Guided by their own individual interests, students will work with primary sources from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, completing three linked projects over the course of the term. This progressive sequence will invite them to look beyond the conventional journal article: we'll consider how to convey humanist ways of thinking and scholarly insight across a range of genres, including podcasts, videos, teaching resources, book and film reviews, book-club presentations, academic conference talks, and annotated transcriptions of finds from the digital archive as well as the library's Special Collections.

Emily Coit2022-2023 Autumn


ENGL 20464/40464 The Lives of Others, Crosslistings MAPH 40464

How much can you ever really know someone else? In this course, we take up the inscrutability of others through a range of narratives about - politically, socially, and geographically - distant others from the early 20th century. Texts include fiction, documentary film, and critical theory around transnationalism, contact zones and ethnography). Some of these texts meditate on the general problem of living with others. Others take on the limits of empathy, access, and friendship whether explicitly or in their formal arrangement. Specifically, we focus on works that engage with an ethics or “work on the self” as a preliminary to having knowledge of others.
We will be guided by readings that likely include Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives, E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, Victor Segalen’s Essay on Exoticism, Levi-Strauss’ Tristes Tropiques, Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate, Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land and J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello.

Darrel Chia, 2022-2023 Autumn


ENGL 20562/40562 Renaissance Freedoms, Crosslistings MAPH 40562

This course explores early modern debates about human agency across multiple registers: political, philosophical, religious, erotic. Texts include selections from the writings of Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza, William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Carey, Margaret Cavendish and John Milton.

Sarah Kunjummen, 2022-2023 Autumn, LG, LC


ENGL 20565/40565 Postcolonial Aesthetics, Crosslistings MAPH 40565

What do we mean by the “postcolonial aesthetic”? In this course, we read and think through the literary and conceptual resources that might help us reconstruct this notion – from Deepika Bahri, to Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. Our goal is to attend to “the aesthetic” as an experience that reshapes subjectivity in terms of our relation to ourselves and others. By engaging with twentieth-century novels, memoir, and film, we consider how this postcolonial aesthetic might function. What habituated forms of perception or common sense notions does it seek to interrupt? What ways of sensing and living does it offer? Readings will likely include Ashis Nandy, Deepika Bahri, Theodor Adorno, Derek Walcott, Frantz Fanon, Arundhati Roy, and Jean Rhys.

Darrel Chia, 2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 21360/41360 Gender, Capital, and Desire: Jane Austen and Critical Interpretation

Crosslistings GNSE 21303, GNSE 41303, MAPH 40130

Today, Jane Austen is one of the most famous (perhaps the most famous), most widely read, and most beloved of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British novelists. In the two hundred years since her authorial career, her novels have spawned countless imitations, homages, parodies, films, and miniseries – not to mention a thriving “Janeite” fan culture. For just as long, her novels have been the objects of sustained attention by literary critics, theorists, and historians. For example, feminist scholars have long been fascinated by Austen for her treatments of feminine agency, sociality, and desire. Marxists read her novels for the light they shed on an emergent bourgeoisie on the eve of industrialization. And students of the “rise of the novel” in English are often drawn to Austen as a landmark case – an innovator of new styles of narration and a visionary as to the potentials of the form. This course will offer an in-depth examination of Austen, her literary corpus, and her cultural reception as well as a graduate-level introduction to several important schools of critical and theoretical methodology. We will read all six of Austen’s completed novels in addition to criticism spanning feminism, historicism, Marxism, queer studies, postcolonialism, and psychoanalysis. Readings may include pieces by Shoshana Felman, Frances Ferguson, William Galperin, Deidre Lynch, D.A. Miller, Edward Said, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Raymond Williams.

Tristan Schweiger, 2022-2023 Autumn LG-F, LC, LT


ENGL 21370/41370 Ships, Tyrants, and Mutineers

Crosslistings MAPH 41370

Since the Renaissance beginnings of the “age of sail,” the ship has been one of literature’s most contested, exciting, fraught, and ominous concepts. Ships are, on the one hand, globe-traversing spaces of alterity and possibility that offer freedom from the repression of land-based systems of power. And they are Michel Foucault’s example of the heterotopia par excellence. From Lord Byron to Herman Melville to Anita Loos, the ship has been conceived as a site of queerness and one that puts great pressure on normative constructions of gender. At the same time, the ship has been a primary mechanism for the brutality of empire and hegemony of capital, the conduit by which vast wealth has been expropriated from the colony, military domination projected around the world, and millions of people kidnapped and enslaved. Indeed, the horror of the “Middle Passage” of the Atlantic slave trade has been a major focus of inquiry for theorists like Paul Gilroy and Hortense Spillers, interrogating how concepts of racial identity and structures of racism emerge out of oceanic violence. In the 20th and 21st centuries, science-fiction writers have sent ships deep into outer space, reimagining human social relations and even humans-as-species navigating the stars. While focusing on the Enlightenment and 19th century, this course will examine literary and filmic texts through the present that have centered on the ship, as well as theoretical texts that will help us to deepen our inquiries.

Tristan Schweiger 2022-2023 Winter



ENGL 26002  Literature and Hunger

Crosslistings RLST 26002

This undergraduate course pursues themes of hunger, the consumption of food, the formation of community, and relation to the sacred, through a sequence of readings in the Western tradition. By reading classic works (The Odyssey, selections from The Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures, selections from The Divine Comedy, the Letters of St. Catherine of Siena, sonnets of Shakespeare, Paradise Lost), and modern works by Kafka, Simone Weil, Louise Glück, Frank Bidart, we will examine how different philosophies have imagined the acceptance or rejection of love, life, and the sacred in terms of the symbolism of food. Class work will involve close analysis of literary works, even those in translation; intensive critical writing and revision; and secondary readings in literary criticism, anthropology, theology, and psychology. Undergraduate Seminar.  

R. Warren 2022-2023 Autumn

ENGL 27703/47703 Queer Modernism Crosslistings AMER 27703, AMER 47703, GNSE 23138, GNSE 47702, MAPH 47703

This course examines the dramatic revisions in gender and sexuality that characterize Anglo-American modernity. Together, we will read literary texts by queer writers to investigate their role in shaping the period's emergent regimes of sex and gender. We'll consider queer revisions of these concepts for their effect on the broader social and political terrain of the early twentieth century and explore the intimate histories they made possible: What new horizons for kinship, care, affect, and the everyday reproduction of life did modernist ideas about sex and gender enable? At the same time, we will seek to “queer” modernism by shifting our attention away from high literary modernism and towards modernism’s less-canonical margins. Our examination will center on queer lives relegated to the social and political margins—lives of exile or those cut short by various forms of dispossession. This class will double as an advanced introduction to queer theory, with a particular emphasis on literary criticism.

Agnes Malinowska 2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 27714/47714 Race, Reproduction, and Modernism

Crosslistings CRES 27714, GNSE 27714, GNSE 47714, MAPH 47714

In this class, we focus on the centrality of debates around women’s reproductive capacity in shaping the culture of modernity in the U.S. around 1900. We look at the way that feminist politics, in conjunction with broader developments in industrial capitalist society, disrupted traditional pathways of reproduction, as these have revolved around woman’s crucial role in sustaining the biological family and the home. We will read fiction, essays, and political tracts around the birth control movement, free love, sex work, the figure of the “new woman,” the politics of the home, the rise of consumer culture, and the demands placed on both Black and white women during this period in reproducing “the race.” Most generally, we will focus on texts that both trouble and shore up bourgeois motherhood as the central means of reproducing the biological life and social fabric of American culture. And we will likewise be interested in writers and political figures that imagine and advocate for non-reproductive intimacies that would dismantle this social reproductive order altogether.


Open enrollment for all graduate students, as well as 3rd- and 4th-year undergraduate students with majors in the Humanities and Social Sciences. All others, please email to request permission to enroll.

Agnes Malinowska 2022-2023 Spring

ENGL 50250 Moving and Being Moved

This course considers the significance of mobility, migration and migrancy in the context of concepts of 18th- and 19th century-modernity, and explores some of their legacies especially in relation to literature.  We will focus on migration in and from Britain mainly in the nineteenth century, and consider, inter alia, how literary and other printed texts intersect with the practices and fantasies of moving and staying still.    Key terms are mobility and stability or stagnancy, emigration and settlement, colonization and decolonization, empire, eviction, dispossession, hospitality, refuge and asylum, and ‘being moved’ in all its senses.

Josephine McDonagh 2022-2023 Autumn, LT


ENGL 50622 Creations: the Popol Vuh and Paradise Lost *

Crosslistings CDIN 50622

While apparently worlds apart, John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) and the K’iche’ Maya story of creation the Popol Vuh (1702) are historically adjacent works of world creation that remind us that world creations happen in historical circumstances, that creation itself is nothing if not historically, socially, and critically tensioned. This class thinks with and between these works to ask conceptual questions about creation and its relationship to myth and history. What are creations for? What kinds of thinking and feeling do they enable? And how should we understand the framework of comparability itself? At the same time, we will rethink the global historical currents within which the texts were written: the early modern anglophone, hispanophone, and indigenous worlds whose interconnections bind together the creation stories told by Milton and the anonymous K’iche’ Maya authors. Listening closely for shared engagements with colonialism, race, religion, political power, historical experience, pedagogy, intellection, imagination, critique, and social crisis, we will look for through-lines between these works but also for distinct points of departure and incommensurability.


This is a Ph.D.-level course, but spaces may be made available for MA or BA students who provide a note describing their interest and readiness for the course.

Edgar GarciaTimothy Harrison2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 53103 The Uses of Fiction: Poetry and Philosophy in Early Modernity

This course attempts to unpack the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy by examining how each discourse draws on the power of poiesis in different ways. We will approach this topic by examining four discourses: first, formal treatments of poetry and poetics from antiquity (Plato, Aristotle) through the late Renaissance (Sidney, Tasso, Milton); second, explicitly fictional thought experiments employed by philosophers (Avicenna, Ibn Tufayl, Descartes, Locke, Condillac); third, poetry explicitly invested in the making of fictional worlds (Spenser, Milton, Cavendish); and fourth, recent scholarship on poetry’s relationship to philosophy (Stanley Rosen, Victoria Kahn, Ayesha Ramachandran, Russ Leo, Guido Mazzoni, and others.

Timothy Harrison2022-2023 Winter, LC


ENGL 53450 Enlightenments and Romanticisms

This seminar will develop research projects around the topics of Enlightenment(s), nationalisms, and transnationalisms in the Romantic era. Some of the categories for the course will come from traditional faculty psychology (reason, memory, imagination). Some will come from criticism and theory that are sometimes tinged with aesthetic and philosophical ambitions. Our primary emphasis will be on literature, but questions about romanticism in music, the visual arts, and the historical disciplines will be in play. The main focus will fall on English-language literary materials produced in England, Scotland, Ireland, and America, but the course may also engage texts by non-British writers such as Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Kant, Herder, Schiller, and the Saint Simonians.

2022-2023 Winter


ENGL 53580 Debates and New Directions in Black Feminisms Crosslistings GNSE 53580

Following Jennifer Nash’s charge for Black feminists to “let go” of tightly held intellectual genealogies (intersectionality) and postures (defensiveness), this doctoral seminar takes up new directions and debates in the study of Black feminisms. We’ll study institutional debates and tensions between Black and transnational feminisms (where do we mean when we say Black, and who do we mean when we say transnational), the agonistic relationship between Afropessimism and Black feminisms, among others. Alongside these new works in Black feminisms, we’ll consider the foundational works of Black feminist thought, literature, and art they’re reimagining. Scholars, writers, and artists under consideration include Jennifer Nash, Katherine McKittrick, Jennifer Morgan, Simone Leigh, Saidiya Hartman, Patrice Douglass, Torkwase Dyson, and Canisia Lubrin.

Kaneesha Parsard2022-2023 Autumn, 20th/21st


ENGL 53590 Archival Methods: Race, Indigeneity, and Gender Before 1900 Crosslistings GNSE 53590

This class offers an in-depth introduction to archival theory and research methodologies that attend to colonialism and slavery between 1650 and 1865. With a focus on how scholars have used the analytics of race and gender to examine this history, our class will examine foundational primary materials and the bodies of scholarship that have grown up around them. We will read the work of Olaudah Equiano, Matthew Lewis, Phillis Wheatley, Mary Prince, Samuel Occom, Venture Smith, Black Hawk, Harriet Jacobs, as well as Salem Witch Trial transcripts. In addition, the class will visit UChicago’s Special Collections and the Newberry Library. Students will write on an archival object of their choosing from the period that is relevant to their individual research interests.

SJ Zhang2022-2023 Spring


ENGL 54332 X Before X: Historicist Method and Concepts Across Time

This course explores the methodological friction between present-day concepts and the archives of the past. In particular, we look at instances when an organizing concept is arguably anachronistic to the cultural milieu in question. The class will be divided into several units, like “race before race,” “lyric before lyric” “trans before trans,” and “literature before literature.” Readings will include both primary and secondary sources. Along the way, we will also consider different paradigms for understanding literary history, cultural history, and the history of ideas (e.g., Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Quentin Skinner, Arnold Davidson, Hans Robert Jauss, Sheldon Pollock).

Julie Orlemanski2022-2023 Winter, 18th/19th


ENGL 20566/TAPS 20420 Performing Skateboard Poetics: Style, Motion, and Space

Wed : 01:30 PM-04:20 PM
Midway Studios 112
This Gray Center Fellowship course considers the social poetics of skateboard culture, with special attention to style, motion, and physical space. Co-taught by Kyle Beachy, Tina Post, and Alexis Sablone, the course will feature film screenings and panels on embodied style, narrative, time, and the built environment, along with skateboarding's anti-scarcity and communal structures that both subvert and reframe capitalist competition. Students will produce a short performance work as the culminating project of the class.

Tina Post, Kyle Beachy, and Alexis Sablone



ENGL 65008 Materialities

In the first instance, this course surveys a range of thinking (by Elizabeth Grosz, Karen Barad, and Rosi Braidotti, among others) that has gone under the banner of ‘new materialism,’ emphasizing the vitality of matter and working to reject anthropocentrism. In the second instance, the course focuses on textual materialism within literary studies (both Susan Howe and Derrida, for instance), ultimately asking how we might begin to understand material texts within a new materialist frame. The widest frame for the course, though, will be provided by the question of how the materialisms of our moment (across fields and disciplines) can be understood through the analytics provided by historical materialism. We will read literary texts from different periods, and we will conduct at least two sessions in Special Collections.

Bill Brown2022-2023 Spring, 20th/21st


HIST 27006/37006 (AMER 27006/37006, LLSO 25411) Not Just the Facts: Telling About the American South (J. Dailey) This course engages the various ways people have tried to make sense of the American South, past and present. Main themes of the course include the difference between historical scholarship and writing history in fictional form; the role of the author in each, and consideration of the interstitial space of autobiography; the question of authorial authenticity; and the tension between contemporary demands for truthfulness and the rejection of "facts" and "truth." We will read across several genres, including historical scholarship, biography, and fiction. (LG-NF)


CMLT 26311/36311 Worlding Otherwise: Speculative Fiction, Film, Theory Crosslisting:  ENGL 26312/36312

This course examines literary and cinematic works of speculative fiction in a comparative context. An expansive genre that encompasses science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, horror, as well as utopian and dystopian literature, speculative fiction envisions alternate, parallel, possible or imagined worlds. These worlds often exhibit characteristics such as: scientific and technological advancements; profound social, environmental, or political transformations; time or space travel; life on other planets; artificial intelligence; and evolved, hybrid, or new species. Speculative works frequently reimagine the past and present in order to offer radical visions of desirable or undesirable futures. We will also consider how this genre interrogates existential questions about what it means to be human, the nature of consciousness, the relationship between mind/body, thinking/being, and self/other, as well as planetary concerns confronting our species. Fictional works will be paired with theoretical readings that frame speculative and science fiction in relation to questions of gender, race, class, colonialism, bio-politics, human rights, as well as environmental and social justice. In addition to studying subgeneres - such as Afrofuturism - we will explore speculative fiction as a critical mode of reading that theorizes other ways of being, knowing, and imagining.

Hoda El Shakry2022-2023 Autumn, LG, LT


PHIL 23401: Philosophy and Science Fiction

How do we know whether our perceptual experiences really are of a real world outside of us? What determines the identity of a person over time? What does it take to be conscious, and how can we tell whether someone or something is? Could radically different languages lead to radically different forms of experience and thought? These are key questions in the philosophical fields of epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy of Language. In this course, we’ll explore these questions (and more) as they arise in works of science fiction and consider the main philosophical proposals for tackling them with an eye to these works. The main works with which we’ll engage will be the films “The Matrix,” “Moon,” “Ex Machina,” and “Arrival,” though there will be many supplementary works of science fiction. Philosophical readings will be drawn from both historical and contemporary sources. 

Ryan Simonelli, 2022-2023 Autumn, LT