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English Writing Courses

The English Department offers more courses that satisfy the Intensive Writing 1 and Intensive Writing 2 Proficiencies than any other department on campus. Most students at PC take their Writing 1 course in the English Department, and a substantial number also take their Writing 2 courses here. Our writing courses are not primarily about grammar and mechanics; they are small-group seminars that use writing as a means of learning about a particular topic. Along the way, students develop skills in rhetoric and argumentation that they will apply to any discipline they choose to study. The courses for Fall 2020 are listed below.*

Writing 1

ENG101-001 | MR 830-945 | 1426 | Rachel Dushkewich
Writing Across the Personal and Political
This course aims to equip students to succeed across the fundamentals of college writing: reading, research, and composition. By examining the argument as the key ingredient of good writing across a wide variety of genres, students will learn to embrace writing as a process grounded in evidence-based support and revision. Peer review, extensive feedback on their written work, and examining the mechanics of a wide variety of essays will allow students to dissect effective rhetorical strategies among different audiences and cultures. This course satisfies the Intensive Writing I proficiency. This course is built around the theme of “writing across the personal and political.” Ideas, political opinions, personal identities, and even the conventions of “good writing” do not exist in a vacuum. Our readings and assignments will explore the cultural constructs surrounding argumentation, writing, audience expectations, and who or what constitutes strong evidence. Our critical reading and writing assignments will explore even the most personal writing as a deeply political act invested in its own set of arguments, and we will learn to explore the cultural context that informs our own rhetoric and compositions.

ENG101-002 | MR 830-945 | 1448 | Beth Leonardo Silva
Sibling-like Communities
In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith writes, “Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers.” This course will explore how the concept of the sibling is used to mark both inclusion within a community and the limits of our responsibilities towards others. In order to better understand complex arguments and effectively craft our own, we will study rhetorical strategies and think about writing as an ongoing process of reflection and revision.

ENG101-003 | TWF 830-920 | 1450 | Jenny Platz
Digital Identities
Everyday we encounter digital texts such as social media, YouTube, video games, Netflix shows, and films. Often, interaction with digital texts is unavoidable, as we spend ever-increasing amounts of time on our phones, tablets, or computers. With constant contact with the narratives of digital texts, how are our identities shaped and conflated with the digital media that surrounds us? How do we represent ourselves through digital media? How do others narrate their selves through digital texts? What are the social, cultural, and political implications of creating an online, and therefore public, story of the self? This class seeks to answer these questions through rhetorical examination and writing about identity and digital media. Overall, ENG 101 is designed to provide students with essential writing tools. Through this writing seminar students will review the mechanics of grammar and syntax, and advance their essay organization skills. Students will learn to craft logical and convincing arguments, and write in a variety of styles and genres. As a class we will also study different methods of argumentation and persuasion. Students will leave this class with knowledge of various research and citation techniques, self-editing strategies, and the ability to provide productive feedback to peers.

ENG101-004 | TWF 930-1020 | 1452 | Jenny Platz
Digital Identities
Everyday we encounter digital texts such as social media, YouTube, video games, Netflix shows, and films. Often, interaction with digital texts is unavoidable, as we spend ever-increasing amounts of time on our phones, tablets, or computers. With constant contact with the narratives of digital texts, how are our identities shaped and conflated with the digital media that surrounds us? How do we represent ourselves through digital media? How do others narrate their selves through digital texts? What are the social, cultural, and political implications of creating an online, and therefore public, story of the self? This class seeks to answer these questions through rhetorical examination and writing about identity and digital media. Overall, ENG 101 is designed to provide students with essential writing tools. Through this writing seminar students will review the mechanics of grammar and syntax, and advance their essay organization skills. Students will learn to craft logical and convincing arguments, and write in a variety of styles and genres.As a class we will also study different methods of argumentation and persuasion. Students will leave this class with knowledge of various research and citation techniques, self-editing strategies, and the ability to provide productive feedback to peers.

ENG101-005 | TWF 1030-1120 | 1454 | Tavid Mulder
Crisis and Critical Thinking
We live today in a world of crises, from the environment and the pandemic to the political system. In this class, we will ask what it means when something enters into crisis, into that critical moment when a decision must be made or when a fundamental change takes place and there is no going back. We will look at various kinds of crises–economic, ecological, political, personal–and examine different responses to these situations. Moreover, the notion of crisis is closely connected to critical thinking, for instance, when a sudden turn of events challenges our assumptions and forces us to reevaluate our perspective on the world. Accordingly, we will use the theme of crisis to develop the argumentative and rhetorical strategies necessary to adapt to various writing situations in college, thus approaching writing as an ongoing process of analysis and revision.

ENG101-006 | MWF 1130-1220 | 1457 | Pat Armstrong
The Art of Argument
While a work of art is an aesthetic object, original and unique, it is also an argument—a comment in a conversation that is ancient and ongoing. In this class, students will discuss and write about works of art. They will study and implement the rhetorical strategies necessary for academic discourse, and they will—through a rigorous workshopping process—analyze and evaluate their peers’ essays. By learning how to analyze other students’ writing, students will learn how to analyze—and, thus, edit—their own writing.

ENG101-007 | MWF 130-220 | 1458 | Shawn Flanagan
Society, Technology, and Equity: Technological Utopias and Dystopian Realities
Communication technologies have made it easier for everyone to communicate and improved interpersonal communication, or have they? The U.S. has effectively ended segregation and vastly improved socio-economic inequality with respect to race and gender over the past fifty years, or has it?Our class will consider these claims and others related to social justice and the impacts of technology on our lives in the content and activities of this course. As we discuss the issues presented in the class content, we will explore the questions these materials raise (through discussions, short essays, and on-line Forum writings) as they complicate our own understanding, experience, and world view. These initial observational/reflective writings in the first half of the semester will give way to research writing assignments that focus on academic research as a process and culminate in a final research project that includes both a presentation and research paper.

ENG101-008 | TWF 1030-1120 | 1459 | Michael Gastiger
Music, Media, and Cultural Meaning

This course will introduce you to the conventions of academic writing. You will learn how to craft clear and persuasive arguments; how to organize your ideas; how to follow conventions and use creativity to your advantage; and how to conduct research and situate your work within a scholarly conversation. Most of our readings address products of popular culture — mainly music, some television and film — and the social and political values we assign to them. In carefully studying essays about Rousseau and reality TV, Independence Day and American militarism, or Drake, suburban identity, and the desire for coolness, you will encounter writerly techniques and conceptual ideas to incorporate into your own work.

ENG101-009 | MWF 1230-120 | 1460 | Pat Armstrong
The Art of Argument
While a work of art is an aesthetic object, original and unique, it is also an argument—a comment in a conversation that is ancient and ongoing. In this class, students will discuss and write about works of art. They will study and implement the rhetorical strategies necessary for academic discourse, and they will—through a rigorous workshopping process—analyze and evaluate their peers’ essays. By learning how to analyze other students’ writing, students will learn how to analyze—and, thus, edit—their own writing.

ENG101-010 | MR 1000-1115 | 1461 | Beth Leonardo Silva
Sibling-like Communities
In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith writes, “Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers.” This course will explore how the concept of the sibling is used to mark both inclusion within a community and the limits of our responsibilities towards others. In order to better understand complex arguments and effectively craft our own, we will study rhetorical strategies and think about writing as an ongoing process of reflection and revision.

ENG101-011 | TWF 930-1020 | 1462 | Rachel Dushkewich
Writing Across the Personal and Political
This course aims to equip students to succeed across the fundamentals of college writing: reading, research, and composition. By examining the argument as the key ingredient of good writing across a wide variety of genres, students will learn to embrace writing as a process grounded in evidence-based support and revision. Peer review, extensive feedback on their written work, and examining the mechanics of a wide variety of essays will allow students to dissect effective rhetorical strategies among different audiences and cultures. This course satisfies the Intensive Writing I proficiency. This course is built around the theme of “writing across the personal and political.” Ideas, political opinions, personal identities, and even the conventions of “good writing” do not exist in a vacuum. Our readings and assignments will explore the cultural constructs surrounding argumentation, writing, audience expectations, and who or what constitutes strong evidence. Our critical reading and writing assignments will explore even the most personal writing as a deeply political act invested in its own set of arguments, and we will learn to explore the cultural context that informs our own rhetoric and compositions.

ENG101-012 | TR 100-215 | 1463 | Lucas DuClos
Your Education
In this course you will explore big ideas in education as they relate to your experience as a student and your goals given your academic interests. You might explore how interest in a task can develop as a consequence of the effort you put in, or why it matters to exercise choice as a student. Your focus will not be chosen randomly. You will use your practice in several writing genres to engage in a more critical discussion with leading voices in education about the topics that matter to you most. The features of each writing genre we practice will provide unique insight into your chosen topic and into your own educational experience. Whether you’re keeping your options open, studying finance or education itself, you will engage in a more critical exploration of the theories and practices informing and shaping that education.

ENG101-013 | MWF 1230-120 | 2617 | Matthew Beach

ENG101-014 | MWF 130-220 | 2618 | Matthew Beach

ENG101-015 | TWF 930-1020 | 2638 | Christopher Yates
Metaphor and Society

ENG101-016 | TWF 1030-1120 | 2639 | Christopher Yates
Metaphor and Society

ENG175-001 | TR 100-215 | 1466 | E.C. Osondu

ENG175-002 | MWF 230-320 | 1467 | Iain Bernhoft
Seeing and Believing
People give particular import to our sense of sight: “seeing is believing,” “pics or it didn’t happen,” etc. Yet sight is also the sense most subject to deception—notoriously selective and unreliable, prejudiced in ways we do not recognize, manipulated and led astray. Given that, what does it mean to “truly see”? Can one see the thing itself, without assumptions or presuppositions? Or some essence that lurks below the surface? The texts we will examine in this course interrogate sight, what it means to see and what “seeing truly” truly means. In various ways, they attest to the power of sight yet also illuminate its limits. We will thus confront a number of interrelated questions concerning the limits of sight, how perception is it shaped by custom and culture, and what it means to “see clearly.” Readings will include essays, stories, and novellas by Herman Melville, Nella Larsen, David Foster Wallace, and others.

ENG175-003 | TWF 930-1020 | 1468 | Tavid Mulder
Literature in Contexts
In this course, we will develop the skills necessary for literary analysis and, more broadly, for critical thinking and argumentative writing. We will cover a range of topics—racism, mental illness, technology, urban life—and ask how literary works use narrative structures, poetic forms and dramatic conventions to raise questions about these topics and challenge our assumptions. Moreover, we will examine these works in their historical contexts, tracing a historical trajectory from imperialism to modern media. Authors include: Emily Dickinson, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, and Don DeLillo.

ENG175-004 | MWF 130-220 | 1469 | Iain Bernhoft
Seeing and Believing
People give particular import to our sense of sight: “seeing is believing,” “pics or it didn’t happen,” etc. Yet sight is also the sense most subject to deception—notoriously selective and unreliable, prejudiced in ways we do not recognize, manipulated and led astray. Given that, what does it mean to “truly see”? Can one see the thing itself, without assumptions or presuppositions? Or some essence that lurks below the surface? The texts we will examine in this course interrogate sight, what it means to see and what “seeing truly” truly means. In various ways, they attest to the power of sight yet also illuminate its limits. We will thus confront a number of interrelated questions concerning the limits of sight, how perception is it shaped by custom and culture, and what it means to “see clearly.” Readings will include essays, stories, and novellas by Herman Melville, Nella Larsen, David Foster Wallace, and others.

ENG175-005 | MWF 1130-1220 | 1470 | William Hogan

ENG175-006 | TWF 1030-1120 | 1471 | Rob Stretter
How Stories Work
This course, which is centered on the question “How can we know what a work of literature means?”, introduces students to strategies that will help them derive meaning and pleasure from literary texts. We will study the fundamental techniques of literary analysis and develop the critical vocabulary and skills with which to understand not only what a literary text means, but also how texts create meaning. The course will show students how to apply this critical vocabulary to close readings of a wide range of literature in English across a variety of historical periods and genres, to develop the skills necessary for analytical writing about literature, and to compose clear and compelling arguments in the interpretation of a text. Readings will focus on four major literary genres: short story, drama, novel and poetry. We will also spend some time on the process of adapting literature to film. Authors include Margaret Atwood, Lorraine Hansberry, William Shakespeare, Nick Hornby, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Robert Frost.

ENG175-007 | MR 230-345 | 1472 | Dorin Smith
The Consolations of Subjectivity
Serving as an introduction to literary research, close reading, and literature’s three major divisions (poetry, drama, and narrative), this course explores the capacity literary texts to represent human consciousness and console individuals. As we explore the conventions of subjectivity in literature, we will compare canonical representations of experience alongside more experimental, genre texts by contemporary African American authors. Authors include but are not limited to: Claudia Rankine, Emily Dickinson, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Jean-Paul Sartre, Octavia Butler, and Herman Melville.

ENG175-008 | TR 1130-1245 | 1473 | Russell Hillier

ENG175-009 | MR 1000-1115 | 1474 | Chun Ye
Introduction to Literature

This class introduces the major genres of literary expression: poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction. The majority of literary texts we read for the class center upon issues such as gender, race, class, and sexuality, and are written by a diversity of contemporary writers, including Li-Young Lee, Natasha Trethewey, Terrance Hayes, Toni Morrison, Tennessee Williams, and Joy Harjo. Students completing this course should be able to read with engagement and discernment, discuss literature critically, and write analytically and with an awareness of scholarly conversations.

ENG175-010 | TR 100-215 | 1475 | Russell Hillier

ENG175-011 | MWF 1230-120 | 1476 | Rebecca Karni
Crossing Borders
This course is an introduction to the close reading of, as well as to thinking and writing critically about, diverse literary texts at the college level. We will focus in particular on the ways in which the narrative, poetic, and dramatic texts, as well as a related film, cross borders on various levels as they give expression to complex relationships between, for example, the “West” and the “East” and the self and perceived others. Moreover, in acquiring the skills essential to sophisticated readers and critics of literary texts, you are automatically honing the skills essential to readers and critics of any text.

ENG175-012 | TR 230-345 | 1477 | Mark Pedretti
Tortured Confessions
What does it mean to confess? Is it an admission of guilt, a personal narrative, a scandalous revelation, or some combination of all of them? The confession has proven to be a remarkably flexible rhetorical mode, in part because it explicitly invokes questions of speaker, audience, and argument that are central to the study and production of all genres of prose writing. This course will introduce students to both the fundamental aspects of academic argumentation and the major genres of literature (poetry, fiction, drama) by examining a group of texts, primarily from the mid- to late twentieth century, in one way or another addressing the topic of confession. Students will learn both transdisciplinary argumentative skills that will be applicable to any discipline they choose to pursue, and the essential questions of literary analysis.

ENG175-013 | MR 830-945 | 1478 | Chun Ye
Introduction to Literature

This class introduces the major genres of literary expression: poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction. The majority of literary texts we read for the class center upon issues such as gender, race, class, and sexuality, and are written by a diversity of contemporary writers, including Li-Young Lee, Natasha Trethewey, Terrance Hayes, Toni Morrison, Tennessee Williams, and Joy Harjo. Students completing this course should be able to read with engagement and discernment, discuss literature critically, and write analytically and with an awareness of scholarly conversations.

ENG175-014 | TR 230-345 | 1479 | Tuire Valkeakari
Introduction to Literature

Philosopher Plato had little patience with what some ancients and not-so-ancients have called “the lies of the poets.” Why study such “lies,” literary texts, in an academic environment? Let’s find out. We will explore fiction, drama, and poetry, with a particular interest in what these genres are made of and how they work. We will mostly read nineteenth- and twentieth-century American authors, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), and Toni Morrison.

ENG175-015 | MWF 230-320 | 2619 | Rebecca Karni
Crossing Borders
This course is an introduction to the close reading of, as well as to thinking and writing critically about, diverse literary texts at the college level. We will focus in particular on the ways in which the narrative, poetic, and dramatic texts, as well as a related film, cross borders on various levels as they give expression to complex relationships between, for example, the “West” and the “East” and the self and perceived others. Moreover, in acquiring the skills essential to sophisticated readers and critics of literary texts, you are automatically honing the skills essential to readers and critics of any text.

ENG175-016 | MR 830-945 | 2634 | Dorin Smith
The Consolations of Subjectivity
Serving as an introduction to literary research, close reading, and literature’s three major divisions (poetry, drama, and narrative), this course explores the capacity literary texts to represent human consciousness and console individuals. As we explore the conventions of subjectivity in literature, we will compare canonical representations of experience alongside more experimental, genre texts by contemporary African American authors. Authors include but are not limited to: Claudia Rankine, Emily Dickinson, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Jean-Paul Sartre, Octavia Butler, and Herman Melville.

ENG175-017 | MWF 1130-1220 | 2635 | Milena Radeva-Costello
Hospitality and Being at Home in Poetry, Fiction, and Drama
What is a home? What happens when we open our home to others? Can hospitality hurt those who give or receive it? In this course we will ask what it means to give hospitality and how we open our homes to others through friendship, love, philanthropy, and the American dream. We will examine the idea of a multicultural society and the very possibility of giving that philosopher Jacques Derrida questions in Given Time. Our reading will encompass different genres of literature: short stories, poetry, novels, and plays. We will explore how these different genres work, and we will attempt to develop skills for becoming more perceptive readers in each of them.In addition, we will practice writing about literature in historical, cultural and critical contexts, and we will learn how to incorporate research and how to use the library resources to strengthen our arguments about literary texts.

ENG175-018 | MWF 130-220 | 2636 | James Beaver
Alien Encounters: Literature and the Other
This course asks the question: what if we think of literary texts as, thematically, works which stage alien encounters; that is, encounters between the known and the unknown, the familiar and the strange, and the same and the Other? What if each text—each story, poem, and play—could be fundamentally understand through this encounter? How could we imagine the clash of value systems presented before us in our readings? In what ways might we productively characterize that clash as something beyond a battle between Sameness and Difference, the “Norm” and the Other? With the stories, poems, film, and dramatic works selected, we will attempt to grapple with these difficult questions of values, of sameness, and difference, as we ask what basic encounters lie behind what we call “literature.”

ENG175-019 | MWF 230-320 | 2637 | James Beaver
Alien Encounters: Literature and the Other
This course asks the question: what if we think of literary texts as, thematically, works which stage alien encounters; that is, encounters between the known and the unknown, the familiar and the strange, and the same and the Other? What if each text—each story, poem, and play—could be fundamentally understand through this encounter? How could we imagine the clash of value systems presented before us in our readings? In what ways might we productively characterize that clash as something beyond a battle between Sameness and Difference, the “Norm” and the Other? With the stories, poems, film, and dramatic works selected, we will attempt to grapple with these difficult questions of values, of sameness, and difference, as we ask what basic encounters lie behind what we call “literature.”

Writing 2

ENG265-001 | TR 1130-1245 | 1482 | Tuire Valkeakari
20th Century African American Literature

An introduction to twentieth-century African American fiction, autobiography, drama, and poetry, with attention to cultural and social contexts. Careful close readings of selected texts, as well as discussions of black literary movements’ and individual authors’ understandings of the role of literary art in society. Focus on race, class, and gender; literary representations of black identity, resistance, and freedom; and dialogue between content and literary form. Writers include Nella Larsen, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and Anna Deavere Smith.

ENG265-002 | TR 100-215 | 1483 | Tuire Valkeakari
20th Century African American Literature

An introduction to twentieth-century African American fiction, autobiography, drama, and poetry, with attention to cultural and social contexts. Careful close readings of selected texts, as well as discussions of black literary movements’ and individual authors’ understandings of the role of literary art in society. Focus on race, class, and gender; literary representations of black identity, resistance, and freedom; and dialogue between content and literary form. Writers include Nella Larsen, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and Anna Deavere Smith.

ENG301-001 | TWF 930-1020 | 1484 | Milena Radeva-Costello
Philanthropy and the Gift
This course aims to develop your writing skills beyond competence through a variety of writing and reading assignments, draft workshops, and class discussions.  Initially, we will examine concepts from classical and modern rhetoric and how they apply to classical texts, such as Plato’s Apology and Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.  Next, we will read a variety of modern literary texts and popular essays on the topics of philanthropy, foundations, gifts and bequests, voluntarism, democracy, and the patronage of the arts.  We will discuss the very possibility of giving that philosopher Jacques Derrida questions in Given Time.  With Susan Glaspell’s play The Inheritors, we will comment on the role of the university in America, and on education as a gift.  We will ask what it means to give, what motivates donors, how philanthropy affects its beneficiaries, if private giving challenges the practices of democracy, and what is the place of the Catholic idea of caritas in modern welfare society. 

ENG301-002 | MWF 1230-120 | 1485 | Shawn Flanagan
Dropped Calls: Technology, Society, and Social Justice
Communication technologies have made it easier for everyone to communicate and improved interpersonal communication, or have they? The U.S. has effectively ended segregation and vastly improved socio-economic inequality with respect to race and gender over the past fifty years, or has it?Our class will consider these claims and others related to social justice and the impacts of technology on our lives in the content and activities of this course. As we discuss the issues presented in the class content, we will explore the questions these materials raise (through discussions, short essays, and on-line Forum writings) as they complicate our own understanding, experience, and world view. These initial observational/reflective writings in the first half of the semester will give way to research writing assignments that focus on academic research as a process and culminate in a final research project that includes both a presentation and research paper.

*Schedule, courses, and instructors are subject to change.