Intro to English Studies


Over the last thirty years the Department of English has become the Department of Reading and Writing, as the increasing prominence of Creative Writing and Composition and Rhetoric has moved our attention to the production as well as the discussion of writing, and as Cultural Studies and a host of other theoretical and critical approaches have extended the range of what we read, why we read it, and how such readings will have consequences beyond our own pleasure or profit.

Over the course of the semester, we will look at a number of texts–poetic, dramatic, fictional, autobiographical, critical, theoretical–that address us, and therefore presume or require a response. Close attention will be a constant, but what we focus upon will change as we determine what we want, or are being asked, to do.

The goal is a more aware, engaged, and nuanced understanding of what it means for an individual, a culture, or an age to read and write; and, ideally, this understanding will prove useful in your other English classes.

Texts and Evaluation:

William Shakespeare, King Lear

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Parts 1 &2

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Sammie Choy, Craig Howes, and Phyllis Look, eds. The Best of Aloha Shorts.

Sizable amounts of additional literary, critical, and theoretical reading, supplied by the instructor.

A series of short critical, theoretical, methodological and bibliographical papers, performance reviews, memorization exercises, regular e-mail postings, and a final examination will be required. Attendance at certain arts and cultural events will be necessary as well.