Intro to English Studies

Catalog: Introduction to English Studies at UH Mânoa, including the purpose, practice, and potential of literary and rhetorical study of texts; consideration given to Hawaiian and/or Pacific texts in cultural and historical context.

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. -John Donne

This course, the only course required of all UHM English majors, is an introduction to the study of literary and cultural (including visual) texts: how we read them, interpret them, contextualize them, critique them, and imbibe them into our consciousness and identity. Our thematic focus will be on islands, which have exerted a powerful pull on the modern imagination through texts that have used the idea of islands to define experimental self-hood (“imagine yourself all alone on a desert island . . . ) and texts that question this isolationistic and individualistic concept, such as Epeli Hau’ofa’s seminal essay, “Our Sea of Islands.”
We will begin with the (now) little-known 12th century Arabic novel by Andalusian polymath and philosopher Ibn Tuyfayl– Hayy Ibn Yaqzan—essentially first-person philosophical thought-experiment of a child raised alone on an island by deer, which became wildly popular and influential when translated into Latin, then European languages in the 17th and 18th centuries. The work had a profound influence and direct influence on the European Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, inspiring such thinkers as John Locke, Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant—and the author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe.
Such insular imagery has been central to the development of the post-Enlightenment sense of self, shaped by encounters with the colonial “other” (for example, The Tempest’s Caliban; Robinson Crusoe’s Friday). This imagery has also been interrogated by postcolonial writers in their re-imagining of these “foundational” texts. We will gain an understanding of the development the various genres (drama, poetry, the novel, and film) within their historical contexts, as well as the various critical approaches used to encompass them. Because this is a writing intensive course, we will also focus on the conventions of writing and researching literary essays, including MLA style and documentation, as well as the appropriate use of quotations.

MAJOR TEXTS (Available at UHM Bookstore; if purchased online be sure to get the correct Norton Critical edition.
(If purchased online, be sure you buy the Norton Critical Editions, which include additional works to be assigned)
Ibn Tufayl, Hayy Ibn Yaqzan: A Philosopher’s Tale
William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Norton Critical Edition (2nd edition)
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, Norton Critical Edition (2nd edition)
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, Norton Critical Edition
Sia Figiel, Where We Once Belonged

Two 4-5 page comparative literary essays (15% each)
One 6-7 page research paper. Includes related assignments. (25%)
Homework: reading responses, study questions, summaries, etc. (25%)
Informal Presentations of Critical Articles and Research Project (15%)
Final exam (5%)
Attendance, Preparation, Participation