Introduction to English Studies


This course offers a broad introduction to English Studies, the umbrella term for a variety of sub-fields that share a concern with the production, interpretation, and cultural work of “texts” (including visual, acoustic, kinetic). With the objective of understanding and appreciating what people in English Studies do–along with how, for whom, and for what they do it–the course will survey a range of theoretical approaches and keywords. We will consider ways in which traditional rhetorical, literary, and cultural theories—concerned in particular with aesthetics, ethics, ideology, recognition, and representation—continue to inform discussions of the functions and pleasures of “reading” and writing in an age marked by accelerated globalization, new mediascapes, climate change, and indigenous and decolonial movements. The course will stress the importance of location to questions of interpretations, and discuss how people in the field compose, research, create, and present their work.

REQUIREMENTS: Two papers (20% each, 3 pages each); Midterm Exam (15%); Participation (in-class discussion, group work, in-class writings, oral report) (20%); Final Exam (25%).

William Kennedy, Ironweed (novel)
Toni Morrison, Sula (novel)
Sia Figiel, Where ‘We’ Once Belonged (novel)
A Course Reader with essays/poems/short stories/plays/interviews drawn from the following: Alexie, Althusser, Anzaldua, Apio, Aristotle, Balaz, Baldwin, Benjamin, Butler, Davis, Diaz, Eagleton, Ellison, Erdrich, Espada, Faulkner, Freud, Hau‘ofa, Hemingway, Ihimaera, Jetnil-Kijener, Kaluaikoolau, Kneubuhl, Larkin, London, Longinus, Lorde, Morales, Morrison, McDougall and Nordstrom, McMullin, Nabokov, Nietzsche, O’Brown, Pak, Perez, Prouxl, Puleloa, Rich, Teaiwa, Thiang’o, Trask, Wendt, Westlake.