Introduction to English Studies

This course is designed to introduce you to the multifaceted discipline of English studies and provide you a solid foundation for future coursework in the discipline. We will focus on the methods and theories that are used in the production, analysis, interpretation, and assessment of a variety of texts, including works of fiction, poetry, drama, non-fiction, life writing, films, and advertisements. The course also includes a general introduction to key themes in composition studies and devotes time to an exploration of the basic concepts and methods in rhetoric. We will also spend some time on the theories and methods associated with cultural studies.

One of our goals will be to understand the aesthetic and social dimensions of written communication in a number of historical periods. Throughout the semester, we will be placing “classic” texts into dialogue with one another and with present-day critical perspectives, emphasizing significant continuities throughout the history of scholarship in literature and rhetoric and at the same time examining the critiques and transformations that basic critical concepts and approaches have undergone in the course of their development.

Our particular focus will be on the complex problem of interpretation. What critical procedures allow us to grasp and to convey the meaning of what we read? How do we know that our interpretations are valid? What are the social and political consequences of our interpretations? In addition to providing you with a background in English studies, this class is designed to build skills in careful reading, critical thinking, and lucid argumentative writing.


quizzes, short response papers, class presentation, midterm and final exams.

Required Texts

(come to class before you buy the books):

  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • Alani Apio, Kamauand Kamau A‘e
  • Gizelle Gajelonia, 13 Ways of Looking At The Bus
  • and a course packet.