Introduction to English Studies

In this course, you will be introduced to the four areas that compromise most contemporary English Studies programs: literature, rhetoric and composition, cultural studies, and creative writing. In looking at these areas, we will consider a range of approaches to reading and producing texts as well as some of the debates that animate and enliven English departments today. We will work to articulate and define the set of assumptions that we bring to the act of reading all kinds of texts: poems, plays, novels, films, political speeches, critical essays, etc. As our investigations will be centered around the act of interpretation, we will explore how key concepts such as “ideology,” “discourse” “rhetoric” and “representation”(to name but a few) can inform and complicate the ways that we understand texts. We will take into account such questions as how the meaning of a text changes in relation to time and where the reader or writer is located. For example, we will consider how an increasingly global economy affects not only popular cultural forms like television and film but the way we understand older texts as well. Throughout the course, we will try not so much to apply critical texts to literature, but to explore what happens when we place different kinds of texts in dialogue. As we cover a variety of both texts and approaches to interpreting texts, you will be asked to think about both what motivated your decision to study English and what value or usefulness can be found in English studies.

Class attendance and participation is required.


Course texts will be ordered through Revolution Books in Puck’s Alley.

  • Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • Apio, Kamau & Kamau A‘e
  • Gajelonia, 13 Ways of Looking At The Bus
  • course reader


  • Midterm: 25%
  • Final: 25%
  • 3 short paper: 25%
  • Quizzes, Laulima postings: 25%
  • Total: 100%