Intro. 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.


Required Primary Texts

Subject to change. Please
come to class before purchasing books.  


  • Alani Apio, Kāmau and Kāmau A‘e (dramas)
  • Brandy Nālani McDougall, The Salt-Wind:
    Ka Makani Paʻakai
  • Toni Morrison, A Mercy (novel)
  • Kimberley
    Peirce, Boys Don’t Cry (film)
  • Kate Pullinger
    and Chris Joseph Inanimate Alice
    (multimedia hypertext/game)
  • William
    Shakespeare, Sonnets (poetry)
  • Sophocles, Oedipus the King(drama)


Graded Work

Your grade for this class will be determined based on
your performance on the following:


  • Quizzes on
    assigned readings
  • A précis of one
    of the assigned readings
  • Short writing
    assignments building up to a complete research paper
  • A short
    creative-writing assignment
  • A midterm and
    final exam