Courses (No Group)

The following courses are without group designation.


Reading with Attitude: Introduction to Literary Methods

This course introduces students to various methods for reading literature critically, including close reading, literary theory, practical criticism, and creative writing. By providing an overview of literary interpretation and analysis, this course enables students to look beyond the obvious, to challenge cliched or surface formulations, to, in short, read with attitude. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.


Special Topics without Course Group Designation

These courses are offered periodically with varying content: one or more individual writers, a genre, a period, an approach to literature not otherwise provided in the English curriculum.  Requirements will include papers and, at the discretion of the instructor, examinations.  Enrollment is limited to 30. Dist: Varies; WCult: Varies. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.01/WGSS 47.03

Modern American Women Poets

This course focuses on the emerging counter-tradition, within American modernism and within the larger tradition of poetry in English, of American women poets in the twentieth century. Taking our cue from Adrienne Rich, who ambiguously titles one book of essays On Lies, Secrets and Silences (is she for or against?), we will follow debates about what makes it possible to break previous silences--and to what degree and in what ways it is useful or satisfying to do so. Topics within this discussion will include sexuality, race, illness, literary modes, female literary succession, and relations with the literary tradition. We will read in the work of eight or nine poets and recent critical and theoretical writings, with some attention in the first weeks to important female and male precursors. The syllabus will include such writers as Edna St.Vincent Millay, HD, Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Marilyn Hacker, Louise Gluck, Rita Dove. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.05

Book Arts Studio Seminar

A studio-based seminar in which students explore the relationship between text, image, and form through letterpress relief printing techniques and the creation of book structures. Lectures and readings will familiarize students with historic and contemporary literature on the book form. Students will study exemplars from the extensive holdings of Rauner Special Collections and the Sherman Art Library in historical hand press and contemporary artists' books. Limited enrollment. Supplemental Course Fee. Dist: ART. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.06

Reading & Publishing the Literary Magazine

In this practicum, students will learn how to design and curate, and thereafter, how to launch, edit, and promote a literary magazine. Inspired by the example of publications like The Common and n+1, our student magazine may feature reviews, interviews, fiction, poetry, and essays. The course itself offers students instruction and opportunities in journal operations from the editorial process to defining and maintaining the journal and its agenda. Ethical questions of blind review and the diversity of contributors will also be discussed, as well as issues of promotion and social media and the use of other digital tools. Students will gain experience in publication systems, copyediting, professional communications, and marketing. Field trips to other campuses or events to meet with representatives of similar student-run publications will be a means of cultivating not only new ideas but also a developing sense in the students of professionalism and community. Dist: ART. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.07/ARTH 16.24/THEA 10

The Arts of War

Walt Whitman said of the American Civil War: "the real war will never get in the books." This course will raise core questions about how war is remembered and represented through text, performance, and visual culture. Our questions will be anchored in concrete case studies but will also raise far-ranging philosophical, ethical, and historical questions that examine instances of war in relation to the aesthetics of war. Dist: ART or INT. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.08

Neuroscience and the Novel

Over the past few years it has been suggested that since the 1990s there has been a major shift in how novels represent characters and consciousness. This new type of novel has been called the "neuronovel." This course takes up questions at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and literary studies to explore this thesis. We'll read contemporary work by neurologists and psychologists (Damasio, Sacks, Gazzaniga, Schacter) as well as their late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century precursors (Freud, James, Brentano, Beard) alongside a wide range of literature that allows us to think about the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality with the universalist claims of various scientific and pseudoscientific accounts of the self. Key literary texts include Shelley, McEwan, Lethem, James, Poe, Woolf, Roth, and Wright. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.09

Hope? How Feelings Shape American Culture

Barack Obama defined hope as a culturally transformative feeling that required "audacity." Yet scholars have questioned hope's ability to bring about change, leading Lauren Berlant to speak of "Cruel Optimism." Hope, Optimism, Audacity, Cruelty: how does affect impact American culture? We will develop frames for thinking historically and analytically about feeling's influence on class, gender and ethnicity. Students will develop final projects that integrate imagination into an analysis of the questions hope raises. Dist: TMV; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.11

"Hamilton: The Revolution" as a Work of Art

In Hamilton: The Revolution (the book of annotated lyrics and account of the musical’s production), Lin-Manuel Miranda and his collaborators create two frames for their work’s significance. One is the historical American Revolution of the 18th century, which the musical rereads via the figure of the orphan-immigrant; the other references their own musical, which they describe as an act of cultural revolution in its engagement with the racial politics of the early millennium. What does it mean to read revolution as a work of art, and Hamilton as its artistic reinterpretation? In this course, we will develop frames for thinking analytically about Hamilton’s artistic engagement with class, gender and ethnicity in the historic past as well as our own moment. Prerequisites: None. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.12

Dartmouth Fictions

This is a course about the campus novel and literary representations of Dartmouth College. Dartmouth, as both a setting and object of analysis, has appeared in numerous cultural objects as alumni, students, and those looking in from the outside have reflected on the intellectual and social life of the College. Many major cultural works—from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Literary Ethics” to August Wilson’s King Hedley II—were written or first performed at Dartmouth. But the College’s campus and its students have also inspired countless fictional and autobiographical works. Throughout the term, we’ll examine the myriad ways in which Dartmouth has been represented by reading a selection of novels and memoirs set on our campus. We will also read a selection of poetry and examine digital productions depicting Dartmouth and Dartmouth students, including memes and textual forms of social media. Finally, we will visit Rauner’s special collections to examine primary materials, including artifacts and texts from the College’s past, to produce a research paper that locates a text within its historical context. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.13/AAAS 85.01

South African Literature in English

This course will examine works by South African men and women of various ethnicities who have chosen to write in English since the publication of Olive Schreiner's Story of an African Farm in 1883. This richly diverse literature will be tracked through the cultural and political history of South Africa with primary emphasis on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries before and after the fall of Apartheid. Confrontation between black militancy and white oppression characterizes much writing and social interaction in South Africa before the fall of Apartheid, but complex forms of multi-ethnic coexistence and interchange have also been evident since the first white settlement of the country in 1652. Recent work by J.M. Coetzee and Zakes Mda among others explores the difficult, unmapped terrain of post-Apartheid South Africa. Works by the following writers may be included in the course: Olive Schreiner, Solomon Plaatje, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Zoe Wicomb, Alan Paton, J.M Coetzee, Njabulo Ndebele, Athol Fugard, Nelson Mandela. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.14/NAIS 34

Native American Oral Traditional Literatures

Native American oral tradition constitutes a rich and complex dimension of the American literary heritage. This course will examine a range of oral genres from several time periods and tribal sources. Oral traditions and the textual sources into which they are anthologized provide valuable insights into the nature of human creativity. They are also full of unique hermentical challenges. This course will include some contemporary theoretical approaches to orality and the metaphysics of the voice to unpack some of these questions. Dist:LIT. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.15/JWST 70/REL 74.12

The Merchant of Venice: The Jew in the Protestant Imagination

This course is an interdisciplinary study of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice that will examine the history of Christianity's attitudes toward Judaism, the fate of Jews within Christian Europe, especially in England prior to the expulsion of the Jews in 1290, and the effect of these histories on the composition of the play, the representations of its main characters, particularly Shylock and Portia, and its reception through the centuries, with attention to its role in modern attitudes toward Jews and toward anti-Semitism. We will approach the material as scholars of history, literature, and religion. We expect to attend closely to the gendered and racialized representations of Jewishness and Christianness in the play and in English culture more generally. The impact of the play will be examined with particular reference to modern German and English literary traditions. We will also examine some major developments in the staging of the play, with particular attention to Yiddish versions, Israeli productions, and Nazi-era German stagings, as well as several film versions. A selection from the major critical literature on the play will be studied. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.16

Prehistoric Worlds: Science Fiction and Geological Time

Ever since natural historians like Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin radically expanded the time scale of Earth's history, modern writers and filmmakers have looked for new ways to mediate "deep time." This course is an introduction to their work. During the semester, we discuss the techniques they use to portray the passage of geological time. We also question the political implications of these representations—what they tell us about society in the present. Finally, we consider deep time as an inspiration for new philosophical concepts. The course has three sections: "Deep Time and Early Science Fiction"; "Cold War Countercultures"; and "The Anthropocene." In addition to essays and exams, we complete a field project about the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Dist: TMV; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.17

Disability and Literature

This course introduces students to an emerging canon of literary autobiography and criticism devoted to the experience of disability. Critical works read in this course will cover such issues as physical access, ableism, neurotypicality, deaf political activism, and intersections of disability and other categories of identity such as race, class, gender, and sexuality. Major authors and texts to be read include Temple Grandin, Oliver Sacks, Thomas Couser, Simi Linton, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, Bartleby, Of Mice and Men, Autobiography of a Face, and Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.18

Research As Picture Books

In this course, students will convert cutting-edge scholarship by a select group of participating Dartmouth researchers into picture books for children, complete with characters and stories (even when the research primarily involves scientific data). Students will learn the basics of picture book composition and design by analyzing classics in relevant sub-genres (there's a bird laboratory at Cornell that puts out a regular series of picture books that will also be useful as models). In collaborative teams and working closely with the professor and their assigned researcher, students will pitch and defend their ideas, produce mock-up picture books, and present other documents simulating the professional experience of seeking publication for their projects. Dist: ART. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.19/AAAS 91.05

Maroons to Marley: Jamaica's Role in Worldwide Revolutions from Slavery to the Present Day

In 1738, a hundred years before legal emancipation came to England's New World slave colonies, Jamaica's Maroons forced the colonial power to sign a treaty granting sovereignty to Maroon communities across the Caribbean island. As the first Africans in the New World to achieve this feat, Maroon warriors directly and indirectly influenced abolitionist and revolutionary movements throughout the Americas—including, of course, revolts in Haiti and the United States. These warriors continued to inspire the revolutionary actions of other oppressed and/or enslaved individuals for generations, and indeed, a revolutionary ethos pervades Jamaican culture and artistic production from the colonial period to the present moment. This course traces the impact of "Jamaican" revolutionary figures on other revolutionary figures and events worldwide. Moving chronologically, from colonialism to the present day, the course examines influences such as African/Jamaican Maroon leaders' direct impact on other revolutions throughout the Americas; Mary Seacole's exchanges with and impact on Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War; Marcus Garvey's impact on the Harlem Renaissance and the Rastafari religion; Claude McKay's revolutionary impact on vernancular poetics and on the "Red Scare;" Louise Bennett's mid-twentieth century revolutionary, feminist, vernacular poetics and her impact on female performers in the Americas, Europe, and Africa; Bob Marley and Damian Marley's impact on politics and revolutionary movements in Liberia and Ghana; and finally, the impact of Staceyann Chin's outspoken poetics on LGBTQ rights in the Caribbean and in other marginalized African diasporic communities. Dist: SOC. No course group.

ENGL 55.20/COLT 39.04

The Case Study: Crime, Medicine, and Modern Society

What does Sherlock Holmes have in common with Sigmund Freud? What unites binge-worthy Netflix fare with Charles Dickens? The course investigates the case study, which plays a crucial role in criminal, legal, and medical contexts alike. While case studies are certainly familiar from tv series or podcasts, the form has a rich literary history. We will survey works from a range of national traditions, examining the features of the case that enable it to operate in and across multiple genres and fields. Our discussions will center on questions of epistemology and form, as we ask what kind of knowledge cases transmit and how they transmit it. Do they depict exceptional phenomena, or do they seek to delineate the qualities that are representative of a given phenomenon? Who has the authority to tell stories about whom? Why are cases so often relayed in serial form? Dist:LIT; WCult:W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.21

Epidemics: Vortex of Fear and Wisdom

This course will focus on learning difficult lessons of experiential wisdom from global Infectious Disease Epidemics 1982-2020, including through on-the-ground experiences, literature, and documentaries. Students will reflect and write about insights that may apply to their own lives.

Epidemics are characterized by fear. Fighting epidemics requires the courage to act in the face of that vortex of uncertainty and fear, the empathy and compassion to understand and feel motivated to alleviate suffering, the imagination to figure out the possible paths of action, and the cognitive and emotional skills need to actually take action. The experiential wisdom it takes to act well in such fearful and uncertain circumstances is the framework of this course. The Smithsonian Museum Exhibition on Epidemics will be presented.

As the faculty of this course we believe that each generation should help transmit the experiential wisdom to the next generation to help fight the fear linked with all types of epidemics near and far, large and small. Dist: LIT. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.22/SOCY 79.13

SocioPoetics: Sociological Method and Literary Form

This course introduces students to a cultural history of the relationship between Sociology and Literature in America from the early twentieth century to the present. Taking inspiration from recent scholarly approaches to literary interpretation that draw on sociological methods for interpreting texts quantitatively, relationally, and descriptively, we will also examine the ways in which sociology has long been occupied by phenomena often associated with literature: subjectivity, uncertainty, and linguistic form. Beginning with the institutionalization of sociology in the 1920s and 1930s, we will explore aesthetic texts alongside sociological works and other cultural documents. In doing so we will situate ourselves in a historical milieu and reconsider conventional literary categories and lineages such as documentary and docupoetry, the photo-essay, and New Journalism through the lens of their response to and use of sociological methods and tropes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.23/FILM 48.07

Analyzing Content: From Tik Toks to Tweets

The internet is awash with new popular cultural forms, from listicles and lolcats to Ted Talks and makeup tutorials. And yet scholars have only just begun to analyze this new digital "content": what makes it unique, and how it is reshaping our culture. In this course, we'll look at new forms of popular digital content in detail—reading tweets as closely as if they were poems, or exploring the substance of 100,000 Instagram images. We'll survey the methods that have been developed, in different disciplines (media theory, art criticism, sociology), for analyzing content in this way, as well as those that have yet to be attempted (questions that haven't been asked; material that hasn't been addressed). To put theory into practice, students will develop 10-12 page research projects on popular digital artifacts of their choosing. They will also be introduced to computational methods of analyzing content, and have the opportunity to pursue these methods further. Dist: LIT. No course group assignment.

ENGL 55.24/LING 18

History of the English Language

This course traces the development of English as a spoken and written language belonging to the Indo-European language family. We will work forward from Proto-Indo-European through Old English (Beowulf), Middle English (Chaucer), and Early Modern English (Shakespeare), up to contemporary American English. Our focus will be on the structural history of the language, especially changes in pronunciation and grammar, and the implications of those changes for English as spoken and written today. Open to all classes. Not open to students who have received credit for ENGL 047. Dist: QDS; WCult: W.

ENGL 55.25/COLT 8.01/HUM 3.08/GERM 46.05

Friends, Enemies, Lovers: Community and Civil War

Equality, freedom, justice–we tend to think of these values as bringing about reconciliation and unity, as foundational to political communities. But surprisingly, the most canonical thinkers in political theory have favored a different set of concepts: strife and civil war. For Plato, Hobbes, Marx, Arendt, Freud, Lenin, Schmitt, and many others, it is not the social contracts of government and laws that hold people together, but love and hate, the most intense passions of our closest human relationships. Of course, these passions are highly unstable, which leads us to many of the most profound paradoxes of philosophy and art: Why are tragedies dangerous to public morale and yet indispensable for public education? What do we do when families are torn apart by unreconcilable beliefs? How can a foe be a better friend than your friends? Similarly, the idea of "fraternity," so central for modern revolutions and the birth of the nation, is fraught with enmity and quarrel. This course will pursue these problematics in key texts of philosophy, literature, and contemporary critical theory, and bring the philosophical paradigm of civil war to bear in relation to US and German culture. Dist: TMV; WCult: W. No course group assignment.


Junior Colloquia without Course Group Designation

Limited to 20 students, these courses will vary in content. They are intended to introduce students to advanced research and prepare them for their senior seminars and honors theses. Coursework and instruction will build toward a substantial paper of 12-15 pages of sustained inquiry and with a research component. Recommended prerequisites: two completed English courses, or permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT; WCult: Varies. No course group assignment.

ENGL 65.01


Students in this course will circle around a set of deceptively simple questions, all of them framed by an overarching question: What does it mean to walk? Should walking be regarded as a fundamental human activity or as a literary convention carried over into everyday life? Why has walking long been regarded as a vehicle for thought and discourse: a privileged mechanism of knowledge production? Is there a difference between a country walk and a city walk? What is the relationship between walking and time, walking and place? Why should walking have emerged, in certain works of contemporary literature, as a principled rejection of mechanization, modernity, and the capitalist mode of production? And what does walking mean for those who cannot walk? To address these questions, students will read texts by such practitioners and theorists of walking as Thoreau, Walter Benjamin, W. G. Sebald, Rebecca Solnit, Simon Armitage, Robert MacFarlane, Geoff Nicholson, and others. Students will also use their own walks as opportunities for composing works of critical self-reflection, observation, and world-making. DIST: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.

ENGL 65.02

Writing with Algorithms: A Literary Computation Workshop

Since the mid-20th century, writers have programmed computers to generate literary works, mimicking old forms and inventing new ones. This course, both a creative writing workshop and a computational lab, will introduce the basics of creative text processing and generation. Making literature through computational techniques opens up a range of expressive possibilities and encourages us to refine our intuitions about style and form. This activity—at minimum, a collaboration between one human and one machine—also invites us to imagine increasingly diverse and complex ways of dividing the labor of literary production. Throughout the course, we will consider examples of computer-generated poems and fiction as well as literary bots and interfaces. No programming experience is expected, though seasoned programmers are welcome. Dist: TLA. No course group assignment.

ENGL 65.06/WGSS 53.05

The Poetry and Rhetoric of Love, from Petrarch to Social Media

What we call "love poetry" has generally been a way of expressing much more than the emotional and erotic fascination of one person with another. Often it seems to bypass the love-object altogether, and focuses instead on power relations or poetic achievement. Beginning with early examples, and moving on to contemporary and modern poems, our course will place love poems by men and women in the context of an ongoing poetic tradition, recent feminist criticism and theory, and talk about love and sex in recent popular culture. This last will include: excerpts from recent books about dating and seduction, film, contemporary song lyrics, dating websites, and campus culture. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.


Senior Seminars without Course Group Designation

Senior Seminars, limited to 12 seniors and juniors, will vary in content.  They will focus students on concentrated discussions and on a final research project of 20-25 pages. Recommended prerequisites: four completed English courses or permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT; WCult: Varies. No course group assignment.

ENGL 75.02

Climate Fiction

The 21st century drumbeat of climate doomsday has ushered in a new speculative genre of planetary crisis dubbed climate fiction or "cli-fi," the science fiction of the late Anthropocene. But how is this genre new, and why limit such queries to fiction? How does the specter of species death and global pandemonium have a literary and cultural history as well as a geophysical, earth systems one? This seminar, through historical and contemporary critique, read transversally across an array of media from novels to theory and film, will situate where we are now with literature from the past about the emergence of steam power, land enclosures, energy systems, and Arctic exploration to account for how we might secure the future. Topics include entanglements of anthopogenic processes with other planetary effects in theories of Capitalocene, Plantationocene, and Chthulucene from the conquest of the Americas to the untimely present.  Readings include eighteenth century and romantic natural history, bad weather, contemporary "cli-fi," ecological theory, and at least one film, such as Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Ready Player One (2018). Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group.

ENGL 75.03

Beyond the Prison: Premodern Carceral Studies

What came before the prison, and what could come after? This course will serve as an introduction to some of the methods and concerns of contemporary Critical Prison Studies, as well as a deep dive into the historical rise of carceral institutions in England and the United States, as seen from the perspective of incarcerated writers, and as reimagined in literary texts. Famous examples such as the prison epistles of Oscar Wilde will be set alongside more recent rediscoveries, such as the manuscripts of Austin Reed. Readings from Angela Davis, Michel Foucault, and Nicole Fleetwood (among others) will frame our comparative inquiry; classics such as Robinson Crusoe will be cast in a different light. Recurring topics will include writings from confinement as genre; the importance of print culture inside and outside the prison; the relation between carceral institutions and literary genres such as the convict narrative, epistle, early realist novel, and lyric poem. Throughout we will pay particular attention to how literary writing has been a recurring means for thinking outside the confines of a given political discourse, while we also reconsider the links between confinement and imagination, rehabilitation and subjectivity, art and liberation, then and now. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. No course group assignment.