Below I list brief descriptions for courses I teach regularly at Fisk University. Those who are interested can also browse a list of past classes, read comments from students, or peruse blog posts about teaching.
English Department Courses, Required for Majors
ENG 330 British Literature Survey, beginnings to 1800 (fall semester)
The first of two survey courses required for the English major, this course will help students develop their skills in close reading and historical perspective. We will focus on major works ranging from the Middle Ages through the end of the 18th century, progressing from the invention and spread of the English language, through the Renaissance and the English Civil War, and ending with the Enlightenment. Readings will include substantial portions of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, The Faerie Queen, Dr. Faustus, Paradise Lost, Oroonoko, and The Rape of the Lock as well as Elizabethan sonnets, carpe diem poetry, the metaphysical poets, and 18th-century poets, novelists and essayists. Assignments include: participation in class discussion; in-class quizzes; lots of short papers and creative writing assignments; and midterm and final exams.
ENG 336: British Literature Survey, 1800 to the present (Spring Semester)
Divided into four sections — Romanticism, the Victorians, modernism, and postmodernism — this course will explore the development of British poetry from the French Revolution to the digital revolution. We’ll study formal experiments in genre, style, and meter and the historical contexts in which those experiments developed. Authors will include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Derek Walcott, Philip Larkin, Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Daljit Nagra, and others. Assignments include participation in class discussions, reading quizzes, many short papers, and two exams.
ENG 280: Shakespeare (spring 2016; typically offered in the fall)
This course is required for English majors. Why? What’s the big deal about some guy who wrote a few plays hundreds of years ago? Well, we’ll address precisely those questions, exploring Shakespeare’s skill with language, his social world, and his unforgettable characters and plots. We’ll see how Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets were adapted by later writers, and how interpretations of Shakespeare helped shape the study of English as a discipline. Readings will include Hamlet, Richard III, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, as well as the sonnets, adaptations and critical essays, and one more play chosen by the class. Assignments will include five short papers; three presentations (including a “sales pitch” competition to determine which additional play we’ll read); and a project studying a single character.
English Department Seminars
ENG 280: Frankenstein (offered Fall 2017)
This course focuses on a single novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After reading the novel together in the first couple weeks, we will divide the rest of the course into three units: the context of Romanticism in which Shelley wrote the novel; adaptations and influence; and Frankenstein and the form of the novel. Assignments include three medium-length papers, and a final research paper.
ENG 280: Children’s Literature (offered fall 2016)
This seminar covers the history of children’s literature, popular genres, and theoretical approaches. Students will choose a favorite children’s book to be the subject of several short papers, and a final portfolio. Other assignments will include an un-essay, reading quizzes, and exams.
CORE 150: COmposition 1 (typically fall semester)
A writing-intensive course focusing on argument. Readings and assignments vary by semester.
CORE 160: Composition 2 (typically spring semester)
A writing-intensive course that builds on CORE 150 and includes a substantial research project. Readings and assignments vary by semester.
HON 111: Introduction to the Honors Program (each semester)
A two-credit course that introduces students to the requirements of the W. E. B. Du Bois Honors Program. Students familiarize themselves with the program requirements and work on their research and research skills.
HON 221 (fall) and 222 (spring): Honors Independent Study
Variable credit courses to work on the senior honors project. These independent studies should be rigorous, research-heavy, and self-driven. Sophomores may take this course with the director of the honors program. Juniors and seniors will enroll in HON 321/2 or 421/2 but will work with their project advisor.