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 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 explores the development of British literature 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 may include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, Rudyard Kipling, W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Derek Walcott, Philip Larkin, Carol Ann Duffy, Grace Nichols, Zadie Smith, Daljit Nagra, Mohsin Hamid, and others. Assignments include participation in class discussions, reading quizzes, many short papers, and two exams. Each semester focuses on a particular genre, author, or period.
English Department Seminars
ENG 280H: The History of the Novel: WOmen and the Novel (Offered Fall 2018)
This course explores the historical development of the English novel from its origins in the late 17th century through the late Victorian period, with a focus on women writers. We will examine sub-genres like the epistolary novel, the gothic novel, the industrial novel, and the bildungsroman as we aim to determine what criteria holds these different works together. Primary readings will include Oroonoko, Fantomina, Evelina, Northanger Abbey, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, North and South, Great Expectations, and Silas Marner. These primary readers are supplemented by selections from critical works, including George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Catherine Gallagher, Janice Radway, and others. Assignments include posts to a class discussion board, several short creative projects, and a final exam.
ENG 280G: 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 280C: 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.
ENG 280: Shakespeare (I taught this course in spring 2016; it is offered each semester, usually taught by Dr.Hamby)
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.
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, and begin to prepare for their senior honors project and for applications to prestigious national fellowships.
Honors Independent Studies
These courses, each worth two credits, allow students to work on their senior honors projects. Independent studies are rigorous, research-heavy, and self-driven. Students work primarily with their project advisor, but meet together as a group once a month to share their progress and to hear what their classmates are working on.