English 4300/4390 (3 sections)
Note: Each section of Eng 4300 has a parallel section of the honors version of the class, Eng 4390. Students in departmental honors should register for 4390 instead of 4300 by contacting the Chair of the English Department.
Note: English 4300/4390 are the English Department's seminars for English majors. They are NOT EIU Senior Seminars. English majors must take BOTH English 4300/4390 and an EIU Senior Seminar outside the English Department.
Section 001 CRN 31637
Section 099 CRN 31640
“My Mind’s Not Right”: Exploring Madness and Evil in Literature and Film 0900-0950 MWF
Why have questions regarding the existence of evil and madness dominated much of our thinking and literature throughout human history? From early Greek dramatists to the psychoanalytic work of Freud and beyond, humanity has obsessed over the problems of madness and evil that wreak havoc in our daily lives. Why do they exist, and what can we learn from them? In this course, we will explore a wide variety of literature and art and ultimately film from the early modern (Renaissance) period through the present day that attempts to decipher and address questions of how evil and madness affect human character and societal structure. Students will study these topics through an encounter with works as diverse as Shakespearean and Jacobean revenge drama; stories of the macabre by de Sade and Poe; the groundbreaking work of Confessional poets Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and John Berryman; and modern stories of unreliable/evil narrators in the works of John Fowles, Martin Amis, J.G. Ballard, and Bret Easton Ellis. We will also consider cinematic portrayals of evil and madness such as Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. Lastly, students will study developments in how critical theory enables us to make sense of these social and psychological phenomena. Coursework involves active, enthusiastic discussion, short response papers, two longer analytic papers, and a final exam. (Note: Students in departmental honors should register for the 4390 course instead of the 4300 course by contacting the Chair of the English Department.) (Group 4)
Section 002 CRN 31638
Section 098 CRN 31641
Being Emily Dickinson 0930-1045 TR
The purpose of this course is to explore in depth both the work and life of Emily Dickinson. In the course of a relatively short life, she wrote more than 1500 poems on a vast range of subjects while having little personal experience outside her home in Amherst, Massachusetts. While she was alive, Dickinson published only a handful of poems, anonymously, though she shared her work with a small number of close friends through letters and gifts of her work. Within a few years of her death, through the efforts of her family and others to publish her poetry, Emily Dickinson went from being known as a master poet only by a small, intimate circle to being recognized by many as one of America’s greatest and most important writers, a reputation that only grows stronger every day. Why and how this happened makes for a really good story, full of surprises, challenges, and circumstances one might never expect for someone like Dickinson and the mid-19th century America in which she lived. Far more than just a quirky, reclusive poet of death, through a close look at Dickinson’s life and work and all that followed, Dickinson reveals herself to be both a complex, fascinating person and a genuine, unforgettable, provocative poet.
During the course of the semester, we will read extensively in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, read some of the things that she read, including the work of Emily Bronte and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and explore a very recent biography of Dickinson, Lyndall Gordon’s Lives Like Loaded Guns. Requirements for the course will include some discussion leading, a research project, and a final reflective paper. (Group 4)
Section 003 CRN 31639
Section 097 CRN 31642
The Literature of Memory 1400-1515 TR
Memory as desire, as identity, as illusion, as alienation, as the essential condition of being. How do what and how we remember help us define who we are? In this course, we’ll consider representations of memory in works by authors such as Augustine, Dante, Tennyson, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot, Murdoch, Welty, and Anne Tyler in order to explore how they use the theme of memory to sketch parameters of what we call the “self.” (Group 4)