Special Topics Courses
Every semester, we offer a selection of special topics courses. The course numbers remain the same, but they have a different title and topic each time they are taught.
General catalog descriptions of these courses are available on our Courses page. Here you can find descriptions of current and recent offerings.
Spring 2022 Special Topics
Engl 104W: Coming of Age
Growing up isn’t easy. Maybe that’s why writers and filmmakers are endlessly fascinated by coming-of-age stories. In this course we’ll study movies such as Juno, short stories, and a couple of novels—including the classic Catcher in the Rye by onetime Ursinus student J.D. Salinger— that explore the milestones on the way to adulthood. Some of those texts will expose the particular difficulties of those growing up in two cultures: children of immigrants who have to negotiate the expectations of both their parents’ culture and the American culture in which they live, and teens raised in minority communities within the United States. Open to first- and second-year students only. This course will give you a chance to improve your college writing skills, through multiple-draft papers and individual conferences as well as some in-class writing instruction. 4 credits/3 hours per week. No prerequisites.
Engl 250: AfroFuturism
This course examines Afrofuturism as distinctive modes of aesthetic and intellectual engagement with science, technology, and race—especially blackness—as they appear in imagined futures constituted from unsettling presents and unfinished pasts. Short stories, novels, comics, films, and essays sample Afrofuturist artists and critics from Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. Students learn to raise and examine critical questions through reading, writing, research, and discussion. 4 credits/3 hours per week. No pre-requisites. (H, D & G)
Engl 320: Shakespeare Remakes
In this advanced course for English majors, we’ll study Shakespeare “remakes”—movies that accidentally work as remakes of plays, alongside the plays themselves. We’ll consider how storytelling always returns to the same plots and devices and character types, and we’ll investigate what makes Shakespeare’s storytelling so compelling and enduring. Play/film groupings include Othello with Get Out!; Macbeth with Killing Eve, Scotland, PA, and Lady Macbeth; Coriolanus with Parasite and Monty Python and the Holy Grail; and Merchant of Venice with It’s a Wonderful Life. In addition to the plays, we will study basic narrative theory. Students will write short papers, produce group podcasts, and complete a major research project. 4 credits/3 hours per week. Prerequisites: ENGL 290W or permission of instructor. (DN, H).
Engl 330: Lovers and Loners, Madmen and Murderers: Russian Fiction of the 19th and 20th Centuries
Russian fiction is an intriguing mix of meditation and mayhem. Learning about Russian literature and culture – duels and czars, revolutions and stalags– provides a window into the values of a major world culture that still resonate today. Before Freud, Russian fiction delved deep into human psychology: Dostoevsky’s monumental novel Crime and Punishment meditated on a philosophical motive for murder, while Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina looked at the dark side of passionate love. Gogol’s stories “The Overcoat” and “The Nose” introduced absurdity, and later in the century Chekov perfected the short story form. While these works from the 19th century golden age of Russian writing will be the centerpiece of this course, we will conclude by looking at how the Soviet era shaped literature (reading the short novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich as well as a selection of short stories) both within the U.S.S.R and, through émigré writers such as Nabokov, in the U.S. 4 credits/3 hours per week. Prerequisites: ENGL290W and one additional course between ENGL 220 and 250; or permission of instructor. Fulfills the major requirement for a post-1800 colloquium. (H)
Spring 2022 Creative Writing Special Topics Courses
Note: All creative writing courses fulfill the core fine-arts requirement!
ENCW-216: Persona Poetry
What did your mother say when she first met you? What runs through Lizzo’s mind on the way to the airport? Such are the questions that spark the persona poems you will research and compose, ruminate and read about in ENCW 216. Persona poems allow poets to imagine such answers by wearing disguises in order to write in the voice of another person(s), animal, or object. Every poem you write for this course will give voice to others and their view of the world within and outside themselves. They emerge from some mix of imaginative play, curiosity, and fact, depending on your intent and subject. 4 credits/3 hours per week. (A)
ENCW-319: Fable and Fantasy
This workshop writing course will focus on fable and fantasy within the realm of speculative fiction. We will study the work of well-known authors, and practice exercises in craft. Students will create and revise original creative works. 4 credits/3 hours per week. Pre-requisites: ENCW(or ENGL)106, or ENCW(or ENGL)205, or permission of instructor.