Courses

The English Department offers a wide variety of English literature ("ENG") and writing ("WR") courses each term.  Listed below are extended course descriptions for the Department's course offerings for Fall Term 2018.  You can review extended course descriptions for past terms at our course descriptions archive, and can find official English and Writing course descriptions in the PSU Bulletin.  

Before you register, review the Department's course registration policies.  You may also wish to review the Department's Statement on Academic Integrity.  You can find more complete information about course schedules, meeting times, locations, and registration at the Registrar's Course Selection page.   

NOTE: The course descriptions below will be updated periodically with more-specific descriptions supplied by instructors, so check back from time to time for more information. If a course is not listed, please refer to the Bulletin entry for the class, which can be viewed in Banweb or on the ENG Courses and WR Courses pages in the Bulletin.

Winter 2019 Course Descriptions

Undergraduate English Courses

ENG 205 SURVEY OF BRITISH LITERATURE II
Tracy Dillon

Our main objective is old-fashioned. This class can be described as a "coverage model" spanning roughly three centuries of literary, political, religious, and cultural thought in 10 weeks.  No sweat, right?

The goal is to introduce you to as much information as possible about the so-called Restoration (and eighteenth-century), about "Romanticism," and about the Victorian period. Hopefully, an author or topic will hook you and become the focus of further study as you move forward in your degree program, whether or not you are an English major. Weekly reflective writing assignments will challenge you to think critically (and maybe creatively, if "critical" thinking and "creative thinking" can be thought of as the same thing) about the stock information contained in our definitive texts: Volumes C, D, and E of the 9th Edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature.


Textbook: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th Edition, Volumes C, D, and E.  Note that course lectures will refer to the pagination of this edition, but savvy students hoping to save money can find used editions or earlier editions for a good price and supplement these resources in consultation with the Professor. Read: If it’s a tight month and your priorities don’t include buying three volumes of a brand-new Norton 9th Edition, we will explore other options.

The course is entirely online in D2L. 

I hope to see you on the inside. Before and until then, if you have questions, contact the Professor at dillont@pdx..edu.

 

ENG 260 INTRODUCTION TO WOMEN'S LITERATURE
Hildy Miller

In this course we will read, discuss, and write about a sampling of short stories, novels, and poetry written by women in English in the 19th-20th centuries.  We’ll consider how women from different backgrounds write their life concerns and, in some cases, challenge established literary traditions. Such concerns include questions of identity, difference, and finding a voice; creativity, spirituality, and madness; motherhood, marriage, and partnerships of all sorts; sexuality, women’s bodies and bodily existence.  

Our goal will be to consider what theoretical and historical perspectives, including the feminist theories of the day, help us to appreciate literature by women—and to read and interpret literature in general at the college level.  Most of all, I hope we’ll form a community of readers enjoying the stories and thoughts of so many talented writers.

Questions?  Contact Hildy Miller at milleh@pdx.edu

 

ENG 300 LITERARY FORM AND ANALYSIS
Alastair Hunt

The late Texan comedian Bill Hicks used to tell a joke about the time he was in a Waffle House quietly reading a book, when a waitress asked him, “What you reading for?” Hicks responded, “Well I guess I read for a lot of reasons, but the main one is so I don’t end up being a waffle waitress.” This course is built on the assumption that the waffle waitress is asking a very good question. And the course will help students come up with a better answer to the question than the one Hicks offers. We will flesh out an answer by developing the fundamental skill required of university students of literature: close reading. We will familiarize ourselves with the various elements of literary form so important to close reading: genre, diction, figurative language, narrative technique, prosody, and sound devices. And we will develop students’ abilities to closely read by doing it—in multiple ways, with a variety of texts, again and again. By the end of the course, students will not only have a better answer to the waitress’s question than the one Hicks offers; they will have been transformed into something extraordinary in dark times: individuals attuned to what literary works can us about the world we live in and world we might yet live in.

 

ENG 301U TOPICS IN SHAKESPEAREAN GENRE: Shakespearean Tragedy
Jonathan Walker

In this course we will read and discuss four Shakespearean tragedies: The Most Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus; The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice; The Life of Timon of Athens; and The History of King Lear. Titus Andronicus is perhaps Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy, which was first printed in 1594 with no authorial attribution on its title page. Othello appeared around the middle of Shakespeare’s career, and it overturns a number of racial and generic expectations with its action. Timon of Athens is a very unconventional tragedy and, as a result, has been deeply unpopular among playgoers and critics alike. King Lear, finally, has often been hailed as Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, though the English poet and essayist Charles Lamb called the play “painful and disgusting” as well as “essentially impossible to be represented on stage.”

Our guiding questions in this class will center on the generic or formal identity of these plays, that is, their tragic qualities. What is tragedy? What did early modern audiences expect to see when they attended a tragedy in the theater? Why did sensational qualities—blood, death, social chaos—draw people out to watch tragedy? And how do tragedy’s formal characteristics—the fall of a hero, a fatal miscalculation, a particular plot structure—give meaning to such stories? We will examine how the literary form of tragedy predisposes us as readers and playgoers to interpret dramatic action in certain ways, and, in turn, how the plays’ disruption or frustration of our formal expectations transforms the possibilities of interpretation. We will likewise give attention to questions of social class, language, race, and gender (among others) as they are posed by these four plays and by the early modern English culture from which they come.

Most of our in-class time will involve discussing such questions in these four texts, along with a few other short readings. There will be very few lectures. The course will therefore require you to have read the plays carefully and to be prepared to discuss and ask questions about them during class meetings. Because of the course’s discussion-based format, its success will depend upon everyone’s active participation as we seek to answer these various questions together.

 

ENG 304 CRITICAL THEORY OF CINEMA
Josh Epstein

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is." (Quotation popularly misattributed to Yogi Berra)

Critical theory is a way of asking questions about how films generate meaning in the world—and then questioning the questions. ENG 304 will focus in particular on questions of spectatorship. Many film histories center on film-making—studios, directors, auteurs—but without an audience, the film doesn’t do any work at all. And what it means to be “a spectator” isn’t self-explanatory: the category of the spectator has changed radically since the birth of cinema in the late 19th century, and even before then, spectators had been conditioned in ways of seeing the visual image. The contours of class, gender, race, and sexuality that make up an audience; the marketing and consumption of films as commodities; expectations for spectator behavior; conscious and unconscious assumptions about genre; psychological and ideological relationships to the film image—all of these continue to evolve, especially as new media and global markets fragment our categories of genre and audience. 

This course, therefore, will explore a range of theoretical schools of thought that shed light on the relationship between screen and spectator. By reading these theorists alongside a range of films, we will find a close, mutually constructive relationship between the "theory" of cinema and the "practice" of viewing, studying, and writing about it. (In theory, anyway.)

Our main text will be Film Theory and Criticism, ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. Either the 7th or 8th edition is fine.

Films will likely include some of the following:

Sergei Eisenstein, Strike
Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo
Ingmar Bergman, Persona
John Carpenter, Halloween
Claire Denis, White Material
Short films by Edison, Porter, Méliès 
Two films selected and voted on by the class

 

ENG 305U TOPICS IN FILM: The Demonic in Film
Will Bohnaker

By reputation evil lies on the opposite shore from good.  Yet, life itself is an inextricable and poignant mixture of both evil and good.  The birth in spring and the death in winter find a multitude of avatars in mortal existence.  The human soul itself is a ragbag of the best and the worst, trundled along within the same body.  But what is the nature of their cohabitation?   Shakespeare said there is some soul of goodness in things evil, would men observingly distill it out.  The toad. he wrote, wears a precious jewel in its head. But it is still an ugly and venemous toad.   

This course is an exploration of these inflections of the “demonic” in film and of some of the discourses that presume to analyze them.  Bring your shadow.

 

ENG 305U TOPICS IN FILM: Speculative Cinema
Dan DeWeese

“Speculative cinema” is a term used much less often than its literary analogue, “speculative fiction.” As a medium in which the means of production are foregrounded as part of the product—audiences often conflate how a film was made with what the film “is”—we may feel that all cinema contains a speculative element. What we will explore in this course are the critical ways in which speculative cinema differs in form and content from speculative fiction. Centered on and obsessed with looks and “the look,” film is particularly adept at exploring the power dynamics latent in images and visions. When these images transport us to unknowable points in time and space, offer us the power of looking at an unknown “Other,” or depict the invisible in physical form, cinema speculates not only on other worlds and selves, but on its own possibilities—and problems—as a medium.

 

ENG 306U TOPICS IN LITERATURE AND POPULAR CULTURE: Tolkien
Katya Amato

J.R.R. Tolkien has been called "the author of the century" because twentieth-century readers worldwide loved him so greatly. He has been compared to Joyce as a twentieth-century modernist (not always to Tolkien's detriment) and has been seen by many as the great innovator in Beowulf studies as well as in fantasy fiction. He is a major writer belatedly entering the canon, one who seeks to give his readers "a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief." We will approach his work as literature, not as film, in his words "there and back again," with emphasis on the interlace of linguistics, literature, history, and mythology.

In an informal 1958 letter, Tolkien described himself: "I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much. I love Wales (what is left of it, when mines, and the even more ghastly sea-side resorts, have done their worst), and especially the Welsh language." In this letter, J.R.R. puts language last, but throughout his life it was central to all his undertakings, evident in his great affection for Old and Middle English, Medieval Welsh, Old Norse, and Finnish linguistics and mythology.

The required texts are all by Tolkien (for ISBN numbers, see the PSU Bookstore website):

  • The Hobbit (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)
  • The Lord of the Rings (Mariner 50th Anniversary Edition, 2005)
  • The Tolkien Reader (Del Ray, 1986)--this collection includes "On Fairy-Stories," "Leaf by Niggle," and Farmer Giles of Ham, all of which we will read

If you have old, dog-eared copies of Tolkien treasured through the years by you or your family, feel free to use them.  

REQUIREMENTS: Regular attendance, a liking for group work, quizzes, and the usual exams.

This course counts for Group E (old ENG major) and ENG major electives (new English major), and for the Popular Culture cluster for non-majors.

Feel free to get in touch with me via email if you have questions.

 

ENG 307U SCIENCE FICTION: Recent Dystopias
Bill Knight

This Winter's 307 course centers on recent speculative dystopian fiction. We’ll examine the ways in which science fiction and dystopia intersect, turning to several 20th century exemplars of the mode (Androids, 1984) but we’ll focus primarily on more recent tales of humanity's creation of bleak, hostile, or horrific futures. We'll ask fundamental and abiding questions about the tasks of dystopia’s readers, about how to understand the relation between dystopia and hope, about the diverse characteristics of the malformed social, political, and economic futures these works imagine, and about the range and variety of works written in this powerful mode. Students will offer a presentation on a work not included in our course syllabus, write a midterm paper, and produce a final paper/project. Participation will be important: prepare to be active readers, thinkers, and imaginers and to face dystopia’s relentless despair with inquiry, curiosity, and analytic energy. 

Required Texts:

  • Alderman, Naomi. The Power. ISBN: 978-0316547604
  • Butler, Octavia. The Parable of the Sower. ISBN: 978-0446675505
  • Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ISBN: 978-0345404473
  • El Akkad, Omar. The American War. ISBN: 978-1101973134
  • Orwell, George. 1984. ISBN: 978-0452262935
  • Zumas, Leni. Red Clocks. ISBN: 978-0316434782

 

ENG 313U THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY
Susan Reese

We will begin in the beginning, with Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe, then work our way forward through the best and most well known writers of the American Short Story, looking at who influenced them and moving through who they have influenced. I've added short volumes by two of my favorites, Mexican writer Luis Alberto Urrea, whose prose reads like poetry, and Canadian writer Alice Munro, who in 2013 won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first writer of solely short stories to do so. Both represent the finest of writers currently writing about topics pertinent to our lives.  We will share a sumptuous journey of words, experience, and emotion as we trace this country's history along with that of the short story. I look forward to sharing these stories with you. Who will be your favorites? Please join me and we'll find out. I can't wait, so fortunately this class is coming soon!

Required Texts:

  • The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, Joyce Carol Oates, Oxford University Press, 2012
  • The Water Museum, by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories, by Alice Munro
  • Friday Black, by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

 

ENG 318U THE BIBLE AS LITERATURE
Bill Knight

Despite the apparent confidence of our course’s title, what we’ll be investigating all term is how and why we might engage the anthology called the Bible as literature­. What happens when we read the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament as oblique and challenging storytelling that preserves a tumultuous human history, or that offers the literary basis of the cultural, communal, and political relationships between peoples and between an emerging people and their God? What emerges when we see these tales about the ongoing revision of the covenant between humans and God as representations of the problems of understanding the social and political bonds that give life to a tribe, a nation, or a would-be universalist religion or community of values? We'll ask these questions relentlessly as we read some of the most “literary” of the biblical texts, investing ourselves in vibrant and inquisitive encounters with writing that has been at the center of world culture and world conflict for millennia. 
 
Our reading will take the form of an effort to approach the text by means of literary encounter rather than through the lens of faith or skepticism. Because these ways of approaching the Bible are challenging and deeply reflexive, our meditations throughout the term will revolve around what it means (or what it does) to read a text such as this as literature, and we will be questioning and critiquing our own methods as we develop them. We will at all times keep in mind that the Bible was written under a wide variety of different historical (including political and economic) situations over a period of 1200 years, and that it has afterward enjoyed a history in which it has become absolutely indispensable to a variety of religious traditions that have interpreted it and made use of it in starkly different ways. We’ll attempt to engage the Hebrew and Christian Bibles in relation to problems of interpretation, literary form and figure, and the intricate interrelation of so many of their stories; we’ll examination of the principal literary genres out of which it was composed (narrative, poetry, chronicle, legal code, wisdom writing); and above all we’ll foreground our own experience of these texts and consider ourselves in the midst of our engagements with them. 

We’ll use the King James Bible because of its excessive significance in literatures in English for the past 400 years and because it represents a powerful and remarkably successful translation. 

Required Text:

  • The English Bible, King James Version. Norton Critical Edition. 2 Volumes. ISBNs 978-0393927450 and 978-0393975079.

 

ENG 319U NORTHERN EUROPEAN MYTHOLOGY
Katya Amato

Come to Valhalla, the Spring of Mimir, the Lands of the Giants and of the Dark and Light Elves, and then travel south to the Celtic Otherworlds of Wales and Ireland before embarking on a  mythic journey across America. We will immerse ourselves in Norse and Celtic mythologies collected and redacted in medieval times and then see the myths at play in a contemporary text by Neil Gaiman.

Texts:  

  • Jesse L. Byock, tr., The Saga of the Volsungs
  • Anthony Faulkes, tr., Edda by Snorri  Sturluson
  • Carolyne Larrington, tr., The Poetic Edda (2nd edition preferably)
  • Thomas Kinsella, tr., The Tain
  • Jeffrey Gantz, tr., Early Irish Myths and Sagas
  • Patrick K. Ford, tr., The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales
  • Neil Gaiman, American Gods (author's preferred edition if possible)

For ISBN numbers, please see the PSU Bookstore's online list. The translations listed above are REQUIRED. Earlier editions will work but NOT other translations. All of our texts are available used as well as new. 

Requirements: Regular attendance, the usual exams, and a short paper.

If you have time over the long holiday, you might read American Gods. You do not need a medieval guide for this contemporary work. The book is entertaining but long, and you will lessen your workload if you read it before the term begins.

This course counts for Group E (old ENG major) and ENG major electives (new English major), and for the Interpreting the Past cluster for non-majors. 

Feel free to email me if you have questions about the course. 

 

ENG 325U POSTCOLONIAL LITERATURE
Sarah Lincoln

This course provides an introduction to some of the fundamental concepts, debates, theories and literary works associated with the growing field of postcolonial studies. Though “postcolonial” first described nations emerging from the shadow of colonial domination, it is more than a simple historical marker: “postcolonialism” is most fundamentally a project, an ongoing struggle for freedom whose battleground is every sphere of human life, from the individual psyche to national political life and the environment. As we consider how postcolonial perspectives help us read literature and other texts, we will be talking and thinking about its broader significance for the world beyond, including struggles underway in our own historical moment.

Close readings of novels and films will help us stay grounded as we work through the field's important theoretical texts and the issues they address: sovereignty; nationalism; violence; psychology; gender; language & culture; ethics and justice; and the environment, among many others. 

 

ENG 333U HISTORY OF CINEMA AND NARRATIVE MEDIA II
Wendy Collins

In this class we will study film’s history from the Golden Age of Cinema (1928-1945) through the present day. In weeks two and three we go on to study the period between 1945-1952. During this era we will look at the ways that World War II influenced and changed the course of cinematic history through a study of propaganda, the rise and spread of realism, and rage and symbolism in the 1950s (1952-1958). From here we move to a breakdown of romantic cinema and the coming of modernism (1958-1969). In week six we will take an in-depth look at political cinema around the globe and the rise of the blockbuster (1969-1979). In the last part of the term we will focus on contemporary cinema including mega entertainment, the rise of video and the influence of MTV on mainstream cinema (1979-1990). We will conclude the term with a study of the Digital Era (1990-Present).

 

ENG 341U RENAISSANCE LITERATURE: The Life of Love in Renaissance Poetry and Drama
Jonathan Walker

Love is, of course, a many splendored thing. But it is also a very complicated, irrational, and often painful affair. As the cultural critic Laura Kipnis has put it (and not a little acerbically): “Saying no to love isn’t simply heresy; it is tragedy—the failure to achieve what is most essentially human. So deeply internalized is our obedience to this most capricious despot [of love] that artists create passionate odes to its cruelty, and audiences seem never to tire of the most deeply unoriginal mass spectacles devoted to rehearsing the litany of its torments, fixating their very beings on the narrowest glimmer of its fleeting satisfactions” (“A Treatise on the Tyranny of Two,” 1). It was no less so during the Renaissance.

In this course, we will read primarily English Renaissance poetry along with one dramatic text, all of which centers on the subject of love. Yet because love usually encompasses so many other dimensions—attraction, rejection, desire, beauty, sex, gender, eroticism, social roles, marriage—our readings will touch upon a wide range of themes, many of which overlap. The course will not be comprehensive in its coverage, but we will address questions of desire, the body, eroticism, clothing, seduction, and leave-taking within four broad units. In addition, we will occasionally read non-literary texts, such as a religious homily, essays, and even parliamentary legislation, which will help us to orient ourselves within Renaissance culture and to understand both the similarities and the differences between early modern English and contemporary American notions of that crazy little thing called love.

Finally, this class will be discussion-based. There will be very few lectures. Participation is key, so I will expect you to have read the poetry several times for each day, to have ideas and questions about the readings, and to be prepared to discuss the material during our class time.

 

ENG 352 AFRICAN AMERICAN LIT II
Maude Hines

This course is an introduction to African American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the beginnings of the "Black Arts" movement. It is the second in a three-part survey of African American literature. In addition to short stories, poetry, and novels, we will look at essays, journals, autobiographies, audio-recordings, fine art, photography, and performance. Students will have an active role in the class: beginning on the first Friday, student presentations will generate class conversations.

The course fills the Group B requirement for the old English major and English major electives for the new major. It also fulfills the American Identities and Global Perspectives  cluster requirements for non-majors. See the UNST website.

Learning Goals: From the "American Identities" cluster goals, we will focus on the following:

  • An understanding of [some of] the tensions and contradictions of the American Experience and its ethical, social, and political implications (UNST Goals #3, #4)
  • An ability to engage with and write critically about primary texts (UNST Goals #1, #2) 
  • An ability to research and communicate about American identities and related ethical issues using both primary and secondary sources (UNST Goals #2, #4)
  • [Exposure to] diverse [African] American identities and how these identities have shaped [and been shaped by] cultural traditions and values and the distribution of power (UNST Goals #1, #3)

REQUIRED MATERIALS

  • Chapman, (Ed.), Black Voices: An Anthology of African-American Literature 
  • Baldwin, Another Country
  • Set of 3x5 index cards

 

ENG 378 AMERICAN POETRY II
Tom Fisher

This course focuses on American Poetry from the early twentieth century through the decades following WWII. We will begin with select Modernist and Harlem Renaissance writers of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, read the New American and Black Arts Movement poets of the 1950s and 1960s, and conclude with the Language Writers of the 1970s and 1980s.

Primary work will be reading responses, a final essay, and a final exam.

Texts: The Oxford Book of American Verse and readings supplied by instructor

  •  

ENG 387U WOMEN'S LITERATURE
Hildy Miller

In this course we’ll read a variety of pieces of literature by women, including essays, short stories, drama, novels, and poetry from the 20th and 21st centuries.  Though the main focus will be on British and American writers, we’ll also include writers from other geographically diverse contexts.  Our goal will be to sample—and enjoy—writings from Edith Wharton to Sandra Cisneros, to consider their historical, intellectual, and aesthetic significance, their connection to other literary movements and canons, and the intersections of gender with race, class, sexuality, and culture. We’ll try to define for ourselves what this tradition-that’s-not-really-a-tradition is.

This course is a part of the Gender and Sexualities Studies Cluster. It also counts in the SGQ minor.

Questions?  Contact Hildy Miller at milleh@pdx.edu.

 

ENG 414 CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION THEORIES
Kate Comer

What is writing? How does it work? How can we work it?

This course addresses these and other fundamental questions with high stakes for all writers, especially students and teachers. It also offers an introduction to an engaging field within English studies, known variously as Composition, Rhetoric, and/or Literacy Studies. 

Together, we will examine influential research, theory, and practice that shape the discipline of Composition Studies and influence literacy education at the national level. This survey will consider lasting legacies, ongoing debates, best practices, and new directions in the field, often in dialogue with our own experiences. 

Along the way, you will develop new insights on writing as process and product, conduct research related to your personal and professional interests, and hone your critical research skills—all of which will make you a better learner, teacher, and writer. 

Pre-requisite: ENG 300 and WR 301. [Note: You do not need to have taken ENG 413 to enjoy or succeed in this class.]

 

ENG 426 ADVANCED TOPICS IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Christine Rose

AIMS:

  • To introduce you to Chaucer in Middle English, with emphasis on learning to read and interpret the Canterbury Tales in ME. 
  • To place the Canterbury Tales in their literary, social and historical context 
  • To familiarize you with some of the best critical interpretations of Chaucer’s  work 
  • To understand the extraordinary complexity of the CT as poetry, yet see them also as wonderfully entertaining stories
  • To appreciate Chaucer’s genius

Prerequisites: ENG 300 and WR 301
Expected preparation: ENG 204, 340 or equivalent
Fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for the Old English Major and for Historical Literacy for the New English Major

REQUIRED TEXTS:

  • Boethius (trans. R. Green) The Consolation of Philosophy, Macmillan. ISBN: 002346450X
  • Benson, Larry D., ed.  The Canterbury Tales (Wadsworth Publ.) ISBN 0395978238 [pbk]
  •  OR, also acceptable editions of CT:
  • —Jill Mann, ed. Canterbury Tales Penguin ISBN-13: 978-0140422344
  • —Benson, Larry D.  The Riverside Chaucer, Houghton-Mifflin, 1987. [pbk or hardcover] ISBN-10: 0199552096 [pbk] 3rd ed. 2008.
     

 

ENG 428 CANONS AND CANONICITY
Elisabeth Ceppi

This course examines the historical, institutional, and ideological contexts in which traditions of “great works” have been established, contested, and creatively appropriated. It focuses on questions of literary value and its relation to national identity, cultural encounter, and power. It also investigates how categories of social difference such as gender, race, and class have shaped the criteria by which works and authors have been included and excluded from dominant traditions. We will explore these issues by taking Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter as a case study of “classic” American literature, tracing its critical and cultural history. We will read it alongside Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, a work with similar themes published a decade after Hawthorne’s novel, which has become a critical text in multiple “revisionist” canons. We will consider the afterlives of both of these texts in a range of contemporary works: two plays by Suzan-Lori Parks; the movie Easy A; and Leni Zumas’s recently-published novel, Red Clocks.

Pre-requisite: ENG 300 and WR 301. This course fills the Culture, Difference, and Representation requirement for the B.A./B.S. in English.

 

 

ENG 460 ADV TOPICS IN AMERICAN LIT TO 1800: American Enlightenment
Elisabeth Ceppi

This course considers “Enlightenment” as a contested political, philosophical, and ideological concept and “the Enlightenment” as a period of American cultural history covering roughly the last half of the eighteenth century. Focusing on the texts of the Revolutionary and Early National periods, we will examine representations of America and the rhetorical making of revolution, nation and “We the People.” The guiding issues of the course will be some of the guiding issues of 18th century American culture: the relationship between private virtue and public virtue; republican versus liberal concepts of selfhood; the conflict between ideals of freedom and the institution of slavery; the gender, race, and class coding of reason, sentiment, and morality.  

Pre-requisite: ENG 300 and WR 301. This course fills the Historical Literacy requirement for the B.A./B.S. in English and the Group C (pre-1800) requirement under the old major.  

 

ENG 494 TOPICS IN CRITICAL THEORY AND METHODS: Bodies/Texts/Criticism
Anoop Mirpuri

This is a course about one of the most important concepts in literary studies: interpretation. What does it mean to do interpretation? Is it different from physiological acts of perception? What can we learn about textual interpretation from the modern history of assigning meaning to other objects, especially human bodies? What can we learn about the identification of human bodies from theories of reading and interpretation? How does the practice of interpretation construct the objects whose existence we often take for granted? What are the forces that determine how we "read" texts and bodies?

This course will address these questions through an examination of the meeting points of three fields of theoretical inquiry that have shaped literary studies over the last four decades: U.S. based critical race theory, British Marxist cultural theory, and French poststructuralism. Along the way, we will discuss what it means to say that identity is a social construction; the formation of human subjectivity under capitalism; what’s “political” about literary studies; and various ways of challenging inherited assumptions about “the state” and how it works.

Required Texts:

  • Louis Althusser - On Ideology
  • Michel Foucault - Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
  • Michel Foucualt - History of Sexuality, Vol 1: An Introduction
  • Stuart Hall - Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History
  • Stuart Hall - The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation
  •  

Graduate English Classes

ENG 507 SEMINAR: Poets and Documentary Experience
Joel Bettridge

This course is both a survey of 20th-Century American poetry and a focused study of the cataloging, documentary impulse that stands as a major thread within it. The survey element of the class, which will occupy portions of our weekly discussion, starts with Modernism and then works through the major movements and tendencies that followed in subsequent decades, such as the New American Poets, Black Arts, and Confessional poetry. We will take a wide view of the documentary poetry that will dominate our reading and class discussion, looking at works such as Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Book of the Dead” (a long poem focused on the Gauley Tunnel tragedy, where up to 800 men died of silicosis after working to complete a tunnel in West Virginia during the early 1930s) and works such as Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (a long poem that takes a more mythical and personal approach to record keeping and testimony). These texts will allow us to consider questions about the role of voice, personal experience, and representation in poetry as well as the use of source materials, formal experimentation, and the role of politics in the making and performance of it. 

Required books:

  • David Lehman (editor), Oxford Book of American Poetry (ISBN-13: 978-0195162516)
  • William Carlos Williams, Paterson (ISBN-13: 978-0811212984)
  • Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems (ISBN-13: 978-0872860179)
  • Charles Reznikoff, Holocaust (ISBN-13: 978-1574232080
  • Robert Lowell, Life Studies (ISBN-13: 978-0374530969)
  • Susan Howe, Pierce-Arrow (ISBN-13: 978-0811214100)

 

ENG 507 SEMINAR: Romanticism and Translation
Alastair Hunt and John Beer (Co-Teaching)

As the great scholar of romanticism M.H. Abrams argued, many of the tenets of the romantic movement were anticipated in William Jones’s 1772 “Essay on the Arts Called Imitative.” That essay was the afterward to a volume of Jones’s translations of Arabic and Persian poetry. This course maintains that the confluence of romanticism and translation in Jones’s book is no mere historical accident: that thinking about Romanticism through the lens of translation offers new insight into that much-studied movement, and that conversely, romantic thinking will show the often marginalized practice of translation to be deeply relevant to the nature of language and artistic creativity.  

In romanticism translation emerges as a problem in a more fundamental way than earlier traditions would have it. The emergence of translation as a problem in turn highlights romanticism’s essential non-self-identity. In the course of exploring the space opened up by these two interanimating concepts, we’ll touch on a number of fundamental questions, such as: what are linguistic borders, and why should they matter politically? How does language render us uncanny? How does the past shape the present—and vice versa? In what ways do romanticism and translation both form and destabilize contemporary conceptions of race and gender?

The course is open to all graduate students in English, and will feature both critical and creative assignments.

Texts will include:

  • Wordsworth and Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads
  • Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Hölderlin, Pindar Fragments, “Notes on Antigone”
  • Goethe, Faust (trans. Coleridge)
  • Schlegel, “Essay on the Concept of Republicanism,” “On Incomprehensibility”
  • Cassin, Dictionary of Untranslatables (trans. Apter, Lezra, and Wood)
  • Schleiermacher, “On the Different Methods of Translation”

 

ENG 507 SEMINAR: The Idea of Gardening
Sarah Lincoln

“You must give more to the soil than you take away” (Karel Čapek, The Gardener’s Year)

“War is the normal occupation of man…. War—and gardening” (Winston Churchill)

Gardens have long been a key site of colonial power. From the establishment of the Company’s Garden in Cape Town in 1652, to the taxonomic work undertaken by botanists in the service of racial science, the colonial garden represents a microcosm and training ground for cultural, scientific, military and economic domination by the West of its others. At the same time, gardening and other forms of cultivation have served to articulate resistance and cultural endurance in the face of colonialism’s and globalization’s assaults on human and environmental life. Cultivation signals a relation with soil, land, and space that complicates environmental discourses of wilderness and untouched nature, revealing forms of connection, exposure, and stewardship between human and more-than-human life that offers rich potential for rethinking ontological and ethical being in the Anthropocene. The new field of critical plant studies, for example, urges that we pay attention to forms of life that have been often neglected by recent scholarly turns to the nonhuman, and invites consideration of the philosophical, historical, textual, and political significance of vegetal life.

Taking inspiration from the shared etymologies of culture, cultivation, and colonialism, this seminar explores the comparative literary, theoretical, and philosophical significance of gardening, agriculture, and other practices of cultivation, broadly defined, particularly in the context of colonial, postcolonial, and contemporary globalized structures of power. Building on Said’s claim that “the land is recoverable only through the imagination,” this class foregrounds the potential of postcolonial ecology to unearth an agricultural imagination with a capacity for encountering, challenging, and re-thinking imperial relations to the land and the complex layers of history it contains.

Assigned texts cover experiences of gardening, cultivation, vegetal being, and plant-relation in Africa, the Caribbean, Native- and African-America, and other sites touched by histories of colonialism. Along with films, theory, and critical works, assigned readings will provisionally include:

  • Margaret Atwood, Year of the Flood
  • Holly Morris & Anne Bogart, dir. The Babushkas of Chernobyl
  • J. M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K
  • Bessie Head, A Question of Power
  • Jamaica Kincaid, My Garden (Book)
  • Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night
  • Richard Powers, The Overstory
  • Leslie Marmon Silko, Gardens in the Dunes
     

 

ENG 514 CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION THEORIES
Kate Comer

What is writing? How does it work? How can we work it?

This course addresses these and other fundamental questions with high stakes for all writers, especially students and teachers. It also offers an introduction to an engaging field within English studies, known variously as Composition, Rhetoric, and/or Literacy Studies. 

Together, we will examine influential research, theory, and practice that shape the discipline of Composition Studies and influence literacy education at the national level. This survey will consider lasting legacies, ongoing debates, best practices, and new directions in the field, often in dialogue with our own experiences. 

Along the way, you will develop new insights on writing as process and product, conduct research related to your personal and professional interests, and hone your critical research skills—all of which will make you a better learner, teacher, and writer. 

[Note: You do not need to have taken ENG 513 to enjoy or succeed in this class.]

 

Undergraduate Writing Classes

WR 121 COLLEGE COMPOSITION
Neil Hetrick

A writing course for lower-division students, in which they develop critical thinking abilities by reading and writing, increase their rhetorical strategies, practice writing processes, and learn textual conventions. Includes formal and informal writing, responding to a variety of readings, sharing writing with other students, and revising individual pieces for a final portfolio of work. 

 

WR 212 INTRODUCTORY FICTION WRITING: Opening the Book
Sean Hennessey

“Opening the book,” is a discussion-orientated class that seeks to open up the process of fiction writing. Starting with idea creation and leading to story workshop, the course uses in-class writing and explorations into the elements of story to help the students see their own work differently and to empower them with the language used to discuss their writing in a workshop environment. Students will be asked to write a number of small studies, focusing on the aspects of story writing under study, and to submit one to two full stories for in-class workshop.

 

WR 212 INTRODUCTORY FICTION WRITING (Section 003)
Leni Zumas

This course is a fiction laboratory—a place for experiments and discovery. Students will practice core elements of craft, including point of view, description, conflict, and dialogue. We’ll devote close attention to short stories and novel excerpts that will serve as models for students’ own inventions. Recommended prerequisite: Freshman Inquiry.

 

WR 214 INTRODUCTORY NONFICTION WRITING
Paul Collins

An introduction to writing literary nonfiction, using essays by David Sedaris, graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, and oral history and field reporting by other writers to delve into the skills that fostered their art. Beginning with the raw material of exercises in description and dialogue, students will write and discuss short works of creative nonfiction.

This course may be applied to the lower-division requirement for the Minor in English or the Minor in Writing. It also serves as a prerequisite for WR 456, 457, 458, and 459. 

 

WR 227 INTRODUCTION TO TECHNICAL WRITING
Henry Covey

Thinking about taking WR 227, Introductory Technical Writing?

The purpose of this course is to learn strategies for successfully navigating technical writing situations. A strategy is the thinking aspect of planning to write in a technical context—it is the framework that you adopt as you make a series of choices about how you will respond to a technical writing situation. The strength of learning strategies is that they are fully portable across any technical writing context. In other words, you can take them with you no matter what company, industry or profession you end up in—and you will work in many over the course of your career. Strategies can be adapted to any technical writing situation.

But it isn’t enough to just think about an approach to writing, you also have to do it to learn it. So you will also learn the practices of technical writing that are currently conventional in many technical professions and industries. Since you can’t learn the practices of all of the future technical writing situations that you can expect to encounter, this course is built around a few that are easily adaptable to a 10-week course and that will provide you with a strong foundation to build on in the future. Practices are specific to a technical writing situation.

 

WR 227 INTRODUCTION TO TECHNICAL WRITING
Garret Romaine

WR227 introduces you to the world of technical communication, which is a different style and voice from other writing. You will progress through a wide variety of typical technical writing projects, such as formal and informal reports, memos, letters, proposals, and procedures. The goal is to keep building up to a formal report that you can include in your portfolio. By the end of the term, you will develop the ability to summarize key points and provide the reader with important information up front. You will learn some tips and tricks built into your word processor to make technical information easier to understand, and you will gain insight into the organization of information. You should come out of this class with some good samples and templates that you can use later in your career. 

 

WR 228 MEDIA WRITING
Corey Pein

An introductory course in reporting and writing for news media. Focus on identifying newsworthiness, writing leads, constructing stories, locating sources, interviewing, attribution, and revision. Students learn to gather local news, writing some stories in a computer lab on deadline.

Expected preparation: Wr 121 or Freshman Inquiry. May be repeated once for a total of 8 credits.

 

WR 300 TOPICS IN COMPOSITION: Ecocomposition
Greg Jacob

In this course the topics in composition will address writing about the environment and touch upon ecocriticism, the ecological implications of literary texts. Perhaps this course should be called “Ecocomposition.” The field of composition is seeing such books as Writing About an Endangered World, Writing Nature, The Norton Book of Nature Writing, and Ecocriticism, the Essential Reader. You will engage in close reading and interpretation as a way of entering literary and scholarly conversations. You will be involved in the process of drafting, peer review, and revision. There will be group presentations, ranging from analyzing poems, narratives, and critical essays.

Textbooks:

  • Literature and the Environment, 2nd Edition, Lorraine, Slovic, O’Grady. Pearson, 2013.
  • Ecocriticism Reader. Eds Glotfelty and Fromm. Georgia Press, 1996.

 

WR 312 INTERMEDIATE FICTION WRITING
Gabriel Urza

This class will primarily be dedicated to the writing and improvement of an original work of fiction (either a completed short story, chapter/s of a novel, or novella). We will consider these manuscripts in the workshop format, which means that we will spend much of our in-class time talking about what’s working in a story, identifying the author’s goals, and making suggestions for revision or expansion. This can be a bit nerve-wracking, but I find that the process of discussing a draft in depth can lead to new ways of understanding our own writing and its effect on our readers. In addition, we will be reading the published work of established writers and excerpts from books on the craft of writing, with the goal of better understanding craft terminology and decision-making. Finally, we will also be responding to brief writing prompts throughout the term. 

 

WR 312 INTERMEDIATE FICTION WRITING
Genevieve Hudson

What does it mean to write fiction? And what’s fiction anyway? This course will take us deep into the heart of these questions. You can expect to read widely and write often. During our time together, we’ll examine the ways reading makes us better writers. We’ll experience how routine, intentionality, and discipline deepen creativity. We’ll discuss craft, how fiction works, how a story creates meaning, and what we respond to in works of literature and what we don’t. We’ll explore the role mindfulness plays in our artistic process and investigate how turning inward calms the mind, activates our imagination, and helps us capture deep ideas.

Each of you will write and workshop one short story or novel excerpt during the term. You’ll attend one literary reading in Portland and write an impression reflecting on your experience. You’ll keep a weekly observation journal where you’ll record glimmers, those everyday moments that catch your eye, speak to you, and beg to be added to a future piece of writing. You'll come class ready to discuss the day's reading and prepared to roll up your sleeves and write.

 

WR 313 INTERMEDIATE POETRY WRITING
Darla Mottram

The primary objectives for this course are to read and respond attentively to  assigned poetic texts, to develop a personal sense of what one finds compelling in contemporary poetry and the poetry of one's peers, and to generate new work through experimentation and engagement with what we read and discuss in class. A large portion of the class will be dedicated to students workshopping each other's poems; as such, students will be expected to practice thoughtfulness and care in reading and responding to each other's poems.

 

WR 323 WRITING AS CRITICAL INQUIRY (Multilingual Section)
Della Abrahams

In this upper division writing course, we will focus on developing a more sophisticated understanding of our own writing processes. It is designed to meet the needs of both native writers of English and multilingual writers who are learning the conventions of North American academic writing. Students will review and apply techniques for organizing various types of English writing tasks and will work to strengthen confidence in academic writing. The course includes formal writing, responding to a variety of readings, sharing writing with other students, reflecting on writing, and building a final portfolio of writing. The class will run as a workshop in which you’ll be collaborating with other students throughout all phases of writing processes.

 

WR 327 TECHNICAL REPORT WRITING
Maralee Sautter

In this course, use your critical thinking skills to write about problem/solution scenarios. Discover how plain language and tone, grammar and style, page design and illustrations, and consistent formatting are the building blocks of successful technical writing and communication.

 

WR 407 WRITING SEMINAR: "The Durable Lyric": An Exploration of the Sonnet
Laton Carter

What is a sonnet and what exactly can a sonnet do? This course will examine how a poetic form over half a millennium old has evolved through the centuries and remains relevant to this day. We’ll consider how the sonnet is at once a familiar convention for poetic expression as well as a subversive model to question the mainstream. This class will make close readings of sonnets — their content, construction, and historical context — by poets who’ve used the form toward both ends. From Shakespeare to St. Vincent Millay, Claude McKay to Marie Ponsot, Gwendolyn Brooks to Terrance Hayes, this class will explore how the sonnetto — or “little song” in Italian — is a study in compression and volume.

 

WR 410 TOPICS IN WRITING: Frameworks for Technical Communication
Sarah Read

This course introduces students to the many frameworks for understanding fundamental questions in technical communication, such as what it is, what its role is in academia and industry and what are its obligations to people, organizations and the world at large. Frameworks introduced can include rhetoric, design, ethics, social justice and network theory. Students will choose a framework to research and analyze a technical communication problem or situation of their choice and produce a portfolio piece to report and disseminate findings. 

 

WR 410 TOPICS IN WRITING: User Experience Design
Carrie Gilbert

As more and more of our daily lives move online -- leveraging web-based applications, mobile devices, and "smart" technology -- the line between technical communication and user experience (UX) design becomes increasingly blurred. In this course, we will use technical communication as our starting point for exploring the role of UX design, how it's defined, and how it is commonly practiced in industry. We will examine what makes a UX design effective and practice basic design and usability principles through hands-on design exercises. 

 

WR 410 TOPICS IN WRITING: Digital Skills
Kathi Berens

This course is a hands-on lab and a discussion seminar about writing in computational environments.  Students code webpages in HTML and CSS, then use domain management software to upload these pages to the web.  Students modify website templates such as Wordpress and Squarespace, and can craft final projects of their choice in consultation with the instructor. Programming fundamentals are explored by modifying a JavaScript program that outputs a poem, which prompts discussion about the culture of copying and remix.  Computational literacy is a systems approach to creative thinking.  We critically analyze writing productivity software, multimodal “database” essays, and best practices of website design for desktop and mobile.  We read texts about the history of writing software and coding as a cultural literacy.
 
This course is not focused on ebook publishing.  It is a prerequisite for the spring’s ebook production course.  Students with programming background should not take this course unless they wish to work on a specific project of their choice, and engage in humanities discourse about writing in computational environments.

 

WR 410 TOPICS IN WRITING: Grant Writing
Tracy Dillon

This course introduces students training for careers as professional writers to the best practices in writing grants and managing the grant writing process across multiple sectors of the non-profit world and in academia. Students will apply their knowledge and skill by working with community-partner nonprofits that are seeking funds to solve social problems. Students will work collaboratively and individually to develop business plans, identify potential funding sources, and begin preparing grants. 

 

WR 412 ADVANCED FICTION WRITING
Janice Lee

In this class, students will engage with topics related to craft (point of view, character, narrative, setting), look more closely at their own relationship with language, and aim to produce two completed drafts of original fiction. Students will also participate in workshop and provide written critical engagements of the works of their peers. Our work will be guided by various writing & revision exercise, as well as readings by diverse contemporary authors.  

 

WR 457 PERSONAL ESSAY WRITING
Justin Hocking

The word "essay" derives from the French "essai," meaning "to attempt, try, or experiment." In this workshop we will subvert formulaic approaches to writing, and instead embrace the personal essay as a dynamic art form that allows us to meditate on a subject without necessarily arriving at any pat conclusions. We will experiment with lyrical flights of fancy, poetic moves, and fictional technique—all of which are all admissible within the bounds of a single essay. Students will also learn to choreograph various levels of narrative intimacy and distance by engaging with works that dive deep into personal and emotionally charged material, while also expanding outward, well beyond the self, to weave in news from the wider world. Employing disciplined practice and a multi-stage writing process, students will create and polish two personal essays for peer workshop.

Required readings include short works by Michel De Montaigne, Carole Maso,  Aaron Gilbreath, and Barry Lopez, along with the following books:

  • Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola
  • Ultrasonic: Essays by Steven Church
  • Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

 

WR 460 INTRO TO BOOK PUBLISHING
TBD

Provides a detailed overview of the publishing process, organized around the division of labor, including introductions to contemporary American publishing, issues of intellectual commerce, copyright law, publishing contracts, book editing, book design and production, book marketing and distribution, and bookselling. Based on work in mock publishing companies, students prepare portfolios of written documents, i.e., book proposals, editorial guidelines, design and production standards, and marketing plans. Guest speakers from the publishing industry and field trips provide exposure to the industry.

 

WR 461 BOOK EDITING
Erika Stevens

Provides a comprehensive course in professional book editing, including editorial management, acquisitions editing, substantive/developmental editing, and copyediting. Issues specific to both fiction and nonfiction books will be covered.

 

WR 462 BOOK DESIGN SOFTWARE
Kelley Dodd

Book Design Software is a hands-on exploration of the Adobe Creative Suite, focusing on InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. The course begins with common tools, menus, techniques, and keyboard commands. In Illustrator, we cover drawing techniques, live trace, and editing and transforming vector-based artwork. In Photoshop, we look at color correction, retouching and repairing photos, selecting and combining images, and clipping paths. And in InDesign, we study document set up, typography, styles, and working with images and graphic assets. Students perform a series of in-class exercises to build skills in each application and use those skills to produce design projects. 

Textbooks:
InDesign Type: Professional Typography with Adobe InDesign by Nigel French (978-0321966957)
Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd (978-0761172192)

 

WR 463 BOOK MARKETING
Robyn Crummer-Olson

The objective of this course is to understand the role of marketing and publicity in publishing and to obtain the necessary skills to create sales materials, a marketing and publicity plan, and a press kit. Your goal is to end the course able to create book marketing and publicity campaigns and materials that are directly applicable to a career in book publishing.

 

WR 465 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & COPYRIGHT
Amanda-Ann Gomm

Outlines opportunities and pitfalls faced by writer (editor, graphic designer, artist) in legal and ethical spheres. Copyright law, U.S. First Amendment law, defamation, right of privacy, trademark, trade secret law. Discusses the importance of the Internet in rethinking copyright and intellectual property rules.

 

WR 471 TYPOGRAPHY, LAYOUT, PRODUCTION
Abbey Gaterud

Comprehensive course in professional book design and production. Issues specific to the design of fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of genres and markets will be covered.

Prerequisite: WR 462: Book Design Software.

 

WR 473 DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING
Adam O'Connor Rodriguez

Explores the relationship between an editor, a writer, and the work in the process of developmental editing—also known as global, substantive, or comprehensive editing. Examines historically significant editor/author relations, how the editorial process and relationships have changed over time, and how editorial expectations shift based on the expectations of the publisher, the constantly changing global marketplace, and the introduction of new technologies.

Prerequisite: WR 461: Book Editing.

 

WR 474 PUBLISHING STUDIO
Abbey Gaterud

Perform the work of a real publishing house, from acquiring manuscripts to selling books. Gain publishing experience by participating in the various departments of a student-staffed publishing house, Ooligan Press. Departments include Acquisitions, Editorial, Design, Marketing and Sales, Digital, and Social Media. May be taken multiple times for credit.

Prerequisite: WR 475: Publishing Lab.

 

WR 475 PUBLISHING LAB
Abbey Gaterud

Perform the work of a real publishing house, from acquiring manuscripts to selling books. Gain publishing experience by participating in the various departments of a student-staffed publishing house, Ooligan Press. Departments include Acquisitions, Editorial, Design, Marketing and Sales, Digital, and Social Media.

May be taken multiple times for credit.

 

WR 477 CHILDREN'S BOOK PUBLISHING
Nevin Mays

This course will provide an introduction to children’s book publishing and the ways in which it is unique from other publishing categories. It covers both the creative and the business side of publishing books for children, including editorial (text and illustration), marketing and publicity, and sales. At the end of the course students should be prepared to work at any children’s book publisher or imprint and be able to communicate effectively about their work and to contribute from day one. 

 

Graduate Writing Courses

WR 507 WRITING SEMINAR: Poetics Seminar—Poets in Dark Times
John Beer

“What kind of times are these, when/Talking about trees is almost a crime/Because it’s bound up with keeping quiet about so much wrong!” wrote Bertholt Brecht in 1939, in exile from his native Germany. This seminar will look at a range of poets who wrote out of and against conditions of severe political dislocation, at times when, as Hannah Arendt puts it, public speech “does not disclose what is but sweeps it under the carpet.” How do poets respond to realms of untruth? What’s the value of poetry in a moment of political peril? And is it really a crime, at such times, to talk about trees? These are among the questions we’ll be considering. Assignments will combine the critical and creative.

Reading:

  • Brecht, Selected Poems
  • Akhmatova, Selected Poems
  • Cesaire, Collected Poetry
  • Zurita, Sky Below
  • Adnan, Night

Open to MFA students in all strands. Satisfies Seminar and Elective requirements for the MFA in Creative Writing.

 

WR 507 WRITING SEMINAR: Rising Above Rising Action: Fresh Approaches to Plot and Structure
Madeline McDonnell

“We are all like Scheherazade's husband,” E.M. Forster writes, “in that we want to know what happens next. That is universal and that is why the backbone of the novel has to be a...narrative of events.” But this seminar will consider how aspects of a novel or story other than event might drive a fiction forward and determine its structure. Is it possible, for example, to produce narrative pressure, momentum, climax, and resolution through sound, image, or inquiry rather than action? Might lyric pattern and variation create entertaining tension, compelling a reader to turn the pages in search of sonic resolution? Might a significant shift in diction or description be experienced as a dramatic act or “happening”? What subjects or stories might desire—or even require—this sort of structural approach? And what role might action and event still play in fictions that are organized around other aspects of craft?

As we attempt to answer such questions and produce our own compelling if “uneventful” fictions, we will interrogate workshop truisms surrounding plot (e.g. “change must happen in scene”; “do not leave your characters alone”; “drama=desire + danger”; etc.) and look closely at poetic and joke structures, as well as works patterned around objects, details, refrains, and themes by writers such as Paul Beatty, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Geoff Dyer, Deborah Eisenberg, Jenny Erpenbeck, Mavis Gallant, Shelia Heti, Ben Lerner, Shane McCrae, Leonard Michaels, Rick Moody, Alice Munro, Jenny Offill, Maggie Nelson, Caryl Pagel, Grace Paley, and Kiki Petrosino.

Open to MFA students in all strands. Satisfies Seminar and Elective requirements for the MFA in Creative Writing.

 

WR 507 WRITING SEMINAR: Personal Essay Writing
Sallie Tisdale

This class will cover the personal essay in its several variations. Students will write an essay including primary research and fact-checking. Students will read and analyze several essays. Class time includes discussion and lecture as well as presentation of work. 

Open to MFA students in all strands. Satisfies Seminar and Elective requirements for the MFA in Creative Writing.

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: Frameworks for Technical Communication
Sarah Read

This course introduces students to the many frameworks for understanding fundamental questions in technical communication, such as what it is, what its role is in academia and industry and what are its obligations to people, organizations and the world at large. Frameworks introduced can include rhetoric, design, ethics, social justice and network theory. Students will choose a framework to research and analyze a technical communication problem or situation of their choice and produce a portfolio piece to report and disseminate findings.

This is a required core course in the MA/MS in Technical and Professional Writing. It is a fully on-line course.

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: User Experience Design
Carrie Gilbert

As more and more of our daily lives move online -- leveraging web-based applications, mobile devices, and "smart" technology -- the line between technical communication and user experience (UX) design becomes increasingly blurred. In this course, we will use technical communication as our starting point for exploring the role of UX design, how it's defined, and how it is commonly practiced in industry. We will examine what makes a UX design effective and practice basic design and usability principles through hands-on design exercises. 

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: Researching Book Publishing
Rachel Noorda

This course introduces research methods specific to book publishing and is particularly geared toward Book Publishing Master’s students to equip them to write their final research paper for the program. Students will learn about book publishing research methods (both qualitative and quantitative) and work through various stages of their final research paper for the culmination of the Book Publishing Master’s Program. Students will emerge from the course with a measurable and right-sized research question that is valuable to the industry and addresses gaps in the literature, a methodology plan, and sample paper outlines that refine their critical thinking skills. There will also be an industry-based research project that students develop and carry out.
 

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: Digital Skills
Kathi Berens

This course is a hands-on lab and a discussion seminar about writing in computational environments.  Students code webpages in HTML and CSS, then use domain management software to upload these pages to the web.  Students modify website templates such as Wordpress and Squarespace, and can craft final projects of their choice in consultation with the instructor. Programming fundamentals are explored by modifying a JavaScript program that outputs a poem, which prompts discussion about the culture of copying and remix.  Computational literacy is a systems approach to creative thinking.  We critically analyze writing productivity software, multimodal “database” essays, and best practices of website design for desktop and mobile.  We read texts about the history of writing software and coding as a cultural literacy.
 
This course is not focused on ebook publishing.  It is a prerequisite for the spring’s ebook production course.  Students with programming background should not take this course unless they wish to work on a specific project of their choice, and engage in humanities discourse about writing in computational environments.

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: Grant Writing
Tracy Dillon

This course introduces students training for careers as professional writers to the best practices in writing grants and managing the grant writing process across multiple sectors of the non-profit world and in academia. Students will apply their knowledge and skill by working with community-partner nonprofits that are seeking funds to solve social problems. Students will work collaboratively and individually to develop business plans, identify potential funding sources, and begin preparing grants. 

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: Portland Review Publishing
Thea Prieto

This series of courses is intended to provide graduate students with the editorial, publishing, and marketing skills necessary to run an international literary journal. By participating in Portland Review’s publication process and understanding the practices of a journal over sixty years old, students will gain practical experience in the field of literary publishing.

This course is the second of three Portland Review classes, which combined with the editorial (Fall) and marketing (Spring) courses will collectively satisfy four units of graduate elective credit. Students do not need to have attended the Fall course to enroll in the Winter course.

 

WR 510 TOPICS IN WRITING: Screenwriting for Film
Jon Raymond

In this class we’ll examine the foundation of movies: concept and script. Where do scripts come from? What are they supposed to do? How are they written? How do they guide the cast and crew while allowing for the collaboration of filmmaking to occur? Students will explore these issues by writing a feature-length script. Every student will be expected to complete a screenplay by the end of the term, and also help edit their peers along the way in weekly workshop sessions. In addition, students will watch and discuss films with special attention to genre, structure, character, and practical construction. They will also read some screenplays, essays, and at least one book. Attendance and active, enthusiastic participation are required.  

Open to MFA students in all strands. Satisfies Elective requirement for the MFA in Creative Writing.

 

WR 512 GRADUATE FICTION WRITING
Gabriel Urza

This course, for MFA students in the Poetry and Creative Nonfiction strands, is designed as an opportunity to explore fiction writing in a workshop format. In this class, we will read and discuss several published short stories (and/or a novel), using these exemplars to learn about forms and craft considerations specific to the genre. We will also be discussing craft essays and complete in-class writing exercises. However, much of our time together will be dedicated to the consideration of new manuscripts in a graduate workshop setting. 

Satisfies Elective requirement for the MFA in Creative Writing.

 

WR 514 GRADUATE POETRY WRITING
Emily Kendal Frey

Within a workshop format of writing, revising, critiquing and reading, students will strengthen their writing skills, and their understanding of how poems work. 

We will read works by a range of poets, attending closely to what the language does, and to some of the many ways meaning is made at the levels of word, sound, sentence, line, and so on. Our emphasis will be on process.

This poetry workshop is primarily geared toward MFA fiction and nonfiction writers, but MA in English and MA in Publishing/Tech Writing students, as well as advanced undergraduates and post-bacs, may also enroll by permission of instructor. Interested non-MFA students should submit 5 pages of poetry to freyem@pdx.edu

Satisfies Elective requirement for the MFA in Creative Writing.

 

WR 521 MFA CORE WORKSHOP IN FICTION
Janice Lee

“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.” — John Updike

“We were revisionists; what we revised was ourselves.” — Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

In this workshop we will examine the entire spectrum of the writing process, and use revision as a way to rewrite, rebuild, and “re-see” a work of fiction. We will read various essays on craft, writing, language, and ways of engaging with the world, and also work on our own definitions & reconceptions of major craft terms. We will also read one full-length novel together over the course of the term (The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon). Students will apply a variety of revision procedures to their work and work on re-envisioning the structural frameworks that shape not only their individual stories and chapters, but also their collections or novels as a whole, think more critically about writing as a unique process of becoming, and engage in critical analyses of their peers’ work. Restricted to students admitted to the MFA program’s fiction strand.

 

WR 523 MFA CORE WORKSHOP IN NONFICTION: On Obsession, Desire, and the Unspeakable
Justin Hocking

"Writing is saying to no one and everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone."
    —Rebecca Solnit

This MFA workshop contemplates obsession based on its Latin roots, ob + sedere, meaning the opposite of sitting, staying put, or stagnating. How might we shadow our own obsessions and desires to generate our most urgent material, and how do we create a sense of movement and growth in our writing, without relying on conventional formulas or tropes? Rather than attempting to convince, can an essay gently spellbind a reader? Can we, like Audre Lorde, continue the tradition of queering desire? And when language inevitably fails us, how do we attempt to write the unspeakable? We will explore these and other craft-based questions in this workshop, along with ample time for supportive peer critique sessions.

Required readings will include short essays by Carole Maso, Barry Lopez, Audre Lorde, Rebecca Solnit, and Herman Melville, as well as the following books:

  • Abandon Me by Melissa Febos 
  • Heartberries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • A Whalers Dictionary by Dan Beachy-Quick
  • How to Sit: A Memoir in Stories and Essays By Tyrese Coleman

 

WR 560 INTRO TO BOOK PUBLISHING
TBD

Provides a detailed overview of the publishing process, organized around the division of labor, including introductions to contemporary American publishing, issues of intellectual commerce, copyright law, publishing contracts, book editing, book design and production, book marketing and distribution, and bookselling. Based on work in mock publishing companies, students prepare portfolios of written documents, i.e., book proposals, editorial guidelines, design and production standards, and marketing plans. Guest speakers from the publishing industry and field trips provide exposure to the industry.

 

WR 561 BOOK EDITING
Erika Stevens

Provides a comprehensive course in professional book editing, including editorial management, acquisitions editing, substantive/developmental editing, and copyediting. Issues specific to both fiction and nonfiction books will be covered.

 

WR 562 BOOK DESIGN SOFTWARE
Kelley Dodd

Book Design Software is a hands-on exploration of the Adobe Creative Suite, focusing on InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. The course begins with common tools, menus, techniques, and keyboard commands. In Illustrator, we cover drawing techniques, live trace, and editing and transforming vector-based artwork. In Photoshop, we look at color correction, retouching and repairing photos, selecting and combining images, and clipping paths. And in InDesign, we study document set up, typography, styles, and working with images and graphic assets. Students perform a series of in-class exercises to build skills in each application and use those skills to produce design projects. 

Textbooks:
InDesign Type: Professional Typography with Adobe InDesign by Nigel French (978-0321966957)
Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd (978-0761172192)

 

WR 563 BOOK MARKETING
Robyn Crummer-Olson

The objective of this course is to understand the role of marketing and publicity in publishing and to obtain the necessary skills to create sales materials, a marketing and publicity plan, and a press kit. Your goal is to end the course able to create book marketing and publicity campaigns and materials that are directly applicable to a career in book publishing.

 

WR 565 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & COPYRIGHT
Amanda-Ann Gomm

Outlines opportunities and pitfalls faced by writer (editor, graphic designer, artist) in legal and ethical spheres. Copyright law, U.S. First Amendment law, defamation, right of privacy, trademark, trade secret law. Discusses the importance of the Internet in rethinking copyright and intellectual property rules.

 

WR 571 TYPOGRAPHY, LAYOUT, PRODUCTION
Abbey Gaterud

Comprehensive course in professional book design and production. Issues specific to the design of fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of genres and markets will be covered.

Prerequisite: WR 562: Book Design Software.

 

WR 573 DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING
Adam O'Connor Rodriguez

Explores the relationship between an editor, a writer, and the work in the process of developmental editing—also known as global, substantive, or comprehensive editing. Examines historically significant editor/author relations, how the editorial process and relationships have changed over time, and how editorial expectations shift based on the expectations of the publisher, the constantly changing global marketplace, and the introduction of new technologies.

Prerequisite: WR 561: Book Editing.

 

WR 574 PUBLISHING STUDIO
Abbey Gaterud

Perform the work of a real publishing house, from acquiring manuscripts to selling books. Gain publishing experience by participating in the various departments of a student-staffed publishing house, Ooligan Press. Departments include Acquisitions, Editorial, Design, Marketing and Sales, Digital, and Social Media. May be taken multiple times for credit.

Prerequisite: WR 575: Publishing Lab.

 

WR 575 PUBLISHING LAB
Abbey Gaterud

Perform the work of a real publishing house, from acquiring manuscripts to selling books. Gain publishing experience by participating in the various departments of a student-staffed publishing house, Ooligan Press. Departments include Acquisitions, Editorial, Design, Marketing and Sales, Digital, and Social Media.

May be taken multiple times for credit.

 

WR 577 CHILDREN'S BOOK PUBLISHING
Nevin Mays

This course will provide an introduction to children’s book publishing and the ways in which it is unique from other publishing categories. It covers both the creative and the business side of publishing books for children, including editorial (text and illustration), marketing and publicity, and sales. At the end of the course students should be prepared to work at any children’s book publisher or imprint and be able to communicate effectively about their work and to contribute from day one.