Fall 2014 Undergraduate Course Descriptions

(Note: These descriptions were accurate at the time of press, but class times can change. Consult the SJSU course catalog when you plan to register.)

ENGL 10: Great Works of Literature
Balance Chow, MW 9:00-10:15
Gilgamesh, Popol Vuh, Sundiata and other great works of literature from around the world past and present will be selected for appreciation and examination by focusing on their cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.  Presentations, short papers, and exams; does not count toward the major but satisfies Area C2.

ENGL 10: Great Works of Literature

Instructor TBD, MW 3:00-4:15    

ENGL 22: Fantasy and Science Fiction
Balance Chow, MW 10:30-11:45
We will examine selected texts (including film) exemplifying a variety of themes in fantasy and science fiction.  Stories about ghosts, vampires, zombies, monsters, scientists, engineers, robots, aliens, etc., will be enjoyed and critiqued so as to appreciate the power of the imagination not only to construct brave new worlds, but also to reconstitute the world we the human species have to and would like to live in.   Presentations, short papers, and exams; does not count toward the major but satisfies Area C2.

ENGL 22: Fantasy and Science Fiction
Adrienne Eastwood, TH 3:00-5:45
This course will explore utopian and dystopian worlds as they manifest in Science Fiction from Plato’s Republic to Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.  Specifically, we will look at the ways in which the creation of fantasy worlds operates as a means for both social critique and as a device to bring about social change. I also include units on video games and graphic novels, both of which make significant contributions to the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I welcome students of all levels and backgrounds! No credit in the major.

ENGL 22: Fantasy and Science Fiction
Instructor TBD, F9:30- 12:15
Students will examine works of literary fantasy and science fiction to understand them as expressions of human intellect and imagination; to comprehend their historical and cultural contexts; and to recognize their diverse cultural traditions. Both contemporary and historical works will be studied. No credit in the English major.

ENGL 56A: English Literature to the Late 18th Century
Instructor TBD, T/TH 12:00-13:15
Major literary movements, figures, and genres from Anglo-Saxon period through the eighteenth century. Works and writers may include BeowulfSir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer, Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Fielding, Johnson, Boswell.

ENGL 56B: British Literature Survey 1800-Present
Katherine D. Harris, T/TH 9:00-10:15
The Romantic poets journeyed through Nature to find themselves. The Victorian novelists recognized social injustice. The Modernists heralded World War I and its destructiveness. The Postmodernists take all of this, revise, repackage, and re-sell it to the 20th-Century reader. In this course, we will read texts that reflect some of the variety of cultural and historical experiences in England from 1780 to now, including alternative forms of publication such as magazines, serial novels, e-literature, and weird novels. The final project will ask students to draw parallels between 21st-Century texts and its predecessors.

ENGL 68A: American Literature from Beginnings to 1865
Karen English, T/TH 9:00-10:15
Readings include oral transcriptions, nonfiction, poetry, prose, and drama from the usual suspects including Bradford, Bradstreet, Franklin, Tyler, Foster, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson as well as other rascals such as Freneau and Fern. Quirky class writing assignments (approx. 5); midterm and final exam.

ENGL 68B: American Literature 1865 to the Present
David Mesher, T/TH 10:30-11:45
Survey of American literature, from the end of the Civil War to the present. Representative readings in poetry and prose of the development of American literature, with emphasis on the major authors, works, and literary movements of the period, but with time to enjoy some of the quirky writers and unconventional texts that make American literature fun.

ENGL 71: Introduction to Creative Writing
Instructors TBD, MW 12:00-13:15, TR 9:00-10:15, TR 10:30-11:45, TR 12:00-1:15, TR 1:30-2:45
Examinations of works of poetry, creative nonfiction and short fiction as expression of human intellect and imagination, to comprehend the historic and cultural contexts, and recognize issues related to writing by men and women of diverse cultural traditions. Students will also write poetry, creative nonfiction, and a short fiction.  

ENGL 71: Introduction to Creative Writing
Samuel Maio, MW 10:30-11:45, W 6:00-18:45
This course covers the essential artistic elements of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. We will begin with a “literary boot camp” of brief Italian and French lyric forms of poetry before moving to dramatic and narrative poetry as a transition to prose fiction and nonfiction. Guided in part by those works, students will write original poems, stories, and other prose pieces, a few of which will be shared with the class in the workshop segments of the course.

Alan Soldofsky: (ONLINE)
Will be taught as an online creative writing workshop using the Canvas learning management system.  Students will draft and revise original works of poetry, creative nonfiction, and short-fiction, learning the basic craft of writing in these genres through closely reading the work of published poets and prose writers (as models), guided by the instructor.  The course will be taught using a combination of online small writing-groups (to share early drafts for peer-critiques) and an online writing workshop led by the instructor in which all class members are expected to participate. 

ENGL 78: Introduction to Shakespeare’s Drama

Instructor TBD, T/TH 9:00-10:15
Reading of five or six representative plays. The Elizabethan era, dynamics of performance, and close analysis of the plays. No credit in the English major.

ENGL 100W: Writing Workshop
Adrienne Eastwood, MW 9:00-10:15
Analysis of poetry and short stories. Readings to be determined, writing requirement is a minimum of 7,200 words.

ENGL 100W: Writing Workshop
Balance Chow, F 9:30-12:15
In this old-fashioned coursefor students who major in English and Comparative Literature, we will learn to read, analyze, and interpret a variety of literary texts, responding to and writing about them perceptively and academically.  We will learn to be students of literature by becoming intellectually involved, and critically engaged.  Presentations and multiple written assignments (including a research paper) of 8000+ words.

ENGL 100W: Writing Workshop: English Studies
Cynthia Baer, T/TH 1:30-2:45
Critical writing demands close textual study, research into the conversations a text has generated among readers, and a rich repertoire of stylistic tools. In this course, you will practice close reading and learn to research and engage critical conversation, in order to write papers that put your voice in dialogue with other readers and students of literature. 

ENGL 101: Introduction to Literary Criticism
Katherine D. Harris, T/TH 10:30-11:45
Do you see hidden meanings in literary texts? There are many possible readings of all literary and visual texts. For this course, we will discover and apply critical models to various literary, visual, and digital texts. Critical models will include foundational twentieth-century theory as well as contemporary approaches to literature (Feminist, Queer, Marxist, Post-Colonial, and Digital Humanities theories). Though we will apply these critical models to texts across several historical periods and literary genres, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness will be our ur-text. Prerequisite: Engl. 100W.

ENGL 103: Modern English
Linda Mitchell, MW 10:30-11:45, MW 1:30-2:45
This course provides a survey of Modern English phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, transformational grammar, and the universality of linguistic structures.  Material in the course will also focus on some recurring problems of usage and/or correctness, regional and social varieties of English, the role of pragmatics in using language to communicate, and the historical development of English, especially as it affects the language today.

ENGL 103: Modern English
Nancy Stork, T/TH 3:00-4:15
An historically-informed, linguistically-based introduction to Modern English Grammar. Everything from the Old English roots of phrasal verbs (I understand! I get by! I’m down!)  to functional shifts in American slang (My bad!). Extensive practical work on real English prose and speech. 

ENGL 105. Seminar in Advanced Composition.
Cynthia Baer,  T/TH R 10:30-11:45
If Hemingway is right, if “Prose is architecture,” then the sentence is the bulwark of what we do as writers. Spend 16 weeks exploring the architectural splendor of the sentence: imitating, rewriting, describing, assembling, disassembling, reassembling sentences. We’ll study and practice sentence craft as we read and write about nature, taking in a full spectrum of literary genres—poetry, fiction, non-fiction—and of rhetorical modes—poetic, rhetorical, instrumental, and scientific.

ENGL 106: Editing for Writers
Mark Thompson, T/TH 12:00-13:15
In this class, we cover all the fundamentals that writers need to know about editing and working as a professional editor. This includes proofreading and copyediting, as well as sentence-level and document-level editing. The Basics? Fix yucky sentences. Make ugly paragraphs pretty. Learn how to work with other writers. Gain the confidence to explain your edits and defend them against the howling mobs! Required class for Career Writing major.

ENGL 109: Writing and the Young Writer

Clare Browne, M 4:30-7:15
This course is designed to strengthen participants’ writing skills in both creative and expository genres and to develop participants’ knowledge and skill as future teachers of writing. Students will write a short memoir paper, present a selection of poetry, and create a multigenre research paper. Expect discussion and discovery!

ENGL 112A: Children’s Literature 
Instructors TBD, MW 9:00-10:15, MW 12:00-1:15
Step into a world of imagination! From fairytales to works of fantasy, historical and realistic fiction, we will delve into that special world of children’s literature. We take a close look at plot development, characters, settings, themes, and authors’ styles.  You have the opportunity to create your own book for children, and you’ll leave this class enriched with ideas.

ENGL 112B: Literature for Young Adults

Michelle Hager, W 4:30-7:15
Have you considered the significance of the Patronus charm in Harry Potter? Have you wondered what it’d be like to take a journey with Death--a sympathetic narrator who is “haunted by humans” (as in The Book Thief)? In English 112B, we will study literature that is written for a young adult audience. We will read both fantastical and realistic fiction, and we will discover how this genre addresses issues such as love, death, friendship, and prejudice.

ENGL 115: The Bible as Literature

Mary Warner, T/TH 12:00-1:15
This course approaches the Bible, this signature work of Western Civilization, from the perspective of literature. We examine key portions of the Bible, exploring its subjects, themes, literary styles, and genres, and its vast influence on Western Literature. Students will write two essays—one connected to TANAK/Old Testament and one related to the Christian Foundational Writings/New Testament. There will be a midterm, final exam, and weekly Sustained Silent Writing. Every “respectable” English major should be familiar with the Bible! (This course is offered only every 4 or 5 semesters; it will not likely be offered again until Fall 2016 or Spring 2017.)

ENGL 117A: American Literature, Film, and Culture
John Engell, T 3:00-5:45
English 117A is an elective in the English major and fulfills the upper-division General Education requirement in Area S.

The focus of this class for fall 2014 will be California Noir and Neo-noir, though strictly speaking not every literary work and film we will study in the class is “noir.”   These works are, however, all set primarily or entirely in California and are typically “dark” in tone and subject.

Here’s a list of the literary works we’ll read and discuss and films we’ll screen and discuss.  The first three pairs are novels and film adaptations of those novels.  The fourth pair is a film with an original screenplay not based on a specific work of literature.  The last group of three works includes a collection of essays and stories, a work of environmental journalism, and a film based on historical situations and issues also related to the essays, stories, and journalism with which the film is listed. 

NOVEL:   Frank Norris.  MCTEAGUE (1899)

FILM:   Erich von Stroheim, director.  GREED (1925)


NOVEL:  Dashiell Hammett.  THE MALTESE FALCON (1929)

FILM:  John Huston, director.  THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)


NOVEL:  Raymond Chandler.  THE LONG GOODBYE (1953)

FILM:  Robert Altman, director.  THE LONG GOODBYE (1973)


FILM:  David Lynch, director.  MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)




FILM:  Roman Polanski.  CHINATOWN (1974)


Writing for this class will include one research essay, one personal essay, and a number of quizzes related to course materials. 

ENGL 117B: Film, Literature, and Culture
Noelle Brada-Williams, F 9:30-12:15
We will examine both how viewing a film or other spectacle affects the viewer as well as how being viewed—being under surveillance—affects the individual and, by extension, society. We will analyze narrative structure and cultural change through film and literary narratives from a variety of countries, including The Lives of Others, and Kiss of a Spider Woman.

ENGL 123C: South Pacific Literature
David Mesher, T/TH 9:00-10:15
Fascinating fiction (mostly contemporary) from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, and other Pacific island nations, with an emphasis on the relations between indigenous, colonial, and postcolonial cultures. We will read six or seven novels or story collections by authors including Joseph Furphy, Miles Franklin, Kate Grenville, David Malouf, Murray Bail, Witi Ihimaera, Keri Hulme, and Sia Figiel.

ENGL 125: Homer to Dante

Bonnie Cox, MW 12:00-1:15
This course introduces some of the major literary works of the first 2,000 years of Western Culture--works of great genius and superb craft. They are as much a part of our heritage as that which we receive from our parents. Our goal is to take possession of that heritage by understanding how these works are connected to each other and to us via series of parallel and contrasting patterns of thoughts and feelings that form a path of human continuity across time and place.

ENGL 129: Introduction to Career Writing
Mark Thompson, MW 3:00-4:15                
In E129, students write to get published in the places that they read, drafting and revising about whatever they’re into:  food, video games, fashion, high-tech, science—whatever.  Students also get experience writing and producing two English Department magazines and an in-class podcast series. Expand your portfolio, learn some new skills, and march boldly into spring with a publishable work in hand. Required class for the Career Writing concentration.

ENGL 130: Writing Fiction
Samuel Maio, MW 12:00-1:15
This course emphasizes the craft of fiction writing through the close analyses of the techniques of selected modern masterworks and the students’ application of those techniques to their original short stories.

ENGL 130:  Fiction Writing Workshop
John Engell, T/TH 10:30-11:45
English 130 is a fiction workshop class in which each student will write two short stories.  Each of these short stories will be workshopped in class, after which each story will be rewritten. Both drafts—pre- and post-workshop—will be included in each student’s end of semester Portfolio. In addition to writing two short stories and revising them, each student will be responsible for helping to workshop all stories written by classmates.  And each student will be responsible for reading a number of assigned, published short stories that will serve as models for writing successful short fiction.

ENGL 130: Writing Fiction

Andrew Altschul, T/TH 4:30-5:45
A workshop that examines the techniques of fiction, paying particular attention to the ways in which “rules” and “conventions” are followed, re-interpreted, or subverted by different writers. Students will read a range of published fiction and produce creative work of varying lengths and styles. The focus will be on psychological realism. Genre fiction (zombies, vampires, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) and fan fiction will not be accepted in this class. PREREQUISITE: English 71.

ENGL 131: Writing Poetry: (“The Art of Attention”)
Alan Soldofsky, MW 12:00-1:15
This course functions primary as an intermediate/advanced-level poetry writing workshop.  Students will critique poems they are writing for the class, while reading and analyzing a diverse selection of published poems. The workshop’s emphasis will be on poetry as “The Art of Attention”: poems whose characteristics include closely observed details of the here and now that turn the world into words.  In the workshop, students will read a practice writing poems of “layered perception.”

ENGL 133: Reed Magazine
Cathleen Miller, T 3:00-5:45
This course is ideally, but not necessarily, a two-semester sequence in which students produce this year’s issue of Reed, the San José State literary magazine. In the fall semester students will focus on editorial duties, mainly reading submissions, reviewing art, communicating with submitters to gain hands-on experience in publishing. Previous experience producing a literary magazine (i.e., in high school or at another college) is desirable but not required.

ENGL 140A: Old English
Nancy Stork, T/TH 9:00-10:15
Wēs hæl! Your chance to study the actual language spoken in early medieval England.  (History Channel “Vikings” fans take note—there has been some real Old English in this show). We will learn the basics of OE grammar and read selections from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Riddles and elegiac poetry as well as the Runic alphabet and an introduction to culture. Learn the language that inspired Tolkien to create the land of Rohan. This class is normally offered every other year so be sure to sign up now. If you complete this class and Beowulf in the spring, these two semesters can count as your language requirement for the English degree.

ENGL 144: Shakespeare: Early and Late
Andrew Fleck, T/TH 1:30-2:45
We will explore examples of the great playwright’s early efforts, later high points, and final complications of genre. We’ll read several of the comedies, histories, and tragedies, as well as some of Shakespeare’s narrative poems and sonnets. Together, we’ll strive to understand Shakespeare as a developing, generous, and then master playwright and poet. In our writing about Shakespeare, we’ll strive to produce clear, analytical prose in response to one of history’s greatest writers.

ENGL 145: Shakespeare and Performance
Adrienne Eastwood, MW 10:30-11:45
In this course, we will examine in-depth several of Shakespeare’s plays, specifically addressing issues of performance and interpretation.   Placing each play in the context of its original performance during Shakespeare’s time, and its life on stage and screen in the ensuing centuries, encourages an engagement with the ways in which re-imagining Shakespeare’s works helps them retain their vitality and cultural relevance.  Paying particular attention to modern productions, we will analyze the ways in which production elements such as setting, casting, staging, costumes, editing, and individual performances shape and create meaning (or fail to do so) for the audiences of today.

ENGL 163: American Literature from 1865-1910  
Karen English, T/TH 10:30-11:45
American Literature from 1865-1910 explores a variety of works of literary realism with a token bow to naturalism in the direction of Jack London. Equally split between non-fiction and fiction, the readings include works by Twain, Howells or James, Chopin, Zitkala-Sa, Keller, Washington or Chesnutt, Sui Sin Far. Quirky class writing assignments (definitely 7); midterm and final exams. Course can be taken for graduate credit.

ENGL 168: The American Novel
Robert Cullen, MW 10:30-11:45 
This is as good as it gets: novels by some of America’s greatest writers, including iconic works and minor masterpieces. We will examine the narratives as work of art, as mirrors to American culture, and as samples of literary movements such as realism, modernism, and postmodernism. Two papers, one final exam, eight works of genius: Huck FinnThe Age of InnocenceThe Sun Also RisesThe Sound and theFuryLolitaSong of SolomonThe Ghost WriterSag Harbor.

ENGL 169: Ethnicity in American Literature
Balance Chow, MW 3:00-4:15
Concentrates on the study of ethnicity as represented and constructed in American literature in relation to the formation of the concept of self, the place of self in society, and issues of equality and structured inequality in the United States.  It addresses issues of race, culture, history, politics, economics, etc., that arise as contexts relevant to the study of  literature by and/or about Americans (including immigrants) with Indigenous, African, European, Latino(a)/Hispanic, and Asian backgrounds.  

ENGL 176: The Short Story
Andrew Altschul, T/TH 3:00-4:15
An introduction to, and survey of, the modern short story, with an emphasis on U.S. short fiction from the 19th century until today. By studying canonical writers and contemporary innovators, we will explore the formal and thematic evolution of this enduring literary genre. Extensive reading and discussion, plus short papers, exams, and student presentations. Please note: This class is not a creative writing class – all written work will be scholarly in form and content.

ENGL 178: Literature of Creative Nonfiction
Cathleen Miller, TH 3:00-5:45
The genre of creative nonfiction seems to have sprung to life fully formed in the 1960s. Of course this was not the case, and in this class we will look at the canonical texts and historical influences which led up to the development of a literary phenomenon that seized the public imagination with the unorthodox writing of practitioners like Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay Talese. We’ll examine how these authors created a genre which has been a major influence on American culture ever since. (Prerequisite upper-division standing.)

ENGL 181: Special Topics (American Humor Writing)
Nick Taylor, MW 12:00-1:15In this seminar, we will read a wide array of American humor writing, from canonical practitioners like Twain and James Thurber to divas like Dorothy Parker and Margaret Cho. We will read Jews (S.J. Perelman, Woody Allen) and Gentiles (Dave Barry, George Saunders); Blacks (Chris Rock, Bill Cosby) and Whites (David Sedaris, and, um, E.B. White); Wise Men (Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Buckley) and Fools (Steve Martin, Jack Handey). Assignments include weekly humor pieces, an original theory of humor, and a final portfolio.

ENGL 190: Honors Seminar
Robert Cullen, MW 1:30-2:45
Graduate with honors and list that accomplishment on every resume for the rest of your life! The colloquium is open to all upper-division majors; email Prof. Cullen for details about earning honors. We will read four “encyclopedic” narratives, each a literary treasure by a novelist at the height of his powers: Tom Jones, Moby-Dick, The Brothers Karamazov, and Gravity’s Rainbow. Reading responses (some casual, some polished) and final exam.

ENGL 193: Capstone Seminar in Literature and Self-Reflection
Bonnie Cox, MW 9:00-10:15
In this culminating course for English majors, students will reflect on their experiences, assess their progress toward meeting the Department Learning Objectives, and put together a plan for what happens next. Requirements: regular reading and writing assignments, two presentations, a portfolio of work completed in the major, and active participation in classroom discussions.

ENGL 193: Capstone Seminar in Literature and Self-Reflection
William Wilson, MW 4:30-5:45
The focus of this seminar is philosophical fiction from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and from a variety of traditions. The novels we will study have been chosen for their individual merit and in the hope that students will not have encountered them in other classes. The works not only have intriguing characters and plot lines but they also raise significant metaphysical and philosophical questions. Reading list: Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov: Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: Camus, The Stranger; Waugh, Brideshead Revisited; and O’Brien, The Third Policeman.

ENGL 199: Internship in Professional/Technical Writing
Mark Thompson: (time arranged with instructor)
This independent study requires that students secure a writing internship with a local business (while the department can’t guarantee an internship, we can put students in touch with companies that have expressed an interest in SJSU interns). 120 hours of workplace experience are combined with academic readings in professional writing; in a final essay, students compare their workplace experience to the academic literature on workplace writing.