Following are the courses being offered in the Spring 2019 semester. Please check the online class schedule listing for the most accurate scheduling information.

200-Level Courses

Instructor: Braziel

We will write what Jerome Stern calls “shapes” from the prompts in his book Making Shapely Fiction. These shapes will form the backbone of longer stories. We will also write poems from the prompts in Steve Kowit’s book, In the Palm of Your Hand. Kowit’s prompts are about finding sources of inspiration and distilling language.

Instructor: Tipton

This course is an examination or literature engaging both the sacred and profane through history within a selection of Western and Eastern cultures. This course examines multiple texts through the lenses of human authenticity in juxtaposition to the shadow self. Some authors and texts for consideration include the Buddha, Lao Tsu, St. John of the Cross, Confucius; the Druids, early religious drama/Christian; the Torah, the Quran, and the Bagavagita. This is a tentative list.

A text will not be required; most all materials will either be in the public domain or available through the library.

Instructor: Santiago

In this class we will analyze and compare themes found in a broad range of children’s, adolescent, and young adult literature. We’ll encounter multiple genres of classic and contemporary texts, and we’ll examine their historical and social contexts as well as the beliefs that inform them.

Instructor: Hutchings

This course is an introduction to the history of comedy, from the earliest known farce (still considered the raunchiest play ever written!!) up to modern times. Readings will emphasize the vast variety within comedy — from “vulgar” farce to sophisticated wit — and will include plays as well as prose fiction — plus at least two landmark films you probably haven’t ever seen (or even heard of??). But BEWARE!!! Comedy is a SUBVERSIVE activity — as is laughter itself!!! Could that also be what makes it fun???

Instructor: Dwivedi

Using the literary construct of “the witch,” this class will attempt to explore issues of marginalization and displacement in society. After a brief preview of the socio-historical context of witches, we will transition into a consideration of their impact on narratives in the twentieth century; the class will mainly seek to explore the transformation of the figure of the witch in modern literary traditions by studying a combination of critical essays, novels, poems, and short stories from diverse cultural backgrounds. This will enable us to explore what such rewritings of traditional narratives about witches tell us about the socio-cultural contexts in which they are created. In terms of assignments, there will be two exams, a short essay, and a final research project; for the final paper, students will be able to conduct research on fictional representations of witches from a literary text of their choice.

Instructor: Lariscy

This special topics focused Introduction to Literature will take a look at how women's spirituality has been depicted in American writing. The course will investigate the diverse ways in which American Women's spirituality has been investigated, interrogated, and celebrated. We'll start with Native American images of spiritual women and move through colonial stories such as the Virgin of Guadalupe. From there we'll approach early writings like Anne Bradstreet's Puritan strivings in poems such as "Flesh and Spirit" paired with Arthur Miller's The Crucible. We'll finish the course in contemporary America with writings such as Alice Walker's search for spiritual mentorship in "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens" and contemporary renderings of spiritual women in stories from the past decade about identity, illness, and recovery such as Nina Rigg's The Bright Hour.

Instructor: Slaughter

This class is titled “#funnynotfunny” because we will read a varied selection of the major genres of literature — poetry, fiction, and drama — that use humor in different ways to get to the heart of some of the most elemental human questions and experiences. As we read we will study secondary and background materials which will supply the specialized vocabulary we will use in our informal (online discussion) and formal (reading responses, essays, etc.) written discussions of the texts. The texts will also provide a basis for developing skills in literary interpretation, presentation, analysis, and discussion. Upon completing the course, students will understand the conventions of literary genres and will have developed their analytical skills through close reading, critical thinking, and scholarly writing about literary texts.


300-Level Courses

Instructor: Quinlan

This is a methods course aimed at introducing English literature majors and minors to the practices and assumptions of the discipline. With that in mind, the emphasis is on acquiring the necessary strategies and skills for:

  1. reading poetry, drama, fiction, and criticism closely and confidently;
  2. doing research using UAB databases;
  3. writing thesis-driven essays in an informed scholarly context;
  4. demonstrating competence with writing style and MLA format;
  5. showing familiarity with literary terms and theoretical approaches to literary analysis; and
  6. becoming familiar with departmental offerings and career opportunities.
Instructor: Bellis

This class is designed to introduce you to the tools and techniques of literary analysis and research, and to help you prepare for more advanced work in English. As the title suggests, the course has several objectives:

  1. you’ll learn about various literary terms and concepts, along with a sampling of literary theories that you can use to inform and enrich your reading;
  2. you’ll work on the processes and requirements of academic writing, with a particular focus on argument and structure;
  3. you’ll learn effective ways of conducting research and documenting it appropriately; and
  4. you’ll also learn about the different fields and concentrations open to you within the major.
Instructor: Ryan

The two overarching goals of EH 304 are to teach students strategies for 1) recognizing and assessing editorial influences on a given document, whether an advertisement, a newspaper column, a magazine article, a textbook, a web site, or any other text that communicates, and 2) strengthening reading and writing skills for participation in professional and academic contexts.

Some of the specifics we will address in the course include:

  • levels of editing
  • editorial decision-making strategies
  • factors influencing reader preferences
  • specifics of editorial style
  • practice editing visual and verbal communication of ideas
  • larger social and cultural trends influencing the presentation of information and editorial freedoms/limitations

Assignments:

  • Collaborative Text Study and Response (20%)—selection of a public text, approved by your instructor; analysis and critique of textual goals (based on audience and purpose); and creation of an editing plan written to the author(s) of the text (4-6 double-spaced pages plus references and supplemental material)
  • Final Project (30%)—strategic plan for a context-appropriate text, demonstrating knowledge and application of editorial principles, research required (8-10 double-spaced pages plus references and supplemental material)
  • Oral Presentation of Final Project, required presentation visual (10%)
  • Editing Exercises (20%)—in-class and out-of-class editing activities completed individually and in groups
  • Final Exam (20%)—comprehensive examination of principles of effective editing and applicability to select texts, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent concepts from course readings

For further information, contact Dr. Cynthia Ryan, cynryan@uab.edu.

Instructor: Wells

In this class, students will explore professional writing as a discipline and learn how to compose professional documents that are common to the workplace. These documents include instructions, proposals, memos, résumés, slide presentations, blogs, brochures, newsletters, and more. As successful professional writing involves effective composing processes, students will take each of these documents through processes of invention, audience analysis, document design, drafting, revision, and editing. Further, students will not only learn writing genres and practical skills, but will also think about the rhetoric and ethics of professional writing and information design.


400/500-Level Courses

Instructor: McComiskey

Technical writing is like breathing: we see it all the time, and we do it all the time, but we don’t really think about it very much. Technical writing happens when one person has specialized information that other people need to know (in order to do things or make good decisions) and a document is written to convey that information.

Have you ever bought a piece of furniture or a complicated appliance and sailed right through the process of putting it together because the instructions were clearly written and the images were accurate? Have you ever gotten half-way through putting something together and realized that the instructions omitted a step that screwed up the whole thing? If you answered yes to both questions, then you’ve experienced successful and unsuccessful technical writing. Technical writing basically drives business and industry, and, even in an economic recession, effective communicators are highly valued.

Register for EH 404/504 Technical Writing and explore effective strategies for writing letters, memos, manuals, proposals, and reports. Other topics will include ethics, style, revision, collaboration, audience, purpose, persuasion, and research. No experience with technology is required for this course.

Instructor: Braziel

We will create character sketches inspired by the photographs in the book American Photobooth by Nakki Goranin. We will then use popular songs as a starting place for writing stories about these characters. We will also read short story collections to further our understanding of the craft of writing.

Instructor: Dunbar

This course examines the contentious relationship between white and black Cubans from slavery to the mid-twentieth century through the country’s literature and scholarship. In the late nineteenth-century, there emerged a Cuban movement that unified black, biracial, and white Cubans. After thirty years of anticolonial struggle against Spain and four years of military occupation by the United States, Cuba formally became an independent republic in 1902. This interracial pursuit, which inspired a belief amongst Afro-Cubans that Cuba’s freedom equated to full inclusion for all its citizens, was in reality met by disappointment amongst black Cuban communities.

This course will examine the role of race in the development of Cuba as an independent nation, the United States’s role in exacerbating racial tensions amongst black and white Cubans, the rise of Fidel Castro and his courtship of middle-class and revolutionary black Americans to support the burgeoning socialist movement in Cuba. We will consider a variety of texts contributing to this discourse, including the only AfroCuban extant slave narrative, Abolitionist texts, AfroCuban myths, the memoir of an AfroCuban soldier who fought for Cuban independence, and a Jamaican immigrant family’s experience in Cuba previous to and after Castro’s ascension to the Cuban leadership. While the focus of this course will be on Cuba itself, Fulgencio Batista’s and Fidel Castro’s relationships to the US government will figure prominently in our discussions of the American export of racism to Cuba and Cuban response to said colonialist agendas. There is no prerequisite of Cuban history, literature, or language to succeed in this course.

Instructor: Grimes

The last few centuries of English and American literary history present a complex and diverse array of poetic works—from epic to haiku, from satire to confessional. All of these poems emerge from their own distinct social, political, and economic circumstances, but, while most author- or period-centric classes (e.g. “James Joyce” or “American Literature, 1914-1945”) offer a deep dive into one relatively narrow area of this literary history, the aim of the “50 Poems” course is to offer readings of a series of works that, taken together, will provide students with a broad familiarity with some of the most influential poems from the English and American traditions as well as a comprehensive historical framework within which to understand what is distinctive about each period or poet. By the end of the semester, each student should be a much more practiced reader of poems, and each will likely develop a personal canon of favorite poems and poets that could be explored more deeply either in private reading or in other English classes or workshops. “50 Poems” will also be an experimental class – we will incorporate some online sessions, video and in-person conferences, and small-group discussions along with (of course) some regular class sessions.

Instructor: Quinlan

Memoir is a compelling genre precisely because it illuminates not only the lives of others but also our own lives with all their hesitations, confusions, and missteps, as well as occasional triumphs, in very immediate ways. Southern memoir has its own peculiar resonances of place, race, and gendered space. Here, following an examination of the current understanding of memoir as opposed to autobiography, we begin with several essay-length pieces by Southern authors, then undertake longer examples by (as of now) Richard Wright, Dennis Covington, Mary Karr, and Jesmyn Ward. We will also review the literary commentary on these writers.

Instructor: Hutchings

Fundamentally, modern literature as we now know it was shaped and defined by major censorship trials during which the authors as well as their works were put on trial by aggressive prosecutors. This course will examine BOTH the novels and plays themselves AND the trials as well as the (often VERY unusual) verdicts that shaped the twentieth century’s aesthetics and defined the freedom to read. Books to be read will be Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, James Joyce’s Ulysses (chapters 4 and 18 only; 1961 edition, with judge’s verdict as preface), Shaw’s Plays Unpleasant (Mrs. Warren’s Profession and its Preface), D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Mae West’s Three Plays, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, and Edward Bond’s Saved. Full disclosure: this course will most definitely NOT certify you to BE a censor, as some have mistakenly thought in the past.

Instructor: Siegel

This course will explore the ways in which movies tell stories. From the basic functions of editing, shot composition, and cinematography, to the psychological effects of the film image, to the political dimensions of narrative form, we’ll learn to read film with the same kind of attention that we bring to complex works of literature. The movies we’ll study will be diverse, some old and some new, drawn from a wide array of genres and world cinemas. You are welcome and encouraged to take the course even if you’ve never studied film before! Every week students will view films outside of class; you will write three essays and weekly informal responses.

Instructor: Madden

This workshop will focus specifically on writing stories for young people. Students will be presented with a range of children’s authors from picture book to early reader to middle grade to young adult. From Maurice Sendak to James Marshall to Kwame Alexander to Roald Dahl to Eve Bunting to Judy Blume to Jaqueline Woodson to Linda Sue Park to Rainbow Rowell to Laurie Halse Anderson to Gary Paulson to Irene Latham to Pam Muñoz Ryan to many other children's authors publishing today, students will read a range of stories and styles and learn about writing for children. Students will write three picture books, one chapter of a middle grade novel and one chapter of a young adult novel. They will also be expected to revise their work based on feedback in the workshop. A visiting author will come to the workshop during the semester to discuss writing and children's literature. The class will culminate in a visit to Epic Magnet or Glen Iris School near campus for UAB students to read their stories developed in the workshop to the children in grades K-5 at Epic.

Instructor: Bach

In this class, we will read some of the greatest hits of recent literary theory. Theoretical movements covered include New Criticism, Cultural Studies, Deconstruction, Critical Race Theory, Post-Colonial Theory, Feminist Theory, Gender and Sexuality Theory, Animal Studies, Network-Actor Theory, and Psychoanalytic Theory. Students will learn how to take apart difficult theoretical texts and use their insights to read in new ways.

Undergraduate students will keep a response journal and take three tests. Graduate students will also write a research paper using theory.

This class satisfies the post-1800 requirement. It is essential for students considering graduate school.

Instructor: McComiskey

Think about the kinds of texts you encounter outside of school: flyers, billboards, newsletters, web pages, instruction manuals, magazines, etc. For every few words you read, there’s a picture accompanying them. The fact is, in most public contexts, words persuade even better when they are combined with meaningful images.

In order to understand and produce public texts designed for twenty-first century audiences, writers need to have a way with words and images. The days are gone when writers, lonely in their 4x4 cubicles, scratched out words to be made pretty by graphic artists. Communication technologies and basic publishing software, available on any computer these days, enable writers to be in total control of the sound and look of the texts they compose. If you can open an MS Word document, then you can also insert images into your text.

Words have conventional meanings: we all agree that the letters d-o-g will refer to a domesticated canine. Images have conventional meanings, too: we all agree that diamonds signify wealth, that tattered clothes signify poverty, that the color red signifies passion in some contexts and danger in other contexts. The choice of what image to place next to a block of text is a rhetorical one, based on the audience and purpose of the document. Register for EH 456/556 Visual Rhetoric and explore how words and images combine to create persuasive messages.

Instructor: Bellis

In this class we’ll discuss an assortment of texts from the 1950s through the early 21st century. Our emphasis will be on the new voices that entered American writing during this period, rupturing and revising traditional forms and introducing a variety of perspectives on American history and culture. We’ll consider fiction, poetry, drama, graphic fiction, and, perhaps, even some nonfiction.

Over the course of the term, I’ll ask you to complete three papers totaling at least 20 pages and make an in-class presentation.

Texts may include:

  • Edward Albee, At Home At the Zoo
  • Sherman Alexie, The Business of Fancydancing
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
  • Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Allen Ginsberg, Howl
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved
  • Suzan-Lori Parks, Top Dog/Underdog
  • Sylvia Plath, Ariel
  • Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard
Instructor: Dunbar

Appearing in 1925, The New Negro was an expanded version of the magazine, The Survey Graphic. By its very title, The New Negro implied the existence of an “old negro,” which encompasses both the stereotypical Mammy and Sambo personas as well as the “old guard,” referencing the compromising ideologies of Booker T. Washington. More overtly, The New Negro intended to make the case for a coming of age within the black community, and, with it, a stronger claim for black participation in the project of American democracy. Until recently most scholars have read Renaissance writers through the dreaded lens of respectability politics. However, Darryl Dickson-Carr’s Spoofing the Modern: Saitre in the Harlem Renaissance considers the prominence of satire in the works of writers, such as folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, poet Langston Hughes, journalist George S. Schuyler, writer-editor-poet Wallace Thurman, physician Rudolph Fisher, and artist Richard Bruce Nugent.

In this course we will begin our exploration of this “revolutionary” strain of the Harlem Renaissance cohort by positioning the literature within the cultural context lain out by scholar David Levering Lewis in his When Harlem Was in Vogue. We will then engage the most important debates of the era including those contributions made by sociologist, W. E. B. Du Bois; poet, Langston Hughes; novelist George Schuyler, and novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Only then can we begin to responsibly delve into the literature that helped shaped African American letters in crucial ways. Fiction writers such as James Weldon Johnson, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, and George Schuyler underscore the fact that satirical Renaissance novels are not the exception to black literature at the turn of the twentieth century; rather they are a part of a larger body of the mainstream. We will close out the course with an examination of the controversial Black and White film script, which exposes a growing fascination with Communism amongst early twentieth century black artists.

Instructor: Clements

This course is an exploration through art, literature, and history of dominant themes of the Middle Ages. This semester we will be looking at medieval textual and visual culture through the lens of monstrosity and the exotic in order to explore how the seemingly discrete categories of “human” and “monster” are defined or employed in these artifacts. Students will have the opportunity to examine how medieval authors used the monstrous in a number of genres (from history to saint’s life to epic poem), each presenting distinct physical, geographical, and ideological boundaries for “self” and “other.” In addition to examining the monstrous bodies, behaviors, and landscapes in these texts, we will consider how the boundaries between human and monster are blurred through hybridized characters and marvelous acts, and the social commentary that is implicit in a text’s distinction between what is human and what is not. Students will also learn how modern scholars have approached these texts through such lenses as postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, and gender studies.

Instructor: Bach

Shakespeare wrote his poems and plays before standardized spelling and English dictionaries. In this course, we will learn to attend to the multiple meanings available to Shakespeare as a writer. We will look at Shakespeare’s texts before they were edited, and we will see how Shakespeare has been edited and read over the centuries. Students will also read current research on Shakespeare’s plays on the Renaissance stage.

We will read some of Shakespeare’s sonnets and six of his greatest plays, including 1Henry IV, Antony and Cleopatra, and Othello.

Students will learn how to do research on Shakespeare, including how to read the original texts. Undergraduate course requirements include two papers and a final exam. Graduate students will take the exam and write a short paper and a final research paper.

Instructor: Wells

In this course, students will examine the subject of English as it relates to their own professional goals. Students will reflect upon the historical development of English as an academic discipline and then use this historical knowledge to evaluate English today and assess their own unique paths through the disciple. Additionally, students will translate their academic experience in English into practical documents that may be used in applying to graduate school and jobs.


600/700-Level Courses

Instructor: Braziel

The focus of the class will be on the craft of writing novels and novellas. We will read contemporary novels and novellas, and students will begin a novel or novella to be workshopped.

Instructor: Minnix

Writing is a complex act. You already know this because as writers you grapple with the complexities of argument, audience, and style every time you sit down to write. But, the teaching of writing in the university is often described as the teaching of a “basic skill” and often relegated just to courses in Freshman English. In EH 646 we will grapple with this description on both a theoretical and practical level and learn how composition studies has challenged prevailing contentions that writing in the university is basic, neutral, and monolingual. We will leave the course not only ready to teach our first composition course but also ready to engage others across the disciplines in conversations about the teaching of writing. The course provides a thorough introduction and outline of the major concepts, theories, and conflicts that make up the field of composition studies, as well as opportunities to apply the insights from composition studies to the design of our own EH 101 courses. Our projects for the semester will include a literacy narrative, a portfolio of EH 101 course materials, a teaching praxis portfolio made up of students’ reflections on the observation of a composition classroom and their work with students, and a journal assignment that asks you to apply the insights of the composition research and theory we read to specific classroom situations.

Instructor: G. Temple

This class will survey some of the major writings of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Among the issues we will consider are the evolution of form and theme in both writers’ works; their treatment of gender, sexuality, and intimacy; their views regarding economics and politics; and how their relationship to each other affected both men personally and artistically. Course requirements will include committed reading, a midterm essay, and a final term paper.