The English Core is a three-course sequence that introduces our majors to the key theoretical concepts and critical practices in English Studies. The Core is designed to prepare students for our diverse array of intermediate-level English classes and also for our advanced research seminars. All Core courses are Writing Emphasis (WE), ensuring that students receive rigorous writing instruction.
The following descriptions and outcomes were originally written in 2006-07 and are evolving as we continue to revise and enhance our majors' learning experience.
ENG 194 encourages students to acquire a self-reflexive and critical perspective, particularly through an introduction to reader-response theory and methodology. Students learn how their own reading assumptions and strategies effect their interpretation and production of texts. They consider especially the ways in which they have been shaped by the "interpretive communities" of school, college, family, friends, etc., to make sense of, produce, and evaluate texts. They learn to ask, in turn, how these interpretive communities may be influenced by such factors as race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexuality, socio-economic class, and culture.
To produce thoughtful critical responses, students need to pay careful attention not only to the way culture has shaped their reading assumptions and strategies but also to the way the texts they are reading and writing are influenced by textual conventions, especially those of genre. ENG 194 introduces students to a variety of prominent genres—e.g., the novel, short story, poetry, drama, essay, autobiography, and film. Writers represented in ENG 194 have emerged from diverse discourse communities—ethnic, racial, gendered, sexual, and cultural.
All sections of ENG 194 will:
ENG 295 focuses on history and its influences on the reception and production of texts. Students will be asked to engage critical, historical, and literary materials in order to develop insight into how cultural and historical circumstances enable the production of texts and influence how readers respond to them. An important part of understanding how texts are produced and received throughout history is coming to grips with how texts are valued in a given society at a specific historical moment. Toward that end, texts that have been considered "major," "canonical," and/or "literary" will be set in relation to texts that have been identified as "minor," "rhetorical," and/or "non-literary." The cultural values these comparisons bring to light will be examined in the context of the specific historical moments that produced them, as well as in light of our contemporary historical/cultural positioning.
By exploring the production, reception, and cultural valuation of texts, students will be able to see reading as a historically and culturally situated practice. Students will be asked to reflect on how texts are "preserved" by the reading process; how meaning is (re)produced even for texts from historically and culturally remote times and places; and how recuperating history, in itself, is an act of making meaning. Thus, students in this course will be encouraged to see reading texts through historical contexts as an exercise both of imagination and interpretive intellectual abilities.
All sections of ENG 295 will:
By the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:
NOTE: LIT 206: African American Literature and Literary Theory also fulfills this requirement
In ENG 296, students will examine how the relationship between meaning and text is conceived by different critical theories. As meaning may be understood as inhering in the interaction of author, audience, text, and context, each theory provides a different way of understanding the nature of this interaction. Focusing on the 20th and 21st centuries, the course will present a selection of four or five key theoretical perspectives, including but not limited to: dialogism, expressivism, feminism, Marxism, myth, New Criticism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, queer theory, postcolonialism, poststructuralism, race and identity, semiotics, and translation. Through the study of these perspectives, students will learn how the interpretation and creation of a text are mediated by theory.
By exploring several theoretical perspectives, students will consider the ways in which the value of a text emerges from not only the text itself, but also the historically variable force of cultural and institutional value-systems: ideological, scholastic, and commercial. They will also explore the role of language in shaping these value-systems. As such, students will consider how historically variable forces and the shifting role of language influence genre and canonicity.
All sections of ENG 296 will:
By the conclusion of this course students will be able to: