Preview of Courses

The following are courses that have been offered or are usually offered by the Department of English. For a comprehensive list of courses, please refer to the current Schedule of Classes or Course Catalog

ENG 305. Screenwriting
You know you’ve always wanted to write your own movie, and here’s your chance! This course will give you the tools you need to write for the silver screen—including plot structure, character development, scene building, dialogue, and screenplay format. Our methods and assignments will include short writing exercises, outlining, discussions, workshops, readings, and a weekly film lab (time and day to be fixed when the course begins). For your major project, you will submit a detailed outline for a feature-length film, and a complete first act (30 pages in screenplay format). Readings will include Robert McKee’s Story, Denny Martin Flinn’s How Not To Write a Screenplay, Syd Field’s, Screenplay, a few professional scripts like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sense and Sensibility, and The Illusionist, and your fellow students’ drafts. Professor Morris.

ENG 326. Topics in Shakespeare: Hamlet and its Afterlives
In this class we will spend an entire semester studying Hamlets -- but not just Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane.  We will also get to know black Hamlets, female Hamlets, burlesque Hamlets, children’s Hamlets, Freudian Hamlets, Arab and Chinese Hamlets.  Students will approach Shakespeare’s play—along with its literary and filmic offspring—with an array of critical tools, including textual criticism, character criticism, historicist theory, psychoanalytic theory, and theories of revision and  adaptation.  Finally, students will create, stage and analyze their own southern California Hamlets. Professor Burton.

ENG 387. Science Fiction
Science fiction (SF) has been described as a literature that conveys a “sense of wonder,” a literature of extrapolation and a literature of cognitive estrangement.  Another way of putting all this is that science fiction is rooted in the world we live in, but it helps us see this world in a strange new way.  In this class and pair, we will explore how science fiction has found novel ways of representing and imagining politics, power, institution building and social change.  As we read the likes of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Michel Foucault and David Harvey, we will also read writers like H. G. Wells, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Ursula Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson, William Gibson, China Miéville and Paolo Bacigalupi [choices still to be finalized].  We will give special attention to science fiction’s penchant for the dystopian imagination.  From the dictators out there to the fascists in our own heads, we will examine how science-fiction writers have imagined the workings of power from fears of totalitarian governments to the dread of the self-desired oppression induced by consumer capitalism.  Note: this course is paired with SOC 346. Social Power and Social Control. Professor Paddy.

ENG 400. Critical Procedures
“Question Reality.” This may be the only advanced literature course best described by a bumper sticker. As you know, writing about literature begins with asking questions. But how do we come up with our questions? What tends to go without question? How are our questions related to each other? How have questions changed over time? How do questions reflect on the questioner? As a senior English major, you have already developed questions of your own. The purpose of this course is to help you place your own thinking about literature into a broader context. In this course we will read “theory,” a body of texts from many disciplines that dispute “common-sense” explanations through speculative analysis: questioning. Professor Rehn.

ENG 410. Senior Seminar: Whitman and Melville
Whitman and Melville both produced incredibly significant works at virtually the same literary moment. These works, Leaves of Grass and Moby-Dick are epic, dense, profound, difficult, obtuse, spiritual, contradictory, offensive, erotic, glorious, insane, cosmic, and deeply rewarding (to mention just a few aspects).  We will look at them closely and take our time to know all that we can about them, their writers, and the times that produced them.  The course will involve substantial secondary reading as well.  This is the good stuff, folks—the texts that changed everything, that try to do everything.  Not for the faint of heart or those who like to think small.  Professor Adams.