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Current Undergraduate Classes

Browse our current and past course offerings.

Associate Professor Steven Miller

Small class sizes and unique course offerings allow you to work closely with faculty on the cutting edge of literary and cultural studies.

Spring 2015 Course Offerings

Eng 193 - Fundamentals of Journalism

(pre-requisite course for the JCP)
Andrew Galarneau, Wednesdays (eve)  7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No.  11283

This course is a gateway into the Journalism Certificate program and teaches students to research, report and write news and feature stories for print, broadcast and the web. It also provides an overview of American journalism and an introduction to American media and press law.

Students learn to find sources, conduct interviews, use quotes and write informative non-

fiction prose. They also learn the importance of accuracy, integrity and deadlines. Students analyze the merit and structure of good (and bad) news stories and focus on how journalists tell stories differently in print, radio, TV and on the web.

Students will have in-class and take-home writing exercises, designed to help them master the fundamentals of news writing. In addition to a textbook, students will read articles, and learn from classroom guest speakers. Students will turn those presentations into articles as well.

This course is a Pre-requisite to the Journalism Certificate Program.

Eng 207 - Intro. to Writing Poetry/Fiction

- Two sections available:

Amanda Montei
M W (Eve)    7:00 - 8:20      
Reg. No. 18318

Veronica Wong
T Th    3:30 - 4:50
Reg. No. 19662


Vladimir Nabokov once reflected that “a writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination  of a scientist.” This introductory course is specifically designed for beginning writers who would like to take the first steps towards exploring the craft of poetry and fiction. Students will be introduced to the fundamental vocabulary and basic techniques of each genre. Throughout the semester, the class will also be presented with a diverse group of readings to study and emulate in order to kindle our own imaginative strategies. No prior writing experience is necessary.

Through  a series of linked exercises and  related readings, ENG  207 will introduce  students to  fundamental elements of the craft of writing poetry and fiction. We will study differing modes of narration (the benefits of using a 1st person or a 3rd person narrator when telling a story, or how an unreliable narrator is useful in the creation of plot). We will examine character development (why both “round” and “flat” characters are essential to any story), as well as narrative voice (creating “tone” and “mood” through description and exposition), and think about “minimal” and “maximal” plot developments. We will consider the differences between closed and open forms of poetry. The use of sound and rhythm. We will try our hand at figurative language and consider how imagery is conveyed through our choice of words. We will study prosody  and the practice of the line.

Selected readings will expose you to a variety of poetic forms, fictional styles and narrative models.  Assigned exercises will give you the space to practice and experiment with unfamiliar forms. Students will also be given the opportunity to meet with visiting poets and fiction writers at Poetics Plus and Exhibit X readings on campus and in downtown Buffalo.

It may come as no surprise that Nabokov also noted that he has “rewritten—often several times—every word I have ever published.” This introductory course is designed to be the first step on the long journey of literary practice.


Eng 221 World Literature

Professor Carine Mardorossian
T Th        2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No.  23115

Cultural encounters, this course’s guiding theme, refers to the  ways in which the  story of encounter  between different cultures has been told in representative works of world literature across a number of genres (the novel, the short story, film, poetry, and the essay). It also refers to the reading practices that, as members  of a dominant culture, we use  to  interpret  writing from  other countries.  Are the criteria we use to make sense of our world adequate to understand a “foreign” culture? What constitutes “foreignness”? What makes some literatures more “foreign” than others? How is literary value constituted? Is  it an  intrinsic quality  of the  text or  a function of our reading practices?  Readings will include a wide variety of contemporary world writing  in English that tells and retells the often violent story of cultural encounter from various points of view. We will analyze these texts in their historical, cultural, and literary contexts as well as from a global perspective. Specifically, we will read  works by members  of the African, Caribbean,  Asian, diasporas as  well as  writings from Senegal, Nigeria, Japan, South Africa, Egypt, and Latin America.

At the beginning of the semester, we will also spend time reviewing  the basic skills needed  to read  literary  texts (e.g. the skill of knowing  when the voice  is that of a character or narrator, etc.)

Required Texts:

The  books are available at the UB Bookstore.   Please use the editions I have selected.

¨    Davis, Harrison,  et al. The Bedford Anthology  of

World Literature Book 6 (2003)

¨    Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1999)

¨    Jamaica Kincaid, My Garden (Book)

Eng 241 American Writers 1

Professor Kenneth Dauber
MWF          9:00 - 9:50
Reg. No. 14113

We will read and discuss the most important American writing, from its origins to the Civil War, when the idea of an American literature and, even, the idea of America, was founding  itself.   Once  considered  a  literature for children or a pale reflection of a British tradition that a hopelessly provincial nation could not quite match, American writing in the so-called American Renaissance blossomed in answer to a challenge of its independence. What  is American literature?   Is there such a thing as "democratic writing"?  Is there  a typical  American character or characters?  Does race or gender complicate these questions? Why do representative American novels look and feel so different from novels of the same period in Europe?  We will read some wonderful writers, works by Benjamin Franklin (the inventor of the American dream), James Fenimore Cooper (the inventor of the "Western"), Edgar Allan Poe (the inventor of the mystery story), Ralph Waldo  Emerson (the originator of a new kind of philosophical "essay"), Harriet Beecher Stowe (the writer of America's most enduring "popular" novel), Frederick Douglass (ex-slave and abolitionist), Nathaniel Hawthorne (author of the most classic of classic American novels), and Herman  Melville (author of perhaps the first "modern" novel).

Eng 253 - Novel

Daniel Gomes
MWF      9:00 - 9:50
Reg. No. 18319

Introduction to the Novel

Introduction to the Novel

This course offers an overview of the development of the English-language novel from its inception in eighteenth century England to its rise as a global commodity in the 21 century.  While our focus will be on identifying and analyzing what are the unique qualities and features of this novel, this course is also designed to introduce you to the tremendous versatility of voices and conventions that the genre accommodates. Accordingly, we will survey a diverse array of the novel’s subgenres, including epistolary, gothic, science fiction, bildungsroman (coming-of-age), historical, and experimental fiction. As we progress, we’ll continually ask: Why were certain conventions abandoned, while others endured or were reinvented? How does the function of narrative, style, and character change, as well as the way the reader is addressed as a participant? And how and why do authors represent social realities in the manner they do?

Although the novel has been approached theoretically in a number of ways, a central concern of this course will be how the novel responds to moments of cultural exchange and displacement, whereby a people from one region, nation, or class are brought into contact—oftentimes forcefully—with those outside their cultural norm. Whether it is Robinson Crusoe’s encounter with cannibals on a tropical island near Trinidad, Pip’s struggle to understand the urban, gentile London society in Great Expectations, the European Humbert Humbert’s hilarious observations of American life in Lolita, or Balram’s attempt to navigate a New Dehli that is rapidly being globalized in White Tiger, the novel has served as vehicle for interrogating the complications of cultural encounter and exchange. Our concern with these complications will serve as a backdrop for our primary objective: to track the complex development of the formal components of the novel over the span of its rich and enduring history.


Eng 254 - Science Fiction

Professor Steven Miller
MWF         2:00 - 2:50
Reg. No. 23122

This course will introduce students to the art of reading and writing on science fiction as a prose genre. We will focus on novels and stories that speculate upon scientific, artistic, and historical transformations of the human body, gender, and sexuality.

Likely readings include Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, Paul Scheerbart, Robert James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon), Octavia Butler, Kazuo Ishiguro, J.G. Ballard, Ursula K. LeGuin, Samuel Delany, Margaret Atwood, Mark von Schlegell, and Ted Chiang. 


Eng 256 - Film

Professor Alan Spiegel
MWF      10:00 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23123

A course open to all majors, a background in film not required.

A survey of national character and identity in terms of some of the mot exciting and confrontational American movies:  Westerns (The Searchers), Gangsters (Bonnie and Clyde), Thrillers (Psycho), social and political problem films - Left (Do the Right Thing), Right (The Fountainhead), and Center (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington); films cynical (The Candidate, I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang) and hopeful (Sullivan’s Travels, and 12  Angry Men): a lively and thoughtful time should be had by all.

Quizzes, journal, and final   exam. There is no overlap   between this course and      English 379 (i.e., students may register for both without fear of duplication).

Eng 258 - Mysteries

Shosuke Kinugawa
MWF         11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 11623

The Argentine detective fiction writer Jorge Luis Borges once said: “Besides, rereading, not reading, is what counts.” But how can one reread a mystery story and not be struck with the feeling of utter redundancy? The     second time around inevitably lacks the element of suspense, and isn’t suspense what the genre is all about? Since the plot of a mystery hinges on the withholding of the solution and its climactic disclosure, the fun, it would seem, is over after one reading. But then again there are mystery stories which are read over and over again. Google “Sherlock Holmes” and you will find a small   library’s worth of books about Holmes, a fact which attests to the vigorous rereadings that individual readers dedicate to the Holmes series. Why would one reread the same mystery story over and over again? The answer, of course, is that the mystery story has more to it then the simple satisfaction of suspense and resolution.

What keeps a mystery story interesting when the “mystery” is gone? This is the central question around which this course will revolve. With this question as the unifying thread, the course will provide a survey of the detective fiction genre. We will examine the genealogy of some of its major conventions, beginning with Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle, then Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and up to Paul Auster and Borges. At the same time, we will also consider some of the more minor sub-genres, such as the burlesque,   feminist detectives, psycho-thrillers, police procedurals, and the metaphysical detective story. And through our  examination of the mystery story, we will   observe how the works in this genre are intimately linked to the sociocultural moment of their composition.


Eng 259 Drama

Marion Quirici
T Th             3:30 - 4:50
Reg. No. 23580

Edward Albee once said, “I am not interested in living in a city where there isn’t a production by Samuel Beckett    running.” A society’s dramatic preferences represent something finer about its character: for Albee, a city that can  appreciate the intellect and scathing wit of Beckett is the place for him. Theater, whether its purpose is to stimulate and instruct or merely to distract and entertain, is an essential component of any civilization. Does a lively theater  reflect or produce the tastes of the community in which it is situated? This course introduces students to the generic conventions of the theater across a variety of cultures and time periods. From the ancient Greeks to today, drama has shaped and participated in history, but would it be more accurate to describe it as culture or counter-culture? With units on the history of drama, the Irish Revival, the theater of the absurd, and contemporary American plays, we will explore the significance of the theater to culture, politics, and revolution. We will also interrogate issues of social  justice, race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability, as illuminated by our selection of plays. Special assignments encourage students to develop their own performance style, and to try their hand at being a critic. Students will read plays from an assortment of theatrical traditions, view one or two film adaptations, attend and critique a live production, and perform something of their own choosing. The course will also introduce some secondary historical and critical writings to supplement understanding. Other course requirements are a midterm exam and a final researched essay. Playwrights considered may include Sophocles, Plautus, William Shakespeare, August Strindberg, Oscar Wilde, Lady Gregory, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Sean O’Casey, Luigi Pirandello, Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Alan Bennett, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Lydia Diamond.

Eng 268 Irish Literature

Macy Todd
MWF     10:00 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23124

The great texts of Irish literature are well read and well known. Ulysses, Waiting for Godot, Dracula, The  Tower, Gulliver’s Travels, and The Picture of Dorian Gray all attest to the lasting import of Irish literature in the present day. But few, if any, are prepared to describe what makes these books Irish. In short, this class will ask the question: what is Irish about Irish literature? An interest in coming up with a definition for Ireland as a literary nation will form the backbone of our investigation, as we attempt to assemble coordinates through which Irish art can be understood as a category unto itself. By engaging directly with Ireland’s mythic and bardic past, we can begin to see the way later texts incorporated ancient history. What we will also see, though, are the ways Ireland’s economic and political relations to England influence and develop a largely English-language literary production. Asking the question of what makes Irish literature Irish means coming to terms with the fact that many of the most influential and canonical figures in Irish letters lived and wrote in places other than Ireland, and in the language of a colonizing country.

In order to begin to respond to these issues, we will read a the work of a variety of artists, including familiar authors such as Edmund Spenser, Jonathon Swift, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Samuel Beckett, Edna O’Brien, and Brian Friel. To further our understanding of these authors, and to gain a deeper appreciation of the work these  authors were reading and responding to, we will be introduced to artists whose work sits just “beyond the pale,” including Fearflatha Ó Gnímh, Maria Edgeworth, William Carleton, James Clarence Mangan, Thomas Davis, and Speranza. 

Eng 274 - Feminist Approaches to Literature

Ana Grujic
MWF     12:00 - 12:50
Reg. No. 23125

We will start by taking a peek at secret rooms and mysterious attics, to find there the beginnings of modern day women’s writing. We will then roam through enchanted castles, and take a brief look at how women have manipulated the fairytale genre.  We will explore city alleys, hop on some islands and space ships with writers of color, to learn how they reinvented multiple genres and spaces in order to make their voices heard. We will sample some other popular forms of writing such as hyper-text, comic book, sci-fi, and tattooing, that feminist writers have used to revolutionize ideas of what makes “good literature”.  And we will read and discuss novels and short stories, poetry and essays, as we listen to great women’s blues, neo-punk, electro pop and hip hop.

Eng 276 - Literature and Law

Katrin Rowan
MWF          11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 23581

What stories can law tell? How can story-making shape our perceptions of legal systems? This course will examine how legal and literary writing, as mutually-embedded modes of expression, employ language and narrative structure to address fundamental questions of justice,  equity, and fairness. In considering these questions ourselves, we will evaluate depictions of law in a variety of genres, including classical tragedy (Sophocles’ Antigone), the novel (Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter), short fiction (Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”), and film (Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men).  We will simultaneously analyze works of legal advocacy (such as The Federalist Papers) and landmark judicial decisions to ask how rhetoric and storytelling enable the making and interpretation of law.  Our discussions will consider topics of social justice, racial and gender equity, punishment, and censorship (among others) to explore the tension between literature rich in multiple meanings and legal writing’s objective of certainty.  This course  welcomes students interested in literature, rhetoric, legal study, and criminal justice.


Eng 276 - Literature and Law

Professor Graham Hammill
MWF        12:00 - 12:50
Reg. No. 22742

This course will examine interconnections between law and literature as two related modes for exploring justice, fairness, equity, and retribution.

Throughout the semester, we will discuss topics such as racial, gender, and sexual equality; sympathy and human rights; and punishment and forgiveness.

We will explore the ways in which literature reflects upon the law, enabling and extending concepts of justice, citizenship, and legal enfranchisement.

At the same time, we will consider specific cases of pornography, where the law attempts to delimit and regulate literature.

Likely readings include works by Frederick Douglass, Susan Glaspell, Franz Kafka, Primo Levi, Herman Melville, Thomas Paine, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Richard Weisberg, and Patricia Williams. In addition, we will read key works in the field of law and literature including the book of Exodus from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence.

Eng 301 - Criticism

Rick Feero
MWF   11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 13831

The purpose of this course is to introduce the craft of literary criticism, including the techniques of close reading, cultural critique, and historical analysis; a variety of literary theories; and strategies for researching, writing and revising critical papers.  We’ll seek familiarity with key journals in the field of literary studies, with major critics, and with the use of manuscripts and historical documents—both in the library and in on-line databases.  In short, English majors can use this class as an entrance into the discipline’s conversations and codes, developing the cultural capital of literary studies.  We’ll read some heavily worked literary texts, including selections from Conrad, Dickinson, Gilman, James, and Stevens,  and sample from a number of perspectives on these works, including reader-response, feminist, psychoanalytic, deconstructive, new-historicist, and Marxist criticism.  In order to test this material and make it our own, we’ll keep a common-place journal, engage in a weekly discussion board, and write several shorter informal pieces that explore and interrogate the readings. The main writing project will be researching, drafting, reviewing and revising a 12 page formal essay that can take its place in the field.

Required Texts

· Joseph Conrad; Ross C. Murfin (Editor),  Heart of Darkenss.  Bedford/Saint Martin's, 2010.  ISBN 978-0-312-45753-2

· Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-969134-0

Henry James; Peter G. Beidler (Editor), The Turn of the Screw. ISBN 978-0-312-59706-1


Eng 301 - Criticism

Professor Carine Mardorossian
T Th       12:30 - 1:50
Reg. No. 11421

English 301 introduces students to the schools of literary and film criticism that have developed since the beginning of the twentieth-century. We will study the representative texts of these various schools, focusing on their basic terms, concepts, and methodologies and applying these in turn to the same piece of fiction and film. How does each approach help us rediscover the same literary and filmic text anew? Does each lens through which we read and reread the same text enhance or limit our understanding of its complexity? Why? If one particular method appears more “natural” or “objective” than others, we will investigate why rather than just assume that it is. The goal of the course is to learn a range of interpretive methods while critically assessing each.

Class requirements include regular attendance, active  participation in written and oral class discussions, a midterm, final and a research paper.

Required Texts:

The books are available at the University Bookstore. Please use the editions I have selected. The primary texts for the course are:

-The Critical Tradition. Edited by David Richter, Bedf'srd/St Martins, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0-312-41520-4

-Wide Sargasso Sea, By Jean Rhys. 

-Cambridge by Caryl Phillips

-Short Stories (Xeroxed)

Eng 301 - Criticism

Professor Steven Miller
MWF           1:00 - 1:50
Reg. No. 23126

This course, designed for English majors, is an introduction to the theory and practice of literary criticism. The readings will provide students with the terms and tools to think more clearly about what they are doing when they write about literature. It is important, however, to stress that the course is about the theory and practice of criticism, because literary criticism goes beyond the     evaluation or interpretation of literary works.

Before it does anything else, criticism seeks language  adequate to the task of grasping the nature of a linguistic artifact. It is language about language. Before one can say anything about literature, it is necessary to ask what literature is and then, depending on the answer to that question, to decide how the critic should engage with any given literary text.

Throughout the semester, therefore, we will examine the way in which major works of literary criticism has defined the relationship between its activity and its object, raising questions (among others) of literature and language, criticism and aesthetics, form and intent, knowledge and tradition, pleasure and textuality, reading and justice.

Readings may include texts by Plato, Aristotle, Schiller, Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Wilde, Freud, Dubois, Lacan, Bloom, Gilbert and Gubar, Haraway, and Cixous.

Eng 301 - Criticism

Professor William Solomon
MWF         10:00 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23127

The primary aim of this course will be to introduce students to new ways of examining and commenting upon cultural texts. We will begin by addressing the insights rhetorical methods of critical analysis may make available. Our inquiry will then pass through a series of speculations by early-twentieth-century European thinkers on the formal structure and function of folk or popular cultural practices; here we will focus in particular on the art of storytelling, on traditional forms of festive humor, and on the impact of new technical media like motion pictures. After this we will move into the realm of psychoanalysis, a topic that will lead us into the overlapping fields of feminism and film theory, which tend to converge around the role vision plays in the construction of sexual identity. We will then interrogate the assumptions underlying familiar notions of authorship and conventional models of literary realism. We will conclude the class with a discussion of the applicability of the period term postmodernism to contemporary cultural production.

Throughout this course we will remain attentive to the interdisciplinary trust of recent interpretive strategies, though the central task remains to develop our skills as readers of literature.

Reading materials will include essays by among others Nietzsche, Sontag, Shklovsky, Bakhtin, Benjamin, Lacan, Mulvey, Barthes, Foucault, and De Man.

Eng 303 - Chaucer

Professor Randy Schiff
T Th            12:30 - 1:50
Reg. No. 23577

Geoffrey Chaucer has often been called the Father of English poetry, and indeed his literary work has profoundly influenced both the literary canon and the very language itself. In our course, we will explore the texts and contexts of Chaucer’s most seminal project, The Canterbury Tales. We will familiarize ourselves with the cultural and historical background of Chaucer’s works, by considering both primary and secondary texts. Students will be required to write two terms papers, to take two exams, as well as to make a formal performance of a selection of Middle English verse before the class.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement


Eng 310 - Shakespeare: Late Plays

Professor Barbara Bono

Lectures are MW from 9:00 - 9:50, register by enrolling in one of the following recitation sections on Friday--either:

Section B1    9:00 - 9:50   Reg. No.  18309

Section B2    9:00 - 9:50   Reg. No.  21475

Section B3  10:00 - 10:50 Reg. No.  21476

Section B4  11:00 - 11:50 Reg. No.  21477

Origin, conflict, sex, murder, ambition, death, production, and reproduction.  We’ll start where I typically leave off in English 309: Shakespeare: Earlier Plays, with the Chorus’s fond hope at the beginning of Act V of Henry V that the triumphant Hal will enter London like a “conqu’ring Caesar,” or “As, by a lower but high-loving likelihood, Were now the General of our gracious       Empress—/As in good time he may—from   Ireland coming, /Bringing rebellion broached on his sword.” (Henry V, Chorus, Act V, ll. 22-35).

But there’s a problem.  Essex, the ambitious courtier-knight who was “the General of our gracious Empress” (the aging Queen Elizabeth I) did not come home from Ireland like a “conqu’ring Caesar,” “Bring rebellion broached on his sword.”  Instead he came home defeated, rebellious himself. In the late Elizabethan regime, the fragile balance that created celebratory history plays and resolved romantic comedies—the materials of English 309: Shakespeare’s Earlier Plays—collapses, so that, with Elizabeth’s death and James’s accession, we are left with frank examinations of how political order is often created out of irrational and self-interested acts of violence (Julius Caesar), leaving skepticism (Hamlet),  excoriating sexual jealousy and doubt (Othello), heated ambition (Macbeth), and the threat of total annihilation (Lear)—in critic Franco Moretti’s phrase, “the deconsecration of sovereignty” that led to the staged public execution of James I’s successor Charles I.  In Shakespeare’s final plays, including The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest, the problem of political authority reorganizes itself around greater and more various agency for women and  anticipations of the new world order of the Americas.

These—Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest—will be our texts; these—origin, conflict , sex, murder, ambition, death,   production, and reproduction—will be our issues. It should be quite a semester.

Format: Regular attendance, and active participation and discussion. Weekly informal Worksheets. Two medium-length (c. 5-10 pp.) formal, graded, analytic and argumentative papers. Midterm and cumulative final examinations.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement


Eng 315 - Milton

Professor Susan Eilenberg
MWF          12:00 - 12:50
Reg. No. 14308

This course will be devoted to the study of John Milton, devoted student of power relations, a poet whose imaginative audacity and intellectual power have inspired three centuries of poets and other readers with wonder and chagrin.  Milton is the premier poet of excess, a too-muchness that works, paradoxically, to convert plenitude into poverty and to subvert the  possibility of measurement and comparison that reason requires. This subversion--the  confusion between too much and too little--will be our theme as it was Milton’s.

We shall read his major poetry and a little of his prose: Paradise Lost,  Paradise Regained, Areopagitica, as well as such slighter works as Comus and “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity.” For relief from sublimity--and in order to remember the stories that nourished the poems--we shall also be  reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

The written work will include several brief, written responses to the reading, a midterm, a final paper, and a final exam. Attendance will be required and intelligent participation appreciated.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement

Eng 320 - Romantics

Professor Susan Eilenberg
MWF            2:00 - 2:50
Reg. No. 23128

This course will be devoted primarily to a study of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats, four poets whose anxieties about the possibility of representation (also about the allied possibilities of likeness, ofdifference, of repetition, of sympathy, of redemption, and of freedom)  produced some of our most provocative critical mythologies, inexplicit allegories of reading and identity.  We will be reading some of their major writings, most of it poetry, a small amount of it prose.

I shall ask each student to write four brief responses to the readings, a midterm examination, a final examination, and a medium-length analytical paper.  Intelligent participation will be encouraged; attendance will be mandatory.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement


Eng 336 - Studies in 19th Century U.S. Lit/History: The American 1890's

Professor Carrie Tirado Bramen
MWF              10:00 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23130

The American 1890s witnessed the first automobile, moving pictures, subways and escalators. It also saw the rise of products that are still a part of today’s culture such as Hershey chocolate, Wrigley’s chewing gum and Anheuser-Busch beer. This course will explore a decade when modern America starts to look familiar to the twenty-first century student.

This time of unprecedented invention and innovation was also one of crisis with the Battle of Wounded Knee, the escalation of lynchings, the rise of segregation after Plessy v. Ferguson and the Spanish American War of 1898, where the US acquired its first  colonies including Cuba and the Philippines. This course will explore the literary, intellectual and cultural history of this transitional decade, a decade that saw the waning of Victorianism and the rise of Modernism. We will explore a wide range of literary responses to this complicated and fascinating decade from the ‘end’ of the frontier, the New Woman and local color to realism, naturalism, immigrant fiction and labor strife. There will be eight short response papers (one-page each), one short periodical assignment and a ten page final paper.


Eng 347 - Visions of America

Professor Robert Daly
MWF            2:00 - 2:50
Reg. No. 23131

This course is open to majors and non-majors alike and does not presume any prior acquaintance with its material.  We shall read classic American literature, focusing what it meant in the making of American culture and what it means for us now.  We shall read selections, most of them quite short, from many authors, and we shall explore their connections and what they can tell us about the arts of making sense of both literature and life in America.

In the autumn 2013 issue of New Literary History, Nancy Easterlin argues for adaptationist literary theory: “Everyday living is an interpretive process,” not just “textual,” but “a fundamental life process” that we “make special or elaborate in literary texts” and that “literary studies . . . increase the efficacy of meaning-making processes and the conscious awareness of humans” by “engaging in communal interpretation.” In the winter 2012 issue of New Literary History, Charles Altieri suggests that “seeing-in” to literature “affords the possibility of making more supple, more intricate, and more   intense our repertories for engaging, understanding, and shaping experience in the world beyond the text.” So we shall discuss how selected works of American    literature can inform our own lives here and now.

Mary Rowlandson, Susanna Rowson, Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Rebecca Harding Davis, Henry James, and Zitkala-Sa all have parts in the story.  Though there are many writers, the reading load will not be heavy.  The thinking and discussing load will be heavy, since we shall focus on both analysis and synthesis.

Each student is expected to participate in class discussions and to write two preliminary examinations, a take-home final, and a research essay on topic of his or her own choosing.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement

Eng 348 - Studies in U. S. Literature

Professor Cristanne Miller
T Th            11:00 - 12:20
Reg. No. 18321

Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

“I am large, I contain multitudes” exclaims Walt Whitman: “I have pried through the strata and analyzed to a hair, / And counselled with doctors and calculated close and found no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.” “I’m Nobody! Who are you? / Are you –     Nobody – too?” queries Emily Dickinson. These two great mid-nineteenth-century American poets seem to be complete opposites in style, manner, and focus of their poems.  As we will discuss, however, there are remarkable similarities between them and each is responsible for poetic innovations still influencing poets today.  Similarly, each performs multiple versions of selfhood, resulting in far more complex patterns of thought and representation than the lines  quoted above suggest.  The shy hermit believes passionately in human community and writes extraordinary love poems; the outrageous lover of all writes exquisitely of isolation and loneliness. Both Whitman and Dickinson participate enthusiastically in the popular culture and share many attitudes of their times.  During the semester, we will focus primarily on reading large numbers of poems by each poet, but will discuss these poems in relation to performances of selfhood, nineteenth-century conventions of gender, sexuality, and race, and the Civil War. We will also spend time analyzing formal properties of the two very different kinds of verse, and talking about what it means to hear and speak (as well as read) these poems.

Readings for Dickinson will be taken from a new edition of the poems that I am preparing for Harvard University Press; since this edition has not yet been published, you will receive copies of the poetry files from me after the semester begins.

Class periods will be dominated by discussion, and students will be responsible for making presentations in class as well as for participating in discussion. Written work of the semester will culminate in a 12-page research paper. We may also organize a  public performance of some of Dickinson’s poems, or of Dickinson and Whitman "speaking," as it were, to each other--depending on class enthusiasm. “Camerado,” Whitman writes: “This is no book. Who touches this touches a man!” During the course of this semester, we will explore the question of what it means to “touch” Whitman and Dickinson.

Eng 352A - Modern and Contemporary Fiction

Professor James Holstun
MWF             1:00 - 1:50
Reg. No. 23978

We’ll be reading four classic modern novels from different European cultures written over the span of a century:

—Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (France, 1856), enormously influential and brilliantly crafted novel of married life and adultery in the French provinces.

—Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry (USSR, 1926) a collection of modernist short stories about the Soviet forces in the Polish-Soviet War of the 1920s, and Babel’s Odessa    Stories, about Jewish Odessa in the years just before the Soviet Revolution. Warfare, socialism, and anti-Semitism.

—Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (England, 1927), a touchstone of Anglo-European modernism, with innovative employment of stream of consciousness to examine gender, subjectivity, and the traumatic effects of World War One.

—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard (Italy, 1958), a magnificent historical novel about life in Sicily during the nineteenth-century Risorgimento, or Italian unification, which puts a wobbly aristocracy under even greater stress.

We’ll be talking about

—the modern novel, realism, and modernism

—subjectivity, daily life, and historical “totalization” in the modern novel

—class, class struggle, and literature

—warfare and modern literature

—nationalism and the European novel

Our works are challenging but of moderate length, so we’ll have time to read some related criticism, letters, and historical contexts. To relieve some pressure during your final paper-writing, and for the glory of the thing itself, we’ll be watching Luchino Visconti’s 1963 film adaptation of The Leopard.

This will be a reading-and-discussing-and-writing course, not a lecture-and-test course. You’ll write biweekly informal essays on the reading (ten minutes’ or so writing), an eight-page paper at mid-semester, and a fifteen-page expansion at the end. Texts at the University Bookstore and Queen City Imaging. You’ll need to buy particular editions—for instance, the Norton Critical Editions of Flaubert and Babel—so check with me before buying any on your own. Happy to talk with you further about the course!

Eng 353 Experimental Fiction

Professor Joseph Conte
T Th            12:30 - 1:50
Reg. No. 23132

Multimodality in the Novel

We will read a selection of “books” that question every aspect of what it means to be a print novel. These are multimodal works that integrate text, pictures and design elements; and yet they are books you can’t read on a   Kindle™.  We experience multimodality as the environment of our daily life, in various platforms that include the urban streetscape, art galleries, digital “desktops” and  other electronic media.

Multimodality is as new as the iPhone with its “app” icons and voice assistant, Siri, but as old as the New England Primer.  Multimodal literature both resists and appropriates digital technology in the print medium. Most literary works are language-centered: they call on the reader’s store of linguistic competency and comprehension of the text, but they subordinate or exclude pictorial or graphic elements. The experience of reading a multimodal novel, however, requires that the reader negotiate between the verbal and the visual, always aware that the bound book is also an expert technology. We will examine the effects of multiple reading paths on narrative structure; the physical manipulation required to read these books; and the “self-conscious” reading that is required by works that call attention to themselves as books.

Works for extended discussion will include:  Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions (2006); Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes (2010); B. S.  Johnson’s The      Unfortunates (2009); Vladimir Nabokov’s The Original of Laura (Dying is Fun) (2008); Tom Phillips’s A             Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel (fifth edition, 2012); Art Spiegelman’s MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic (2011); and Steve Tomasula’s VAS: An Opera in Flatland (2004).

Course requirements include discussion boards for each novel in UB Learns, a midterm essay and a final critical essay.


Eng 356 Popular Culture

Professor David Schmid
T Th           9:30 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23133

Introduction to Popular Culture

Despite the fact that popular culture plays a large part in the vast majority of ordinary people’s lives, its serious study is still a relatively recent phenomenon in the    academy, which has tended to dismiss pop culture as nothing more than mindless, frivolous, even pernicious entertainment. This class will explore why pop culture matters by introducing you to the basic theories and   approaches to the scholarly study of popular culture, concentrating in particular on how pop culture helps to create and reflect the zeitgeist of the periods in which it emerges and evolves.

We will accomplish these goals by focusing on the theme of violence in American popular culture. From the     Puritan period to the present day, Americans have always documented their intense interest in violence through popular culture and we will investigate the history of and reasons for this interest by studying examples taken from a wide variety of genres and subjects, including execution sermons, popular fiction, true crime, rap music, film, video games, and murderabilia.

Along the way, we will discuss many related issues: the distinction between folk, mass, and popular culture; changing definitions of criminality and deviance; manifest destiny; urbanization; the influence of evolving media technologies, and the rise of a celebrity culture organized around criminals. Throughout the class, our primary emphasis will remain on how popular culture gives us unique insights into the societies of which it is an integral part.

Course Texts

Truman Capote. In Cold Blood

Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian

Edgar Allan Poe. The Murders in the Rue Morgue:   The Dupin Tales

Ann Rule. The Stranger Beside Me

Mickey Spillane. The Mike Hammer Collection, Volume 1

We will also watch and discuss the Alfred Hitchcock   movie, Psycho.

Additional materials will be available through UB Libraries Course Reserve System.

Course Requirements

1. Completion of all reading and writing assignments

2. Participation in class discussion

3. Two 7-9 page papers

4. Reading Notes

5. Final exam

Eng 361 - Modern & Contemporary Poetry

Professor Steve McCaffery
T Th           12:30 - 1:50
Reg. No. 23134

Dada, Allen Ginsberg, the Harlem Renaissance, Marianne Moore, Futurism Mina Loy, Concrete Poetry, these are the names and phenomena that students will encounter in this exhilarating excursion through the last 100 years of poetic creativity.

The course explores the key poets, poems and poetic theories of perhaps the most exciting century of writing. Authors and topics covered include Race, Revolution, Poetry and War, Feminism and the body’s relation to language. Imagism, Vorticism, Feminist Poetics and Concrete Poetry. Among the movements we’ll explore are Symbolism, Imagism, Italian and Russian Futurism, Dada, Objectivism, the Beats, the Harlem Renaissance, Projective Verse, the New American Poetry of the 1960s, the New York School and Language Poetry.  Alongside texts to be studied, analyzed and compared are relevant theoretical texts largely by poets themselves. The classes will be enhanced by the occasional classroom visit by poets and scholars in the appropriate fields.

Eng 365 - British Modernism

Professor Damien Keane
T Th              9:30 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23136

This course will survey the literary field in the United Kingdom and Ireland between 1910 and 1960, with an aim to understanding how the status, value, and use of works of art changed during these years in response to the rise of mass politics, mass culture, and mass media; to expanding domestic readerships and international literary networks; and to alterations to the manner in which both writers and readers practiced and conceived of literary production and reception. Readings for the course will touch on poetry, non-fiction prose, and prose fiction (novels, novellas, and short stories), ranging from canonical “greats” to lesser known texts – and, indeed, we will attend to the evaluative divisions between “literature” and “pulp,” “art” and “propaganda,” “good” readers and “bad,” that were strained and re-invented several times over during this period. Along the way, we will encounter:  gramophone players, radio sets, and uninvented gadgets, cabaret singers, mannequins, and painters, loafers, paranoiacs, and gigolos, moneyed parlors, single-occupancy rooms, and various backrooms, a fly, a dachshund, and some circus animals.

Course readings will be drawn from among the works of: W.H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bowen, Joseph Conrad, Daphne Du Maurier, T.S. Eliot, Henry Green, Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, David Jones, James Joyce, Louis MacNeice, Katherine Mansfield, W. Somerset Maugham, Flann O’Brien, George Orwell, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Dylan Thomas, Evelyn Waugh, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West, Virginia Woolf, and W.B. Yeats.   

Requirements will include several short response papers, a mid-term exercise, and a final essay.


Eng 367 - Psychoanalysis and Culture

Professor Angela Facundo
Thursdays (Eve)    7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 23578

This section explores Freud’s concepts that he elaborates in an early text, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and in a late text, Civilization and Its Discontents. After engaging the debates that attempt to define three ambiguous concepts—the unconscious, the drive, and sexuality—the course will explore intersections between psychoanalysis on the one hand and twentieth- and twentyfirst-century literature, visual art, and film on the other hand. How do these aesthetic artifacts romanticize the unconscious? How do they evolve from the project of representing  the “unconscious meaning” of the repressed to the insistence that the unconscious is the absolute refusal of meaning altogether? How do the drives and sexuality figure into formal technique of the aesthetic artifact? We will explore how artistic themes such as repetition, rupture, eroticism, horror, and abjection invite us to tease out Freud’s legacy.


Eng 370 - Critical Race Theory

Professor Jang Wook Huh
T Th               2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No. 23690

Toni Morrison once declared, “Race has become metaphorical—a way of referring to and disguising forces, events, classes, and expressions of social decay and economic division.” When Morrison cast race in figurative terms, she was considering complex narrative strategies that (white) writers employ in not only articulating but also  evading representations of racial formation. This course introduces students to critical race theory that helps us better understand the metaphorical use of race and race as a   social or cultural construct. Our focus will be on applying critical race theory to literary texts. In pairing theory with literature, we will examine the following questions: How do minority groups look at themselves through the eyes of others? How do whites not only  appreciate but also appropriate minority cultures? How do   racial and sexual minorities downplay their identities to assimilate into mainstream culture? We will also discuss racial depictions in film and popular music. Readings may include work by W. E. B. Du Bois, Chang-rae Lee, and Mark Twain; and secondary scholarship by Eric Lott, Ronald Takaki, and Kenji Yoshino. All secondary readings will be available for download on UBlearns. This course is open to students from all majors. I will explain key terms, concepts, and contexts. No prerequisites are required.

Satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study Requirement

Eng 371 - Queer Theory

Professor Tim Dean
T Th           2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No. 21482

This course offers an interdisciplinary investigation of the set of ideas about sexuality and sexual politics that, over the past couple decades, have come to be known as “queer theory.”  Does “queer” attempt to bridge Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender identities or does it aspire to go beyond identity categories?  What kind of politics is possible after identity politics?  We will consider a wide range of ways of thinking about gender and sexuality in our    attempt to assess the pros and cons of different descriptions of sex.

Requirements: No prior knowledge of the field is necessary, just an open mind. 

Assignments: weekly response papers, some essay writing, possibility of creative responses to assignment prompts.

Satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study Requirement

Eng 374 - Bible as Lit

Professor Kenneth Dauber
MWF   12:00 - 12:50
Reg. No. 23689

"Bible" means book, and THE Bible has undoubtedly been the most influential book in Western history, one of the pillars, along with Greek philosophy, of Western self-understanding.  But it has become so overlaid with doctrinal and theological understandings, has been so canonized and so elevated, that it is too often not been "read" in the way that good books ought to be read.  We will, therefore, read--healthy selections from the Old and New Testaments, in an attempt to understand the roots of surprisingly modern ideas of history, ethics, social relations, government, and the rights and responsibilities of individuals and the relation of cultures to each other.   What is the Bible's sense of the nature of mankind?  What is the meaning of justice or the good?  What are our freedoms and our constraints?  We will pay particular attention to Genesis (as setting out the nature of nature and mankind), to Exodus (as an account of the narrative of a people and the idea of history as a whole), to Deuteronomy (as a reflection on the place of the   individual in relation to general principles), to the stories of Saul and David (as a meditation on government and the place of religion in it), to some of the prophets (in an attempt to discover the limitations and possibilities of speech itself), to Job and Ecclesiastes (as testing the limits of complaint and even heterodoxy), and to a couple of the gospels (for a look at religious and perhaps even political revolution and, in the Gospels' revisiting of the Old Testament, the problem of inheriting a tradition and interpreting it).

Whether you have read parts of it or not, you will come away with a new set of eyes more attuned to the texture of Biblical living and to some of the fundamentals of Western thought and values.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement

Eng 375 - Heaven, Hell & Judgment

Professor Diane Christian
Mondays (Eve)      7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No.  14285

The course will consider ideas and images of eternal reward and punishment — stories and pictures of heaven, hell, and judgment from ancient Sumner to modern film.  We will begin with the oldest known story of the underworld, five-thousand-year-old Sumerian goddess Inanna’s descent “From the Great Above to the Great Below.”  We’ll look at the Egyptian weighing of the soul at death against the feather of Maat or justice, at Odysseus’s and Aeneas’s explorations of the worlds of the dead, at Plato’s and popular ideas of what’s next.  We’ll also consider Biblical apocalypses, Sheol, Hades and heaven, medieval journeys to heaven and hell, Dante’s Inferno and Paradiso, and Blakes’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

We’ll look at paintings, mosaics, and sculptures of Judgment, heaven and hell, including especially some Byzantine art, Romanesque churches, Giotto, Signorelli, Michaelangelo, and Bosch.  We’ll close with the 1946 classic film, A Matter of Life or Death, released in America as Stairway to Heaven.

Through these verbal and visual imaginations we’ll explore ethical and religious ideas of the judgment of good and evil, punishment and reward.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement


Eng 379 - Film Genres

Professor Alan Spiegel
M W      12:00 - 1:20
Reg. No. 23138

Some of the most durable and popular stories ever told presented in variety of American genre films. This semester the emphasis will be on Fantasy: Horror and Science Fiction, Musicals, Swashbucklers, Martial Arts, and some of the dreamier specimens of Film Noir; works like The Bride of Frankenstein, Blade Runner, Singin’ in the Rain, The Prisoner of Zenda, Blue Velvet, Enter the Dragon, and more.

How much realism can be squirreled into an escapist format?  We’ll find out. Students should be prepared for lots of film analysis, close-readings of image patterns,, and in general, thinking seriously through their eyes.  There will be quizzes, an exam, and a journal.

Eng 383A - Studies in World Literature: India

Professor Walter Hakala
T Th             3:30 - 4:50
Reg. No. 23140

India in the Traveler’s Eye

The idea of “India” has long attracted the attention of people from afar.  Whether in search of gold or enlightenment, the “India” carried in the traveler’s imagination often conflicts with the India that is actually encountered. This course is intended to serve not just as an introduction to the motivations and experiences of travelers to India, but also to the forms of knowledge that are produced in the wake of such travels. We will begin by examining the accounts of early Greek ambassadors and sailors and Chinese pilgrims seeking wealth and knowledge. Both Muslim and Christian adventurers   produced travelogues that describe the marvels of India in the medieval period. The Mughal Emperor’s court fascinated Europeans sojourners, while Indian travelers were in turn both delighted and disgusted by what they observed in Europe. Hippies more recently and in their own way reenact quests by colonial British officials for the sublime and picturesque. The diversity of perspectives that these works present challenges readers to consider what it means to be an “outsider” looking “in” on a culture, compelling us to consider arguments for and against treating certain geographic and political regions and temporal periods as coherent cultural zones.

By reading and discussing a wide range of both primary and secondary source materials, students will develop a broad familiarity with the history, literatures, religions, and geography of South Asia. All of the readings are in English and no background in South Asian languages, history, or literature is expected. Students enrolled in the course will responsible for completing one brief paper on a directed topic, one class presentation, and five one-paragraph “Think Question” responses. Students will use the second half of the semester to prepare a final project consisting of a prospectus, annotated bibliography, and research paper. All of the texts are in English and no background in South Asian languages, literature, or history is expected.  

Satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study requirement for English majors and an upper-level elective requirement for Asian Studies majors and minors.

Questions? Email Prof. Hakala at

Eng 383A - Studies in World Lit: Transnational

Professor Joseph Conte
T Th                  9:30 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23139

Literature after September 11, 2001 reflects a shift from the provincial politics of nation-states to that of transnational politics—issues that require adjudication across national, geographic, cultural, linguistic, religious, and racial borders.  In the epoch of globalization, these are conflicts that are unlikely to be resolved without the cooperation and understanding of diverse peoples willing to set aside sectarian interests.  If the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 brought to a close an overt dichotomy in international  politics and deprived Western writers of a reliable foil, the events of 9/11 not only redirected our “intelligence community” from counter-espionage to counter-terrorism but also compelled writers to attend to a multilateral political terrain.  This new political paradigm is both transnational and asymmetrical. The system of global capitalism, for which the secular ideals of representative democracy are a thinly disguised “advance man,” contends with the emergent threat of a transnational theocracy that is resistant to the agnostic, graphical, and consumerist Western ideology.

We will read some works of fiction that directly represents the events of 9/11 and others that reflect changes in the political and cultural milieu in its aftermath.  Don DeLillo has called this the “Age of Terror,” and in Falling Man (2007), he eschews documentary realism in favor of representing 9/11 through the cognitive and psychological trauma of a World Trade Center survivor whose recuperation is the beginning of a “counternarrative” to terrorism.  Orhan Pamuk sets Snow (2004) in the village of Kars in far eastern  Turkey, away from the multicultural city of Istanbul that links Europe and Asia, in order to foreground the tensions and resistance between Islam and Turkey’s secular state as girls, forbidden to wear head scarves to school, commit suicide.  J. M. Coetzee, in Diary of a Bad Year (2007), fashions a multi-tracked narrative in which the author-surrogate Señor C. ventures a series of “strong opinions” on anarchism, terrorism, the state, Al Qaida, democracy and so on that question the purpose of writing in an ethically confused and disputatious world.

These and other works of contemporary fiction—possibly including Ken Kalfus, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country (2006), Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2005), Amy Waldman’s The Submission (2011), and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2008)—suggest that, rather than suffering from self-absorption and disaffection, innovative fictions have engaged global politics.  As Pamuk contends, it is through novels that world citizens do their deepest thinking about themselves.

We’ll also screen two films that present differing views of the role of state power in the transnational political drama, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2008) and Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005).

Course requirements include discussion boards for each novel on UB Learns, a midterm essay and a final critical paper that will integrate non-fiction, cultural and literary critical sources.

Satisfies a Breadth of  Literary Study requirement

Eng 390 - Creative Writing Poetry

Professor Judith Goldman
T Th            11:00 - 12:20
Reg. No. 24160

In this intermediate workshop, students will gather further skills as poets by writing alongside weekly readings that span an aesthetic spectrum of contemporary poetries, as well as other texts and artworks meant to  inspire wide-ranging and adventurous critical thinking about language, ideas, and the world (do plants have intelligence? why does “cultural acceleration” matter?  how do knots relate to logic and mathematics? what are problems with the idea of “political correctness”?). In addition to response poems and poems of their own device, students will also complete the following special assignments: an oral performance poem; a broadside  poem; a “critical cartography – map as artform” poem; and a neo-benshi (film translation) work.  Students can expect intensive workshop time spent on their writing and at semester’s end will turn in a mini-chapbook (20-25pp.) with a brief critical statement and process notes as their final portfolio, along with their collected special assignments. 

Pre-requisite: ENG 205, 206 or 207 : Introduction to   Poetry and Fiction


Eng 391 - Creative Writing Fiction

Professor Christina Milletti
Wednesdays (Eve)    7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 14833

When asked why he writes fiction, Robert Coover remarks, “Because truth, the elusive joker, hides himself in fiction and should therefore be sought there....” In this course, we will investigate the apparent paradox Coover identifies. We will ask questions about the mechanisms that permit fiction to create credible worlds, and then work to implement those strategies in your writing, which we will then discuss together in a workshop setting.

We’ll ask:

    *What is the relationship of truth to fiction?

    *Through what means is reality created on the page?

    *How is the implausible made possible through fictional language?

    * What impacts do stories have on readers?

    *Under what conditions can fiction create an engaged space with the reader, in  

      which ideas are not just articulated, but perhaps activated as well?

As a fiction writing course, this intermediate level course has several objectives: first, to develop upon the fundamental elements of fiction (such as plot, character, voice, setting etc) that you began to learn in 207; second, to present you with an array of readings and exercises that will assist you in designing specific, individualized approaches to your own work; and last, to give you multiple opportunities to contextualize and showcase your skills within short and long fictions.

Students in this class will try their hand at a wide range of techniques—from the traditional to the avant-garde—so that you can begin to situate your work and poetics. Methods of revision and invention will be considered at length so that you will also become skilled editors of your own work.  Together, we will explore the relation of fictional worlds to the words that create them by exploring assigned exercises, reading workshop submissions, and discussing selected readings. Our aim? To hone your knowledge of how fiction is made so that you can begin to write stories on your own.

Pre-requisite: ENG 205, 206 or 207 : Introduction to Poetry and Fiction.

Eng 394 - Writing Workshop: Writing for The Spectrum Newspaper

Jody Kleinberg Biehl
Mondays    5:00 - 6:20
Reg. No. 11327

Love print and online journalism?  Want to write and get your work published?  Looking for a way to make your resume look fabulous?  How about getting a chance to see the way UB really works--and getting to talk to the important people on campus?  (Not to mention working with cool students and making good friends.)

The Spectrum, UB's student newspaper, needs students who are aggressive, self-motivated, and willing to meet deadlines on a weekly basis.  As a writer for one of The Spectrum's desks (such as  campus news, features, or sports), you'll be required to report and write at least twelve stories over the course of the semester that will be published in the paper. You'll also be required to attend weekly classes every Monday at 5:00 p.m. to discuss the week’s papers, news on campus and how you can better your researching, reporting and writing skills. At the end of the semester, you will be required to submit a portfolio of the work you have done for the paper over the course of the semester.

 Prior experience in journalism is a plus, but not absolutely necessary.  At the very least, you need to be a capable writer with solid basic writing skills. Completion of English 201 or its equivalent is a minimum qualification before registering, and English 193 is also a good idea, either before you sign up for this workshop or in conjunction with it.  You will be expected to attend a mandatory organizational meeting that will be held at the beginning of the  semester.  Please check The Spectrum for details.  If you have any questions, please stop in to The Spectrum offices and ask. 

This course counts as an English Elective, as well as toward the Journalism Certificate Program.


Eng 394 - Writing Workshop: The Spectrum Photographers

Jody Kleinberg Biehl
Mondays    4:30 - 5:50
Reg. No. 11342

Eng 398 - Ethics in Journalism

Jody Kleinberg Biehl
T Th        11:00 - 12:20
Reg. No. 11302

Is it OK for a journalist to break the law to get a story that will save lives? When is it the right decision to publish a rumor? Should a news organization print a riveting, but potentially offensive photo? Students will spend a semester of Ethics in Journalism answering and debating these and other real-life scenarios faced by media professionals. Students will develop critical thinking skills as they study a range of scenarios, real and hypothetical, and debate the instructor and each other. 

 Each student will participate in a panel that takes an ethical position and defends it. Students will study famous ethical triumphs and lapses and discuss why and how the decisions were made. The course will cover topics from Watergate to fair use of tweets and will rely on case studies to explore the frameworks of thought and logic that factor into the actions and behaviors of media professionals.

 Often there will be no “correct answer” to situations discussed. Instead, students will be asked to analyze why they think one way and think about what other interpretations might exist. As a class, we will look at what tools we can use to help make good   choices and become savvier media   professionals and consumers.

Every person has a moral compass. This class will help you find yours. 

This course counts as and English Elective, as well as  toward the  Journalism Certificate Program.


Eng 399 - Journalism

Bruce Andriatch
Tuesdays (eve)    7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 11256

No one knows what the media landscape will look like in 20 or even 10 years, but most agree that the world will always need people who can captivate an audience with a good story. Feature Writing will give you the tools to do that, by teaching you how to make the most of your observations, getting people to open up about their lives, writing memorable sentences and crafting readable stories. Students will be required to report, conduct interviews and write feature articles that should be ready for publication.

The course is taught by the Assistant Managing Editor for Features at The Buffalo News.

This course counts as and English Elective, as well as  toward the  Journalism Certificate Program.

Eng 399 - Journalism

Charles Anzalone
Thursdays (Eve)      7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 19656

Editing for the Conscientious Writer

Behind every great book or article lies a great editor. This advanced writing course is intended for students who have demonstrated proficiency in basic college composition and who hopefully have some experience with the basics of journalism. The course will teach students both how to edit and improve other writers' drafts, and how to incorporate those good writing techniques into their own writing. We will become familiar with basic copyediting symbols, and learn how this shorthand can speed up basic editing communication and avoid common mistakes. Students will take turns writing stories and having their classmates edit their articles; they will alternate each role throughout the semester. All students will hopefully leave the class with extensive experience both in writing stories and editing their peers' work. So the editing techniques they learn will help them become better writers, as well as become the kind of editor the smartest writers crave to be a part of their writing process.

Editing for the Conscientious Writer will be a mix of editing exercises, writing and reporting stories used for editing in class, and studying and appreciating examples of articles that illustrate memorable writing and editing. On each student’s writing list is “Ball Four,” Jim Bouton’s American classic time has shown to be one of the best-edited non-fiction books around.

Editing for the Conscientious Writer will be an object lesson on how becoming a good editor makes you a better writer, and learning the skills of good writing enhances your ability to be a valuable editor. And being a valuable editor can prove surprisingly helpful.

This course counts as and English Elective, as well as  toward the  Journalism Certificate Program.

Eng 399 - Journalism

Keith McShea
Mondays (Eve)   7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 22647

Journalism in the Age of the iPhone

Journalism in 2014 means being digital, social and mobile (not necessarily in that order) and that usually means using a smartphone. Today, journalists often report news with a smartphone to people reading news on the go. The journalist could be a sportswriter at a hometown high school football game or an international reporter in the Middle East. Technology (smartphones, tablets, the web and the countless tools available on it) has revolutionized how journalists tell stories -- in words, photos and video; and it has revolutionized how, when and where audiences are able to consume those stories.

Students in this class will learn the basics of incorporating photo, video, audio and more to their reporting. They will also see why good writing remains at the core of their work. No matter what medium is used, good writing is the backbone: a good script for a video, strong captions for photos that offer clarity and context, and even the best tweets on Twitter (it's good writing, just shorter). Students in this class will cover events and report stories while incorporating digital storytelling into their own work. They will also study and dissect the best digital journalism (much of which requires a lot more than an iPhone to put together). Students will keep blogs, which will be the vehicle for their class projects.

Students will need a smartphone or tablet to take this class.

The instructor, Keith McShea, is an award-winning reporter and blogger for The Buffalo News.

This course counts as and English Elective, as well as  toward the  Journalism Certificate Program.


Eng 400 - Honors: Celebrity Culture

Professor David Schmid

T Th              2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No. 21484


One of the least contentious statements we can make about contemporary America is to say that we are more obsessed than ever by fame.  Whether it takes the form of desire for the lifestyles of the famous (the E! network, entertainment magazines), our enjoyment of their self-destructive tendencies (Perez Hilton,, celebrity trials), or the possibility of becoming famous (American Idol, The Voice), the contemporary engagement with fame seems total, undifferentiated, and to have always been with us. The aim of this class is to anatomize the role fame plays in American culture by providing a history of the concept, clarifying the terminological complexities that surround fame, and examining the ways in which popular culture has not only propagated and reflected our obsession with fame, but has also frequently provided insightful and self-conscious analyses of that obsession.  What are the origins of the concept of fame?  What's the difference between fame and celebrity?  Between fame and notoriety?  Why are we so interested in fame?  Should we be doing something more useful with our time instead?!  These are some of the questions that we will discuss.

Primary Reading

Nathanael West The Day of the Locust (1939)

Kenneth Anger Hollywood Babylon (1965)

Jerzy N. Kosinski Being There (1971)

Richard Dyer Stars (Revised ed.) (1998)

Jake Halpern Fame Junkies (2006)


We will also watch and discuss the following films:

All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)

The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)

Class Requirements

1. Class attendance.

2. Participation in class discussion.

3. A series of short (1-2 pages) written responses to the texts.

4. Two 7-9 page papers.

5. A final exam.

Eng 407 - Books of the Ancient Mayas

Professor Dennis Tedlock
T Th        11:00 - 12:20
Reg. No. 23973

When English literature made its first appearance in the seventh century, Mayans had already been writing for a thousand years, using a script of their own invention. They painted inscriptions on pottery, inked them on paper, modeled them in stucco, and carved them in stone. Their books were instruments for seeing, making it possible for readers to recover the perfect sight that humans had enjoyed before the gods blurred their vision. Readers explored what was far away in space or time, using a calendar that combined the rhythms of the sun, moon, and stars with those of the human body.

Four Mayan hieroglyphic books survive today, having escaped the bonfires of early missionaries. New books were created by Mayan authors who used the alphabet to write in their own languages. Among their works are the Chilam Balam or “Jaguar Priest” books and the Popol Vuh or “Council Book.” A great deal of knowledge was and still is transmitted orally, all the way down through the millions of speakers of Mayan languages who live today in Mexico, Central America, and the United States.

In the case of writings in the Mayan script, we will examine recent breakthroughs in decipherment and learn how the script works, picking up a general knowledge of astronomy in the process. In the case of alphabetic sources, we will read English translations of narratives, prayers, speeches, chants, and songs. Where possible, we will listen to what some of these forms sound like in the original languages. Also, we will hold one meeting in the Poetry Collection in Capen, where we will be given access to color lithographs made by artist Frederick Catherwood. He created an accurate record of Mayan art and architecture before the earliest photographers arrived on the scene.

Classroom participation will be valued. Students will be expected to keep detailed, legible notes based on classroom presentations, assigned readings, outside readings, and their observations, dating their entries by the Mayan calendar. From time to time announcements will be made in class as to topics that should be included. The notebooks will be handed in (and returned) at the midterm and at the end.

There will be a take-home final essay exam. Optionally, one of the answers can consist of an essay, art, or performance project designed by the student and approved by the instructor. In addition to work centered on Mayan sources, there is the possibility of exploring what authors such as John Lloyd Stephens, Miguel Angel Asturias, Aldous Huxley, Charles Olson, and William Burroughs had to say about the Maya.

Books: Dennis Tedlock, Popol Vuh: The Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life; 2000 Years of Mayan Literature; and Breath on the Mirror: Mythic Voices and Visions of the Living Maya. Other sources will be downloadable.

Satisfies an Early Literature OR Breadth of Literary Study requirement

Eng 415 - Topics in Victorian Lit/Culture

Professor Rachel Ablow
T Th                  9:30 - 10:50
Reg. No. 23144

The Gothic

From the half-ruined castles, convents, and graveyards of the 18 century through to the maze-like cities and claustrophobic suburbs of the 20 and 21 centuries, this course examines a wide range of Gothic landscapes and the perverse, fractured, and terrified subjects who inhabit them. We will think about the different forms of historical trauma that have been worked out through the Gothic--from the bloody massacres of the French Revolution through to the horrors of American slavery. We will consider how issues of gender and sexuality play out in a genre that so consistently disturbs the boundary between public and private, male and female, one generation and the next. And we will think about the challenges it poses to the way we ordinarily think about subjectivity with its confusions of inside and outside, subject and object, self and other. Texts for the course will range from classic eighteenth-century Gothic tales of horror and the fantastic (The Castle of Otranto, A Sicilian Romance, the “graveyard poets”) to nineteenth-century revisions of the Gothic (Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Edgar Allen Poe short stories) to twentieth-century novels and films that pick up similar themes and tropes (“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Beloved, “The Shining,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Stepford Wives,” “Safe”).

Eng 434 - Advanced Creative Writing Poetry

Karen Mac Cormack
T Th                  12:30 - 1:50
Reg. No. 23145

This workshop/seminar course will focus on writing and the temporal, investigating the dynamics of poetry within appropriate historical contexts designed to frame and inform the students’ own work.  We will examine the poetry considered “radical” within its own era and compare the techniques employed to create it.

Texts to be considered include: the early 20 century attacks on grammar and the sentence by the Italian Futurist and Dada writers, Surrealist automatic writing, Chance Operations, the techniques resulting in Treated Texts, the radical poetics of the late 20 century and early 21 century, and translation as a creative strategy.  (Antecedents from earlier centuries will be included for discussion.)  Temporality as content will be considered, as well as what happens to temporality within a poetic text.  How does time enter writing as both historical content and readerly experience?  By exploring these varying dynamics the course will contextualize the multiple  meanings of writing poetry at the beginning of the 21st century.

In advance of the first class  students should submit by e-mail three of their own poems to Karen Mac Cormack at

Prerequisites: ENG 207 and ENG 390.

Eng 435 - Advanced Creative Writing Fiction

Professor Nnedi Okorafor
T Th                  3:30 - 4:50
Reg. No. 23146


Eng 438 - Film Directors

Professor Bruce Jackson

Tuesdays (eve) 7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 13357

Off-campus at Amherst Theatre, across from UB South Campus

This class is an experiment in looking at and talking about films. It’s a regular UB class, but the general public is welcome to attend.  We meet at the Amherst Theatre across from UB South Campus onTuesday nights.

The  two of us introduce each film, we screen it, we take a short break, and then we talk about the film with the students and anyone  in the audience who wants to join us. The non-student part of the audience has been running over 200 people for each screening, about  half of whom stay for the discussions.

The Buffalo Film Seminars are grounded in two underlying assumptions. The  first is that watching a good film on  a television set is like reading a good novel in Cliff’s Notes or Classic Comics:  you may get the contour of the story but not the experience of the work. Movies were meant to be seen big, in the company of other   people. The second is that a conversation among people of various ages and experiences about a good movie they’ve all just seen can be interesting and useful.

We try to pick films that will let us think and talk about genre, writing, narrative, editing, directing, acting, context, camera work, relation to sources. The only fixed requirement is that they have to be great films-- no films of "academic" interest only. You can go to www.buffalofilmsemina for the latest information on the schedule, as well as a full list of all the  films we’ve  programmed  in the  first fourteen series, and other information about the screenings and the class.

At the first meeting of the class (in the lobby of the theater), registered students get a series pass that provides free admission to all of that semester's films.

Since we show films and talk about them in the same class meeting, and since a few of the films each semester are long, we sometimes go well past the class-ending time in the UB  schedule.

Usually we're done by 10:30.

There are no exams.  Students have to maintain a notebook/diary reflecting their reactions to all the screenings, discussions and  print and listserv readings. The notebooks will be collected and graded three times during the term.


Eng 446 - Topics in World Literature

Professor Walter Hakala

T Th   11:00 - 12:20
Islam and Literature
AS 446 (#23684) / ENG 446 (#23147)
Talbert 115

The purpose of this course is to expose students to the wide variety of poetic and prose literary forms associated with Islam, including contemporary English-language novels and translations from Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Malay, Pashto, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu originals. We will explore literature through a variety of themes and genres common to the literary traditions of these languages. This will serve to frame larger questions central to the study of Islamicate literatures including:

  • how notions of modernity and secularism have been formulated to exclude those outside Euro-American literary traditions;
  • the persistence of structuralist approaches to nonwestern literatures;
  • the literary antecedents of so-called “magical realist” depictions of Islamicate societies;
  • formalist and historicist approaches to pre-print literatures, and related debates regarding the origins of literary            representations of selfhood outside the West; and
  • 20th-century modernist and Marxist reorientations of classical literary tropes.

Theoretical readings will be paired each week with primary source literary materials. All readings are in English and will include early Sufi mystical works, pre-Islamic, medieval, and more recent 20th-century poetry, and such prose genres as autobiography, folktales, romances, short stories, and novels. Students are expected to demonstrate familiarity with the content of the readings and evaluate the efficacy of the various approaches through which the literature has been analyzed. In addition to completing brief UBlearns reading responses on directed topics and one-paragraph think question response papers, seminar participants will spend the second half of the semester preparing a final project consisting of a prospectus, annotated bibliography, and research paper. All of the texts are in English and no background in other languages or Islam is expected.

Satisfies Breadth of Literary Study and 400-level requirements for English majors and an upper-level elective requirement for Asian Studies majors and minors.

Questions? Email Prof. Walt Hakala at

Eng 480 - Creative Writing Capstone

Professor Christina Milletti

Tuesdays (Eve)  7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 21486

This is a capstone workshop/literature course developed for creative writers, but open to ALL students with special permission from the instructor.

In this class, students will write fiction, poetry, and other forms of writing with the aim of exploring how distinct forms of writing create specific impacts on readers and the language that readers use. In particular, we will investigate how the language of fiction or poetry operates differently from  ordinary language: how they can be activated to create effects beyond the discursive realm of the text. By thinking through what means our writing can amplify, intensify, or multiply the relationship of imaginative language to ordinary language, we will work to deploy, react to, and/or challenge ideas we encounter in everyday life within the literary realm.

In  particular, we’ll read  a range of recent  publications (published within the past 5 years) contextualized by significant predecessors in order to identify, and perhaps even insert ourselves into, current conversations and controversies about the literary in the contemporary moment.  We’ll read essays and manifestos that have influenced or supported literary art movements. We will think through the ongoing, changing  role of the literary with respect to public culture. We’ll consider the future of creative writing in relation to technological influences (such as “Big Data,” AI’s, Amazon and new media) and situate our writing—if possible—at a moment of technological, economic, and climatological crisis. Core to the course are these questions: How does our writing accord, reflect, or challenge the reality of the contemporary moment? What are the technological/economic/political forces that impact how, when, and why we write? What is the writing of today, as opposed to yesterday?

Want to see a list of all the undergraduate courses on our books?  Take a look here:

Undergraduate Course Listing

2015 - 2016