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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 2016 Course Offerings

Eng 193 - Fundamentals of Journalism

Andrew Galarneau

W (eve)     7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 11212

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 nonfiction 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:

Professor Steve McCaffery
T Th 2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No. 17753

Alison Fraser
M W (Eve) 5:00 - 6:20
Reg. No. 18974

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.  

*This course counts toward the English major or minor requirements, as well as for the pre-requisite for the Creative Writing Certificate.

Eng 221 World Literature

Adam Drury
MWF 9:00 - 9:50
Reg. No. 21624

Borders, Boundaries, & Being Elsewhere

Our globalized world can be succinctly defined by this profound disparity: some enjoy freedom of movement, and some live within violently maintained borders and boundaries. We all have some connection to these borders and boundaries—whether territorial, cultural, or intellectual— and they continue to be the catalysts driving some of the most momentous migrations, displacements,and transformations of peoples in history. In one way or another, each of us exists under a sign of “elsewhereness,” whether chosen or forced. What is a literature that explores this sign in all its infinite depth? This introductory course in World Literature will follow the flows of global literary currents which engage with the experience of being elsewhere, with the issues of migration and movement, and with their complex and revolutionary possibilities. And from what shores does this strange category “World Lit.” come to us, anyway? How
has it shaped and responded to the radical interconnectedness of our lives? How does it affect our collective relationships with the environment, with politics and culture, and with our stories and our identities? We’ll wander the expansive tracts of World Literature searching for answers in both the territory and the forces that have shaped it. Most works we will discuss were written after 1950. We’ll
read Octavia Butler’s sci-fi novel about an African American woman transported back in time to an antebellum plantation. We’ll watch music videos by M.I.A. alongside film about civil war in South East Asia. We’ll explore the metaphorical links between territorial borders and gender boundaries in Emma Pérez’s adventure tale about a Chicana lesbian cowgirl after the fall of the Alamo and in Caribbean  women’s experimental poetry, essays, and speeches. African novelists such as Bessie Head and J.M. Coetzee will expose us to the world of the refugee, while Israeli, Palestinian, and Arabic poetry, fiction, memoir, and documentary will confront us with the realities of nationalism, war, and economic exile. We’ll read stories by Indigenous American writers whose movements and migrations within the U.S. are too often overlooked. Rounding out tragedy with absurdist comedy, we’ll read Karen Tei Yamashita’s postmodern novel about
globalization in Brazil. In addition, through an interlude with the global Surrealist art and literary movement, you’ll have the exciting opportunity to research in UB’s renowned archive, the Poetry Collection. No previous experience with literature is required for this course. ALL READINGS ARE IN ENGLISH. Requirements = two papers (5-7 pages), sustained response writing and class participation, a midterm and final. Octavia Butler • Kindred | Arundhati Roy • The God of Small Things | Louise Erdrich • The Antelope Wife Emma Pérez • Forgetting the Alamo | M.I.A. • “Born Free” | Bessie Head • A Question of Power Sahar Khalifeh • The Inheritance | Karen Tei Yamashita • Through the Arc of the Rain Forest Mahmoud Darwish • Memory for Forgetfulness | J.M. Coetzee • Life & Times of Michael K

Eng 231 British Writers I

Jennifer Braun
11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 23204

"When Elizabeth I announced to Parliament that “I have already joined myself in marriage to a husband, namely the kingdom of England,” she was referring to a body of people and a geographical area that she understood to be her country. Britain, however, with its borders in flux and a history of racial diversity, was not so easily defined. Further, England under Elizabeth was split along religious lines. To what, then, did Queen Elizabeth refer when she announced herself wed? This course will begin by looking at a selection of Anglo-Saxon, Irish, and
Anglo-Norman literature from the Middle Ages and con- tinue on through to the early eighteenth century with an eye towards understanding what it means to call some- thing “British literature.” In addition to reading some of Britain’s greatest hits, we will use this course as an opportunity to look at non-literary documents and art work of the period in order to begin to appreciate these texts in their contexts. Through artifacts and literature, our class will attempt to trace events and perspectives throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance which contributed to the formation of the United Kingdom, and, eventually, the United States. "

Eng 232 British Writers 2

Ajitpaul Mangat
MWF 2:00 - 2:50
Reg. No. 23205

Today, neuroscience promises to take us to the final frontier…no, all you Trekkies, I do not mean space, but rather somewhere perhaps even vaster and more inspiring: the brain! But long before the neurosciences began digging into our cerebellums, authors and poets explored the brain by representing the soul, consciousness, and what it means to be a self. In this course, we will discover that the history of literature is also a sort-of parallel history of the mind. From Romantic notions of fancy and the imagination and the Victorian “unconscious” to the inquiring mind of the detective to “ordinary” modernist minds and contemporary neuro-novels, literature not only aspires to represent inner, subjective life, it is also, as we will discover, where we find some of the most imaginative and awe-inspiring investigations into human experience. We will read British novels, novellas, and poems that examine the way we think and what it feels like to be alive. This literature will be read alongside historical documents, personal diaries, film adaptations, and scientific and philosophic accounts of the mind. Beginning with Romantic poetry, this course will explore the ways in which the psyche, thought, and love began to be understood physically through depictions of “sensation” and nerves. We will, then, move on to Victorian fiction, which will allow us to consider the emergence of the disciplines of psychology and psychoanalysis, and the treatment of “mad” women. Next, we will analyze the noggin of the great and famous Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson. Our foray into Modernism will find us confronted with traumatized minds arriving home from the Great War to a dying British Empire. At the end of the semester, we will tackle neuroscience and the reduction of the mind to the brain, through the representation of damaged brains in the emerging genre of the neuro-novel. By elucidating this history through a study of the mind, this course will interest students majoring in English, biology, psychology, history, and pre-medicine, among other subjects, as it seeks to better understand the relationship between literature and the mind-sciences, and thereby shed greater light on each. To that end, no prior experience with literature is required.

Eng 241 American Writers I

Daniel Schweitzer
MWF 9:00 - 9:50
Reg. No. 13898

Perhaps the only question as vexing in the study of American literature as “what do we mean by ‘American’?” is “what do we mean by ‘literature’?” – and the only way to answer either, perhaps, is to accept that there is no single answer but instead an ongoing conversation, comprising thousands of voices over hundreds of years. In this course, we will look at the various ways these questions have been asked, answered, ignored, insisted upon, and reworked over the course of what has come to be called “American literature” from the colonial period of North America through the end of the U.S. Civil War. We will witness the astonishment of the first Europeans to make sustained contact with North America at finding such a fertile and rich space completely empty – and the greater astonishment of the millions of members of the advanced indigenous societies whose trade routes, cities, and roadways already covered the continent by that time upon hearing it described as “empty.” We will read the sales pitches of the dashing, heroic, and ruthless John Smith – the original Don Draper—as he attempts to recruit settlers and money for the new colonies, and explore the contradictions of the Pilgrim’s voyage as they sought the now-familiar idea of religious freedom by way of commandeering a ship against the wishes of the c r e w , m u t i l a t i n g lawbreakers, and driving dissidents out of the community. We will see worlds and values clash through the eyes of Mary Rowlandson, a prisoner and firsthand witness to a conflict deadlier than any war in U.S. history, and confront (as Sedgwick, Hawthorne, and hosts of others would later) how the literalizing religion of Puritanism could engender the gorgeous poetry of Anne Bradstreet and the horrors of the Salem Witch Trials. As we move toward the early republic, we will be attentive to how the question of what the new world offers becomes an intensely self-conscious debate about what it means to be an “American.” Why, we will be able to ask, do we still speak of “New England” as a cultural and geographical formation, while forgetting the older settlements whose cultures and mores shaped our present political and social boundaries at least as much (New France and New Spain)? What was the dark side of Franklin’s belief in self-improvement, and how did the extraordinarily different worldviews of Cotton Mather, Thomas Paine, and Henry David Thoreau come together in style if not substance? Approaching the Civil War, we will explore the paradox of how a time rife with conflict, turmoil, and imminent bloodshed produced some of those works whose appeal have shaped the judgment of subsequent generations: Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Thoreau. We will discuss those authors who re-created, in their tales, the history of the young country to provide a sense of belonging, and we will be particularly attentive to those authors who overcame cultural and even legal prohibitions about who could write in order to add their voices to what Whitman would call the “varied carols” of America. Tarrying for a while with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, we will read from lightning-filled autobiographies that serve at once as indictments of the inhuman brutality of which people are capable and panegyrics to the limitless depths of strength that can be found in unimaginable adversity. Our semester will conclude with a look at two of the most iconic American poets – Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson – as they engaged in radically different ways with a surrounding world that was being torn apart by sectional conflict and war. Along this (long) journey, we will explore different critical lenses through which these works can be read, and we will practice bringing together contextual documents, from maps to manuscripts to paintings, with primary literary works. Trips to UB’s world-class Special Collections library will let us get a feel for the materiality and uniqueness of these times and places. By the end of this course, you will have a sense not only of the larger landscape of early American writing but the most common approaches to studying it and the debates it still engenders.

Eng 242 American Writers 2

Professor Robert Daly
T Th 3:30 - 4:50
Reg. No. 23206

Why read literature? What’s in it for us? How does it contribute to our ability to survive and thrive in the larger world that includes literature but is not limited to it. This introductory survey is not limited to English majors and will define terms and techniques as it goes along. It will explore 20th- and 21st-century American literature, particularly novels and short stories, by Edith Wharton, Sherwood Anderson, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, Annie Dillard, and a few others. We shall explore how to read literature and life in detail and in context. We shall situate the works not only in their own times, but also in our current times and purposes, in order to consider what they can do for us now. Each student will write two preliminary examinations, each preceded by a careful review in class, a take-home final examination, and a research essay (8-16 pages) on a subject of her or his own choosing, though within the general area of recent American literature. I shall provide handouts on how to research and write research essays. Though I shall provide a good deal of information on modes of reading, the central focus of the course will remain on the works, their relations with each other, and their interactions with American culture and life in general.

Eng 242 American Writers 2 (1865-present)

Andrew Dorkin
MWF 11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 23207


This American literature survey, covering the aftermath of the American Civil War through the aftermath of World War II, will introduce you to the some of the loudest and most famous voices of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as some quieter and less familiar, but no less powerful, ones. Although we will encounter many American “classics” along the way—including Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God—the America under study in this class is characterized by natives, immigrants, and expatriates; northerners and southerners, easterners and westerners; feminists and civil rights activists; gay and straight; black, white, Hispanic, and Asian; wealthy, poor, and everything in between. Recalling the journeys of countless immigrants, we will begin with the poem inscribed (since 1903) on the base of the Statue of Liberty—“Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—“The New Colossus” by the Jewish-American poet Emma Lazarus. After the first week’s introductions, the course will move chronologically through the post-Civil War “Renaissance” of Whitman, Twain, and Emily Dickinson; to Realism and Naturalism movements at the end of the 1800s; to Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1900s through the mid-century poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Sylvia Plath. Our final reading will take an unconventional look at the horrors of World War II through Art Spiegelman’s Maus, an imaginative rendering of his father’s survival of the Holocaust, in the form of a “long comic book.” Other writers featured in this class will likely include Stephen Crane, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frances Harper, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, Henry James, Langston Hughes, and William Faulkner.

Eng 251 Short Fiction

Professor Stacy Hubbard
T Th 2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No. 23208

Short stories are the 50-yard dashes, the balance beam back flips, the high wire acts of fiction—they depend upon economy, precision and power. In this course, we’ll be reading the kind of stories that are hard to get out of your head after you encounter them: stories about murder, lust, religious ecstasy and office work, people in the throes of mortal terror and people fishing or going to the supermarket— everything from the mundane (made luminous or strange) to the improbable (brought close and made real). We’ll also do a few readings about how short stories are put together, what makes them work or not, and how they relate to their social and historical contexts (discussions meant to enhance your experience as a reader, and to enrich your own practices if you are a fiction writer). We’ll watch several film adaptations of short stories in order to see what happens when these tight little tales are expanded and visualized as feature-length films. This course requires no particular background—all are welcome: students looking for an elective or fulfilling a general education requirement, and prospective or declared English majors getting their feet wet in the field. The course will help you to develop skills of close-reading and critical writing and introduce you to elements of narrative form and style. Most importantly, it will expose you to a range of masterful writers whom you’ll want to read and reread for years to come. Requirements include regular attendance and active participation, two 5-7 page papers, occasional short exercises and quizzes, and a final project for which there will be several possible formats.

Eng 254 Science Fiction

Eleanor Gold
MWF 2:00 - 2:50
Reg. No. 21630

In an era where electric shock therapy is being considered as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, where “biohackers” insert electromagnets into their fingertips in their kitchens, and where organ donation is something you sign up for at the DMV, what does it mean to be a body, even before we can think about what it means to be human? In this course, we will explore ways of thinking about bodies, bodily autonomy, and bioethics in science fiction, from the early days of the genre, through the pulp magazines and cyberpunk to the contemporary period. Along the way, we will also discuss the purposes of genre and the work that we expect it to do, and some of the many forms that science fiction takes, from the film to the novel to the short story and beyond. Possible authors include but are not limited to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, H P Lovecraft, Ursula K LeGuin, Octavia Butler, and Jeff Vandermeer, as well as films by Fritz Lang and Ridley Scott.  

Eng 258 Mysteries

Nicholas Frangipane
MWF 11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 11524

Detective novels are supposed to be about getting to the bottom of things, but what is the status of the detective novel at a time when the complexity of the world has thrown the notion of truth into question? Literary works have wrestled with this question for many years and mysteries, with their focus on collecting evidence and solving crimes, provide a unique view on the question of truth. In this class we will survey the history of detective fiction with an eye towards how it engages with contemporary literary movements and reflects the status of knowledge. We’ll read Edgar Allen Poe’s Dupin mysteries, Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and novels by James M. Cain, Patrick Modiano, Jonathan Lethem and Paula Hawkins, among others. We will end the class with an episode of the BBC’s updated Sherlock, in order to ask how the intervening hundred years has changed our perceptions and expectations of the classic detective story.

Eng 263 Environmentalist Writing

Professor Susan Eilenberg
T Th 2:00 - 3:20
Reg. No. 23209

Lucky naturalists get to see roseate spoonbills, spiny anteaters, basalt canyons; the rest of us merely envy them their wonders. What are we doing when we head out into nature--or, alternatively, when we sit home and read others’ journeys, discoveries, and meditations? What does nature mean to us? How do we understand it, and what does that understanding mean about us and the way we think of ourselves?

We shall be reading a wide variety of writers on the particular natural landscapes and neighborhoods, on the ways in which species live alongside one another (or fail to), on what is vanishing or vanished, on what the human community means to the rest of the world and what the rest of the world means to us.

Eng 268 Irish Literature

Professor Joseph Valente
T Th 11:00 - 12:20
Reg. No. 21632

The course provides a user-friendly introduction to the golden age of Irish literary culture, the period between 1880 and the Second World War, during which the small economically challenged island produced some of the greatest and most popular novelists, poets and playwrights in the history of the English language. Starting with vampire tales like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we will look at the works of James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and others. The class will be taught in a “book club format,” and participation will be the primary criterion for student assessment.

Eng 276 - Literature and Law

Katrin Rowan

MWF 11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 22019

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 (Franz Kafka’s The Trial), short fiction (Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers”), and film (Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men).  We will simultaneously analyze landmark judicial decisions and other legal documents 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 301 - Criticism

Richard Feero
MWF 11:00 - 11:50
Reg. No. 13628

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 10 -12 page essay.
Required Texts
Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness. Edition TBA
Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0- 19-969134-0
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. Edition TBA


Eng 301 - Criticism

Professor James Holstun
MWF 12:00 - 12:50
Reg. No. 21634

This course will introduce you to the craft of writing literary criticism. To that end, we will focus on two magnificent French-language novels in translation: Émile Zola’s Germinal (1885), which conjures up an epic battle of the 1860s between French miners and their families on the one hand, the managers and capitalists who exploit them on the other. We will also read Sembène Ousmane’s God’s Bits of Wood (1960), which translates Zola’s novel into an account of the 1947-8 strike of Senegal railway workers and their families against their French bosses and their African flunkies. We will also read Zola’s J’accuse! (his ferocious attack on French Jew-haters), Marx’s Communist Manifesto, and Sembène’s Xala (1974), his hilarious satiric novella about polygamy, erectile dysfunction, and corruption in postindependence Senegal. We’ll also view his film version of Xala. The reading load in primary texts is low to enable us to dig down deep and consider them from various critical perspectives. We will read a number of diverse literary critics writing about these two novels, and theorists writing on related topics. We will discuss
—literary close reading, prose stylistics, and the theory of the novel
—feminism, fiction, and labor
—naturalism, realism, and the collective novel
—neocolonialism and postcolonial literary criticism.
—both writers’ transformation of their sources, including Sembène’s rewriting of Zola.
—whether or not a bourgeois writer like Zola can write a marxist novel
—whether men like Zola and Sembène can write radical feminist novels. We’ll talk about paper development, manuscript form, research methods (finding works online and on the shelves), using biographical and socio-cultural material creatively, and prose revision. No exams. You will write regular informal short essays on our readings, an eight-page paper at midsemester, and a sixteen-page revision and expansion at the end of the semester. The University Bookstore will stock our main texts. Queen City Imaging will stock our course reader.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at I’m happy to meet and talk.

Eng 301 - Criticism

Professor William Solomon

MWF         10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 21635

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            9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 22015

Geoffrey Chaucer has often been called the Father of English poetry, and indeed his 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. Besides reading Chaucer’s poetry in the original Middle English, we will also familiarize ourselves with late-medieval culture by exploring related primary and secondary texts. Students will be required to write two term papers, take two exams, participate in class discussion, and present a performance of Chaucerian verse before the class.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 305 Medieval Epic

Professor Jerold Frakes

MWF          12:00 - 12:50

Reg. No. 23210

One important means of coming to an understanding of significant social structures and structures of meaning in any culture is by examining its heroes: How does the   society conceive of heroic action? Who can be a hero? Under what circumstances? To what further social purpose? How is this heroism sanctioned and rewarded by the society? What form does the literary re-enactment of the heroism take, and who has access to it? The multiple cultures of medieval Europe offer a variety of kinds of heroes who can be classified in a number of ways, most obviously, according to the time and place of their origins (both historical and literary). But even within single cultures there was great variation in the conception of heroism, depending on the specific cultural function of the hero. There were, for instance, historical military   heroes (the crusader, Godfrey of Bouillon), mythical heroes (Óðinn, Beowulf, Siegfried/Sigurðr), romance  heroes (Lancelot), historical religious heroes (St. Martin of Tours), legendary saintly heroes (Gregorius), female ‘heroes’ (Joan of Arc), national heroes (Roland), quasi-messianic heroes (Parzival), remnants of ancient novellistic heroes (Apollonius of Tyre, Alexander the Great), troubled imperialist heroes (Digenes Akrites). Medieval  European conceptions of heroism have exercised enormous influences throughout the modern world, in literature,  international politics, the arts, and contemporary pulp fiction, film, comics, and computer games. In this course we will read a representative selection of heroic texts from the European Middle Ages, in order to come to an understanding of the types of heroes imagined during that period and their cultural functions in their various societies of origin, that is, among other things, how these heroes embodied the dreams and aspirations of the economic, social and national groups that created them. We will also views parts of several films relevant to the texts and analyze them in the same rigorous way that we do the books, which will provide us with some insight into how the concept of heroism has been understood, used, and misused, and abused in the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 309 Shakespeare: Early Plays

Professor Carla Mazzio

This course is on T TH from  2:00 - 3:20, register by enrolling in the following recitation section:

309 Section MA1  Reg. No.  23317

This course will focus on Shakespeare's comedies, histories, and selected tragedies, introducing students to Shakespeare's language, dramatic techniques, historical surround, relationship to Renaissance humanism (the  poetry and drama of classical Rome in particular), and innovations as he moved from play to play. At the same time, we will also examine some central issues that  traverse many plays and genres, including the status of error, itself a pivotal dramatic pre-occupation that we will trace out from The Comedy of Errors to Hamlet, the plays that open and close the course. So too, we will investigate Shakespeare's ongoing experiments in the domain of metamorphosis, and consider the status of the material object (props, bodies, costumes, monetary instruments, etc.) in numerous early plays. Other plays include Love's Labour's Lost, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, The Henriad, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 310 - Shakespeare: Late Plays

Professor Barbara Bono

This course is on MWF from  9:00 - 9:50, register by enrolling in the following recitation section:

310 Section BO1  Reg. No.  17750

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 310 Shakespeare: Late Plays

Professor Susan Eilenberg

This course is on T TH from  3:30 - 4:50, register by enrolling in the following recitation section:

310 Section EI1  Reg. No.  23315

This course will be devoted to a reading of Shakespeare’s later plays, including the mass of great tragedies (Hamlet, Lear, Othello, Macbeth) and two or possibly three of the romances (The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest). All his life Shakespeare has been interested in the space of impossibility made possible:  it has been the space of playful wit, flaunted theatricality, amusing or outrageous paradox. As the playwright develops this space of paradox sheds its boundaries and grows ever more uncanny. The characters of the late tragedies and romances face what cannot be faced, bear what cannot be borne--and as one character cries to another, “Thy life’s a miracle,” we meditate upon the tragic lie he tells that is at the same time a tragic truth.  It is this disbelieved fiction of goodness--born of madness and delusion and chicanery and revenge but intimating something else, pointing mysteriously toward what King Lear calls the “chance which does redeem all sorrows / That ever I have felt,” upon which the tragedies brood.  It is this fiction too upon which the romances build their fictions of that which lies on the other side of loss, out beyond grief--not resurrection, perhaps, but that which may be just as welcome. All this will be our matter.

I will ask each student to write a midterm exam, a handful of brief response papers, a longer graded paper, and a final exam. There will be occasional quizzes. Intelligent participation will be encouraged; attendance will be mandatory.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 317A 18th C Drama/Restoration

Professor David Alff

T Th            2:00 - 3:20

Reg. No. 23211

London’s playhouses had been shuttered for eighteen years when Charles II lifted thePuritan ban on public stage performance. His 1660 order to re-open the theaters triggered an outpouring of new and adapted plays from the likes of John Dryden, William Wycherley, Aphra Behn, and many others, while re-authorizing modes of cultural commentary and political expression that had been driven underground during the Interregnum. This course will familiarize students with British drama written between 1660 and 1730. We will read one play per week, giving special attention to how the London stage became a space for raising problems of class, gender, race, and national difference. Signature thematic interests of thisperiod included differing conceptions of sex, marriage, and domesticity, the corruption of state leaders, the expansion of overseas empire, and the growing popularity of the city and its mercantile values. Our analysis will also take into the account how drama itself was changing in this period, including, most notably, the debut of women on stage. In addition to the primary literature, students will read brief excerpted works of modern performance theory to consider what experiences and knowledge our text-based “reading” of drama might exclude.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 319A 18th C Literature/Poetry

Professor David Alff

T Th            12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 23212

What was a poem in eighteenth-century Britain? What did it do or try to do? These are the guiding questions behind this course’s survey of English verse written between 1660 and 1800.

We will study poems both as self-conscious aesthetic   objects possessing certain rhetorical and metrical properties, and as vehicles for public expression. Class discussion and writing assignments will stress the techniques of formal analysis, “close reading” skills that students can use to make sense of poetic texts from any period. Keeping in mind the mutually-generative relationship between text and cultural context, we will ask why poets adapted certain poetic forms to articulate positions on contemporary issues. How does Marvell’s use of   tetrametric octets contribute to his orderly depiction of nature in Upon Appleton House? Why does James Grainger draw upon the Virgilian tradition of georgic poetry to salute commercial productivity in the Caribbean?

Primary readings will include verse by John Dryden, Mary Wortley Montagu, John Gay, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Charlotte Smith, and many others. 

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 323 Sex & Gender in the 19th C

Professor Walter Hakala

T Th              12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 23214


This course will examine the different ways in which gender is constructed through South Asian literature, theatre, and film. It is intended to introduce students to the literatures of South Asia, a region that includes present-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, by foregrounding the ways in which gender shapes different types, or genres, of text, and how different genres of text in turn shape notions of gender. Our task in this course will be to discover the cultural underpinnings of historical and contemporary conceptions of gender, sexuality, and love. Inasmuch as we “play” out our gender roles our social life, this course will also explore the ways performance is imbedded in the public culture of South Asia. Throughout the semester, students will be required to apply the skills we acquire in our readings on theory to a broad set of materials, including authors from across the length and breadth of South Asia. 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 assigned texts are in English and no background in other languages or South Asian Studies 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. Walt Hakala at

Eng 326 Modern British/Irish Fiction

Professor Joseph Valente

T Th              9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23215

The course provides a user-friendly introduction to the imaginative, experimental literature of high modernism, as it was enacted in Great Britain and Ireland. We will be studying works by the greatest novelists (Joyce, Woolf), poets (Eliot, Yeats) and dramatists (Synge, Beckett) of the twentieth century. The course will be taught in a “book club format” and students will be   assessed primarily on their practices of reading and class participation.

Eng 328 Multicultural British Lit

Professor David Schmid

T Th              11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 23216

If your exposure to modern Britain is limited to the steady diet of Downton Abbey, 1970s sitcoms, and royal documentaries offered by PBS, you could be forgiven for thinking that Britain was populated exclusively by people who are stupid, irritating, upper-class, royalist, and, above all, white. The truth (at least with regard to race) is very different. Modern Britain has never been more multicultural and the aim of this class is to examine how this fact has slowly and inexorably altered what it means to be 'British.' Although the presence of people of color in Britain goes back hundreds of years, this class will focus on post-World War II Britain beginning with the arrival of the ship named (appropriately) the Empire Windrush from the West Indies in 1948. The Windrush carried the first significant numbers of West Indian immigrants to England, thus   triggering a process of transformation in British identity that is still unfinished and hotly contested. We will study this transformation through novels, poetry, music, film, and art.

Colin MacInnes   -  Absolute Beginners (1959)

Hanif Kureishi    -    The Buddha of Suburbia (1990)

Linton Kwesi Johnson    -   Tings an Times (1991)

Meera Syal     -     Anita and Me (1996)

Zadie Smith    -      White Teeth (2000)

Onyekachi Wambu (ed)  -   Hurricane Hits England: An Anthology of Writing About  Black Britain (2000)

Andrea Levy   -   Small Island (2004)

In addition to this material, we will watch and discuss the following films: My Beautiful Laundrette and Four Lions. Finally, we will listen to examples of the following musical genres and discuss their relation to Black British culture: Bhangra, Punk, Reggae, and Ska. 

Requirements: Attendance, participation in discussion, two 7-9 page papers, reading notes, and a final exam.

This course satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study Requirement.

Eng 338 Novel in the U.S.

Professor Robert Daly

T Th                12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 23217

This course is open to students from all majors and does not presume any prior knowledge of its subject. I shall define terms and provide contextual information as we go along. We shall read American novels for our purposes and in the contexts of their times and our own.

To start with a recent voice, in the autumn 2013 issue of New Literary History, Nancy Easterlin argued 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 20I3 Alan H. Goldman linked reading novels with preparing for life outside them: “Novels . . . challenge us to continuously interpret as we read,” thereby “broadening our repertoire of responses to situations that might arise” in our lives. Earlier scholars had already started the theoretical argument in this direction. In 2006 Amanda Anderson, English department chair at Johns Hopkins, argued, “We must keep in mind that the question, How should I live? is the most basic one” and “must acknowledge the priority of normative questions and the fundamentally practical structure of human action and understanding.” In 2007 Jonathan Culler, of Cornell University, added that literature aids our “engagements with otherness,” affords us “a mental calisthenics, a practice that instructs in exercise of agency,” enables us both to “sympathize” and to “judge,” offers us a theoretical knowledge “that migrates out of the field in which it originates and is used in other fields as a framework for rethinking broad questions,” and gives us an intellectual toolkit to read “novels as a force for imagining the communities that are nations.” In 2012 Jeffrey Nealon, from Penn State University, argued for reading literature as a preparation for living in the larger world that includes but is not limited to language and literature. He suggests that we have “relied on a kind of linguistic nostalgia, clinging to the life raft of the hermeneutics of suspicion,” and he suggests that we need to move from “the hermeneutics of suspicion” to a “hermeneutics of situation,” our own situations as well as those of the texts. They and others will help, but mostly we shall read the texts themselves closely, in detail and in context. We shall read them in the contexts of both their times and ours.

We shall pay attention to the cultural conversations and the cultural work of the novel in our time and place.  We shall read, within the reciprocal economies of their cultural contexts, some modern, postmodern, and contemporary American novels, along with some in which the borders between these categories seem quite permeable.  In works by Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Pynchon, John Gardner, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Susan Power, and Annie Dillard. We shall explore questions of representation and agency, of literature and life.  We shall consider these texts as both representative (participating in the cultural conversations of their times) and hermeneutic (affording practice and skills in the arts of interpretation).

Each student will write two preliminary examinations, each preceded by a careful review in class, a take-home final examination, and a research essay on a subject of his or her own choosing. I shall provide handouts on how to research and write research essays. Though I shall provide a good deal of information on modes of reading, the central focus of the course will remain on the novels, their relations with each other, and their use as a propaedeutic to aspects of living well in American culture.

Eng 338 Novel in the U.S.

Professor Kenneth Dauber

T Th                9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23219

We will read a selection of the best and most representative American novels, from the beginning of the nation into the twentieth and perhaps twenty-first centuries.  Is there something especially American about the American novel?  How did the nature of the American novel shift with shifting political and social realities?  What kind of individual and what kind of society does the novel model?  How do the different forms the novel has taken reflect different senses of the nature of reality?

What is the romance, realism, modernist and post-modernist fiction?

Writers will be chosen from among James Fenimore Cooper (of Hawkeye fame), Harriet Beecher Stowe, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison, and David Foster Wallace.

Eng 341 Studies in African American Lit

Professor James Holstun

MWF           10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23218

Nineteenth-Century Afro-American Literature

In this class, we’ll read several classic books along with some supplementary shorter works, excerpts, and criticism. We will focus on writing and black struggle before and after Emancipation, talking about social and political history (slave rebellions, the Fugitive Slave Bill, Reconstruction, gender and slavery, white supremacism) and formal/literary matters, too (genre, persona, narrative form, rhetoric, and the institutions of activist literature).

We’ll start with some excerpts from two remarkable, African-born eighteenth-century writers: the Massachusetts poet Phillis Wheatley and the transatlantic sailor and activist Olaudah Equiano. We’ll read two classic slave narratives: Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), and Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), along with supplementary materials for each. We will also read Douglass’s magnificent oration, “What to the Slave is the 4 of July?” and his The Heroic Slave (1852) about Madison Washington’s famous shipboard slave revolt.

To talk about militant black radicalism, we’ll read excerpts from David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World (1829); The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831), on the most notorious of nineteenth-century slave rebellions; Henry Highland Garnet’s “Address to the Slaves of the United States of America” (1843; delivered right here in Buffalo); and Martin Delany’s Blake (1859-1862), a novel of hemispheric black conspiracy. We will also read poetry by Frances Harper and James Monroe Whitfield (Buffalo’s first great poet).

Too often, people overlook postwar African-American writing. To remedy that, we’ll read from Ida B. Wells’s The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader and Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition (1901), his account of a white riot in turn-of-the-century North Carolina. We’ll conclude by discussing contemporary anti-slavery movements and resistance to mass incarceration.

No exams. You’ll be writing twice-weekly informal essays on the reading (five-to-ten minutes’ writing), an eight-page paper at   mid-semester, and a fifteen-page expansion at the end of the semester. Books available at the University Bookstore and at Queen City Imaging. You must have the editions I specify; if you want to buy the books early, please get in touch with me and I’ll link you to them. And I’m happy to talk with you more about the course: 319 Clemens,

This course satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study requirement.

Eng 348 Studies in U.S. Literature

Professor William Solomon

MWF            1:00 - 1:50

Reg. No. 17755

American Literature in the 1960s

The 1960s remains one of the most socially and politically volatile decades in US history. American literature changed dramatically in this era as well. For example, conventional realistic prose gave way to the controversial phenomenon known as “black humor,” a provocative blend of comic exuberance and apocalyptic anxiety. At the same time, generic distinctions collapsed, “serious” writers now finding in popular or pulp materials (such as crime and science fiction) formal templates for their own cultural undertakings. Elsewhere the thematic boundaries of the novel were stretched to encompass previously ignored areas of everyday life, from the subterranean realm of drug addiction to the insides of mental institutions. In this course, we will read a variety of challenging works that will enable us to pursue the issues mentioned above. We will also take into consideration concurrent events in adjacent media, tracing the impact on American literature of Hollywood and underground film as well as rock music. We will read work by among others Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Pynchon, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, Chester Himes, Philip K. Dick, Sylvia Plath, Grace Paley, and Oscar Zeta Acosta.

Eng 353 Experimental Fiction

Professor Christina Milletti

Tuesdays (eve)   7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 21639

By their very nature, experimental fictions are designed to challenge, resist, and undermine the conventions of traditional narratives—taking aim at the conditions of plot, character, and form (among others) which have historically governed the novel and story genre. The exact nature of this challenge, however, arises from shifting sites of critique—so much so that, over time, experimental fictions have been loosely synonymous with the “avant-garde,”the “postmodern,” and perhaps now the "post-postmodern." Indeed, as Christine Brooke-Rose reminds us, for Zola, the “experimental” novel was the “naturalist” novel, whereas for Nathalie Sarraute it represented a new “realism” (which Robbe-Grillet later dubbed the nouveau roman). So what do we mean by experimental fiction today? Who is writing it? Where can it be found? In books? On the web? Social media platforms? Or, like the work of guest author Shelley Jackson, on "skin" or in "snow?" What do twenty-first century experimental fictions look like?

This course has two related goals: first, to examine under what conditions experiments have taken place in/as fictional narratives, investigating multiple registers of meaning associated with "experimental" narratives in the 20th century. And second, to consider the ways in which fictional strategies have shifted or been amplified in the 21st century in order to identify how they have been used, resisted, exploited for literary, and less literary, ends. If, as Raymond Federman remarks, “true experiments (as in science) never reach, or at least should never reach, the printed page,” this course also has a fundamental premise of elaborating the relationship of “experimental writing” to the concept of “writing” as a praxis. Our aim will be to read a wide variety of experiments and perhaps try our hand at our own.

Eng 356 Popular Culture

Professor David Schmid

T Th           8:00 - 9:20

Reg. No. 21640

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 357 Contemporary Literature

Professor Joseph Conte


Reg. No. 22838

This online installment of Contemporary Literature will examine film adaptations of the contemporary novel. Literary fiction provides a rich, original source for story, character and setting in feature films. And yet the director, screenwriter, and actors are inevitably faced with challenges in successfully transferring a predominantly textual art into a visual and auditory medium. Especially with well-known classic works such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), recently adapted by director Baz Luhrman, the problem of fidelity to the original novel arises. The editing of long prose fictions to fit within the typical two-hour duration of feature films gives the most gifted screenwriter migraines. Sometimes, however, a script must be augmented with scenes or characters not present in the original for a coherent representation of the story on screen. Literature that heavily relies on interior monologue and narration rather than external dramatic action or dialogue poses a nearly insurmountable hurdle for adaptation. And we should consider that novels are most often sole-authored works of the  imagination that, in the words of Irish writer and humorist Flann O’Brien, are “self\administered in private,” while films are very much collective enterprises demanding the skills of hundreds of people and, ideally, screened in public theaters to large appreciative audiences.

First we’ll read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004), with its six overlapping storylines and recurrent characters; and then compare its ambitious adaptation by directors Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix Trilogy) in 2012. We’ll read Ian McEwan’s historical novel of class and moral responsibility, Atonement (2001), set in England in 1935, during World War II, and in present day England. Its adaptation by director Joe Wright in 2007 confronts the multiple historical settings and the complex subjectivity of the novel’s characters.

Next on the program will be two novels by postmodern writers whose work—until now—has defied adaptation to film. Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis (2003) is set on a single day on which a billionaire destroys his own global financial empire and prefigures the millennial apocalypse. The inimitable David Cronenberg’s adaptation in 2011 presents a disturbing portrait of Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) and the claustrophobic world of digital currency speculation that he exploits. Paul Thomas Anderson’s truly “gonzo” adaptation in 2014 of Thomas Pynchon’s psychedelic 1960s-era detective novel, Inherent Vice (2009), featuring Joaquin Phoenix as the pot-smoking private eye, Larry “Doc” Sportello, must be one of the weirdest literary-filmic adventures you can have—without the influence of cannabis or other psycho-pharmaceuticals.

This course will be conducted online through UB Learns, with streaming of the films through the Multimedia  Library’s Digital Campus service.  Students will be required to participate in weekly graded blogs and writing assignments on the novels and films.

Eng 361 Modern & Contemporary Poetry

Professor Steve McCaffery

T Th           12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 21641

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 362A Poetry Movements

Professor Ming Qian Ma

T Th              9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23221

Postmodern Poetry of Innovation and the “Denaturing of Experience”

Focusing on the postmodern scene of American poetry since the 1960s, this class will study what has been    variously called the innovative, the experimental, the exploratory, or the avant-garde poetry. The general thematic rubric of this class is “cultural postmodernism.” Defining it as the “denaturing of experience,” N. Katherine Hayles argues that “cultural postmodernism” articulates “the realization that what has always been thought of as the essential, unvarying components of human experience are not natural facts of life but social constructions.” In this context, we will read the representative poetry texts and examine their innovative writing practices in the four areas of “denaturing of  experience” outlined by Hayles: the denaturing of “language,” the denaturing of “context,” the denaturing of “time,” and the denaturing of “the human.” Poets to be studied in this class will include, for example, Charles Olson, John Cage, Frank O’Hara, Larry Eigner, Harry Mathews, David Antin, Rosmarie Waldrop, Susan Howe, Kathleen Fraser, Clark Coolidge, Robert Grenier, Lyn Hejinian, Marjorie Welish, Ron Siliman, Rae Armantrout, Leslie Scalapino, Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, among others.

Class requirements: Regular attendance, active participation in class discussions, periodic response papers, and a term paper.

Texts required for the class:

Pau Hoover ed. Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology. New York: Norton, 1994.

Supplementary excerpts of criticism, poetry, and poetics to be distributed in handout form.

Eng 367 Psychoanalysis & Culture

Dr. Angela Facundo

Wednesdays (eve)    7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 22016

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             11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 22103

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 Judith Ortiz Cofer, W. E. B. Du Bois, and David Henry Hwang; and secondary scholarship by Saidiya Hartman, Eric Lott, and Kenji Yoshino. All required 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 374 Bible as Literature

Professor Kenneth Dauber

T Th       12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 22102

The Bible is one of the formative books of Western Civilization. Along with some of the texts of the ancient Greeks, it might even be said to have given us Western Civilization. We will read some of the major books of the Bible to trace some of the key ideas that have played such an important part in determining the conception of man and his relation to the universe even of those who do not believe in the Bible in any traditional sense, considering such matters as ethics, the origins of history, the relation of freedom to responsibility, the idea of  nationality, and others.

Readings will include Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Samuel (the stories of Saul and David), some of the prophets, Job, Ecclesiastes, some of the Gospels.

Satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 375 Heaven Hell and Judgment

Professor Diane Christian

Mondays (eve)      7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  14054

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 377 Mythology

Professor Jerold Frakes

MWF            9:00 - 9:50

Reg. No. 23223

The pagan religious practices and mythological tales of northwestern Europeans, the Germanic and Celtic peoples, formed the foundations of those cultures for centuries and have continued to inspire intellectual creativity in the millennium since their conversion to Christianity. In this course we will explore the archeological  remains that provide insight into the religious practices and read the foundational texts that preserve remnants of the mythologies, which enable us to reconstruct the spiritual and intellectual milieux in which those peoples lived. Here there are grand heroes, like Cuchulainn, with magical powers and talismans, dragon-slayers like Sigurd,  mysterious gods like Odin, sea-voyagers like Bran, and even simple but sometimes divinely possessed farmers like Gisli, all with a heroic but also a mythological dimension. There are rune-stones in Denmark, rune-poems in England, pagan temples in Sweden, and Viking sorceresses in Greenland. It is a spooky world that informed and grounded the lives of northern Europeans at the dawn of history.

Eng 403 Topics in Medieval English (continuation of 302) One effective method of understanding a culture is by understanding its construction of heroes. Through a  reading of the core heroic texts of the early English tradition, we will come to an understanding of Anglo-Saxon culture. The primary text of the semester will be the Old English Beowulf, but there will be other relevant readings from medieval Germanic epic, including the "Hildebrandslied," the Poetic Edda, and the "Battle of Brunanburh" and "Battle of Maldon." All of the Anglo-Saxon texts will be read in Old English. Thus it is a prerequisite for the course that students have an ability to read Old English, as gained through Eng 302 or equivalent. Wes þū hāl!

This course satisfies an Early Lit OR a Breadth of Literary Study requirement.

Eng 379 Film Genres

Professor Alan Spiegel

M W      12:00 - 1:20

Reg. No. 21643

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, Surrealism, Martial Arts, Fairy Tales, and some of the dreamier specimens of Film Noir; works like The Bride of Frankenstein, Blade Runner, Singin' in the Rain, Alien, Beauty and the Beast, 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 380 New Media

Nikolaus Wasmoen

MWF             1:00 - 1:50

Reg. No. 23835

How can we observe new media critically when we are so thoroughly immersed in, and even dependent on, these evolving systems and technologies in our social, intellectual, and professional lives? For some critics, the answer lies in historical approaches that look to precedents in the past for clues about what to expect from developments taking place in the present. For others, "new media" are characterized by a break from the past or a sudden leap toward an unpredictable future that requires a more radical, even  revolutionary critique. In this course, we will explore what is at stake in characterizing particular communication tools or systems as "new media," as well as the various ways media change has been defined by some of the most influential media theorists and practitioners. We will pair readings in keystone texts on the rise of digital computing, hypertext, web, social media, and video games with hands-on practice and experimentation in a variety of new media workshops and assignments.

Students will be graded on the basis of regular class blog posts, in-class and online multimedia projects, and a short critical essay. No technical experience required or assumed.

Friday sessions will be replaced with new media workshop exercises to be conducted online.

Eng 385 Studies in Lit of African Diaspora

Professor Nnedi Okorafor

MWF             12:00 - 12:50

Reg. No. 23224

This course offers an overview of literatures of the Black Diaspora. We will study a broad range of texts straddling various categories (from classic African texts to contemporary to science fiction) in order to appreciate the dynamics and the significance of black imagination and reality. 

This course satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study requirement.

Eng 387A Women Writers

Professor Hershini Young

T Th             11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 23225

This class will focus on the intersections between gender, sexuality and race.  Reading literature primarily by women of color, we will think through the intersectionality of identity formation and how multi-faceted the experience of being a woman can be.  The notion of what it means to be a woman will not be limited by the biological.  Texts will include novels such as Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, and The Complete Persepolis by Marjanie Satrapi.

Eng 390 Creative Writing Poetry

Karen Mac Cormack

T Th            12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 22506

The emphasis of this workshop-seminar course is the relationship of poetry to difficulty.  What is the value of exploring poetry that is  “difficult", that does not yield an immediately transparent meaning or amalgam of emotions?  Topics and contestations to be investigated include open versus closed form; the opaque text versus the transparent, and the variant sociologies of the reader function.  Students are expected to actively engage with the various aspects of difficulty they encounter throughout the course and within their own and other students' work, and to regularly submit their writing to the workshop to review. Class participation is imperative.

Students should send two of their poems by e-mail (either as Word attachments or in the e-mail message itself) IN ADVANCE of the first class to Karen Mac Cormack at

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

Eng 391 Creative Writing Fiction

Professor Dimitri Anastasopoulos

Wednesdays (eve)    7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 14582

This workshop is for advanced fiction writers who have completed ENG 206. The course emphasizes the development of each student's style and invention process, as well as the practical and technical concerns of a fiction writer's craft. Students will not only be asked to locate a context for their fictions by situating their work among a community of other fiction writers, but also to envision how their stories might intersect with different schools of fiction. Each writer will be expected to conceive each story within the scope of a larger fiction project as well as to revise extensively in order to explore the full range of the story's narrative themes.

The workshop will blend a craft-centered approach with discussions on the form and theory of fiction. We will spend the first third of the semester reading published fictions and completing exercises designed to develop your skills at writing complex forms of narrative. In the second half of the semester, we will then engage one another’s work in a traditional workshop format (i.e. each week we’ll read two or three student manuscripts and critique them as a class; hopefully, the original student manuscripts will embrace the spirit, if not always the model, of assigned literature selections).

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

Eng 393 Writing Non-Fiction Prose

Professor Elizabeth Mazzolini

MWF                10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23648


In this class we will explore how science moves beyond the lab to educate, enlighten, provoke and inspire nonscientists.  Discoveries and developments in scientific fields as varying as environmental science, neurobiology, space exploration, and artificial intelligence, all have implications for how we relate to nature and to technology, how we eat and live and shop and vote and move through the world.  They can also be extremely fun to read about.  We will read widely in contemporary science writing, on such topics as the ethics of comparing the human mind to a computer; what the world’s largest tumor tells us about race in America; how the drug LSD affects personal identity; whether or not cancer might be contagious; and many more thought provoking topics, in essays that could be mistaken for great literature.  Writers will likely include Oliver Sacks, Rebecca Skloot, David Quammen, Jaron Lanier, Jennifer Ouellette, and many others. Inspired by our engagement with contemporary science writing, students will make their own forays into this stimulating and socially relevant genre, by developing narratives and essays on scientific topics of their choosing that consider science’s relation to broader cultural and social issues.  We will move through the research, drafting and revising processes.  Along the way, students will learn to be better writers, and learn things about science and about writing that they might not have expected were there to be learned.

Eng 394 Writing Workshop: Writing for The Spectrum Newspaper

Jody Kleinberg Biehl

Mondays    5:00 - 6:20

Reg. No. 11256

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. 11270


Eng 398 Ethics in Journalism

Jody Kleinberg Biehl

T Th        11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 11231

Is it ever OK to break the law to get a story? When is it the right decision to publish a rumor? How do you know whether a picture that likely will offend readers and viewers should be used anyway? The answer to these and other ethical dilemmas facing media outlets today can be found during a semester of Ethics in Journalism. Students will study a range of scenarios, real and hypothetical; debate the instructor and each other; be part of a panel that takes a position and defends it; and learn from the experiences and mistakes of journalists who have come before. 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

Charles Anzalone
Thursdays (eve) 7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 18973

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. 21284

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: Multimodality in the Novel

Professor Joseph Conte

Wednesdays      4:00 - 6:00

Reg. No. 20584

Multimodality in the Novel

In this Departmental Honors seminar, 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, defined as “the coexistence of more than one semiotic mode within a  given context,” is as new as the iPhone with its “app” icons and voice assistance, but as old as the New England Primer’s abecedarium. Multimodal literature both resists and appropriates digital technology in the print medium. Traditional literary works are monomodal and 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 verbal and visual literacy, always aware that the bound book is an  information technology with a very long history. We will examine the effects of multiple reading paths on narrative structure; the physical manipulation required to read these books; the conscious or “nontrivial effort” required by literature that calls attention to the form of the book; and metafictive reflexivity towards the form of the novel.

Our extended readings in the seminar may include Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions (2006); Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes (2010); excerpts from Alison Gibbons’s Multimodality, Cognition, and Experimental Literature (2011); B. S.  Johnson’s The Unfortunates (2009); Vladimir Nabokov’s The Original of Laura (Dying is Fun) (2008); W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (2001); Steve Tomasula’s VAS:  An Opera in Flatland (2004); and Chris Ware’s Building Stories (2012). Other critical readings and graphical embellishments will be made available through UB Learns.

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

Eng 403 Topics in Medieval English Lit

Professor Jerold Frakes

MWF          10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23232

Topics in Medieval English (continuation of 302)

One effective method of understanding a culture is by understanding its construction of heroes. Through a reading of the core heroic texts of the early English tradition, we will come to an understanding of Anglo-Saxon culture. The primary text of the semester will be the Old English Beowulf, but there will be other relevant readings from medieval Germanic epic, including the "Hildebrandslied," the Poetic Edda, and the "Battle of Brunanburh" and "Battle of Maldon." All of the Anglo-Saxon texts will be read in Old English. Thus it is a prerequisite for the course that students have an ability to read Old English, as gained through Eng 302 or equivalent. Wes þū hāl!

This course satisfies an Early Literature requirement.

Eng 429 James Joyce

Professor Damien Keane

T Th             9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23234


This course will serve as an introduction to the works of James Joyce. Over the span of the semester, we will follow how the figure of the artist and its function change during Joyce’s writing career – in other words, how the vision of the artist within the texts (transubstantiator, fabulous artificer, advertising man, low-rent manipulator hiding behind his own words) is affected by the practice of the artist who makes the texts. From the terse “scrupulous meanness” of his earlier works to the macrocosmic send-ups of the later works, Joyce’s writings embody an acutely self-reflexive authorial practice. While we will pay necessary attention to the details of Joyce’s biography, this class will not be an exercise in biographical criticism or authorial hagiography. Rather, we will read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922), and the “Shem the Penman” and “Anna Livia Plurabelle” chapters of Finnegans Wake (1939), in relation to some of the literary, economic, social, and historical forces that affected the conditions of aesthetic practice during his lifetime. In doing so, we will acquire a new vantage-point on many of the most significant problems and issues subtending Joyce’s age and works: Irish struggles for political and cultural self-determination; exilic re-invention and cosmopolitan self-fashioning; class antagonisms and social disparities; educational access and opportunity; the political and cultural influence of new forms of media; changing conceptions of gender roles and sexual politics; and debates about the place of art in modern society. At base, the course will track Joyce’s career-long investigation of the meaning of authority through his practice as an artist.

Students will be expected to participate fully in classroom discussions. Requirements will include three short response papers; reading quizzes (in lieu of response papers as we read Ulysses); an annotated bibliography (4–5 pages; if students are not familiar with this genre, it will be explained), and a final research essay (10–12 pages).

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

Undergraduate Course Listing

2015 - 2016