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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 2017 Course Offerings

Eng 198 Transfer Student Seminar

Mondays, 1:00-1:50, Reg. No. 25107

Jody Kleinberg-Biehl: Read and Understand News in the 20th Century

What is happening in the world? Who cares? Could Donald Trump really be the next president? Is he getting too much press or not enough?

News hits us 24-hours a day and often it’s tricky to figure out what to read and who to believe and even what it means to be a journalist. In this class, students will become more discerning consumers of news. Students will use critical-thinking skills to determine what news sources are reliable in the digital world. Through readings, class discussions and written assignments, students will deconstruct breaking news stories occurring in print and online and differentiate between fact and opinion. We will look at issues of bias and fairness, separate news from propaganda and advertising and talk about possible models for the future of journalism.

This transfer seminar is a 1-credit, discussion-based class. It will help new upper division UB transfer students transition to UB and help them adjust to the types of learning and expectations of a large research university. The course will provide a small group setting and interactive lectures, assignments and discussions.  The course will help students understand the UB curriculum and prepare them to create an electronic portfolio for their work. 

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Making Shakespeare - Case of Hamlet

Professor Barbara Bono

MWF, 3:00-3:50, Reg. No. 23430 

William Shakespeare really did exist, and really did write all or most of the plays traditionally attributed to him, as well as some others which have been lost.  But how did Shakespeare—the glover’s son from Stratford with the good grammar school education, the possible Catholic tutor, the young man from the provinces come down to the big city to begin to play on and to write for the London stage, the businessman of the documentary record—become “Shakespeare,” the quintessential “author” in the western literary tradition, the bane and delight of every school child today, and the continued subject of critical, philosophical, and aesthetic appreciation and reinterpretation?

We can address this question through any number of Shakespeare’s plays. Our proof text for this   semester will be Hamlet, in the 2010 Norton Critical Edition of the play, edited by Robert Miola, which combines comparative texts from the early editions of the plays with records of performances from Edwin Booth to Jude Law, contexts from the Bible to Thomas Kyd, criticism from John Dryden to Margreta DeGrazia, and afterlives from 18-century experimentations with the play’s ending to Tom Stoppard and John Updike.

In addition to considering the play through this critical edition we will also review the performance tradition in film, from Olivier (1948) to Branagh (1996) to Almeryda (2000), and when possible in stage performance, as in the recent filmed versions by David Tennant (2010) and Benedict Cumberbatch (2015) and any live performance which happens to become available to us.

Finally, the fall 2016 semester provides us with the ideal time to ask, and to begin to answer, this question because it is also marks the 400 anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the occasion for commemorations around the world, including year-long region-wide activities here, indexed on-line under  Therefore in this class we will participate in a number of these activities, including visiting library displays of Shakespeare early Folios and supplementary rare book texts at both the UB Poetry Collection and the downtown Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, attending a UB Humanities Institute Conference featuring numerous world-renowned experts in Shakespeare’s texts and their interpretation, and helping plan a closing party modeled in part on David Garrick’s famous Jubilee of 1769, which made “Shakespeare” a celebrity and the     distinctive poet of the British Empire and presided over by Dean of Undergraduate Education UB English Professor Andrew McConnell Stott.

In addition to reading the play and its criticism and watching the films, students will complete 3 Worksheets assessing their note-taking skills and comprehension of the play, an editing and interpretative exercise which will also teach and assess issues of indebtedness and academic integrity, 3 brief Response Papers integrating their reactions to the films with criticism, conduct an in-class oral “Film Critics’ Debate,” and conceptualize and present a brief creative response to the seminar’s content.  They will also be taught time management by completing, by the end of the third week of class, a flow chart derived from the Syllabi of all their courses, logged on DIGICATION, for all of their formal academic assignments for the semester, and then, in the week before Thanksgiving, recurring to that flow-chart and comparing where they are with their semester’s work.

Eng199 UB Freshman Seminar - Walking Dictionaries

University Honors Section

Professor Walter Hakala

MWF, 2:00-2:50, Reg. No. 23431

Lexicography (‘writing about words’) fundamentally shapes the ways we think about and organize the world around us. From 4,500-year-old Sumerian clay tablets to the definitions that pop up on an iPad, our interactions with words are inseparable from technologies of reference. Some of these technologies are wired directly into our brains: many of the world’s oldest surviving “texts” circulated for hundreds of years before being committed to writing. By encoding words within verses of poetry, arranging them in “memory palaces,” and applying other mnemonic techniques, we can achieve fantastic feats of memory. Writing, however, makes it possible to see words in different ways. Through writing, we can see the way that words used to sound long ago, enabling etymological inquiries into their origins. With lists, words may be arranged and then rearranged to suit different purposes. New questions become possible: Why, for example, should the word ant come after aardvark, chicken before egg, or, for that matter, angel before God? And who would be willing to spend his or her life copying and recopying these lists of words? Writing requires time, concentration, and lots of paper—these are not always easy to come by. As technologies of print spread throughout the world, ordinary people for first time could possess their own dictionaries, authors could compile them for potentially millions of users, and those users could consult them in an infinite variety of situations. What words should and should not be included in a dictionary? Who gets to decide what a word means? What kinds of communities emerge from these texts?

In this course, we will look at how words, objects, and ideas are defined and get equated across cultures, languages, and time. We will uncover the structures that make dictionaries and other genres of lexicography legible to users. We will question the social structures that underwrite a lexicographer’s authority. Mostly, though, we will get our hands dirty practicing different methods of lexicography. Readings will be on topics like cognition, memory, the history of writing, and biographies of those “harmless drudges” involved with compiling dictionaries and other lexicographical works. Students will have the choice of completing different of assignments on such topics as mnemonic techniques, vocabularies in verse, using Google Books to find early instances of terms, and designing the perfect dictionary entry. By reading, discussing, and experimenting with a wide range of genres, students will develop a broad familiarity with the history and practice of lexicography.

No prerequisite coursework or experience with lexicography is expected prior to the start of the course.

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Iraq and the American War

Professor James Holstun

T Th, 9:30-10:50, Reg. No. 23451

“Iraq and the American War” will ask what Iraqi and American culture can tell us about Iraq—before, during, and after the American War. It’s a highly controversial subject matter, of course. But it’s also one that many Americans are already beginning to forget. I think it’s a little soon for that. This is tough stuff, and our discussions may turn passionate, but we’ll be discussing our texts, not shaking our firsts. In this course, we’ll consider many perspectives, including Iraqis of different ethnic groups, faiths, and political persuasions, and pro- and anti-war Americans. We’ll consider a wide variety of genres: novels, histories, oral narratives, fictional films, documentaries, leaked atrocity videos and photographs, political speeches, and poetry.

We’ll talk about twentieth-century Iraqi history, including Haifa Zangana’s passionate feminist history, City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance. We’ll talk about the 2500-year history of Jews in Mesopotamia. We’ll read a novella by Shimon Ballas about the expulsion/emigration of Iraqi Jews, Betool Khedairi’s, Absent (2004), about a teen-aged girl living in Baghdad with her aunt and uncle during the U.S. sanctions regime, and selections from Riverbend, a wartime blog by another Iraqi teenager, and from Nuha al-Radi’s Baghdad Diaries (2003), about an Iraqi artist living through the First Gulf War and dying during the second—of a war-related cancer, she thought. We’ll read Shakir Mustafa’s anthology, Contemporary Iraqi Fiction (2008), and Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer. We’ll see documentary films, including Wikileaks’ Collateral Murder and Molly Bingham and Steve Connor’s Meeting Resistance. And we’ll read oral histories from Mark Kukis’s Voices from Iraq.

Turning to the American side, we’ll read The Long Walk (2012), by Western New Yorker Brian Castner, about his work as a bomb disposal technician in Iraq and his struggles with traumatic brain injury after returning home, and Redeployment, Phil Klay’s prize-winning collection of stories on US Marines in Iraq; We’ll read lots of oral histories by American soldiers and marines, including Daniel Somers’ suicide note and analysis of the Iraq War. We’ll read Falcons on the Floor, an experimental fiction about two Iraqi boys fleeing the Battle of Fallujah, by Justin Sirois and Haneen Alshujairy.

We’ll conclude the semester by reading the late Colonel Travis Patriquin’s essay on the insurgency in Tal Afar, Iraq, and asking the question, “Where did ISIS come from, and what role, if any, did the US have in its emergence?”

Students will write twice-week informal essays (five minutes’ or so), a five-page paper at mid-semester, and a ten-page expansion of that paper at the end of the semester. Please contact me if you’d like to talk more about the course:

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Buffalo Poetry and Poets

Professor Stacy Hubbard

MWF, 12:00-12:50, Reg. No. 23449

The number of major poets who have lived, worked and written poetry in Buffalo is amazing. What is it about Buffalo’s history, environs and cultural scene that has helped to produce or support such richly varied poetic practices and experiments, including Black Mountain poetry, LANGUAGE poetry, electronic poetry, feminist poetry, Spoken Word and others? In this course, we’ll explore the city of Buffalo as a poetry incubator and UB as a center of innovative practices in poetry production, scholarship and curatorship. We’ll sample the work of poets such as Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, John Logan, Ishmael Reed, Lucille Clifton, Carl Dennis, Susan Howe, Charles Bernstein, Judith Goldman and many others and we’ll visit the University Library’s Poetry Collection to examine manuscripts, chapbooks and journals by Buffalo poets from various time periods. We’ll also attend poetry readings & slams on campus and in various locations throughout the city; we’ll talk with some local poets and scholars of Buffalo poetry; and we’ll learn about vibrant centers of poetic activity such as the Just Buffalo Literary center downtown. No background in poetry study or poetry-writing is necessary for this class, just an interest in getting to know the literary culture of campus and city.  Students will write close-reading essays & reflective and researched blogs, and will compile mini-anthologies of Buffalo poetry with researched introductions and notes.

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Me? Language and the Self

Professor Cristanne Miller

T Th, 11:00-12:20, Reg. No. 23452

“’Me?!’ Language and the SelF” explores ways that language—particularly figurative language such as metaphors—help construct our sense of who we are in relation to other groups and categories of people and in relation to social structures of value. Are you described or perceived as nurdy, cool, fat, thin, large, small, handsome, pretty, homely, black, brown, white, quick, slow? What do these categories mean? Who influences definitions? How does language of popularity, weight, race, appearance, or other descriptive categories (whether essentializing or superficial) impact your life? Language can push us to think more inclusively about ourselves, others, and all things in the world, but it can also carry embedded assumptions that influence our perception without our consciousness or recognition. Through reading literature, journalism, advertisements, and any other kind of print that engages in description of people or human behavior, students in this class will become more sensitive to the politics of daily language use and the significance of nuance in communication; they will develop finer strategies for analyzing what they hear and read; and they will develop strategies for constructing (more) adequate forms of language use in response to important ideas of our time.

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Watching Television

Professor David Schmid

T Th, 2:00-3:20, Reg. No. 23453

Second section:  T Th 11:00-12:20, Reg. No. 25241

This class explores the history and aesthetics of television genres from the beginning of commercial television broadcasting in the post-World War II United States to the present day. The class will focus on genres such as drama, soap opera, comedy, news, documentary, reality television, children’s  television, animation, prime time, and day time, paying due attention to the beginnings of these  genres, their maturation and development, and the reasons for their eventual decline or remarkable persistence. Along the way, we will discuss who watches television and why, how television shapes our view of the world and of each other, how television provides a window on a society’s values, and how and why those values change over time. Through watching and discussing examples of television genres, as well as through reading histories of the medium and both popular and academic discourses about television, students in this class will become more sensitive to the formal and  historical nuances of a medium they have probably taken for granted. Students will also develop strategies for analyzing what they hear and read; and develop ways of understanding how popular culture both reflects and influences our opinions about a wide range of subjects, including race,  gender, class, disability, social mobility, and Americanness.

Course Requirements:

¨ Attend class regularly and participate in class discussion.

¨ “Reflections”: brief daily or weekly assignments, usually a short paragraph (150-200 words) reflecting on some aspect of the reading—what interests you, puzzles you,   surprises you, or makes you think.

¨ Two 2-page essays, on topics chosen by you, related to course reading during the first half of the semester.

¨ 8-10-page research essay on some aspect of course reading and discussion.

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Hollywood and American Lit

Professor William Solomon

MWF,  10:00-10:50, Reg. No. 23454

“Hollywood and American Literature” examines the impact of motion pictures on narrative fiction and lyric poetry in this country through much of the twentieth century. Like the mass of Americans in these years, writers often fell in love with the movies; but just as consistently they expressed their hostility toward their new cultural rival. Moreover, as the sound era in film got underway, increasing numbers of American writers looked to the film industry both as a means of supplementing their incomes and as an opportunity to adapt their craft to an exciting new medium. As a logical consequence of this new experience, stories and poems focused on either the making or the watching of movies began to appear in print. This trend led to the gradual development of a literary sub-genre--the Hollywood novel--in which actors, directors, producers and spectators frequently took center stage as the main characters. In this course, we will read and analyze a representative selection of twentieth-century literary materials that have addressed the psychological and sociopolitical repercussions of the growth of the cinema in this country. This course might also be of particular interest to students interested in the historical dialogue between independent and mainstream or studio film production from the silent period to the 1960s.

Course Prerequisites: None

Eng 199 UB Freshman Seminar - Real Life: Telling True Stories through Creative Non-Fiction

Professor Arabella Lyons

Reg. No. 23450

This class teaches students how to write compelling stories drawn from real life using the form known as “creative nonfiction.” The essence of creative nonfiction is all in its name – factual stories (“non-fiction,”) written stylishly and well (or “creatively”). Creative nonfiction is especially known as a vehicle for memoirs or personal essays, but this wide-ranging term also includes a diverse number of styles that include travel writing, popular science, investigative reporting, autobiography, political opinion, magazine journalism, war writing, sports writing, current affairs, and popular science. The opportunities are endless and creativity is key.

This is a “workshop” seminar which means that students will practice their writing skills in class, developing their art by discussing their writing with their classmates and by guided readings through essays by practitioners in the field that express the breadth and possibilities of the form.

The first few weeks of the class will be made up of writing exercises and discussion of general principles and ideas such as: finding and structuring a story, generating plot, developing scenes, writing characters, the ethics of non-fiction and researching a topic. As the weeks go by progresses, students will select a topic for their own writing and work on it for the rest of the semester. By the end of the semester, students will have begun to explore their own abilities as writers and developed an insight into the craft and discipline of nonfiction, as well as identifying the importance of making informed, insightful and supportive critiques of one another’s work.

Along with short readings we will be studying Mark Kramer and Wendy Call’s Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writer’s Guide from the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University and Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures.

Eng 193 - Fundamentals of Journalism

Andrew Galarneau

W (eve)     7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 19629

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 standards and an introduction to American media and press law.

Students learn to conduct interviews, use quotes, and write in Associated Press style. 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 quizzes and take-home writing exercises, designed to help them master the fundamentals of news writing. Those include two stories that students will take from start to finish: shaping a story idea, identifying sources and interviewing them, crafting the material into final written form. In addition to a textbook, students will read selected stories in class pertinent to class discussions.

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

Eng 207 Intro to Writing Poetry/Fiction

Joshua Flaccavento
MW (eve)     7:00 - 8:20
Reg. No. 19795            CL2 Course

Claire Nashar
MW       5:00 - 6:20
Reg. No. 20230            CL2 Course

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 207 Intro to Writing Poetry

Professor Steven McCaffery

T Th 12:30-1:50

Eng 209 Writing About Science

Professor Elizabeth Mazzolini

MWF    10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23986      CL2 Course

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 211 American Pluralism in Lit & Culture


Eng 221 World Literature

Professor Walter Hakala

MWF    12:00 - 12:50

Reg. No. 21033

Romance Traditions in Asia

This course will introduce students to narratives of romance that span Asia’s wide variety of religious, literary, theatrical, and cinematic traditions. “Texts” may include English translations of a Sanskrit drama, a Sufi mystical text, tales from The Arabian Nights, early Japanese and Chinese novels, recent Bollywood cinema, Korean television melodramas, and recent examples of the worldwide Harlequin Romance phenomenon. The written component comprises two short papers and a cumulative exam.  

There are no prerequisites for this class and all course materials are in English.  

**Fulfills a 200-level course requirement for Asian Studies and English majors and minors.**

Eng 225 Medieval English Literature

Professor Randy Schiff

MWF       10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23425

Medieval English Literature will be a literary historical survey of medieval Britain, moving us from the Old English period to the late-medieval era. While our course readings will be restricted to texts in English, our exploration of the multilingual history of Britain will include translations from Old English (e.g., Beowulf), Latin (e.g., The History of the Kings of Britain), Old French (e.g., Marie de France’s lais), and Welsh (e.g., the Mabinogion); we will also read some works in  Middle English (e.g., The Canterbury Tales). Our course will engage with key monuments of Arthurian literature (e.g., Sir Gawain and the Green Knight);   political poems and documents (Piers Plowman; rebel letters); works of female mysticism (Margery Kempe); and a medieval play (Mankind). All students will be required to take two exams; to present on a passage from a course text; and to complete two papers (of 4-6 and of 7-10 pages).

Eng 232 British Writers 2

Andrew Dorkin

T Th         9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 24879

Soar with kingfishers and angels. Scream alongside demigods and vampires. Visit exoticized vistas of Edenic splendor drawn from mythology and the world around us. Tempt fate by experimenting with things with which mere mortals were not meant to mess—moral monsters, mephitic mixtures, and morbid misery. Tackle society’s deepest crises of poverty, misogyny, racism, and imperial overreach. Live and love alongside peasants and royalty, humans and monsters. Finally, take all of that and set it on its head by examining the very core of how we define the natural and supernatural and our own earthly limitations. We will delve into all of this—and more!—through reading a variety of British literature produced from roughly 1789 to the present. The range of cultural developments and changes reflected in British writing during this period is unparalleled in scope. Luckily, we will dive manageably into this alternatingly earthly and unearthly realm through a series of engrossing literary expeditions.

We begin with the work of the Romantic writers, in which many of the key intellectual, philosophical, and literary ideas influencing the next few centuries are established. We will read works ranging from poetry—by turns erotic/Gothic and idyllic/pastoral—and the chilling tale of Frankenstein. The second phase of the course takes us to the Victorian Era, for a continuation of and a reaction to the revolutionary ideas of past, from scientific discoveries about humanity’s place in the world—Darwin as literature?!—to chilling tales of science gone awry in the form of Eliot’s The Lifted Veil and Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Finally, we will see how British literature shifted as the twentieth century dawned and brought an entirely new host of concerns about the natural, supernatural and everything in between, including wacky new takes on the very nature and purpose of literature—and perhaps our very existence—in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Stoppard’s Arcadia.

Ultimately, you will gain a keen understanding of the major social and cultural forces, as well as the exciting, protean literary movements, at work during these dynamic periods of British literature. You will read poetry, short fiction, novels, and critical prose from authors such as Anna Barbauld, William Blake, Charlotte Smith, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, Mary and Percy Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, Thomas Carlyle, Elizabeth Gaskell, Lord Tennyson, George Eliot, Christina Rosssetti, Charles Darwin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and more.

Eng 241 American Writers I

Professor Robert Daly

T Th      12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 22359

This course is open to both majors and nonmajors and does not presume any prior knowledge of its content. We shall read mostly short selections from classic American literature, from the 17 through the 19 centuries, to see how it can help us to survive and thrive here and now. These are the writers everyone has read, or claims to have read, or wishes they had read: Mary Rowlandson, Susanna Rowson, Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson among them. We shall read them selectively, slowly, and carefully, in detail and in context, to see why they have lasted and what they can tell us now about the art of making sense of literature and life in America.

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.

Eng 242 American Writers II

Andrew Dorkin

T Th         9:30 - 10:50

Reg. No. 24879


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 19 and 20 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 254 Science Fiction

Jennifer Dickson

MWF        11:00 - 11:50

Reg. No. 21034

The Future

We are living in someone else’s science fictional future; our lives are connected by filaments of light and wireless signals that instantaneously bring us news of flooded subways and viruses, advertisements for room cleaning robots and talking houses, and messages from friends and family. Our TV shows and video games are filled with our own future visions: crisply dressed    zombie survivors on extended camping trips, time travelling cops that flit from fantastic megacities to our own cities, well-armed lone warriors trekking nuclear wastelands.

Science fiction has a long history with this kind of story: alternate worlds that offer a warning or a promise about our own future. In this course, we’ll ask what science fictional futures—both the wonderful and the terrifying—can tell us about ourselves, our societies, and our world.  What ways of seeing does science fiction open up to us as readers? This course covers a wide variety of future visions, from the controlling rules of Harlan Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin!” to the chaos and action of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. We’ll look at worlds that have been ravished by war and climate destruction, like Philip K. Dick’s classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and dream worlds of equality and balance, like Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. Along the way, we’ll talk about the rich history of the genre and discuss its role in various forms of media, including television, film, and video games. The course requires no previous experience with science fiction, only interest in the topic. It’s open to majors and non-majors alike. Requirements include regular participation in class discussion, quizzes, short reading responses and other informal writing activities, and two formal papers. 

Eng 256 Film

Professor Alan Spiegel

T Th      2:00 - 3:20

Reg. No. 22835

The American Experience

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 most exciting and confrontational American movies:  Westerns (Red River), Gangsters (Bonnie and Clyde), Thrillers (Psycho), social and political problem films - Left (The Grapes of Wrath), 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 Travles, 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 356 (i.e., students may register for both without fear of duplication.

Eng 258 Mysteries

Professor Susan Eilenberg

T Th        11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 20232

To have a mystery novel you need at a minimum a dead or menaced body and a question about how, why, and at whose hand it came to be so.  There exist innumerable mysteries that focus upon these things:  the wounds  suggestive of torture, the gory and psychopathic processes of murder, and the unpleasant and dangerous route the detective follows in uncovering the gruesome facts.

Those mysteries we shall mostly avoid. In this class we shall read outwards from the mystery novel that presents itself as a  diversion, as amusing puzzle, as game of wit, an appreciation of civilized ideals--an occasion for the production of wit and the display of erudition or insight, a form of drawing room comedy or even (sometimes) romance.  Our detectives will for the most part not be police officers but instead outsiders-- drunks, addicts, precocious children, debutantes, former suspects, idle aristocrats, idler academics.

What is it about the mystery novel that allows it to turn from the grossness and tedium of murder and conviction?  We shall read several novels and a couple of short stories to seek clues to this mystery.

Eng 263 Environmentalist Writing

Joseph Hall

MWF      9:00 - 9:50

Reg. No. 23427

Environmentalist Writings: Who Killed

the World?

“Who Killed the World?” Splendid, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

“We have still the broken Materials of that first World, and walk upon its Ruines” Thomas Burnet, The Sacred Theory of the Earth (1684)

The earth is poisoned, cities flood, the earth cracks from drought, species are extinguished, islands swallowed, and nature dies. Is this a 21 century vision of climate change or a version of the biblical flood? Across literatures, nature has been celebrated, killed, and brought back to life in a multitude of ways.

In this class we will perform a broad survey of environmental literature while considering the following questions: What do we include or exclude from definitions of the natural? If humans have erased, harmed, or “killed” nature, what do we imagine we have lost? And how do we compensate for this loss? How different is this nature and its death from how we’ve always imagined nature and its ruin? And what does it mean to ethically represent and respond to local and global environmental crises?

We will explore ways of thinking about nature, natural-disaster, ruin, and recovery across time and media, including classics of social justice environmentalism such as Silent Spring and The Book of the Dead, biblical Edens, “green” techno-utopias, salvage punk, and Swamp Thing.

Eng 271 African American Literature

Professor Jang Wook Huh

MWF         1:00 - 1:50

Reg. No. 24186

This lecture course is an introductory survey of African American literature. Spanning the period from the turn of the twentieth century to the present, we will consider a range of work in a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, drama, autobiography, and nonfiction prose. We will re-conceptualize the African-American literary and cultural tradition by focusing on its aesthetic contributions, political aspirations, and interactions with diverse racial and ethnic groups both within and beyond U.S. borders. Tracing African-American literary history in local and global contexts, we will explore how black writers engage with the dynamics of racial formation, issues of diaspora, and changing notions of freedom. We will also examine the influence of visual culture (such as paintings, photography, and film) on African American literature, and vice versa.

Main authors may include W. E. B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, and Toni Morrison. This course is open to students from all majors. I will explain key terms, concepts, and contexts.

No prerequisites are required.

Eng 276 Literature and Law

Professor Arabella Lyon

T Th             2:00 - 3:20

Reg. No. 23428

Human Rights in literature and the law

Open any good newspaper, and human rights stories abound.  Human rights talk has emerged as a powerful tool used in the construction of citizenships, histories, nation states, geopolitical boundaries, and human duty. Often human rights are considered laws or as having legal force, but as Joseph Slaughter notes, they are “a notoriously feeble legal regime” (24). In fact, Amatrya Sen stresses their lack of legal standing, arguing that their (legal) existence is less important than their “really strong ethical pronouncements as to what should be done” (357).  That is, the human rights may have more ethical force than legal force, but this raises interesting question about the law itself.

In this course, we examine human rights as represented in the law and in literature.  We will consider the importance of human rights law in relationship to the importance of literary and rhetorical or political representations of human rights claims. The course will address a series of questions that will make us better readers of human rights law, advocacy, and representation. We will consider:  Who can speak and advocate for whom?  How are human rights defined in law, literature, and film? How are gender, race, nationality, class, age depicted within popular culture and legal/political documents? How is the subject of human rights violation constructed, and for what purpose to whose advantage?  To approach these questions historically, the course will begin with Sophocles’  drama Antigone and end with Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American  Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures and/or Dave Egger’s biographical account of Zeitoun, the biography of a Syrian-American during Katrina. Along the way we will interpret documentary film, the Declaration of Independence, and a court decision or two.

In addition to be being evaluated through participation, quizzes, presentations, and short reading responses, you will write two four to five-page papers that examine at least one of our  longer readings.


Slaughter, Joseph R. Human Rights, Inc: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law. New York: Fordham UP, 2007.

Sen, Amatrya. The Idea of Justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap P of Harvard UP, 2009.

Eng 276 Literature and Law

Katrin Rowan

T Th        2:00 - 3:20

Reg. No. 22361

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 281 Special Topics: Literature & Medicine

Jesse Miller

MWF       11:00 - 11:50

Reg. No. 23011

The relationships between literature and medicine are many, varied, and at least as old as the Greeks. Above the door of the ancient Library at Thebes an inscription read, “Medicine for the Soul” and at the heart of the philosopher Aristotle’s description of the effects of tragic drama on its audience, we find a medical term, catharsis. Even today, in the context of contemporary Western medicine, the experience of illness is shaped around multiple acts of storytelling, as the patient searches for the words to voice their pain and the doctor attempts to frame a diagnosis. And from TV medical dramas like Scrubs and House M.D. to works of contemporary poetry and fiction we find efforts to capture this drama and complexity, the stakes of which are quite literally life and death.

In this course, we will read texts by, for, and about doctors and patients in order to investigate the relations between literature and medicine. We will also collaborate with the Arts in Health Initiative to explore how literature and the arts are being used to improve the experience of patients in Buffalo hospitals. As we range from the ancient philosophical treatises of Hippocrates, to the work of poet-physician William Carlos Williams, from the detective-like case studies of doctors to the autobiographical testimonies of the ill, we will ask: How do doctors, patients, and authors approach the complex ethical conundrums, emotional tangles, and difficulties of representation that so often surround illness?

This course is designed for students who wish to pursue a career in the health professions as well as for anyone with a personal interest in the way literature shapes our understanding and experience of health and illness. As a seminar, a gathering for informed conversation, this course’s success depends heavily on your commitment to careful preparation, considerate and effective discussion, and openness to new ideas. However, it requires no previous knowledge of the material, only interest in it; it is designed for both majors and non-majors. In addition to regular attendance, careful reading, and active participation in discussion, you will be required to maintain a weekly reading journal, turn in three 4-6 page papers, and participate in a group project.

Eng 281 Special Topics: Arts One

Professor Hershini Young
Wednesdays (eve) 7:00 - 9:40
Reg. No. 25030

ENGLISH 281: ARTS ONE is an experimental course designed to introduce students to performers and artists in the wider Buffalo community. Instead of being bound to the classroom, for the most part students will attend an exciting array of events utilizing different artistic mediums such as dance, theater, music and visual art. In this way, the class hopes to expose students to Buffalo’s vibrant artistic and performance scene, teaching them not only about the history of institutions such as the Buffalo Philharmonic or UJIMA Theater Company, the longest established acting company in Buffalo but also how to become better audiences. In other words, by attending events students will learn how vital the arts are to the creation and continuation of community structures, as well as refine their own participation as audience/ listener/ viewer in ways that are generative and challenging.

*PLEASE NOTE: The class will meet at different times depending on the performances and transportationwill be provided to various events.

Eng 285 Writing in the Health Sciences

CL-2 (New)

Current Undergraduate Classes

Eng 301 Criticism

Professor Ming Qian Ma

T Th          2:00 - 3:20

Reg. No. 18282           

Designed as a survey class, English 301 is intended to introduce students to literary criticism of the 20-Century, with an emphasis on the post-1960s period. Chronological in approach, it will study the representative texts of various schools of criticism, focusing on the basic terms, concepts, and methodologies. The goals of this course are 1) to learn and understand the principles and paradigms of each kind of criticism; 2) to become critically aware of not only the ramifications but also the limitations of literary theory; 3) to  rethink and question such notions as “innocent reading” or “purely spontaneous response”; and 4) to learn a range of interpretative methods.

Class requirements include regular attendance, active

 participation in class discussions, quizzes, response papers to readings, and a  6-8 page term paper at end of the course.

The primary texts for the course are:

Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2. Edition. Edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, Blackwell, 2004. (ISBN: 1-4051-0696-4)

Billy Budd and Other Tales, by Herman Melville, with a new introduction by Joyce Carlos Oates. Signet Classic, 1998. (ISBN: 0-451-52687-2)

(Supplementary reading materials in criticism will be distributed when needed.)

Eng 301 Criticism

Professor Randy Schiff

MWF          12:00 - 12:50

Reg. No. 22368

Our course will analyze literary theory on dual levels, tracking the broader history of literary criticism, even as we engage closely with key landmarks of critical theory. Rather than being organized chronologically, the syllabus will follow conceptual threads (Aesthetics and Ethics; Formalism and Function; Nature and Technology; Canonicity and Deconstruction; and Nation and Empire). These organizing themes are not meant to stand as discrete zones, but to bleed into one another, allowing us to sustain a general discussion on aesthetics informed by various schools of thought. As it would be impossible to cover all literary critical schools in a single course, we will prioritize breadth of coverage over extended engagement with individual schools of thought, in order best to develop both a sense of the history of literary criticism and of the range of powerful tools and concepts it provides. Opportunity for extended engagement with critical approaches is enabled by the written component of the course, with term papers offering the option for either comparative or intensive analyses. All students will be required to take two exams; make one brief formal presentation on a critical concept; and complete two papers (of 4-6 and 8-10 pages).

Eng 309 Shakespeare - Early Plays

Professor Carla Mazzio

T Th           3:30 - 4:50

Reg. No. 23529

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.

This course satisfies an Early Literature  requirement.

Eng 310 Shakespeare - Late Plays

Professor Susan Eilenberg

T Th      2:00 - 3:20

Reg. No. 21041

This course will be devoted to a reading of Shakespeare’s later plays, including the mass of great tragedies (Hamlet, Lear, Othello) 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.

This course satisfies an Early Literature  requirement.

Eng 331 Studies in Irish Literature

Professor Damian Keane

MWF         10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23455


This course will focus on Irish writing and culture produced between 1922 and 1972, the fifty years roughly between the end of one period of intense violence and the beginning of another. In the aftermath of the outpouring of literary energy that accompanied the political struggles for Irish independence in the first decades of the twentieth century, Irish writing has been conventionally been held to have diverged along two separate paths: one that continues with innovatively modernist and internationalist forms; and another that rejects experiment and instead falls into a stagnant and an insular naturalism. Through our reading for this course, we will question this sweeping characterization of Irish writing after 1922, with special attention to the kinds of social critique that are enabled – and forestalled – by each of these broad modes of writing. The readings for the course will be drawn from a wide variety of genre and media: prose fiction (novels and short stories), poetry, drama,         autobiography, radio scripts, political pamphlets, and sound recordings.

Works for the course will be chosen from those by:  Samuel Beckett, Mary Beckett, Brendan Behan, Sam Hanna Bell, Elizabeth Bowen, Austin Clarke, Padraic Fallon, John Hewitt, Aidan Higgins, James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Molly Keane, Thomas Kinsella, Mary Lavin, John McGahern, Michéal MacLiammóir, Michael McLaverty, Louis MacNeice, Ewart Milne, John Montague, Brian Moore, Flann O’Brien, Kate O’Brien, Sean O’Casey, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faoláin, Liam O’Flaherty, Blanaid Salkeld, Francis Stuart, and W.B. Yeats.

Requirements for the course will include: good attendance and active in-class participation; two or three shorter papers (2–4 pages), a mid-term exercise, and a final essay (10–12 pages). No necessary prior knowledge of Irish literature or history is required.

This course satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study requirement.

Eng 342 Studies in U.S. Latino/a Lit

Professor Carrie Tirado-Bramen

MWF 2:00 - 2:50

Reg. No. 25186

War—Migration—Borders: Latin American        Literature & US Latino/a Literature in Comparative Perspective

This course will look at Latina/o and Latin American literature in comparative perspective, centered on three key events: 1) the legacy of the Central American violence; 2) Migration/immigration from the Americas; 3 border tensions between the US and Latin America. How are these three themes—war, migration, borders—depicted by US Latinos and Latin American writers and artists?  What does each bring to the depiction of trans-american crisis, violence and culture? We will read a range of genres, including poetry, plays, journalism, novels and testimonios.

Mario Payeras,  Days of the Jungle: The Testimony of a Guatemalan Guerrillero, 1972-1976

Rigoberta Menchu, I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

Demetria Martinez, Mother Tongue

Oscar Martínez, The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging the Narcos

Martin Espada, Poetry Like Bread, [expanded edition]

Quiara Alegría Hudes, Water by the Spoonful (a play)

Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary. Assignments: Two essays, 8 short reading responses, regular attendance.

This class also counts as a Domestic Diversity course for your General Education Requirement.

Eng 346 Comparative Ethnic Literatures

Professor Jang Wook Huh

MWF         3:00 - 3:50

Reg. No. 23457

In 1890, the so-called “dean of American letters” William Dean Howells declared, “There’s only one city that belongs to the whole country, and that’s New York.” His metonymic presentation of New York acknowledges the multiethnic metropolis as cultural capital that catered to the national reading public’s cosmopolitan taste at the turn of the century. But this metaphor of New York as a national microcosm also extends the demographic margin of the nation into emerging ghettoes and slums of migrant and immigrant populations. In this course, we will examine the ways in which racial and ethnic neighborhoods play a critical role in producing aesthetic forms such as realist fiction, urban sketches, and cross-racial romances from the late nineteenth century to the present. In mapping a narrative cartography of representing ethnic New York in literature, film, and photography, we will explore the following topics: diverse modes of producing race and ethnicity, cross-racial interactions and comparative  racialization, and the intersection of race and sexuality. Main authors may include Jacob Riis, Langston Hughes, Piri Thomas, Paule Marshall, and Elizabeth Wong. This course is open to students from all majors who are interested in literary forms, urban culture, diaspora, immigrant history, and comparative race and ethnicity. No prerequisites are required.

This course satisfies a Breadth of Literary Study Requirement.

Eng 347 Visions of America - Early Period

Professor Robert Daly

T Th              3:30 - 4:50

Reg. No. 22942         

This course is open to majors and non-majors alike and does not presume any prior acquaintance with its material.  For majors, it does fulfill the early period  requirement. We shall read classic American literature, from the 17 through the 19 century (nothing from the 20 or 21 centuries), 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.

William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, Phillis Wheatley, Susanna Rowson, Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Rebecca Harding Davis, 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.

This course satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.  

Eng 354 Life Writing

Professor Arabella Lyon

T Th             12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No. 23460

Life writing describes genres including biography, autobiography, diaries, letters, travel writing, testimonies, autoethnography, personal essays and, more recently, digital forms such as blogs and websites. Life writing is concerned with identity, memory, agency, and history; at its core is the issue of who gets representation, who gets to tell the story.  In this course, you will blog about your life as you read about other lives.

Our reading may include autobiographies, diaries, memories, maybe a novel (faction), and blogs. At the moment, I’m considering Maxine Hong Kingston’s magical-realist autobiography Woman Warrior, Dave Eggers’s Katrina biography of a Syrian-American Zeitoun, Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, the autobiography of either Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú’s or Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and yet to be decided short pieces and blogs (a few possibilities of the top of my head):,;,

Here are directions for getting started:

Course writing will consist of your weekly blog, one Storycorps-type interview (, one short critical paper, and a number of occasional assignments (peer reviews, quizzes, responses).  Much of the writing on your blog will be life-writing generated by you. I will require a few topics, but the blog is yours to develop as you wish. My hope is that you will continue to write after the course.

Eng 356 Popular Culture

Professor Alan Spiegel

T Th             11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 19623

This course will be a study of the world's most popular genre narratives:  Westerns, Crime films, Horror, Sci-fi and  Adventure Romance.  A psychological probe into the collective dreamlife of American men and women in terms of the nature, origins, and development of some of the most durable stories ever told.  We'll discuss the  writings of Freud, Jung, and Northrop Frye; and then  examine a whole raft of popular novels and films less as art and more as a species of myth, artifact, and dream-data;  and in this manner, work our way through the fears, lusts and biases of the  Republic from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

Books include (probably) Tarzan of the Apes, The Day of the Locust, The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Time Machine, and others;

Films:  The Gunfighter, Scarface,  The Cat People, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Lady from Shanghai, and more.

Students should be prepared to read, see, and talk a lot, keep a  journal, prepare for quizzes, and take a final.

Eng 377 Mythology

Professor Diane Christian

Mondays (eve)    7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  22575

To some extent, mythology is only the most ancient history and biography. So far from being false or fabulous in the common sense, it contains only enduring and essential truth. Either time or rare wisdom writes it.

             Henry David Thoreau A Week on the Concord   and Merrimack Rivers 1848

This class will consider myths of origin and sexual organization from all over the world, ancient and modern. Where and how did the world and we come to be? A primary text will be Barbara Sproul’s Primal Myths which she organizes according to geographical location. We’ll also read Darwin’s The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man a sacred story (myth) of science. We’ll end with Jean Malaurie’s The Allée of the Whales. Malaurie, a living geomorphologist and ethnographer of the Inuit (whom UB gave an honorary degree three years ago) presents Arctic mythology as scientific truth and animism.

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

Eng 379 Film Genres

Professor Jerold Frakes

Wednesdays (eve)    6:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  23988

Medievalist Film

When one thinks of medievalist films, Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” or Heath Ledger in “A Knight’s Tale” or Richard Gere in “First Knight” might come to mind. Interestingly, many if not most serious and important film directors have almost from the beginning of the art form made at least one major medievalist film: Lang, Bergman, Eisenstein, Bresson, Kurosawa, Tarkovski, Herzog, Greenaway, and of course Terry Gilliam and the Python gang. Spanning the history of film-making, these medievalist films more often than not provide insight into the filmmaker’s conception of history and of contemporary politics and social issues far more than of a particular attempt to ‘recreate’ the Middle Ages on film. In each case, the director’s aesthetic vision is key to an understanding of the film. A survey of medievalist film-making is thus a survey of the history of film-making, an overview of twentieth-century political and social movements, and a survey of film-making style, technique, and aesthetics.

In this course we will conduct a comparative study of a broad range of medievalist film representations of the Middle Ages from Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, with a focus on both the films’ social function in their contemporary historical contexts and their filmic and aesthetic significance.

Eng 379 Film Genres: Shakespeare & Film

Professor Barbara Bono

Mondays (eve)    7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  23988

If William Shakespeare were alive today—and he had the chance—he’d almost certainly be working in the movies.  The wealth and playfulness of his language, the vividness of his imagery, the strength and subtlety of his action, the mordancy of his politics, the tact of his collaborations and movement among contending patronage and power groups, and the shrewdness of his business sense all argue that he would have found a place there as a character actor, a cinematographer, a scriptwriter, or most likely a director-producer, the Martin Scorcese of his day.  Modern film returns the compliment, incessantly redramatizing and adapting his works for new sensibilities, new occasions.

In this class we will screen, discuss and write about a film adaptation or cluster of film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works every week.  Successful completion of at least one college-level Shakespeare course or its equivalent is a useful preparation for this offering, but I have had novice Shakespeareans who have done very well in it. (If you have any doubt about your readiness for the course, please e-mail me at with a description of your preparation.) In every case I will assume careful and informed reading of the play texts under discussion. Screenings will usually take place during the first session of the week: please be prepared to stay overtime for some of the longer films.  In addition to a good student text of Shakespeare’s plays (I will order copies of The Norton Shakespeare), required course texts will included Russ McDonald’s The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare, 2 edition: Timothy Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing About Film, 4 edition: and Courtney Lehmann’s Shakespeare Remains: Theater to Film, Early Modern to Postmodern; as well as certain required article-length pieces.  During the course of the semester you will be asked to submit 8 brief (1-2 page typewritten pages); informed but informal response papers, which will fuel our weekly discussions); a prospectus for a 7-10 page final paper (reviewed with me in individual conference); and the polished final paper.

Here’s the likely schedule:

Weeks 1 and 2:

Set Up: Highballs and low culture:

Shakespeare in Love (John Madden, 1998)

Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golder Age (Shekar Kapur, 1998; 2007)


Weeks 3 and 4:

Shaping Fantasies: The Interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (selections, Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, 1935)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (selections, Joseph Papp, 1982)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (selections, Adrian Noble, 1996)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Michael Hoffman, 1999)

Still Dreaming (documentary, Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller, 2014)


Weeks 5 and 6:

Dead letters and Postmodern Love: Tracking Romeo and Juliet:

Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli, 1968)

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann, 1996)


Week 7 and 8:

Looking for Richard: British and American Richard IIIs:

Looking for Richard (selections, Al Pacino, 1996)

NOW in the Wings of a World Stage (documentary, Kevin Spacey, 2014)

Richard III (Richard Loncraine, 1995)

House of Cards (selections, Kevin Spacey, 2012-2016)


Weeks 9, 10, 11 and 12:

“Once more unto the breach:” Nationalism and Post-Nationalism in Shakespeare’s Henriad  (1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Henry V):

Henry V (selections, Laurence Olivier, 1944)

Henry V (Kenneth Branaugh, 1989)

The Hollow Crown (selections, 2012; 2016)

Chimes at Midnight (selections, Orson Welles, 1966)

My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1992)

8 Mile (Curtis Hanson, 2002)

Quiz Show (Robert Redford, 1994)


Weeks 13 and 14:

The Story of O: Twelfth Night and Modern Desire:

Twelfth Night (Trevor Nunn, 1996)

The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992)

This course satisfies an Early Literature requirement.

Eng 380 New Media

Nikolaus Wasmoen

MWF 3:00-3:50


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 381 Film Directors

Professor Bruce Jackson

Tuesdays (Eve)  7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  23464

*Off Campus @ 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 on Tuesday 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 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 387 Women Writers

Professor Hershini Young

MWF        1:00 - 1:50

Reg. No.  23466

This class will introduce students to contemporary literature by women of color.  Looking at novels by authors such as Louise Erdrich and Emily Raboteau, the class will disrupt dominant feminist genealogies to look at work by women whose concerns both overlap and differ from mainstream First World feminists.  Issues of how race is always gendered and how gender accumulates meaning through racial histories will be stressed.  The role of violence in shaping gender will be examined.  We will also pay close attention to issues of genre—the reading list includes graphic novels, plays, novels and short stories and requires various types of writing and performance.

Eng 391 Creative Writing Fiction

Professor Dimitri Anastasopoulos

Thursdays         3:30 - 6:10

Reg. No. 19246

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 Poetry Fiction or equivalent.

This course counts as an English Elective, as well as toward the Creative Writing Certificate.

Eng 394 Writing Workshop: Writing for The Spectrum

Jody Kleinberg Biehl

Mondays    5:00 - 6:20

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: Spectrum Photographers

Jody Kleinberg Biehl

Mondays    4:30 - 5:50

Reg. No. 17212

Eng 396 Journalism

Charles Anzalone

Thursdays (eve)     7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 19084         CL2 Course

Editing Cyberspace, Content Production and Nurturing 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 an English Elective, as well as  toward the  Journalism Certificate Program.

Eng 396 Journalism

Jody Kleinberg-Biehl

T Th      11:00 - 12:20

Reg. No. 20231       CL2 Course

News Literacy/Feature Writing

Journalists talk about two kinds of stories: hard news and features. Hard news stories make you smarter. Features make you wiser.  That’s what we’ll be writing in this class – in depth pieces that focus on one topic, problem, trend or person.

We’ll also be looking at the work of some of journalism’s greatest writers. Every week, we will read pieces of feature writing and analyze what makes them remarkable. We will also critique features appearing in current newspapers and magazines and on websites.

We will work to become more perceptive and critical news consumers. At a time when the digital revolution is flooding the market with information and disinformation, this course will help students recognize the differences between news and propaganda, news and opinion, bias and fairness, assertion and verification and evidence and inference.

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

Eng 396 Journalism

Keith McShea

Mondays (eve)     7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  21409         CL2 Course

Sports Journalism

This class will help you understand what it means to be a sports journalist and and help you gain a deeper insight into what it takes to covering athletics -- from the big business of professional sports to a high school soccer game. The class will teach you to talk, write and think about what competition means and what it means to your audience. It will teach you the best way not only to report the scores and the winners, but how to tell the longer stories that go beyond the day-to-day action in the arenas and stadiums. You will be covering games, writing profiles, columns and keeping blogs. You will also learn about the pivotal -- and sometimes dangerous -- role social media plays in sports today.

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

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

Eng 398 Ethics in Journalism

Bruce Andriatch

Tuesdays (eve)       7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No. 20287

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? Ethics in Journalism pushes students to examine how every action a journalist makes in gathering, organizing and presenting the news requires a value judgment. The course covers media credibility, steps in ethical decision-making,  handling anonymous and unreliable sources, accuracy letters, conflict of interest and the difference between reporting and exploiting grief. The course uses the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics as a model and guideline.  

Students study a range of historical scenarios, including Watergate, as well as hypothetical cases. They debate the instructor and each other and participate in a panel that takes a position on an ethical conflict and defends it. Students read and discuss the decisions and mistakes of journalists who have come before them and analyze the dilemmas unfolding in newsrooms today.

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

Eng 400 English Honors : 20th C Lit in the U.S.

Professor William Solomon

MWF       1:00 - 1:50

Reg. No. 23467

American Modernism, Comedy, and Technology

Modernism is a cultural phenomenon that remains one of the more fascinating objects of literary history. Why? This course will seek to answer this question gradually by examining a series of representative works produced by American novelists and poets between the two world wars. Thematically our concerns will include the mental and physical impact of the city on its inhabitants, the effect of industrialization on workers, the traumas of mechanized warfare on ex-soldiers, as well as the problem of addiction (especially alcoholism) in the era of Prohibition. We will also interrogate the conventional distinction between modernist art and contemporaneous forms of popular entertainment, a task that may be most efficiently accomplished by focusing on the specifically comic manifestations of experimental writing in the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s. With regard to this latter topic we will read selected theories of laughter (by Henri Bergson, Sigmund Freud, and Georges Bataille) and seek to apply these models to both literary texts and to the violence enacted on screen at the time by slapstick film performers such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and the Marx Brothers. In what ways do these materials enable us to reflect on the peculiar conjunction of pleasure and pain at the site of cultural reception? Why is it amusing to see bodies cruelly punished? And are there linguistic corollaries to such cinematic scenes of corporeal brutality? Authors who will help us explore this topic will include Faulkner, Cummings, Moore, Hemingway, Eliot, and Fitzgerald, as well as Ring Lardner, Dashiell Hammett, Richard Wright, Thomas Wolfe, Katherine Anne Porter, George Schuyler, Mina Loy, Dorothy Parker, and Dawn Powell.     

Eng 406 Epic Literature

Professor Jerold Frakes

Tuesdays (eve)   7:00 - 9:40

Reg. No.  23468

Since epic is the genre that perhaps most vividly embodies a culture’s most essential values, 1) it is historically one of the     foundational genres in a broad range of literary cultures, including our own; 2) it has given us some of the most thrilling tales of enduring importance in world  literature, and 3) it is almost by definition a genre of unabashedly racist, misogynistic, elitist, and heterosexist narrative, although there are important exceptions. While no culture ever identifies altogether with the values expressed in another culture’s epics, there is no question that epic is one of the most cross-culturally important and influential literary genres.

In this course, we will examine the core epics of the traditional conception of the ‘Western Tradition’ in all their glory (and ignominy): Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, the Old English Beowulf, the medieval Greek Digenis Akritas, and the modern epics: Elias Lönnroth's Kalevala and Derek Walcott's Omeros.

This course satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 409 Topics in Shakespeare

Professor Carla Mazzio

T Th            12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No.  23528



This course will examine Shakespearean poetry and  drama in light of a range of visual cultures of the Renaissance. We will explore aspects of knowledge and sensation in Shakespearean drama with regard to   Reformation iconoclasm and the image on stage, Renaissance skepticism and the problem of perception; scientific practice and the status of observation; cultural issues integral to the arts of gesture, ekphrasis, and anamorphosis, the physiology of looking in medicine and poetry; the visual dimensions of memory, emotion, and intellection, and the status of looking in terms of historical conditions of the theater, the book, and print culture.

This course satisfies an Early Literature Requirement.

Eng 418 Studies in African American Lit/History

Professor Hershini Young

MWF           10:00 - 10:50

Reg. No. 23469

Eng 434 Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry

Karen Mac Cormack

T Th           12:30 - 1:50

Reg. No.  22381

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 20th 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 20th century and early 21st 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

Pre-requisite: ENG 207: Introduction Poetry Fiction or equivalent, and ENG 390 Creative Writing Poetry… or by permission of instructor.

This course counts as an English Elective, as well as   toward the Creative Writing Certificate.

Eng 435 Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction

Professor Nnedi Okorafor

T Th              3:30 - 4:50

Reg. No. 16832

This is a class for storytellers whose method of choice is prose. Novelists, short story, novella, and novelette  writers are welcome.The purpose of this class is to help advanced creative writing students develop their skills. Students will read short stories in order to examine various elements of the craft. However, the course is writing workshop heavy and will mostly consist of   writing fiction pieces, workshopping them and (possibly) revising them.

Pre-requisite: ENG 207: Introduction Poetry Fiction or equivalent, and ENG 391 Creative Writing Fiction.

This course counts as an English Elective, as well as toward the Creative Writing Certificate.

Eng 447 Literature of Migration

Professor Joseph Conte


Reg. No. 22383

The path of immigration into the United States extends from the halls of Ellis Island to the globalized migration of the twenty-first century. First-generation immigrants are often driven to these shores by the blight of poverty or the sting of religious or political persecution; hope to make for themselves a fabled but often factitious “better life”; and are riven between the desire to retain old-world customs and language and the appeal of new-world comforts and technological advances. Second-generation immigrants face the duality of a national identity—striving to become recognized as “real Americans”—and an ethnic heritage that they wish to honor and sustain but which marks them as always an “other.” Here we encounter the hyphenated status of the preponderance of “natural born” American citizens. The third-generation descendent will have only indirect or acquired familiarity with his or her ethnic heritage; the loss of bilingualism or at best a second language acquired in school; and frequently a multiethnic identity resulting from the complex scrabble of American life in a mobile, suburban, and professionalized surrounding.

We will view films and read a selection of both fiction and memoir that reflect the immigrant experience in this country. Jacob Riis documents the penury and hardship of tenement life among the newly arrived underclass in How the Other Half Lives (1890). Anzia Yezierska’s novel Bread Givers (1925) treats the conflict between a devout, old-world Jewish father and a daughter who wishes to be a modern independent woman. We’ll want to compare Yezierska’s immigrant experience of 1900 with the Soviet-era migration of Russian Jews to New York in Gary Shteyngart’s comic autobiography Little Failure (2014). Mount Allegro (1989), Jerre Mangione’s memoir of growing up in the Sicilian enclave of Rochester, NY, portrays ethnicity that is insular, protective of its “imported from Italy” values, and yet desperate to find recognition as an authentic version of “Americanness.” The film Big Night (1996), directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci, serves up Italian food with abbondanza, “rich abundance,” but not a single Mafioso. In his long career as an English teacher and barroom   raconteur, Frank McCourt preserved the harrowing story of his youth in Limerick, Ireland and New York for Angela’s Ashes (1997) and ‘Tis (1999); like so many   immigrant families, the McCourts re-emigrated between transatlantic failures. We’ll screen the film adaptation of Angela’s Ashes, directed by Alan Parker, and read the second volume of his autobiography. Junot Díaz, in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), follows the “Ghetto Nerd,” his voluptuous sister and hot-tempered mother between urban-industrial Paterson, New Jersey and their Dominican homeland. Finally, we’ll view the docufiction film, Who Is Dayani Cristal? starring Gael García Bernal and directed by Marc Silver, which retraces the journey made by a migrant laborer whose desiccated body was found in Arizona’s forbidding Sonora Desert.

As this is an exclusively online course, our discussion of these books and films will take place in the UB Learns environment. Writing assignments on ethnicity, identity and migration will be shared and critiqued among class members in the UB Learns discussion boards throughout the semester.

Eng 495 Supervised UG Teaching

Rhonda Reid

MWF          1:00 - 1:50

Reg. No.  22384

English 495 introduces students to theories of writing and writing consultancy.

The skills developed in this class will help students to leverage writing skills into professional contexts and provide experience with teaching and mentoring in both real and virtual environments. Students who have completed the course are eligible to apply as writing consultants in the Center for Writing Excellence.

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

Undergraduate Course Listing

2016 - 2017

2015 - 2016