ENGL289B: The Rites of Discovery: Science, Law, and Literature 1492-1992
This is a course not about the history of scientific discoveries but rather about the history of the concept of 'discovery', which originally meant simply to “uncover” or “make manifest” something but that has come to assume, in modern times, a more narrow meaning in that the object of discovery must be new or previously unknown. The evolution of a modern concept of discovery is a story that belongs in part to the history of science, but in this course we will place this evolution also in the legal context of the history of European colonialism and cultural encounter with Native peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. We will trace the history of this idea from the sixteenth-century debate about the European 'rights of discovery' to the 500th anniversary of Columbus's landfall in the New World in 1992 by exploring primary and secondary sources relating to international law, science, and literature.
ENGL289I: Acting Human: Shakespeare and the Drama of Identity
Through readings of Shakespeare plays and their cinematic adaptations, we will consider performed social roles from various perspectives. There is no need to develop a self-absent a society—and so the “self” is largely a social development. We will explore what Shakespeare’s dramas have to say about the self and others, and what they say about the self with others. Rather than imagining Shakespeare’s claims about the human as “timeless,” we will consider what he tells us about his time and place. And rather than considering how Shakespeare has become our contemporary, we will ask the more interesting question of why successive generations have sought to reinterpret Shakespeare and bring him to their own contemporary context. Assignments will involve comparing printed play-texts with the various filmed versions and thinking about the choices made as Shakespeare is produced in a medium he never could have imagined.
ENGL289I: Acting Human: Shakespeare and the Drama of Identity
Through an in–depth reading of key plays by Shakespeare, this course will examine the acts of knowledge, understanding, and imagination by which the playwright generates the fiction of human identities and our participation in creating that fiction. As an introduction to Shakespeare, we will explore eight plays through close reading, discuss concepts of dramatic realism, and analyze the ways Shakespeare teaches us to ask questions about his characters and ultimately about ourselves. Our reading list includes Titus Andronicus, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. There will be two papers, quizzes, and a final exam.
ENGL289J: What is Justice? Literature and the Invention of Ethical Imagination
How is it that we crave justice as much as we crave love or money? This course seeks to answer this question by examining literature’s unique ability to animate the concrete human passions underlying the most abstract ethical dilemmas. We will consider how literary texts have shaped our understanding of justice, and more particularly, how fiction defines, critiques, challenges, and even alters a given society’s comprehension of equity and inequity, crime and punishment, pardon and torture, and ideas about civil liberties and human rights. By attending to the ways writers have described the just and the unjust within their historical moment, we will gain insight into crucial role of imaginative writing in the formation of ethical citizens across time.
ENGL289P: Why Poetry Matters
Why does poetry matter? The power of language finding form in poetry, in the most intensely charged interplay of sound and meaning, has provided pleasure, knowledge, wisdom, solace, and inspiration since civilization’s earliest days, and perhaps even before that. It has developed and changed in the course of history, and much of human history and the meaning of human existence is embedded and distilled in its lines. The art of poetry is not an artifact from the past, but a living art, changing as our use of language changes, becoming itself a vehicle for such change, both keeping pace with social transformations, and sometimes setting the pace for them.
ENGL289T: Representing Technology/Technologies of Representation
This course examines French, German, British and American novels and stories from the 19th century that highlight the role of new technologies—modern media and mechanical inventions such as photographs and automata that are themselves (like literature) concerned with representing “reality,” including humans, and so blurring the line between humans, machines, and animals.
ENGL289X: Breaking News: Contemporary Literature, Media and the State
The “I”-series was established as a result of input from students who wanted more challenging and stimulating interdisciplinary courses. In Engl289x, “Breaking News” entails “decoding” narratives in fiction, film, TV. and print media. While it draws on news stories, it is not a journalism course. Instead, we focus on the complexities of representation and interpretation. We examine the relationship between the individual and the State at specific moments of global upheaval. We are interested in how is history represented, with particular emphasis on race, gender, ethnicity, and class. Other topics: State terror, environmental degradation, and permanent war. The course combines lectures, section discussions, and interactive collaboration with your classmates and instructors.
ENGL289Y: American Fictions: Cross Examining U.S. Literature, History, and Politics
This course concerns the relationship between two kinds of “American fiction.” One is the kind generally associated with the phrase “American literature”—i.e., novels, short stories, poems, etc., written by U.S. authors. The other is the more general category of cultural and political storylines through which U.S. “America” has become constituted and contested as a people and polity. This latter kind of “American fiction” refers to the general narratives and vocabularies framing how different groups of U.S. Americans have come historically to understand and contest their relationships to one another and to the rest of the world. In this course, we will see that the “literary” is a much larger category than we may previously have assumed—very little textuality that circulates in human politics and culture, and certainly none of the most consequential political, social, and legal documents and declarations in U.S. history, are lacking in literary qualities central to their social meaning. We will also see that much of U.S. political history itself turns on struggles over competing “American” fictions: i.e., narratives of national constitution, diverse cultural composition, social justice, and world relation—often at their most vivid when being asserted and challenged in works of U.S. novelists.
ENGL289Z: Aliens, Exiles, Immigrants: Literature and Emigration
Jason R Rudy
The world as we know it has been shaped by immigration; we are all, in different ways, products of global dislocations. This course will explore the ideas, beliefs, and aspirations that immigrants carry from one nation to another. We will think about different ways of understanding national and cultural identities, and in what ways the experiences of immigration have changed significantly over time. We will read both historical and contemporary immigrant writing, including post-9/11 poetry and fiction; memoirs of nineteenth-century British emigrants to South Africa, Australia, and Canada; literature by emigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America now living in the United States; and writing by individuals displaced by war, famine, and political conflict. Our conversations will be shaped by several short articles on the politics of immigration and citizenship, and our questions will be guided by historical and contemporary arguments for and against immigration and assimilation.
Gemstone is a four-year undergraduate team research program within the University of Maryland Honors College. It was originally developed through the School of Engineering, and currently emphasizes original research, often deriving from faculty projects, in a variety of fields drawing on scientific and quantitative methods. Team Politic (2011-2014) was the first humanities-based project in the program’s experience. The team used advanced computer tools (specifically, those of topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and predictive classifiers of large data) and statistical methods (regression, time series, and factor analyses) to analyze the relationship between the reception of Russian authors in earlier twentieth century American newspapers and magazines and contemporaneous developments in international political history.The project was advised by Professor Peter Mallios, drawing on his research with the Foreign Literatures in America (FLA) project.