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Courses

Get a feel for the exciting variety of courses taught at Marlboro.

This is a list of courses that faculty felt was representational of the courses offered. It is not a complete list of courses, some courses are offered yearly, while others are infrequent. A course may be inspired by events or strong interests and taught only once.

Most advanced work is in the form of tutorials on specific subjects, a collaboration between one faculty member and one student or a handful of students.

Literature

" . . . outliving a time by telling its story": Conflict and Memory in the Contemporary British Novel
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2018

"'The proper stuff of fiction' does not exist," wrote Virginia Woolf in 1925, "everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss." The novelists we will be reading in this course - a rather open-ended exploration of the contemporary British novel from the 1980s to the present - would agree with Woolf. In exploring a range of richly diverse and original novels, we will consider the writers' attempts to respond to the major social, economic and political events that shaped their lives: the end of empire; immigration from the former colonies; radical changes in racial and sexual politics; and the increasingly postmodern and postcolonial experience of British culture. Authors may include: Doris Lessing, Julian Barnes, Caryl Phillips, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie, Pat Barker, Graham Swift, Jeanette Winterson, Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt, Zadie Smith. Prerequisite: One previous literature course or permission of instructor.

"FOR ONCE, THEN, SOMETHING": AMERICAN LITERATURE FROM TWAIN TO ELLISON
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2014

This course will pick up roughly where Apocalyptic Hope left off last semester: out of the American Renaissance, into the Gilded Age, the Modernist period, and through the two world wars. Beginning with Mark Twain's, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we will go on to consider the works of novelists, poets and playwrights as various as Kate Chopin, Sherwood Anderson, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Eugene O'Neill, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O'Connor, Ralph Ellison, and Adrienne Rich. In exploring a range of 2oth century literature--richly diverse and original, radically expeimental--we will consider the writers' attempts to resond to major social, economic and political events that shaped their lives. NOTE: This course covers the same material as John Sheehy's "What Will Suffice."  Prerequisite: Must have passed the writing requirement

"The Soul Has Bandaged Moments": The Gothic Imagination: Walpole to Morrison
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2015

Delving into the darkest recesses of the human soul, the gothic novel of the late 18th century was a new sort of narrative that had at its center the potent intersection of sex, violence, and the law. Beginning with Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto, 1764) and the first writers in the "School of Terror" (Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis), we will consider how these authors used Gothic excesses - all types of villainous acts (forced marriages, imprisonment, the desecration of corpses) committed by all sorts of villainous characters (incestuous parents, monks in league with the devil, insane scientists) - to explore the worlds of sexual and social transgressions. We will then move to the19th century transformations of the genre (Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Stevenson, Stoker), and close with the legacy of the Gothic in the 20th and 21st century (Faulkner, Borges, Allende, Marquez, Morrison). Whether set in a castle, a city, or a sleepy village house, gothic literature pushes at the boundaries of what is known and what can be known, asking whether we can separate pain from pleasure, reason from unreason, mind from spirit, self from other, justice from corruption and punishment from tyranny. Prerequisite: Must have passed the Clear Writing Requirement 

19th Century Novel
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2013

Selections from three nineteenth century authors: Dickens, Balzac, and Dostoevsky.

20th Century Novel
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2014

Great novels of the 20th century: Woolf, Thomas Mann, Faulkner, Camus, Bulgakov, Babel, Calvino, Segald and Toni Morrison.

Apocalyptic Hope: the Literature of the American Renaissance
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2017

This course will center on the "American Renaissance"--that period between, roughly, 1830 and 1870 that witnessed the burst of intense intellectual and artistic energy that produced some of the most memorable and enduring American literature. We will examine as much of that literature as we can, in a range of genres: slave narratives from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, essays from Emerson and Thoreau, novels from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and others, poetry from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Our goal in examining these works will always be double: on the simplest level, we will be interested in how these writers interpreted and responded to the places and times in which they lived; on a deeper level, though, we will consider how each of these works--and all of them together--attempts to create something we might call now an "American consciousness," attempts to invent, or re-invent, America. The point of the course is to read as much as we can, more than anything else--to develop a firm understanding of both canonical and non-canonical 19th century American literature, and to consider how that literature has helped to shape not just the literature that followed it, but the way we think about ourselves as Americans. This will NOT be a writing seminar: it will involve far too much reading for that. Students, though, will be expected to write about what they read on a regular basis, to lead discussions on a rotating basis, and to write a seminar paper at the end. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor, and must have passed the writing requirement.  Otherwise, a love for the written word and at least a liking for American literature.

BUDDHISM & POETRY
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2014
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

An exploration of the presence of Buddhist ideas and practices in poetry, including some reflection on concepts of the mind, nature, contemplation, language, and the self. Readings of selected Chinese and Japanese poetry in translation and poetry in English including work by Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, W.S. Merwin, Robert Hass, and Mark Strand. Prerequisite: None

Dostoevsky and Tolstoy
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2012

For the first six weeks, a reading of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov and shorter works by the author. For the last six weeks, a reading of Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Anna Karenina.Prerequisite: None

Dreams, Dickens and Dostoevsky
( Variable Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2013

A seminar on dreams as a structuring device in Dickens and Dotoevsky. Students will read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and Dickens' Little Dorrit and Bleak House in the first six weeks; we will then turn to Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamazov in the second six weeks.

This course can be taken for 2-4 credits.

Embodied Poetry
(3.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2015

An experiment in the relation of poetry to performance, as something other than text. We will recite and perform poems, critiquing performance. Emphasis will be on oral presentation, but we will also consider poems set to music, graphic presentations of poems, et cetera. Prerequisite: None

First Contact: Voices of America's Frontiers
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2015
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

We’ll explore written descriptions of North American first encounters in this intermediate level literature course, including texts such as the Vinland Sagas and Cabeza de Vaca’s narrative in addition to British colonial writers such as Mary Rowlandson and William Wood. Other sources in translation may be French, Russian, or even Chinese as we work to dislocate—or perhaps relocate—the concept of American exceptionalism and common origins alongside the shared landscape. Concurrently, we’ll study early Native American writers such as Sarah Winnemucca as well as various oral traditions. While the course will be based in literary methods, the primary texts and issues explored may also be of interest for students of history, anthropology, Native American studies, American Studies, and more. 

Gender Trouble: Women writers of the Americas, a comparative approach
(3.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2017
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

Ever since feminists called attention to women's lives, the question of what it means to be a woman has been the subject of much academic debate. However, despite improvement in women's lives and shared similarities, the experience of being a woman differs markedly. Issues such as gender,race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and sexual orientation seem to account for these differences. We will examine issues of gender, race, identity, nationality, and sexual orientation in the work of selected writers of the Americas. We will also consider the ways in which gender, race, and historical and cultural specificity shape and complicate these categories of inquiry.  Prerequisite: Prior exposure to Latin America. The course is offered in English but students may write in English, Spanish or Portuguese. 

Additional Fee:$ 0

  • Prior exposure to Latin America is desirable

Generators: The Literature of Energy
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2013
Global Perspective

If you believe energy can be described solely in work units of BTUs, MPGs, and kWhs, think again, as the human generation of expression has long mirrored our use of energy. We will examine the cultural and historical roots of human conceptions of energy, quickly reading our way to the present day while taking both local and global views of this inescapable and essential topic. Poetry and nonfiction will be regularly read, although a special focus on world petrofiction is planned. Authors may include William Blake, Mary Shelley, Reza Negarestani, Abdul Rahman Munif, Ishimure Michiko, Pattiann Rogers, Christa Wolf, Alfred Crosby, David Gessner, and Helon Habila. Finally, we will watch a small number of films such as There Will Be Blood, Avatar, Gasland, and Matewan.

Prerequisite: None. Note, however, that Professor Sara Salimbeni will teach a companion course on energy from a natural science perspective in the spring. Generators is likewise not a prerequisite for that course; however, these courses taken in sequence offer a deep interdisciplinary grounding in issues of energy. 

INTRODUCTION TO LATIN AMERICAN LITERATURE I: THE CONQUEST OF AMERICA, THE QUESTION OF THE OTHER
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2011

The main goal of this survey course is to introduce students to the cultures & literatures of the Nahua, Maya and Inca peoples on the territory that after the conquest came to be known as Spanish America; we will then move on to examine accounts of the discovery, conquest and colonization; we will conclude the course with the writings produced in the age of Spanish American emancipation. In class, we will read letters, cronicas, stories, poems, novels and essays that in one way or another helped define an entire continent. It is hoped that through these readings the students learn to place the text within its literary, historical and cultural context, we will also learn to identify the common themes, the voices, and the complex historical conditions under which these texts emerge. Given the scope of the course and the period studied, attendance and punctual and careful reading of the assigned material is of utmost importance. Frequent absences or late coming to class will reflect negatively on the grade. Prerequsite: Upper language or literature courses in Spanish

Introduction to Literary Genres: Spain, Latin America, Equatorial Guinea
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2011

Designed as an introduction to drama, poetry and prose fiction this course familiarizes students with literary analysis and further develops their oral and written skills. The course explores the formal elements of drama, poetry, prose fiction and essay through readings from Spain, Spanish America & Equatorial Guinea. Special emphasis is placed on writing critically and persuasively. Ideally, students will develop a greater understanding of Spanish by learning to read closely, argue clearly, and speak confidently about literature. Conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: 3/4 semesters of college Spanish or equivalent

Introduction to Literature: The Epic
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2013

A reading of three epics from the ancient world: Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey, and Virgil's The Aeneid.  

Introduction to U.S. LATINX LITERATURE
(3.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2019
Global Perspective

After centuries of invisibility and marginalization, Latino culture and literature exploded on the American scene in the 60s. Chicanos, Cubans, Nuyoricans, and lately Dominicans and Central Americans have all contributed to create a diversified body of literature characterized by its bilingualism, biculturalism, and hybridity. This course will center on how U.S. Latino / a literature bears witness to identity formation, self-representation, and celebration of Latino culture and its people. It will explore a series of critical issues that define "latinidad" in the U.S. including language (bilingualism, Spanglish, code-switching, and "dialect"), race/ethnnicity/color, gender migration, racism, and difference. The texts in the course are representative of a great body of oral and written literature that articulates the experience of being Latina / o in the U.S. Although the course is taught in English, familiarity with Spanish is useful. This course requires the careful reading of the assigned materials, therefore, class participation, attendance and preparation is of utmost importance, continued absences and lack of preparation will reflect negatively on the grade. Prerequisite: None

Literature & History of the First World War
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2014
Designated Writing

D.H. Lawrence describes the time period of the First World War as a "tragic age." In this course we will look at that event, making an attempt to analyze some aspects of the social context which allowed it to occur. We will consider the effects of that war on language, on social thought, on institutions. Texts will include D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, Eckstein's The Rites of Spring, Fussel's The Great War in Modern Memory, selections from poets with a focus on Wilfred Owen and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway. Prerequisite: None

Modern American Poetry
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2016
Designated Writing

A course dedicated to close reading of the major American figures of the Modernist period: William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Gertrude Stein. There are three papers, making this suitable as a Designated Writing Course.

Novels from the Balkans
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Fall 2011
Designated Writing

Blanchot, in The Writing of the Disaster, claims: "It is dark disaster that brings the light."  Through selected works, we will examine the "dark disaster" of the Balkans: the anguish of war, of ethic tension, of exile, and the suffering of the Holocaust and "the machinations of greater power that vie to absorb." Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

On the Shoulders of Giants: Mid-20th Century American Poetry
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2013
Designated Writing

A close reading and discussion of poets after the formidable generation of Frost, Eliot, Moore, et al. Poets whose work we will read include Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

Plan Seminar in Literature I
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2010

A course for juniors and seniors on Plan. We will critique the writing of Plans in progress, read selections of articles on the authors, and read relevant essays on literary theory. May be taken for variable credits (1 to 4). Permission of professor.

Proust: Memory, Signs, & Meaning
(2.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2011

A year long course examining signs, memory, and meaning in three novels of Marcel Proust.  Fall semester: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove, and The Guermantes Way.  Spring Semester: Cities of the Plain, The Captive, The Fugitive, and Time Regained.

Ricouer
(2.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2013

A plan seminar which will examine Paul Ricouer's work on narrative.

Seminar in Literary Studies
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2013
Designated Writing

Topic: Journeys

“I tramp a perpetual journey.”  Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Some journeys, like Homer’s Odysseus’s, end in a return home; others, like Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz’s, end with words that cannot be repeated; and still others, as Emily Dickinson suggests, can occur without stepping outdoors: “to shut our eyes is to travel.” Journeys through interior corridors and journeys through external landscapes will be our focus in this introductory literature course.  Through close reading of fiction, poetry, drama, and essays, we will think about the relationship between moving inward and moving outward, between home and exile, between identity and place.  We will enter into fictional minds and countries, reading with empathy and with openness – and acquiring a critical vocabulary to describe what we’re seeing and hearing.  This class will be writing-intensive; we will read one another’s essays offering encouragement and feedback as drafts evolve into final essays. 

Authors may include: Chaucer, William Godwin, Joseph Conrad, Michael Ondaatje, Virginia Woolf, Antonio Machada, Nadine Gordimer, Emily Dickinson, Jose Saramago, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, W.G. Sebald, Aleksandar Hemon, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich.

Prerequisite: None beyond a willingness to engage in the journey of imaginative reading.

 “Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be.” Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Shakespeare's Tragedies
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Fall 2010
Designated Writing

Selected readings from the tragedies of Shakespeare, with an emphasis on King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Coriolanus. An exploration of the themes of language, kingship and ethical choice. Prerequisite: None

Shakespeare: Selected Comedies, Histories, Tragedies and Problem Plays
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2014
Designated Writing

Our reading will include Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, King Lear, Othello, Coriolanus, and Anthony and Cleopatra. We will focus on the themes of genre definitions, gender issues, freedom and authority. Consideration will also be given to scenic structure, use of metaphor, characterization and setting.

Shakespeare: The History Plays and the Romances
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2012

A reading of Shakespeare's history plays with an emphasis on authority, kingship, metaphor, and structure; the second half of the semester will focus on the romances, with an emphasis on Shakespeare's use of fairy tale elements and the above issues of authority, kingship, metaphor, and structure.

Tell about the South: the South in the American Literary Imagination
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Fall 2016

In this course we will examine 20th Century Southern literature--that produced by Southerners, and literature about the South written by others. We will consider a range of works by William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison and others. 

Telling and Retelling: Contemporary Responses to Familiar Fictions
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Spring 2019

Through close reading of paired texts, we will explore the dialogues that contemporary authors create with the past – dialogues that transgress the boundaries of time and support Virginia Woolf's suggestion that "books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately" (A Room of One's Own). Important to our discussion will be the nature of the fictional re-workings: a change in narrative perspective; a de-centering of familiar themes and motifs; an exploration of the boundaries generated by gender, race, and class; a blurring of the line between fact and fiction. We will be making connections among the works that move us both forward and backward, juxtaposing familiar and unfamiliar texts in ways that will stimulate readings of both. Pairings may include: William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day; Shakespeare’s King Lear and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres; Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and J.M. Coetzee’s Foe; Samuel Coleridge’s “Christabel” and A.S. Byatt’s Possession; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Peter Ackroyd’s The Case of Victor Frankenstein; Robert Louis Stevenson Jekyll and Hyde and Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly; Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea; E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty.  Prerequisite: Must have passed the writing requirement

THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Spring 2011

"Genius is but childhood recovered at will." Charles BaudelaireIn this course, we will be reading novels (American, British, Nigerian, Indian, Caribbean, Australian, Irish) told from the perspective of a child or a young adult. Many of these novels are haunting in their exploration of a child's mysterious, beautiful, and often painful journey into adulthood, Central to our discussion will be an examination of how each child narrator/protagonist creates a self/constructs an identity often against enormous personal, societal, and cultural obstacles. We will consider how particular cultural moments and pivotal historical events shape these children, and are, in turn, shaped for us, the readers, through the lens of their young eyes. Authors may include: James Joyce, Chris Abeni, Seamus Deane, Jonathan Safron Foer, Dave Eggers, Marjane Satrapi, Danzy Senna, Colm Toibin, Ben Okri, Allison Bechdel. Prerequisite: Coursework in literature

WHAT WILL SUFFICE: AMERICAN LITERATURE IN THE 20TH CENTURY
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2018
Designated Writing

This course picks up roughly where Apocalyptic Hope leaves off: out of the American Renaissance, into the Gilded Age, the Modernist period, and through the two world wars, tracing the development of the "American" as it faces, often reluctantly and anyway never without a fight, the inevitability of the modern. We will begin with Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - a book Hemingway once famously called the beginning of all American literature; from there we'll go on to consider the works of writers and poets as various as Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, T.S. Eliot, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O'Connor, Ralph Ellison, and others. The point of this course, like that of its sister course, Apocalyptic Hope, is to read as much as we can; to develop as broad an understanding as possible of both canonical and non-canonical twentieth-century literature, and to consider how that literature has helped to shape not just the literature that followed it, but who we are in the twenty-first century. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor; Apocalyptic Hope is not a prerequisite, but students who have taken it will have preference.  See course syllabus.

  • Permission of instructor

For Literature offerings, also see:

Intermediate Spanish II
Plan Writing Seminar
Reading RLP: The Ancient World
Seminar in Religion, Literature & Philosophy I
Seminar in Religion, Literature, & Philosophy II
Staging the Apocalypse
Survey of Latin American Literature II
The Literature of Northern New England
Writing Seminar: Comics of the Self: Reading Graphic Memoirs
Writing Seminar: Exploring the (New) New Journalism

Detours

(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)