Undergraduate Course Descriptions

For the most up-to-date information on class times and numbers, see the University Schedule of Classes.



1:200:201 Introduction to Creative Writing

Satisfies the College's core Arts & Media requirement.

21:200:311 Modernists, Beats & Beyond

21:200:324 Beginnings, Middles, Ends: Scenes in Fiction



21:350:206 Shakespeare for the 21st Century

Students will read Shakespeare with attentiveness to the issues and challenges of the 21st century, including ethnic clashes, the environment, disparities of wealth, gender, and race.  The course examines the ways in which Shakespeare speaks to the concerns and complexities of global citizenship. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's pre-1800/pre-1900 requirement.

21:350:215 Literary Masterpieces

An interdisciplinary course that studies classic ancient literature in its historical and cultural contexts.  Readings, in translation, are of Greek drama and mythology, biblical narrative, and some of the world’s oldest poetry, including Homeric and Roman epics. The ancient texts are brought into dialogue with modern experiences of gender, race, religion, class politics, "the Orient," and empire. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's pre-1800/pre-1900 requirement.

21:350:223 Introduction to Global Literature

Literary Cultures of the Modern Middle East. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:350:225 Love Stories: Medieval to Modern

A consideration of love in literature from the 14th-century courtly romance to the 20th-century American best-selling novel. Readings will include a memoir by a 14th-century mystic, plays by Shakespeare, novels by Jane Austen and D.H. Lawrence, as well as short stories by James Joyce.  Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's pre-1800/pre-1900 requirement.

21:350:242 Reading Novels

In this course, students will look at some fictional representatons of plagues and pandemics along with critcal pieces on society, culture, and illness. In doing so, students will consider how authors make use of pandemics in ficton to examine wider questons about humanity’s present and future—especially
with regard to our individual and collectve responses to trauma; the role of art, science, philosophy, and religion in our daily lives; and what unites and/or divides us when facing the unknown.


21:350:243 Reading Poetry

Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement.

Through close readings of one or two poems a week, starting with Shakespeare and moving into the 21st century,  this course will introduce the principal elements of the genre of poetry: prosody, figurative language, and formal schemes, with special though not exclusive emphasis on the sonnet.  Students will write two short papers and plenty of in-class exercises; they will each memorize a sonnet; and they'll have the opportunity to try their hand at writing one.  Throughout our study of reading poems, we'll constantly keep in mind the crucial element of pleasure.  Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement.

21:350:245 Reading Film

In this class, students will learn to consider film as its own intellectual and cultural “art” that warrants critical attention and scholarly study in its distinct language structure, technology, viewing experience, and social power.


21:350:248 Literature and Controversy

This class looks at controversial works of art and literature, weighing the various arguments surrounding the texts and considering the motivations of different
participants. Students will think about the relationship between art and society, the way that texts both participate in and transform social dialogue. How have race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality historically factored in critical reception? Why is art a continual site of cultural contestation? How do aesthetic controversies reflect fundamental beliefs that structure society?


21:350:253 Green Lit: Reading & Writing the Earth

In this interdisciplinary course, we will read and write about the Earth to get reacquainted with our common home. We’ll sample America’s best nature and environmentalist writers, including Native Americans; see eye-opening films; study the diverse environmental movement here and abroad; analyze websites, ads, food labeling, and marketing; weigh news stories and diverse opinion about controversial issues, including environmental racism, agribusiness, and climate change; and debate philosophical and ethical questions, including the relationship of humans to the rest of nature, and the kind of society we really want. Students will also experience nature firsthand through an outdoors tour of our campus, an observation project, and field trips nearby. Classes will emphasize discussion. Although green lit draws in many topics, students do not need to arrive with any special expertise. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement.

21:350:308 Foundations of Literary Studies

Introduces students to a range of interpretive issues in the study of literature. Students read a relatively few works while sampling a range of critical perspectives for engaging with those works. The course emphasizes close reading while also stressing varied contexts in which close reading may operate. It also introduces literary research methods and the conventions of citation. Required of all English majors and minors.

21:350:319 Shakespeare: Early Works

A sampling of history, tragedy, comedy, and romance in plays representing the early part of Shakespeare’s creative life. Satisfies the English major's Authors and pre-1800/pre-1900 requirements.

21:350:363 Special Topics in Film

Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:350:369 The Short Story

Reading and critical study of classical, medieval, and modern short stories; discussion of predominant techniques and theories.

21:350:371 Milton

Literary and social backgrounds; the life of Milton, and his English and Latin works (the latter in translation). Satisfies the English major's Authors and pre-1800/pre-1900 requirement.

21:350:386 Topics in Modern Literature

Topics vary each semester.  Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:350:389 Topics in Global Literature

Topics vary each semester.  Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:350:417 Literary Criticism: Genealogies of Cultural Studies

This 400-level course, Literary Criticism: Genealogies of Cultural Studies, will examine philosophers and cultural theorists who have been influential in defining culture and the study of culture, in the humanities and in interdisciplinary projects, with special attention to traditions of decolonial, feminist, queer, black and Latinx theory. Students in this advanced seminar will practice writing cultural theory that can problematize the way we have come to know and narrate our present moment, and thus complicate the discourses of culture that have shaped who we are or who we may yet become. This theoretical writing pushes beyond the limits of any single discipline, but much interdisciplinary work in the humanities begins with careful reading and analysis of texts in Literature Departments. Cultural theorists may include Immanuel Kant, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Frantz Fanon, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Enrique Dussell, Walter Mignolo, Sylvia Wynter, Erna Brodber, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, Dionne Brand, Saidiya Harman, Cristina Sharpe. We will examine select literary texts to explore how literature can disrupt or supplement a theoretical tradition or propose alternative models for theorizing culture. Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:350:481 Readings in a Major Author

Authors vary each semester.  Satisfies the English major's Authors and post-1900 requirements.



21:352:207 Writers at Newark I

Reading of at least four books from the Writers at Newark Reading Series, one book per event; attend four scheduled events in the reading series; and write four responses to the readings each semester. After checking in with the master of fine arts (MFA.) program coordinator before each reading at the Paul Robeson Gallery, students will attend the reading and email a short response to a teaching assistant in the M.F.A. program. Readings include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by a diverse group of nationally known writers. Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:352:209 Literature of New Jersey

Investigates New Jersey writing from the Revolutionary era to the present, looking at fiction, poetry, and memoirs and highlighting the theme of New Jersey myths. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement.

21:352:211, 212 Contemporary American Literature

These courses emphasize close reading and writing about contemporary American literature.  They focus upon novels and plays from the mid-1960s to recent times while aiming to provide students with a solid foundation for interpretation and literary analysis.  Playwrights include Sam Shepard and Christopher Durang; fiction writers include Khalid Hosseini, Ursula LeGuin, Kurt Vonnegut, Jerzy Kosinski, and Amy Tan. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.


21:352:213 American Lit of 19th C before 1865

Nineteenth century American literature in the decades before the Civil War emerged from a broad variety of literary voices.  Each of these voices was seeking to address the qualities and characteristics particular to the experiences of being American.  This course will particularly concentrate on the historical contexts of American literature, its origins, the development of its canon, and the diversity of its writers and readers.  We will examine topics including nature, race and slavery, the roles of women, and other broad, national ideas during this period.  The course will focus on one major issue:  How did the United States establish its own voice and literary culture?  The readings in this course are primarily drawn from the early decades of the nineteenth century through the Civil War.  Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's pre-1800/pre-1900 requirement.

21:352:214 American Lit of 19th Century after 1865

This course examines some of the major developments in American literature of the nineteenth century—an era of rapid and sweeping social, economic, political, technological, and cultural changes, and an era during which the definitions of both “American” and “literature” have been hotly contested.  Our study of the major literary movements of this period—Romanticism, Realism, and Naturalism, plus selected subgenres within these—will focus on two major issues: Whyparticular movements emerged in particular historical moments, and how those literary techniques and strategies both reflect and help to shape individual and collective experience in those periods.  The readings in this course are primarily drawn from the years surrounding the Civil War to the beginning of the twentieth century.  Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement. Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:352:232 Reading Latino/a Literature

Latina/o Literature: Borderlands/ La Frontera and Narratives of Migration, focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century Latina/o texts that represent an "interstitial" or border subjectivity and the cultural residues of both coloniality and migration. Texts will include Chicanx Gloria Anzaldúa, Puerto Ricans Miguel Algarín, Mariposa Ferández and Eduardo Lalo, Cubana Lourdes Casal, Haitian/ Dominican authors, including Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz, Panamanian-American Cristina Henríquez, Salvadoran Oscar Martínez and Peruvian-American filmmaker, Alex Rivera. Our readings will bring into focus a literary and cultural traditions through which we can approach 20th- and 21st-century histories of migration in the Americas, including the current migrant crisis unfolding in the borderlands of the United States. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement.

21:352:250 Lit of the American Revolution

The American Revolution was partly a war of words. This course looks at some of the classic and not-so-classic texts of the Revolution and its aftermath. The classic texts include The Declaration, The Constitution, Common Sense, and The Federalist Papers. The lesser-known texts include journalism, sermons, poetry, a play, and a novel. The course’s central theme is argument, and the focus is upon antagonisms among Americans. Satisfies the College's core Literature requirement.

21:352:363 The Novel in America to 1950

Satisfies the English major's post-1900 requirement.

21:352:381 Topics in American Literature

Topics vary each semester.

Prison Lit in the US - Syllabus

21:352:384 Topics in Modern American Literature

Topics vary each semester.

Current topic: This class is an intensive reading and writing course on Asian American literature. Students are expected to read and discuss fiction, memoir, and poetry by recent Asian American authors like Maxine Hong Kingston, Ocean Vuong, and Mira Jacob. There will be a bi-weekly critical and creative responses to readings as well as a midterm and final paper. This is a hybrid course where Mondays will be in-class and where some Wednesdays will be devoted to small group discussion via Zoom.

21:352:395 African American Literature before 1900

Satisfies the English major's pre-1800/pre-1900 requirement.

We also have Graduate Course Descriptions.