EN311Z: Chinese Lit

Instructor: ZZ Lehmberg; zlehmber@nmu.edu


As the course title indicates, this course will focus on Chinese literature in translation, with emphasis on 20th century literature and the three major revolutions/movements that influenced the writers of the period - the May 4th Movement, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution.  Through close readings of novels, short stories, and poems, students and the instructor will examine how the Chinese dealt with common human needs and concerns in a specific time and place. Students will be introduced to the period's major works and influential authors, such as Lu Xun, Lao She, and Mo Yan.


EN312: Medieval Lit

Instructor: Peter Goodrich; pgoodric@nmu.edu


This course offers a rich sample of literature from the British Isles written in Gaelic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-French -- all in translation – and Middle English.  Treatments of culturally significant works such as Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Piers Plowman, Le Morte Darthur and more will be included.  The course will not incorporate Chaucer (who has his own course next semester), but focus instead upon the many genres of poetry and prose by other medieval British writers who are less frequently studied.  As an added feature, there will be a unit on medievalism – the influence that the British Middle Ages has had on literature written after the Middle Ages (for example, modern adaptations of Arthurian legend, neo-Celticism, and Tolkien’s works).  Among other assignments, you’ll give independently researched reports on a medieval background topic and a modern medievalist work.


EN313/PY313: Linguistics

Instructor: David Boe;  dboe@nmu.edu


This course is an introduction to the formal study of language.  We will begin by discussing the early 20th-century development of synchronic structuralism, followed by an overview of the various theoretical developments leading up to the appearance of Chomskyan generative grammar in the 1950s.  Some current issues in contemporary linguistics will be considered, including the distinction between “language” and “communication”.  We will then turn to the major subfields of formal linguistics, including examination of the analysis of words (lexicon and morphology), sentences (syntax), and meaning (semantics).  Finally, we will examine the relationship between language and the human mind/brain, and we will reconsider the debate between linguistic behaviorism and the innateness hypothesis.


EN382: Brit Lit

Instructor: Caroline Krzakowski; ckrzakow@nmu.edu


In this course we will trace developments in British literature—fiction, poetry, and drama—from the late 1950s to the present. We will look at the ways in which postwar and contemporary British writers adapted and transformed the techniques of modernism, and how writers responded to Britain’s recovery from World War Two, to the end-of-empire, and to the election of the Labor Government. Along the way, topics for our discussions will include questions of gender, race, national identity, home, immigration, cosmopolitanism, as well as questions of narrative form and experimentation. We will also study the political and social contexts of postwar and contemporary Britain to better understand these novels. Our reading may include works by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Caryl Churchill, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Angela Carter, John le Carré, Salman Rushdie, Muriel Spark, W.G. Sebald, and Zadie Smith, and Monica Ali, along with some helpful critical and literary theory.


EN410: God Chronicles

Instructor: Josh MacIvor-Anderson; jmacivor@nmu.edu


"All theology is at its heart autobiography," writes Fredrick Buechner in his introduction to The Sacred Journey, a beautifully rendered memoir of faith and conversion. Buechner suggests that theologians, at the core of their vocation, are simply interrogating their spiritual lives, the rollercoaster of human existence in the shadow of the divine, and expressing the God-truths they find embedded there. Students of EN410/505 will do similar ruminative work as we read a diversity of spiritual writing from different perspectives and faiths, and practice our own. To be clear, a student does not need to be religious to take this class. But she or he must be a person willing to explore what faith or God or spirituality is or is not, either in the student's own life or in the lives of others.


EN411Z: Queer South Asian Literature

Instructor: Jaspal K. Singh; jsingh@nmu.edu


The emergence of an international South Asian gay and lesbian community is reflected in many literary texts, showcasing coming-out narratives, poetry, fiction, biography and formal essays. How do South Asian gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals construct gender and national identity?  How do they define gender and sexuality in cross-cultural and transnational spaces where ideas of identity take on special meaning?  How are hybrid identities and sexualities represented and received?  This course will explore histories, mythologies, and religious traditions as well as the lived and imagined experiences of South Asians in a postcolonial/transnational setting.  How do intersections of ethnicity, migrancy, and postcoloniality impact queer experiences of South Asians?  Offering critical thought on identity politics and representation, this course examines South Asian writers negotiating gender and sexual identity in South Asia, The UK, The USA, and The Caribbean, providing insights into a new literary tradition, a tradition of gay, lesbian, transsexual and transgendered writing. 


EN 495/595: Islam and the West

Instructor: Nathaniel Greenberg; ngreenbe@nmu.edu


Islam and the West: in Mind and Form: Samuel Huntington’s glum assessment of world order in his infamous “Clash of Civilizations”
(1993) has not so quietly become the impetus for some of the most heated political jargon of our time. Artists have been largely absent from “clash” discussions, however. The goal of this class is to explore how literature and the arts can be an effective medium for thinking and writing critically about the so-called collision between Islam and the West, the place of the individual in the context of greater geopolitical phenomena, and the role of narrative in the war formally known as the Global War on Terror. Students will read several key texts by Arab, African and Western authors who have engaged the question of the “clash” through fiction, autobiography, poetry and film. Additional readings by social historians and critics of “clash” discourse will flesh-out the socio-historic context of aesthetic works and provide critical points of departure for intervening in “clash” rhetoric.
The course will progress chronologically and each novel, short story, film, or poem, will be clustered around a central theoretical text. The aim here is to develop both a sense of how literary discourse of the “other” has (d)evolved over time, and how such narratives might enrich or problematize broader theoretical problems within the field of critical theory.


EN 570: American Environmental Literature and Ecocriticism

Instructor: Amy Hamilton; amyhamil@nmu.edu


While the study of literature in relation to land and environment has long been integral to literary study, in recent decades the interrelated fields of Literature and Environment, Ecocriticism, and Environmental Justice have grown exponentially. This course considers the relationship between American literature and environmental perspectives, exploring how literary interpretations of the land and animals have reflected and shaped attitudes and values. What is the relation between experience of the land and literary representation of the environment? What is the lure of the “wilderness” that has long inspired American authors? What is at stake in the changing American attitudes towards nature as howling wilderness, divine inspiration, and ecological crisis? How do language and literature transmit values with profound ecological implications? What is the place in these swirling attitudes of Native American and Chicana/o understandings of sovereignty and homeland? The course will include texts by canonical American authors (Thoreau, Emerson), environmental writers (Muir, Austin), Native American authors (Momaday, Silko), and Chicano/a authors (Viramontes, Baca). We will also be reading essays by Ecocritics and Environmental Justice scholars.

LB121: Western Values: The Ancient Greeks and the Bible

Instructor: Mark Smith; masmith@nmu.edu


The course is organized around the following questions and individuals.

How can we cope with human suffering? & What should our relationship be to God? Oedipus & Job

What qualities should our leaders have? & How best can we form a community? Odysseus & Moses

What is worth dying for? Socrates and Christ

Works studied: The Bible (Old and New Testaments), Homer's Odyssey, philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle, plays by Sophocles and Aristophanes, and others.

Counts for 4 credits of Humanities in the Liberal Studies Program


LB295H Special Topics in Humanities: Tolkien’s Middle-earth

Instructor: Peter Goodrich; pgoodric@nmu.edu


With frequency-of-offering limitations on Special Topics courses and Peter Goodrich’s upcoming retirement, this popular course will be taught for the last time.  Many people have dismissed Tolkien’s fiction as simplistic, escapist, sexist, and devoid of serious intellectual content, yet poll after readers’ poll pronounces him the major author of the twentieth century.  Even more recently, he has inspired major cinema adaptations by Peter Jackson.  The course will explore Tolkien’s imaginary wolrd of Middle-earth, and evaluate to what extent his achievement (and, to a lesser extent, Jackson’s) merits its present popularity.  Along the way, you’ll acquire the basic tools of textual analysis: an understanding of character, setting, plot, theme, metaphor, allegory, and symbol.  You will also explore significant human questions about the nature of language, time, good and evil, courage and self-sacrifice, divinity, ecological systems, technology, cultural difference, and artistic creativity that underlie Tolkien’s “legendarium.”