Capstone and Open Topic Course Descriptions - Fall 2021

Special Topics Courses

Fall 2021 only!! - HUM 490/590 Reimagining Race, Revisiting Racism: Critical Race Theory in the 21st Century

Dr. José Amador ( and Dr. Stefanie Dunning (

TR 2:50pm-4:10pm Upham 249

"The problem of the twentieth century," W. E. B. Du Bois famously declared in 1903, "is the problem of the color line." More than a century later, these prophetic words still ring true. The color line and institutional racism still haunt the United States and societies around the globe. From its origins in colonialism and enslavement to modern inequality and social segregation, racism has persisted despite efforts to end it. It is woven today into systems of law and criminal justice, medicine and health, housing, education, media representation, and more. This course explores the persistence of racism in its cultural, political, and institutional forms. What is the history of race as an idea and a social category? How did it transform law, administration, and representational systems into vehicles for subjugating entire groups of people? How does racism work today? What is its relation to systems of caste and meritocracy? To citizenship and mobility? How can emerging humanities scholarship help us interrogate its evolution and frustrating persistence? Is it possible to create a more inclusive and equitable society or is racism likely to persist as a defining structure of our societies as it has before? 

Counts as a 400-level literature course elective, elective in Creative Writing,  elective  in Professional Writing (intercultural track).  Contact Dr. Bechtel at if you have additional questions on where the course could count on your DAR. 

New!!! - ENG 201F Language and Technology

Dr. So Young Lee (

MW 1:15pm - 2:35pm UPH 258

ENG 201 F is an introduction to how computers process language and solve language-related tasks. This course discusses the language technologies of our daily life — spam filtering, machine translation, and many more — and shows how they work under the hood. Students will also acquire basic programming skills and write scripts for simple language tasks.

ENG 388 Studies in Prose

Dr. Cynthia Klestinec (

TR 1:15pm-2:35pm UPH 226

This advanced literature course will focus on the genre of detective fiction, from the 19th century to present. It will trace the development of the genre (how do we know a work of detective fiction when we see one?) and highlight variations and innovations within the genre. It will also address issues of literary value (is detective fiction merely 'pulp' fiction or does it convey or shape ideas about its cultural moment in important ways?). Texts will feature detectives Auguste Dupin (Edgar Allen Poe), Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle), Hercule Poirot (Agatha Christie), Peter Wimsey (Dorothy Sayers), and Sam Spade (Dashiell Hammett). We will also talk about contemporary iterations of the genre which could include Louise Penny's Still Life,  Paula Hawkin's Girl on a Train, and Laura Lippman's Lady in the Lake.

ENG 490S 18th Century Fiction and Digital Analysis

Dr. Collin Jennings (

TR 11:40am-1:00pm UPH 389

Novel Methods: 18th-Century Fiction and Digital Analysis

For much of the last two hundred years, the novel has been the dominant genre in Anglophone literature, but how did this genre emerge? Historians trace the development of the English novel back to eighteenth-century Britain, and, since the 1950s, scholars have debated the relationship between the novel and older forms, such as the romance and travelogue, as well as the relationship between the genre and contemporary social developments, such as the growth of literacy and the middle class. In our moment the popularity of the novel seems to be waning in relation to creative nonfiction and memoir. By using new methods of digital text analysis, this course will take the eighteenth-century novel as a test case to ask questions about how literary genres emerge and evolve. We will compare the language and grammatical features of the novel to other prose genres, trace publication and titling patterns of novels, and map the formation of subgenres, such as the Gothic and historical novel. We will read exemplary eighteenth-century fiction by authors including Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, Francis Burney, and Jane Austen as well as recent theory on digital methods by scholars such as Andrew Piper, N. Katherine Hayles, and Alan Liu. This course does not require any prior experience with computational methods or programming.

Capstone Courses

ENG 415: Capstone in Professional Writing 

Dr. Emily Legg (

TR 10:05am-11:25am BAC 264 

What does it mean to be a writer who researches? A researcher who writes? As writers, we are almost always actively researching, through the process of gathering content, synthesizing information, and targeting potential audiences for our writing. Yet through that process, research methods can often be approached uncritically. In this capstone, we’ll focus on the ways research methods and their methodologies allow us to answer questions, solve problems, and investigate phenomena in a variety of ways, and we’ll also discuss how not all methods are appropriate for all questions, problems, contexts, or investigations. Through our discussions of research, we will also focus on how to develop that research into content strategy and content creation, specifically by developing practices for writing with and for a community partner (a local organization tba). As a member of the project team, you will gather information about the community partner and meet with community members to discuss their communication needs. You and your teammates will then design, write, edit, and create (or revise) communications for the organization. Community members will come to class and we will have at least one field trip to the community organization (dates and times tba--we will know the community partner and the date of the field trip well before the semester starts). By studying research methods and working with a community project, this capstone will provide you the opportunity to apply your learning to a real-world communication project.

ENG 495E Capstone in Literary and Cultural Studies: Renaissance Queer Sexualities

Dr. James Bromley (

MW 1:15pm-2:35pm BAC 154 

This course explores how authors from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries depicted such queer sexualities. In what literary, political, and discursive contexts were those depictions situated? How did authors navigate cultural prescriptions against same-sex relations and gender nonconformity? How might we understand from these texts that sexuality has a history, and how might the shape of that history as informed by these texts challenge us to think critically about sexuality in the present? Topics may include early modern cultural interest in ancient Greece and Rome; the all-male early modern stage’s exploration different forms of queer sexual desire and gender identity, including the often-blurred line between friendship and homoeroticism; and the intersection of same-sex desire and absolutist monarchy, divine right theory, and even religious devotion. Some of the texts for the course will include plays and poems by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Margaret Cavendish, along with other primary, secondary, and theoretical texts.