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English Department
Superintendent talking to Midshipmen

Courses

All midshipmen are required to complete or validate two semesters of English during the fourth-class year: HE111 and HE112. Validation of HE111 is awarded for: exceptional performance on the Validation/Placement Exam that all 4th class midshipmen take soon after their arrival at the Naval Academy; or an Advanced Placement score of 5 on the Composition and/or Literature exam; or a score of 7 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Level (HL) English Exam (A1 Exam).

Students who have taken the AP or IB English exams and have earned a 5 on the AP or a 7 on the IB, must have their scores sent to the Naval Academy. Official documentation is required for validation credit. Transfer credit is not accepted for core English courses.

See the official USNA English Course Catalog in the USNA Academics website.

The following courses will be offered during the fall semester, 2019 (see below in the "Special Topics" section for a more detailed description of the Special Topics and Capstone courses offered this coming fall).

HE242--Intro to Literary Methods: Clark, Ward

HE260-- Literature of War: Poynor

HE301—Patterns in Drama: Geigner

HE302—Forms of Poetry: Booth

HE306—Types of Fiction: Suess

HE307—Film and Literature: Melville

HE313—Chaucer: Sproles

HE315—Restoration and Eighteenth Century: TBD

HE317—Romantic Literature: Comet

HE320—British Lit, 1945-present: Ciobanu

HE326—American Lit, 1607-1860: Senoyuit

HE329—American Lit, 1915-1945: Nolan

HE333—Shakespeare: Drew, Stanlake

HE343—Creative Writing: Beckman, Cone

HE344—Professional Communication: Major

HE360: The Seven Deadly Sins: Garrow

HE463: Dickens Now: Allen-Emerson

HE462: Food Studies: McWilliams

HE485A: LatinX Literature: TBD

HE485B: Topics in Gender and Sexuality in Literature: Moore

HE503: Imperial Rome: Mace

Core Courses - All Semesters

HE101

Practical Writing (3-0-3) [Fall] 

The study and practice of grammatically correct and rhetorically effective expository prose, supplemented by the analysis of essays by professional writers. 

HE111

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature I (3-0-3) [Fall]

The first of a two course sequence stressing the writing of rhetorically effective and grammatically correct expository prose. Readings include essays, short stories, and plays. 

HE111W

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature I (3-0-3) [Fall, Spring]

A course similar to HE111 but for students who need more concentrated instruction in writing. Section size limited to 16 students.

HE111S

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature I (3-0-3) [Fall]

An honors level of HE111 for students with well-developed writing skills.

HE112

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature II (3-0-3) [Spring]

The second of a two course sequence stressing the writing of rhetorically effective and grammatically correct expository prose. Readings include novels and poetry. Prereq: HE111.

HE112W

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature II (3-0-3) [Fall, Spring]

A course similar to HE112 but for students who need more concentrated instruction in writing. Section size limited to 16 students. Prereq: HE111W.

HE112S

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature II (3-0-3) [Spring]

An honors level of HE112 for students with well-developed writing skills. Prereq: HE111S.

HE112V

Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature II (3-0-3) [Fall]

A one-semester course in writing and literature, focused on novels and poetry. Prereq: validation of HE111.

Electives - Fall Semester

HE217

Early Western Literature (3-0-3)

A balanced survey of the Western literary tradition and its backgrounds, from ancient Greece through the Middle Ages. Readings may include classical Greek and Roman epic, drama, and philosophy; selections from the Bible; and medieval poetry, drama, and philosophy.

HE242

Methods of Literary Analysis (3-0-3)

The gateway course into the major. Introduces students to the critical vocabulary used by literary critics in textual readings and the skills necessary to conduct in-depth research projects. Readings will focus on a small selection of primary sources coupled with a representative sampling of advanced critical methodologies.

HE301

Patterns in Drama (3-0-3)

A study of drama, emphasizing reading, viewing, and analyzing dramatic literature and performance. 

HE302

Forms of Poetry (3-0-3)

A study in the analysis of poetic form and expression.

HE306

Types of Fiction (3-0-3)

A study in the novel and short story with particular emphasis on the conventions, techniques, and innovations in the form. 

HE313

Chaucer and His Age (3-0-3)

The literary and philosophical traditions of Chaucer, the Gawain poet, and other contemporaries, including early and late medieval writers from England and the continent.

HE315

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature (3-0-3)

The literature of the period 1660-1780. Readings may include the plays, novels, satires, and poetry of such writers as Behn, Dryden, Swift, Defoe, Fielding, Pope, Steele, Sheridan, and Johnson.

HE319

Victorian Literature (3-0-3)

British literature from the 1830s to the end of the nineteenth century. Readings may include works from authors such as Dickens, the Brontes, George Eliot, Hardy, Tennyson, the Brownings, Arnold, Carlyle, and Darwin.

HE320

Contemporary British Literature (3-0-3)

British Literature from 1945 to the present day. Reading may include the novels of Orwell, Greene, Murdoch, Naipaul, Barnes, Ishigura, and Zadie Smith; the plays of Beckett, Pinter, Orton, Stoppard, Churchill, and Friel; and the poetry of Larkin, Heaney, Hughes, Gunn, and Motion.

HE326

Early American Literature, 1607-1860 (3-0-3)

A survey of American literature including Native American tradition from European settlement to the Civil War, emphasizing the relationship between the emerging culture and literature. Readings may include works from such authors as Bradford, Bradstreet, Franklin, Wheatley, Cooper, Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, and Douglass.

HE329

Modern American Literature, 1914-1945 (3-0-3)

A survey of American literature between the wars. Readings may include works by such authors as Stein, Eliot, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Hughes, Hurston, Larsen, O'Neill, Steinbeck, West, and Wright.

HE333

Shakespeare (3-0-3)

A study of a representative sample of Shakespeare's tragedies, comedies, and histories. Readings may also include works by Shakespeare's contemporaries. 

HE340

African-American Literature (3-0-3)

A survey of representative African-American literature from such major figures as Wheatley, Toomer, Hughes, Hurston, Wright, Ellison, Baldwin, Baraka, Brooks, Hayden, Wilson, and Morrison.

HE343

Creative Writing (3-0-3)

An introduction to the writing of prose, poetry, and drama.

HE344

Professional Communication (3-0-3)

A study of advanced methods of presenting information in a wide variety of forms. Assignments may include preparing articles, reports, and military documents. Students may be asked to design and present a persuasive or analytical speech. 

HE485

Latinx Literature (3-0-3)

The course concentrates on fiction and non-fiction works about the Latinx experience in the United States. Throughout the semester we will analyze how literature can work as a gateway to explore processes of identity formation through many of its facets, including: class, race, gender, sexuality, and language (among others). Possible authors to be discussed include: Piri Thomas, Rudolfo Anaya, Sandra Cisneros, Cristina Garcia, Junot Diaz and Cristina Henriquez, among many others. 
Electives - Spring Semester

HE217

Early Western Literature (3-0-3)

A balanced survey of the Western literary tradition and its backgrounds, from ancient Greece through the Middle Ages. Readings may include classical Greek and Roman epic, drama, and philosophy; selections from the Bible; and medieval poetry, drama, and philosophy.

HE222

The Bible and Literature (3-0-3)

The Bible and its influence on European and American literature. Emphasis will be placed on modern biblical literary-critical methodology and on the symbolic richness of derivative literature from Dante to Nikos Kazantzakis.

HE242

Methods of Literary Analysis (3-0-3)

The gateway course into the major. Introduces students to the critical vocabulary used by literary critics in textual readings and the skills necessary to conduct in-depth research projects. Readings will focus on a small selection of primary sources coupled with a representative sampling of advanced critical methodologies.

HE250

Literature of the Sea (3-0-3)

Study of sea literature from the epic to the novel, with an emphasis on literary qualities, human relationships with the sea, and problems of command.

HE260

Literature of War (3-0-3)

A multi-genre survey of war and its consequences as represented in classic and contemporary literature with an emphasis on such issues as individual responsibility, leadership, societal values, and military culture.

HE301

Patterns in Drama (3-0-3)

A study of drama, emphasizing reading, viewing, and analyzing dramatic literature and performance.

HE302

Forms of Poetry (3-0-3)

A study in the analysis of poetic form and expression.

HE306

Types of Fiction (3-0-3)

A study of the novel and short story with particular emphasis on the conventions, techniques, and innovations in the form. 

HE307

Topics in Film and Literature (3-0-3)

A study of American, European, and world film in conjunction with relevant literary works. 

HE314

The Renaissance Mind (3-0-3)

Literature and thought of the period bracketed by the two great English epics, Spenser's Faerie Queene and Milton's Paradise Lost. The course includes a continental perspective, with readings from authors such as Machiavelli, Rabelais, Cervantes, Montaigne, and Castiglione.

HE317

The Romantic Period (3-0-3)

Literature and culture of the Romantic period in Britain from the 1780s to the 1830s. Readings may include works by such writers as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Austen, the Shelleys, Byron, and Keats.

HE318

Modern British Literature (3-0-3)

The literature of Great Britain and Ireland since 1900. Readings may include the novels of Conrad, Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf, and Lessing; the plays of Shaw, Synge, O'Casey, and Pinter; the poetry of Hardy, Yeats, Eliot, Auden, and Dylan Thomas.

HE328

American Literature from the Civil War to World War I, 1860-1914 (3-0-3)

A survey of American literature from the Reconstruction through the Gilded Age, emphasizing the rise of realism and naturalism. Readings may include works from such authors as Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Howells, Crane, Dreiser, Chesnutt, Chopin, James, and Wharton.

HE330

Contemporary American Literature, 1945-Present (3-0-3)

A survey of American literature and culture since World War II. Readings may include works by such authors as Ellison, Ginsberg, Lowell, Bishop, Baraka, Heller, Pynchon, Bellow, Plath, Sexton, Rich, Roth, Updike, DeLillo, Mamet, McCarthy, and Morrison.

HE333

Shakespeare (3-0-3)

A study of a representative sample of Shakespeare's tragedies, comedies, and histories. Readings may also include works by Shakespeare's contemporaries. 

HE343

Creative Writing (3-0-3)

An introduction to the writing of prose, poetry, and drama.

HE344

Professional Communication (3-0-3)

A study of advanced methods of presenting information in a wide variety of forms. Assignments may include preparing articles, reports, and military documents. Students may be asked to design and present a persuasive or analytical speech.

HE355

Topics in Multi-Ethnic Literature (3-0-3)

This course considers literature that raises questions of race and ethnicity, postcolonial responses to hegemonic culture, canon formation, and shifting definitions of nation and subjectivity. Readings may include the works of Achebe, Cisneros, Coetzee, Desai, Diaz, Erdrich, Gordimer, Hagedorn, Hong Kingston, Llosa, Mahfouz, Mishima, Marquez, Naipaul, Neruda, Ngugi, Puig, Rushdie, Soyinka, Tan, and Walcott.

HE442

Literary Theory (3-0-3)

A survey of key problems, figures, and texts in the history of literary and cultural thought. Required of all honors majors. 

Special Topics - Fall Semester

Special Topics — Fall 2019

Garrow, HE360

Se7en in Black & White Typeface: The Deadly Sins in Fiction. This course will examine the lasting impact of the work of Dante Alighieri and his conception of Hell, Purgatory, and Earthly Paradise as revealed in Purgatorio, the second book of The Divine Comedy epic poem.  In an age of the ubiquitous film “reboot,” the goal is to have students think critically about the nature of inspiration, homage, and the durability of compelling themes. Fundamentally, the midshipmen must ask themselves “What makes this story timeless?” and consider why Deadly Sins provide such fodder for creativity and conflict. The first portion of the course will be dedicated to Inferno highlights and chapters I-IX of Purgatorio.  For the rest of the semester, students will read sections from a recent popular novel which grapples with a specific sin; they will simultaneously complete the corresponding Purgatorio sections describing the level of the Mountain of Purgatory that is associated with the relevant sin. For example, while reading Morrell’s First Blood as an allegory for Pride, they will also read Purgatorio X-XII. In the final two weeks of class, we will watch David Fincher’s 1995 film Se7en in order to analyze its many Dante allusions and to hypothesize about whether the sins and redemption are rendered more visceral through film or writing

Allen-Emerson, HE463

How We Read Dickens Now.  Students in this seminar will read a selection of Dickens’s fiction in the context of questions about reading practices and reader response. While much of the focus will be on thematic and stylistic concerns, as well as historical context, we will also address the practice of reading itself both historically and in our contemporary moment. We will reflect on how "we" read now—on a tablet, in a paperback; with music playing, in between web browsing; in short bursts, in long binges—and also how “they” read then—out loud, in serial installments, in a volume from a circulating library. We will also consider how we respond to Dickens’s novels now and how this might differ from (or remain the same as) the responses of Dickens’s contemporaries. The course will thus teach us as much about reading and historical difference as about Dickens’s fiction.

 

Mcwilliams, HE462

Introduction to Food Studies: Food and American Culture.  This course introduces students to the study of foodways by examining the cultural history and meaning of food in America.  We begin by exploring the interconnected ways that food reflects and shapes national, regional, and individual identity by focusing on how region, gender, ethnicity, class, race, religion, the media, global politics, and corporate America affect the food we eat.  Discussing food as a source of both comfort and conflict, we will consider how it defines and separates groups, from individual families to various communities to the nation itself. Students will examine a variety of sources including cookbooks, recipes, journalism, film, literature, art, photography, and artifacts to develop an understanding of food in American culture.

Mace, HE503

The Art and Literature of Augustan Rome. The Roman Augustan Age was one of the most important in ancient history because of the art and literature that flourished under the patronage of Augustus and the members of his court.  For English majors the period is particularly significant since many of the Latin authors who have most influenced English literature wrote during this period: among them, Virgil, Horace, Livy, and Ovid.  In this course we will study the history, art, and literature of Augustan Rome, examining how the emperor used the arts to promote the moral and political ideas so central to his rule. We will also consider how later periods have interpreted the reign of Augustus and the literary works produced as part of his cultural program.

Spring 2020

Fitzgerald, HE360

Introduction to Old English. Old English is the language spoken and written in England between roughly 500 and 1100 AD, and it offers a window to the past through a wide range of beautiful and evocative texts. In this course, students will encounter the very oldest English literature in its original form – the tales of kings, battles, heroes, monsters and saints that have inspired writers from John Milton to J. R. R. Tolkien. Because Old English is a foreign language to Modern English speakers, the course will begin with intensive work on the basics of Old English grammar, vocabulary, and translation practice before we move on to a more in-depth study of the literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England.

Melville, HE462

The Thrill of Victory. This is a course about sports writing. But it’s not about sports. Classic long-form sports writing plumbs the depths of the human soul in a way that makes even readers indifferent to sports laugh, cry and eagerly turn the page. We will examine the art, craft, and narrative magic of long-form nonfiction sports writing. Readings will include magazine articles by such literary luminaries as Ernest Hemingway and David Foster Wallace, and timeless novel-length books like Boys in the Boat. The course will be taught by a former editor at Sports Afield and Men’s Journal whose own written work is listed in Best American Sports Writing 2017.

 

Geigner, HE467

Storytelling and the Podcast. This course will expose students to narrative theory and storytelling tools and teach them to apply these concepts to podcasts. Just as they do with written texts in other courses, students in this course will learn to consider podcasts using close-“reading” techniques, rhetorical argumentation, and character, plot, and setting analyses. Furthermore, podcast analysis invites consideration of documentary and serial forms. This course will begin with an overview of major schools of thought in literary theory such as narratology and reader-response theory. Students will also consider storytelling technologies. Then the students will proceed with two main units of podcasts as literature: fiction and non-fiction. In the fiction podcast section, students will attend to how podcasters create worlds with no visual cues. In addition to more classical analyses of podcasts as literature, students will also consider how technology affects storytelling.  For the midterm, students will choose a well-known short story and propose to make it a podcast, creating a script, sound design, and analysis of the story. In the non-fiction podcast section, students will analyze how documentary techniques work and how podcasts have influence. For the final, students will create a three-episode non-fiction podcast based on a contemporary news story of their choosing. Students will be responsible to gather information, conduct interviews, and construct a non-fiction podcast story that unfolds over three episodes.

 

Ward, HE504

Early Modern Media. This course will examine literary texts from the English Renaissance with an eye toward the material circumstances of texts’ original circulation (whether in print, manuscript, song, or other kinds of performance) as well as to the bibliographic and digital media through which we encounter these texts today. Using online resources and primary source material available at Nimitz's Special Collections and other local archives (including the Folger Library and the Library of Congress), we will explore the proposition that an author's poetic intention might not be nearly as interesting as the physical form through which that intention was realized (or thwarted) and the material and social practices involved in its circulation. The final capstone project will involve creating a new digital edition of a previously unedited early modern text.

____________________________________________________________

 

Past Special Topics Courses

Fall 2018

HE360: Detective Fiction - LT Jarrod Suess

Are we not all detectives when we read? In some sense this must be true—us trying to figure out why we identify with a particular character, or not. We attempt to develop a timeline and “the facts” as we see them. Well, my intent for this special topic's course will be to examine these questions that are not always so, shall we say, obvious. This course will provide an introductory exploration of the genre of detective fiction and its evolution according to the historical, cultural, and political realities in which the writers composed their texts and that framed the intended readers of these texts. Additionally, the course will examine the question: Who exactly can “be” a detective? Particularly, we will look at this fundamental question as it relates to race, class, and gender.

Capstone Seminars - Fall 2018

HE463: Odysseus & Ulysses - Professor Allyson Booth

This course is an exercise in confronting fear: launching into Ulysses, the fattest, most daunting work in literary modernism, by pairing it with Homer’s Odyssey, the ancient poem that Joyce used as scaffolding for his novel. The idea is to read the boisterous Greek adventurer and the 20th century Irish characters side by side so that what Eliot called the “continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity” is visible and accessible.  The basic structure of the course will be half and half, back and forth: Homer, then Joyce, alternating.

HE467: African American Literature on Screen - Asst. Professor Marlon Moore

This capstone course provides concepts and interpretive tools for approaching film adaptations of novels and autobiographies in the African American literary canon. Lectures, classroom discussions, and reading quizzes will center on the understanding and application of analytical and theoretical concepts. Each student will select a book from the instructor’s list to read on their own, and will spend the semester analyzing that text in detail and exploring its film adaptation. Capstone project will require thorough analysis of the literary text and a critique of the film version, to demonstrate an understanding of the possibilities and problems involved in the transposition of literature to film.

 

Recent Capstones

Fall 2017

Spirituality in African American Literature (Moore)
Life on the Brink: Dystopian Fiction (Ciobanu)

Fall 2016

Representations of Race/Ethnicity in American Film (Garcia-Crespo)
Graham Greene (Parker)

Fall 2015

Revenge Tragedy (Ward)
How We Read Dickens Now (Allen-Emerson)

Fall 2014

The Literature of Death and Dying (Parker)
Byron and the Byronic Hero (Comet)

Special Topics - Spring Semester

Special Topics - Spring 2018

HE360 Fairytales: The Evolution of "Happily Ever After" LT Solmonson

This course will explore the fairytale genre and establish the origins of popular fairytales by tracing the evolution from folklore and the brothers Grimm, to Disney and beyond. We will examine how single tales have evolved to reflect changing beliefs in society and how fairytale narratives shape adolescent (and adult) development.

Capstones - Spring 2018

HE461 Word Up! History of the English Language - Asst. Professor Jill Fitzgerald

This course examines the evolution of the English language from its origins to its present (and its future). We will apply technical linguistic methods and concepts as we consider how historical and cultural forces – invasion, revolution, migration, colonization, and globalization – shape the language. We will pay specific attention to the function of verbal and written communication in human society, issues of orality, pidgins and creoles, dictionaries and their ideological investments, dialectal and regional varieties of English, and Englishes in their diverse configurations throughout the globe. While much of this class will involve linguistic laws and equations, we will also ask timely questions with less straightforward answers: What are the principle characteristics of a “successful” language? What happens when languages “die”? How do dialects operate in English speaking society today? How has military terminology played a determining role in the shaping of the language, and how can future leaders play an ethical role in its future? What is “standard English,” and what are the ideological investments of such a construct? By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the history of English, a command of historical linguistics (phonology, morphology, semantics), and explain the social dimensions of languages in general and English in particular.

HE462 Blackface, Yellowface, and Redface in American Literature and Culture - Asst. Professor Megan Geigner

While blackface, yellowface, and redface are perhaps easiest to identify in performance, these forms do not exist onstage alone; American literature gives ample example of each. From noble savage narratives to “Uncle Tom” figures to “model minority” stories, stereotyped minority characters haunt the American literary canon. This course teaches students to identify blackface, yellowface, and redface by reading and analyzing across genres—from dramatic literature to novels to songs to film—in order to see how authors and artists represent racial minorities. Furthermore, students will read secondary sources to synthesize why and how these forms were used in politically and culturally potent ways in different eras in America. The course includes two major American novels—Uncle Tom’s Cabin and East of Eden—as sites of analysis for how American literary traditions create archetypal characters while simultaneously challenging stereotypes. The focus on film in the twentieth century allows students to apply the novel-, play-, and lyric-analysis skills they develop early in the semester to both the text and visual composition of the genre. As an upper-division course, this class develops students vocabulary of blackface, yellowface, and redface criteria; helps them make connections between different media, different types of representation, and different time periods; and, ultimately, asks them to propose “solutions” to the problem of blackface, yellowface, and redface in the American canon. 

Special Topics - Coming Spring 2019

HE360: A Walk on the Wild Side - LT Gregory Melville

Adventure: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience. A well-told true adventure story can be stranger than fiction, and more suspenseful and exquisitely written than a novel. “A Walk on the Wild Side” uncovers the art, storytelling, and craft of acclaimed works of modern nonfiction adventure. Get ready to feel what it’s like to brave the frigid climes of Antarctica, weather a blizzard atop Mount Everest, wade for survival in the shark-infested depths of the South Pacific, and plot to escape from a French penal colony in early 20th Century South America. Students will also be assigned to write their own first-person narrative. The course is taught by an experienced adventure writer and editor.

Capstones - Coming Spring 2019

HE463: Keats in 1819 - Asst. Professor Noah Comet

A tragic, beautiful truth: whereas a course focused on Wordsworth—who scribbled away for several decades—can only hope to dabble or skim, a course on Keats—dead at 25—can do something like justice to every word he wrote.  As we mark the bicentennial of his ode-making ‘miraculous year,’ that is exactly what we will get up to: a true author-study of Keats, beginning at the beginning and ending at the end, reading standard-setting editions of his biography, letters and poems in simulated (but much accelerated) real time.  We will become true Keats experts while also contemplating the theoretical potentials and limitations of studying a poet rather than a poem.  At the heart of the class will be the year 1819, the culmination of Keats’s artistic life and the formative moment of his political awakening.  Hoped for (but not guaranteed) is an MO to Boston to visit Harvard’s Houghton Library and to New York City to visit the Pforzheimer Collection, both world-class archives of Keatsiana.

Recent Capstones

Spring 2017

Milton (Ward)
Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Studies in Literature (Moore)

Spring 2016

August Wilson's "Century Cycle" and the Blues Tradition (Handley)
Literature of the Vikings (Fitzgerald)

Spring 2015

The Art and Literature of Augustan Rome (Mace)
Hemingway in the 21st Century (Nolan)

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