English 413: Senior Research and Writing

This course offers one of two ways to fulfill the senior capstone writing requirement. See the details on the Senior Honors Thesis for the other option.

Prerequisites: Six credits in English at the 300 level; senior major standing. Enrollment limited to 6 in each section. A collaborative group research and writing project for senior majors, conducted in supervising faculty member's area of expertise, with directed independent study culminating in a substantial final project. Possible topics include Poetic Voice, Ecocriticism, Studying Literature in Action, Modern Irish Studies, Epic. Staff. Fall, Winter

If you are not doing a senior honors thesis, you must participate in the 413 selection process. This page announces 413 sections available in fall and winter of the next academic year. There will be no spring term capstones. A 413 course usually does not count towards distribution, but if you are in a pinch, you may petition the chair for an exception, depending on your paper topic. Creative capstone courses don't count towards distribution, but they do fulfill the capstone requirement.

Capstone Course Offerings 2017-18

Fall Term 2017

English 413: The Art of Narrative (Gavaler)

This course focuses on the development of narrative strategies in short stories and narrative essays. You identify specific literary techniques, analyze them, and apply them in your own writing—fiction, non-fiction, or a combination. A literary technique is any use of language that can be studied in the context of a literary work, abstracted into a general method, and then recreated in an entirely new work. During the semester you develop two major pieces of writing simultaneously, each worth 1/3rd of your final grade: (1) a portfolio of original short fiction and/or personal essays that employs some of the identified techniques; and (2) an analytical essay exploring literary techniques from a range of published works. The essay establishes patterns of technique use and argues why certain techniques are employed for similar or contrasting effects in varying contexts. The remaining third of your final grade is the accumulative average of smaller and process assignments leading up to the major pieces.

Winter Term 2018

English 413: Trans*ing the Text (Kao)

How does a text generate and direct its economy of movements? A prefix, trans denotes moving across, into, and through; it connotes departure, flow, and arrival—from here to there. It is a turn (think of the volta in sonnets) that, as Eva Hayward and Jami Weinstein observe, “is cause to move, a difference in position, a change in nature.” The asterisk affixed to trans* further marks both the word’s prefixial motions and its expansive suffixial space to which all sorts of objects and ideas can attach themselves. With roots in affect, gender, and post-human studies, trans*ing investigates various tipping points that facilitate the traffic within and transgression of socio-political norms. For instance, the bite of a monster induces a transformation of not only the body but the nature of desire; or, a rejection of the marriage plot blocks certain narrative fulfillments but makes available the transition into different possibilities of identity. We learn how to engage in practices of trans*ing, a la Raymond Williams, through a cluster of sticky keywords: animacy, speciation, form, matter, body, object, affect, monstrosity, liminality, and border. Students compile a portfolio of reading responses in the first half of the seminar as preparation for their individual guided research project.

English 413: Documentary Poetics (Wheeler)

How do twentieth- and twenty-first century poets bear witness to social change, violence, and disaster? Students in this capstone read works by Muriel Rukeyser, Carolyn Forché, Patricia Smith, and many others, considering not only the uses of poetry but the politics of documentation. What sources do documentary poets draw on and how do they handle the ethics of representation and citation? In response to the readings, students write critically and creatively, eventually pursuing research-based poetry projects on topics of their choosing. Previous workshop experience is not required but may be helpful.