Downloadable Course Guides


List of Courses





Introduction to Communication

Introduction to Communication is designed to introduce the basic concepts of human communication and interaction behavior. Through lectures, online discussions, and reading materials, this course surveys communication topics related to culture, gender, identity, diversity, groups, organizations and relationships.

Introduction to Mass Communication

T 11:10-12:30, Th Hybrid
Cross-listed with 50:570:300:91
This course will look at the dominant role of mass media and mass communication in our lives today. Focusing on several segments of mass media — newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television, movies, the web, social media, gaming, advertising and public relations — the class will study the unique characteristics of these various media segments, how they function, where they came from, and how they influence our lives today. Meeting once a week, we will also examine and discuss the business and ethics of mass media and how these factors impact democracy and the global marketplace of ideas.

Computational Thinking

MW 9:30-10:50
Cross-listed with 50:209:230:01
How do we use computation to solve problems? What kinds of problems are solvable with computation, and what kinds aren’t? This course offers students both practical and theoretical experience with computer programming. No previous programming experience is required.  Requirements: Coding projects.  Possibility of short, informal quizzes. 

Communication and Identity

MW 12:30-1:50
This course will examine how communication behaviors relate to constructing identity and perception of the self and others. The course will investigate processes in how humans attain, navigate, and perform identity. The course will also examine cultural influences, values, and assumptions that influence identity.  Students will engage in readings, activities and journals exploring their own personal identities.

Public Speaking

Public speaking is something that everyone will have to encounter at some point in their lives, and this course will help students focus on the skills necessary for effective public speaking. This includes delivery techniques, speech-writing, persuasion abilities and the ability to critically evaluate both written and spoken speeches of others. Students will research, write and deliver several speeches in class.




Literature Appreciation

This course is designed for non-majors and is not writing intensive. It is intended to give students a college-level understanding of the major literary genres and historical periods. Students will also gain a working knowledge of the basic tools of literary study, such as understanding point of view, tone, image, metaphoric language, etc. In addition to reading, students will take quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam. Fulfills the AAI General Education category.

Young Adult Literature

T 11:10-12:30, Th Hybrid 
Young Adult literature expresses the central concerns and imaginative realities of young people–or, at least, what publishers believe those realities to be. This course offers students the opportunity to define, historicize, theorize, and study the genre of Young Adult literature, including classic and contemporary works. Possible texts include Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Divergent, The Lunar Chronicles, Little Brother, and/or social problem novels such as Monster and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Assessments include digital and informal writings, participation in rich seminar discussions, and both creative and academic projects. No prerequisites are required. Students of this class will enroll in a learning community that is linked to the Digital Studies course “Truth and Lies in the Digital World” (T Th 9:30) with monthly joint meetings and activities. YA literature is a hybrid course, meeting in person every two weeks on Tuesdays and meeting remotely the rest of the time.  This course is part of the Learning Community.  The MANDATORY co-requisite for this course is 50:209:110:91, “Truth and Lies in the Digital World”.               

Special Topics: History and Theory of Children’s Poetry

Most of us were exposed to poetry in some form or another when we were children; indeed, children’s poetry over the centuries has been extremely culturally influential, even if it has not been studied very carefully until fairly recently.  This course considers the long transatlantic history of poetry written for children, from the seventeenth century through the present, and the theories that inform it. Questions we will ask and seek to answer are: What was/is the purpose of writing poetry for children and what are the intended effects? How is childhood understood/constructed at a given time and how does that bear on the type of poetry produced? What aesthetic (stylistic, formal) aspects predominate in children’s poetry and why? What cognitive theories undergird it? What were/are the market conditions that produce children’s poetry? What are the political and social conditions behind it? Requirements: weekly discussion posts; mid-term exam; final essay; and a final exam.

Children’s Literature in Print, Media and Film

TTh 2:00-3:20
This course interrogates inanimate beings who achieve sentience and explore boundaries between human and machine/object. Our particular focus will be this question: what animates a being? We begin by looking at puppets, after which we move to toys, cyborgs, mannequins, and other characters attempting to situate their identities. What does it mean to be human? How are various characters incomplete and lacking full humanity? Are the beings undergoing animation and metamorphosis children or not? How do various media such as claymation, stop motion, animation, etc, contribute to the existential dilemmas of childlike characters coming to life? From AI to Toy Story to anime and animals, questions about becoming a human being predominate! Requirements include participation, a collaborative presentation, and a final project, which may be multimodal.  Fulfills the AAI General Education category.

Literature of Horror

MW 12:30-1:50
Critic Leslie Fiedler wrote that in order to understand American literature, one must understand the horror it describes. “Horror,” he said, “is essential to our literature.” In this class, I want to expand Fiedler’s sense of our national horror(s) to think about how fear and disgust have been central to human cultural development more broadly. How have these negative feelings been harnessed to imagine and control subjects of difference, to create a sense of Otherness that protects structures of power? How might terror undermine those very structures of power by introducing a more intimate fear of the self? We will use these questions to frame our study of horror as a genre, its conventions, tropes, and relationship to the reader, expanding our study of cultural artifacts to include film and comics as well as traditional literary narratives.  Fulfills the AAI General Education category.

Images of the Hero

TTh 3:35-4:55
This course will attempt to understand the complicated concept of the hero by extending past common archetypal constructions in order to seek the ideological purposes of the idea of heroism. Politics, gender, and sexuality will be frequent topics in our inquiry, and we will constantly endeavor to discover how heroism exists not only as a normalizing discourse, but as a locus of rebellious, nonconforming, and even perverse ideas about social identity. Heroes are not just figures to be emulated—they often engage the possibility of the transgression of normative categories of body and desire.

Assignments for this course include an extended, multi-part “(Everything but the) Research Paper” — an exercise in developing argument that culminates in 6–8 page “Introduction” paper that presents your research topic.  Fulfills the HAC General Education category.

Foundations of Literature

TTh 11:10-12:30
In this course students will examine works from the Romantic Era (late eighteenth century) through the Modernist period (early twentieth century). The class will pay special attention to the political and cultural contexts that gave rise to these aesthetic movements. Readings will emphasize integrating historically marginalized voices—women, people of color, members of the queer community—to highlight their often overlooked contributions to the development of literature. Students will be required to pass reading quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam and to submit a 5-6 page original paper.  Fulfills the HAC General Education category.  This course is required for English majors.

Weird Books

MW 3:45-5:05
Cross-listed with 56:350:552:01
What do we do with books that are so weird that we don’t even know what to think of them let alone study them? In this course, students will explore “weird” or “broken” books that challenge the way we think about the very terms “book” and “reading.” From zines to art books to comics and beyond, we will be thinking about how “weird” books mark important intersections between literature, fine art, and gaming. As part of our study, students will be creating “weird” scholarly interactions to help them understand these texts, including creating interactive maps, unboxing archives, and weird books of their own.  Fulfills the AAI General Education category.

Old English Literature

TTh 2:00-3:20
How do you learn a dead language? A language with no living speakers, whose extant texts are so sparse, for which we know only a fraction of the words & implications & registers used by its speakers back in the day? “Old English” is an umbrella term for a group of related dialects spoken & written in what is now England from about 600 to 1100, and is the ancestor of Modern English. It is vaguely recognizable, but feels wild enough.  In this class we will learn how to translate Old English using practical & cooperative methods, thinking about why texts were produced & for whom, and what sorts of things might they say that would surprise us.  Graded work includes a Final Project, a translation-based final, and group translation projects.  Fulfills the Department’s Pre 1800 requirement.  Pending HAC approval.

Shakespeare II

MW 3:45-5:05
There is a reason why film and stage versions of Shakespeare still come out every year: he was a staggering genius, in both psychology and language. He was also a misfit: bisexual in age when homosexuality was punishable by death, and a democrat in an age of state despotism and government murder. King James’ top playwright in fact pens play after play about the killing of kings. We will read Macbeth, Othello, King Lear and The Tempest to examine Shakespeare the protest playwright, a dissident in a startlingly cruel society. Grades will be determined by a mid-term exam, final exam, and a term page paper, with credit, too, for groundling-like outcry and participation.  Fulfills the Department’s Pre 1800 requirement.

Exploring the Essay

MW 2:05-3:25
This course is both a survey of the essay as a literary form in the late 20th and early 21st century and a course in writing the essay as a vital non-fiction genre. Each week, we will read, discuss, and analyze selected essays from the late 20th and early 21st century and engage in a series of writing exercises that culminate in a revised and polished essay of 12+ pages. Our primary text is The Contemporary Essay (2021), edited by Phillip Lopate.

Portfolio Seminar

M 3:45-4:55
A one-hour seminar in which students complete a self-directed electronic portfolio that presents their experience and achievements as English majors in relation to professional life, graduate school, and/or other post-baccalaureate goals.  Required for English majors.




Modern American Poetry

MW 2:05-3:25
Poetry is the oldest kind of writing we have, and yet it’s not very well understood, in part because sometimes poetry—and sometimes on purpose—can be difficult.  In this course we’ll read a wide variety of modern and contemporary American poetry and work through it together, considering how the poet says what she wants to say. What techniques are involved? How is poetic language put together? What traditional and nontraditional forms can help shape a poetic message? In short, we will think carefully about, and analyze, the ‘craft’ of poetry.  In addition to learning how to unpack a poem and to more fully enjoy poetry, you’ll be given opportunities to write your own poetry, both according to rules and without.  You don’t need to have any prior knowledge of poetry, or any previous practice reading or writing it.  Requirements: weekly discussion posts; weekly poetry writing assignments; mid-term exam; final essay; and a final exam.




Art of Film

MW 6:00-7:20
Can film be art, and if so, how does that art manifest itself on the screen? This course is concerned with the fundamental aspects of cinematic technique, the understanding of which is necessary to answer that question. We will cover the various elements of mise-en-scéne, including narrative, cinematography, editing, and sound, and consider everything within the context of form. This course features an extensive screening component. Course requirements: Weekly feature film viewing and one-page paper assignments, two quizzes and final analysis paper. Fulfills the AAI General Education category.  This course counts toward the interdisciplinary film minor.


T Hybrid, Th 11:10-12:20
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most innovative, and influential, directors in film history.  We’ll look at many of his iconic films, including “North by Northwest,” “Vertigo,” and “Psycho,” with an emphasis on cinematic technique.  Two short response papers, midterm, and final exam, as well as participation in on-line forums on Canvas.  Course counts towards both the English and communication major and the interdisciplinary film minor.  

Film Genre: The Noir Film

M Hybrid
W 2:05-3:25

This course counts toward the interdisciplinary film minor.




Introduction to Journalism

TTh 2:00-3:20
This ground-level journalism course will introduce students to the fundamental skills involved in reporting and writing for the news media.  Students will learn how to identify and develop news stories, research and gather information, find sources, conduct interviews, and write on a variety of subjects. They will also dive into today’s complex media environment, becoming savvy consumers of the news that is being reported nationally and globally. The course places a strong emphasis on building reporting and news writing skills through exercises, quizzes and real-time reporting assignments.

Introduction to Mass Communication

T 11:10-12:30, Th Hybrid
Cross-listed with 50:192:211:91 
This course will look at the dominant role of mass media and mass communication in our lives today. Focusing on several segments of mass media — newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television, movies, the web, social media, gaming, advertising and public relations — the class will study the unique characteristics of these various media segments, how they function, where they came from, and how they influence our lives today. Meeting once a week, we will also examine and discuss the business and ethics of mass media and how these factors impact democracy and the global marketplace of ideas.

Political Reporting

T 3:35-4:55
Th  Hybrid
Politics has come to largely define who we are, as individuals and a nation, and with the upcoming mid-term elections, many predict we are in for yet another sea-change this November, with the news media playing a critical role. Using the upcoming political season as our canvas, this hybrid course will provide students with a fuller understanding of how reporters covering government and politics operate, how election cycles play out, and how the media helps shape our political discourse. Through written assignments, field reporting, debates and once-weekly class discussions, the class will analyze the interrelationship between news media and American politics, how one institution affects the other, and how both influence the public.  

Review Writing

So you want to be a critic? Whether it’s weighing in on the latest controversy or recommending a must-see movie, everyone has an opinion and most people want to share that opinion through a venue that may reach, and hopefully influence, others. This online course will teach students to apply a more critical eye toward the social, cultural, consumer and entertainment activities they engage in, and to shape those observations and judgments into written reviews. Using the same discerning measures employed by professional critics, assignments will include writing various types of reviews and criticism, with the goal of establishing authority and a voice on subjects students are passionate about and seek to share.




Special Topics: Multilingualism and Linguistic Minorities in the U.S.

MW 3:45-5:05
Cross-listed with 50:940:251:01
In this course we will learn about the presence -and influence- of multicultural and multilinguistic minorities in the US, placing particular emphasis on the Latino, Asian and African American communities. Students will examine and discuss the political, social and educational issues that relate to cultural and linguistic diversity in the US, such as the (mis)representation of multiculturality and multilingualism in the media or the nature of past and present linguistic policies in the country. We will focus on understanding the characteristics of the languages and dialects spoken by these groups (i.e. Spanglish, Latino and African American English, Creoles…), and the consequences of language contact.  




Writing Public Arguments

The fundamental techniques of argument, demonstration, and persuasion; analysis of sample readings and extensive writing practice.  Fulfills the WRI General Education category.

Art of Revision

Practice in the art of constructing clear, concise prose, with emphasis on developing a personal style. Fulfills the WRI General Education category.

Business Writing

Intensive study and practice in organizational communication; emphasis on workplace genres including correspondence, reports, presentations, and employment documents.  Fulfills the WRI General Education category.

Fiction Workshop

What does it mean to write fiction in 2022? In this online class, we’ll think about how one develops a singular voice in a time of cultural shift, which doesn’t mean we’ll neglect the examples of our literary ancestors. We’ll consider that challenge in an encouraging environment. You’ll be responsible for providing written feedback to your peers, as well as sharing short fiction of your own with the class. There is no midterm or final.  Fulfills the AAI General Education category.  Fulfills the WRI General Education category.

Non-Fiction Writing Workshop

This asynchronous online workshop, suitable for writers at all levels of experience, will allow students to try their hands at poetry, nonfiction, and fiction.  Students will also read and participate in discussions of contemporary examples of each genre.  Fulfills the AAI General Education category.  Fulfills the WRI General Education category.

Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing

MW        12:30-1:50
Practicum in the Tutoring of Writing is an opportunity to acquire practical skills in writing craft and pedagogy with a particular focus on the tutoring of writing. It is linked to our campus Writing and Design Lab and serves as the training site for future WDL consultants. But it is equally valuable in its own right as place to learn about writing theory, learning theory, and document and web design through hands-on work with a wide range of texts and other media (oral, visual, digital). The course combines traditional classroom-based learning with two hours per week (on a schedule that works for you) serving an apprentice in the WDL.  Successful students can apply for a paid-consultant position in the WDL, which is an excellent preparation for graduate school and future employment. This is a 4-credit course open to students who have completed English 101 and 102 with a grade of B or better.  SPECIAL PERMISSION ONLY.  Fulfills the XPL General Education category.  Fulfills the WRI General Education category.





Professional Seminar in English Studies

W 6:00-8:50
This course serves as an introduction to the academic and professional skills required for successful study of English at the post-graduate level. Topics will include the explication of literary texts; writing of bibliographical and critical essays; locating and documenting primary and secondary sources; understanding and skillfully deploying critical theory in literary analysis; and refining writing and critical thinking skills. Students will also be introduced to resources geared toward exploring professions related to English study, including scholarly editing, writing for publication, and teaching at different types of institutions. This course is required for the Master of Arts degree.


Publishing and Editing

T 6:00-8:50
Editors are the “hidden figures” of the publishing industry. Learn more about what they do and build editing skills in this course. You’ll explore theories and practices of editing both in print and online. You’ll work with texts in various stages of production—from manuscript to published book. You’ll participate in developments in the digital humanities and recent technologies such as Scalar, a digital publishing platform. Projects include hands-on scholarly editing of archival texts, including those in The Complete Works of Edith Wharton project (Oxford University Press), for which Dr. Singley is the General Editor, and work with local historical projects such as the online Encyclopedia of Great Philadelphia and the Cooper Street Project. Assignments include readings, one or two oral presentations, at least two hands-on editing projects; and a writing or editing project of your choice.  


Weird Books

MW 3:45-5:05
Cross-listed with 50:350:392:01
Weird Books offers an entry point to the study of material texts through novels and other literary works that experiment in form. Students will learn about studies of form and the history of the book by studying literary artifacts that break from our expectations of the codex as a material work. Alongside these “weird” texts, students will read works on book history and theories of materiality and experiment with form by playing with and creating their own material works in class. Critical readings include The Book (Borsuk), How the Page Matters (Mak), Writing Machines (Hayles) and selections from The Book History Reader (eds. Finkelstein and McCleery). Literary readings include material forms, such as A Humument (Phillips), House of Leaves (Danielewski), or S. (Abrams/Dorst), digital narratives or games such as With Those We Love Alive (Porpentine) and Pry (Tender Claws), as well as various art books and print ephemera. Cross-listed with 350:303


Special Topics: Research Methods

M 2:00-4:50
This course examines social scientific methods for studying and conducting research. The course provides the student with the opportunity to develop a working knowledge of inquiry methods and to develop some preliminary research skills. These skills include the ability to be a critical consumer of scientific research and the ability to design a research project. Students will learn the process of academic writing, various research methods and apply these skills to a topic of the student’s choosing in a semester-long project .


Special Topics: Rich Man, Poor Folk: Mediating Social Inequality

M 6:00-8:50
We address one of the great problems of our time: the polarization of wealth. Moving historically from the middle ages to the present day, we shall study both the emerging philosophic arguments of conservatives to justify inequality (Tudor sermons, Edmund Burke, Nietzsche, Roger Scruton) and indictments of inequality by progressives (Thomas More, the Levellers, Rousseau, Paine, Engels). Students will also screen movie classics, at weekends, on the historically varied lifestyles of the rich and poor, drawn from French, Italian, German, English, and U.S. cinema. Classes will thus discuss a different period each week as represented both in film, and in its philosophic ideas on polarization.  Fulfills the Social Justice requirement.


Special Topics: Critical Disability Studies

Th 6:00-8:50
Many people imagine (and I used to be one of them, so no judgement!) that disability only affects a small and specific segment of the population.  However, in reality disability can, and if we live long enough, will impact us all.  Beyond the narrow question of health, ideas related to ability and disability inform how we watch films, select suitable partners, vet candidates for political office, and play a role in a range of other decisions and perspectives on the world.  Oftentimes, we are not aware of the ways that conceptions about disability are shaping our relationship to ourselves and the world around us. The goal of this course is to make you more aware of how and why thinking carefully about disability matters to all of us. It aims to give you the basic tools to think about disability critically and capaciously.  In order to gain a sense of the meaning and magnitude of these ideas, students will engage with theories, theorists, histories, texts, representations, and questions that are foundational to and implicated by the field of Disability Studies. Weekly blogs, a short paper, a presentation, and a final project are required. 


Practicum in the Teaching of Writing

W 12:30-3:30
This course introduces current and future college instructors to the pedagogy of writing. A blend of theory and practice, action and reflection, the Practicum exposes students to major approaches to the design and delivery of writing instruction, from developing syllabi and crafting assignment sheets to the complexities of writing assessment and response. Its central aim is to create an environment in which writing instructors become reflective practitioners of their craft, able to teach in a range of contexts and cultures.





Fiction Workshop

M 2:00-4:50
Students will submit stories or excerpts of novels and novellas for critique and discussion by their classmates and professor.  The workshop will be complemented by the study of published contemporary short fiction.


Poetry Workshop

M 6:00-8:50


Creative Non-Fiction
On Urgency: A Workshop in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir

T 2:00-4:50
What does it mean to write creative nonfiction and memoir right now? How to write out of our personal urgency while also asking questions about community, survival, isolation, and power—all that is wrong with the world and all we’d like to make better? How does it feel to be alive right now? We’ll think about those questions alongside all the matters of craft: voice, structure, focus, aboutness, sonics, description, polarity, openings. You’ll be responsible for providing verbal and written feedback to your peers, as well as workshopping pieces of your own over the course of the term. Along the way we’ll work hard, take care of each other, and make sure that joy and seriousness share the same space. (MA students and advanced undergrads are welcome to apply with permission from the instructor.)


Craft: Point of View

Th 2:00-4:50
This craft class will look at the surprisingly complex questions about how fiction uses narrative point of view.  We’ll discuss the differences between omniscient and third person limited viewpoints, first person, the notion of reliability in narration, and many other issues, including the voices of children and even animals.  Reading of short passages will help us to identify POV quickly and confidently.  We’ll also look at your own writing.