Literature and Rhetoric Courses

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Lit and Rhet Home | Program | Faculty | Courses | Declare your English major

Here is a sampling of some of the literature and rhetoric courses that you can take. The descriptions below are taken from selected course syllabi, so course specifics may vary somewhat from term to term. 

For a complete list of courses offered by the Department of English Language and Literature, see our Course List.

For a list of courses being offered in the current academic year, see This Year's Courses.

Global English Literatures

Graphic of globe and book.English is a language not just of global business but also of world literatures. The spread of English in its many forms and dialects has had a profound influence on English literary studies, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries. But what does it mean to call “English” a “global language,” and how have writers from around the world used English to shape and articulate their own worldviews? Questions that will inform this course include the following: What role did British imperialism play in the spread of English language and literature? How do people who are not of British background use English to express their own views, experiences, and identities? How are sound and meaning connected? What role does myth play in the literary imagination?   

Digital Lives

Photo of face with digital data projected on it.This course examines how digital communication technologies construct and constrain the formation of online identities and social spaces. More specifically, we will explore the technical, cultural, and social forces that make digital lives both familiar and unfamiliar, traditional and subversive. In addition to studying the who, what, where, why, and how of “digital lives,” this course is focused on helping you develop your skills as an academic reader and writer in the discipline of English. This course will frame two primary analytical methods, self- presentation online and participatory culture. We will use these critical tools to look at several thematics that include Civic Life Online, Digital Media and Credibility, Gender, Race & Ethnicity, and Game Ecologies, among others.


Forms of Fantasy

Painting of dragon attacking wizard.This course deals with contemporary fantasy narratives, in literature and other media, and the myths and legends that inspire them. The main objective of this course is to examine how fantasy worlds are built, and how those fantasy worlds engage (or fail to engage) with social and political issues in the real world. We will begin by learning different ways of defining the genre and learning a few different political frameworks (feminism, critical race theory, disability studies) we can use to evaluate the genre. Then, students in this class will answer questions such as: How do fantasy narratives shape our understanding of world history? How are social or political issues represented in fantasy narratives? Whose fantasy is represented? How do traditionally underrepresented groups create their own fantasy worlds?

Genres of Technical Communication

Drawing of profiles and speech bubbles with gears inside.This course explores writing, presentation, and design across various genres of technical communication, with a primary focus on printed and/or online computer documentation. We will be primarily concerned with the theory and application of rhetoric in document analysis and design; that is, what makes a “good” (or bad) technical document? How can we improve upon existing industry practices? Although we will be drawing from the text throughout the term, much of the course will be focused on practical applications of analysis and design.


Shakespeare 1
ENGL 362

Photo of man kneeling before a woman in the Globe Theatre.A study of the plays written before 1599-1600, excluding Julius Caesar. Close study of the plays is encouraged, with attention given to Shakespeare's techniques of plot construction, to his accomplishments in language, and to elements of his stage craft. We will reflect on social and political themes, and on the intellectual contribution of Shakespeare's writings. We will discuss the 16th century cultural and theatrical contexts from which the plays arise, and reflect on the uses to which Shakespeare's works are put in the present day. The course introduces students to developments in Shakespeare studies.

Information Design

Map of Paris subway system.The theory and practice of design for print and digital media, including the study of design concepts such as space, colour, typography, interactivity, immersion, motion, and presence. Students apply this knowledge by developing or revising documents. We will look at information design both as a rhetorical practice and as a professional activity, applying this knowledge to everything from document design to urban design and wayfinding.

The Discourse of Advertising

Baby covered in logos.This course takes a rhetorical approach to the study of advertising, emphasizing questions of purpose, audience, context, language, design, medium, and delivery. Students will study important contributors to theories of meaning in language and semiotics, will examine recent developments in advertising practices, and will learn techniques for critical analysis. You will be expected to develop the vocabulary and tools to critically analyze advertisements.

Literature of the Modernist Period in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Painting of T. S. Eliot.A study of the literatures of the United Kingdom and Ireland from World War I to World War II, including such writers as Auden, Eliot, Isherwood, Joyce, Lawrence, Orwell, West, and Woolf. This course explores the literature of High Modernism, the literature of great complexity, at once highly experimental and deeply traditional, written in the years before, during, and after World War I. Modernism was an international movement driven by the immense transformations that took place in all areas of human activity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Literary Modernism was driven by and contributed to those fundamental changes, and we will read texts with close attention to how the literature reflected and responded to its times.


Explore Further

Interested in finding more courses? See our complete English course list.