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Literature and Writing
Literature & Writing at College of the Atlantic offers a rich and diverse curriculum for students interested in reading and teaching literature, creative writing, and journalism. Students receive individual training from faculty who are noted novelists, poets, journalists, technical writers, and scholars. All classes are taught in interactive, seminar style; the average class size is twelve. Introductory and intermediate seminars are strongly interdisciplinary to introduce students to the broad contexts of all literature and writing. Advanced classes allow students to compose novels or autobiographies as well as to engage in serious scholarship. Students focusing in literature and writing at COA often go on to creative work, graduate study, teaching, professional writing careers, or education.
Literature and writing students choose courses from other areas of the curriculum-from painting to psychology, education to botany-to craft a course sequence suited to their goals and passions. The college helps students find internship opportunities and teaching placements to prepare them for graduate or professional work in literature, journalism, law, education, and other fields requiring strong analytic and expressive skills. Those who enter the work force directly after COA have the intellectual tools and communication skills to ensure success. Students work closely with faculty as writing tutors, teaching assistants, and research assistants, providing excellent preparation for teaching and any career that necessitates strong writing and communication.
Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, and Native American orators appreciated the environment through their literature well before there was an environmental movement. Writers are often the most passionate and effective speakers for all kinds of social change; writing is also one of the primary modes of self-discovery and personal change. Ancient and classical writing clearly guides us to examine human nature and society. Today's world literature articulates the deepest dilemmas and hopes of humankind. A mirror of life that helps us explore its most profound questions, literature and writing at COA help students trace the history and beliefs of cultures across the world as well as find their own deepest truths.
HE1010Human Ecology Core CourseHuman Ecology is the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between humans and their natural and cultural environments. The purpose of this course is to build a community of learners that explores the question of human ecology from the perspectives of the arts, humanities and sciences, both in and outside the classroom. By the end of the course students should be familiar with how differently these three broad areas ask questions, pose solutions, and become inextricably intertwined when theoretical ideas are put into practice. In the end, we want students to be better prepared to create your own human ecology degree through a more in depth exploration of the courses offered at College of the Atlantic. We will approach this central goal through a series of directed readings and activities.
Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $25. Meets the following degree requirements: HE
This course has two goals: 1) to aid the student in developing and refining a style and 2) to make the student cognizant of the interaction between style, content, and audience. To achieve these goals, students write several short papers or one or two longer ones, meet regularly with the instructor to go over these, edit and discuss the exercises in Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams, and participate in review sessions. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Signature of instructor. Offered every winter. Class limit: 10. *W*
This course uses autobiography as a literary form to examine the lives of certain significant people and then to examine our own lives, concentrating particularly on understanding the effects of early home and community environments. In the first half of the term, students read and report on two autobiographical works chosen from a list including Beryl Markham, Carl Jung, Margaret Mead, Maya Angelou, Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Vincent Van Gogh, W. B. Yeats, and Pete Rose. In the second half, students write their own autobiographies, working in small groups and frequent tutorial meetings with the instructor. The product is an autobiographical examination of the student's own development. This course should consume 15 hours per week outside of class, more at the end of the term when finishing the autobiography. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Course involving literature and writing and Instructor Signature. Offered every other year. Class limit: 8. *HS*
HS1031Blood: Substance and SymbolBlood is a substance with profound imaginative and social power. It ties people together, even when it is spilled. And just as blood produces social bonds, it also divides people and groups according to notions of family, race, and nationhood. Blood both sacralizes and pollutes, entices and disgusts. Blood infects; it also makes people swoon. It also - these days - guarantees instant bestsellers. How can this fluid (mostly water, as we know) do such important social and symbolic work? This course takes blood as a thematic through which students can begin to explore topics that have long been (and continue to be) at the center of cultural and social theory: kinship and blood ties, race, nationhood, pollution, infection and contamination, and rituals of incorporation and transformation (including, perhaps, the current fascination with vampires). Due to the course's theoretical focus, class will be structured around close readings of major contributions to these topics, as well as films. Readings will represent a range of disciplinary approaches, including anthropology, political philosophy, cultural studies, and even classics. Students will be asked to engage carefully with the material both through participation in class and through outside written assignments. Evaluation will be based on class participation (which includes attendance), a presentation, and on assignments conducted outside of class. The course is open to all students, but participants should be prepared to read complex material with care and attention, and should be comfortable in constructing written analyses based on multiple readings.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 20. Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
HS121Literature, Science, and Spirituality
A survey of Anglo-American literature from the Scientific Revolution to the present. Focuses on the ongoing debate about the role of science in Western culture, the potential benefits and dangers of scientific experimentation, the spiritual, religious, social and political issues that come about with the Ages of Discovery and Reason, and their treatment in literature. Specific debates include concerns over what is "natural," whether knowledge is dangerous, the perils of objectivity, and the mind/body dichotomy; works include Shelley's Frankenstein, Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Brecht's Galileo, Lightman's Einstein's Dreams and Naylor's Mama Day as well as short stories and poems. Writing-focus ed option. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisite: Writing Seminar I. Offered every two or three years. Lab fee: $10. Class limit: 15. *HS*
HS133Nineteenth Century American Women
This course studies the American novel as written by women of the nineteenth century. It focuses on how women's issues and styles change over the course of the century, with its revolutionary economic, technological, social and political shifts, as well as on enduring questions. As we read from among the wide selection of nineteenth-century American women novelists (who outnumbered and outsold male authors) -- such as Rowson, Foster, Child, Cooke, Fern, Stowe, Phelps, Jewett, Chopin, and Gilman -- we consider how they have shaped the tradition of the novel and social values Americans encounter today. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: Writing Seminar I or signature of the instructor. Offered every other year. Class limit 15. *HS*
HS152Poetry and the American Environment
Since Anne Bradstreet in the seventeenth century, American poets have responded to the natural environment and its human transformation. Poets have learned to see by their exposure to nature, then in turn have used their techniques of vision, music and metaphor to teach us how to see who and where we are. This class considers poets of the Romantic and Transcendental movements, spends some time with Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, then focuses on the twentieth century, especially T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Robinson Jeffers, and Elizabeth Bishop. We end with some contemporaries: Robert Hass, Charles Simic, Gary Snyder, and Mary Oliver. Students may write either an analytical paper or a collection of their own poetry. Class meetings are supplemented by additional workshop sessions for student poets. Level: Intermediate. *HS*
HS181The Aesthetics of Violence
This course examines the origin and aesthetics of violence in western culture. We begin with the question: what are the long-term human effects of a civilization dominated by the image of a murdered god? We develop the focus on representations of violence in classical and contemporary literature and film. For theory we read Aristotle's Poetics, Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, Ren, Girard's Violence and the Sacred. We study classical tragedy (Oedipus Rex, The Bacchae, Medea) along with Shakespeare's Macbeth, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Discussions are supplemented by a film series clarifying the debate over contemporary film violence by placing it in mythic context. Natural Born Killers, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Ride the High Country, and Clockwork Orange are among works studied. Student reports bring us up-to-date on current issues and cases of domestic and serial violence, as well as the politics of censorship, the representation of violence in visual art, the issue of pornography and the myth of the victim hero. To clarify the issue of real versus represented violence we make a class field trip to the Bangor Auditorium for a professional wrestling match. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 25. Lab Fee: $15. *HS*
HS2037Classic Shorts: What’s in Our HandsThe question of what’s in our hands is, of course, tangible and practical, metaphorical and ecological. What we hold in our hands is one way to show what we value, what we (or someone) believe(s) we need, what connects us. Keys and spoons, tickets and toys, tools and weapons, instruments and electronic devices, what grows and what we plant, gifts. A story is also something we can hold in our hands, and in this section of Classic Shorts, stories will invite our attention to this genre one writer (William Trevor) has called “the art of the glimpse” and another (Margaret Atwood) describes as “a score for voice . . . keeping faith . . . with the language . . . told with as much intentness as if the teller’s life depended on it.” These stories in our hands include unexpected treasures found by kids digging in a hole on family ground, the glitter of opals and other beliefs hidden on Aboriginal land, a ship’s cargo of specimens from the Amazon, the healing root of an African plant, a notebook of musical instruments, the jacket of a friend departed, and an offering of lemon poppyseed cake. [How] does what’s in our hands keep and sustain us?
Seeing and articulating what we believe about how each story is made—its characters and landscape, gestures and metaphors, the instincts and technical decisions behind every page—will be central to our work, including a weekly out-loud story lab. Students will be expected to gather initial responses and develop critical inquiries story by story, with a midterm/story conference required and a final portfolio of original fiction. Evaluations will be based on attention to language as precision and possibility in this form deliberately made to contain “an explosion of truth . . . concerned with the total exclusion of meaninglessness” (Trevor again). What level of risk, what quality of articulation and follow-through to see, shape, and hold a story? Please come prepared to read closely, discuss openly, and experiment in the art of the glimpse.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $25. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
HS2039Writing Seminar II: Argumentation
This course focuses on real and symbolic journeys in literature, considering travel as both a physical and psychological phenomenon and the journal as a primary human archetype. Our readings begin with Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces then pass to a number of fictional journeys, including Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Dante's Inferno, Melville's Moby Dick, Charles Johnson's The Middle Passage, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Kerouac's On the Road, and William T. Vollmann's The Butterfly Stories. Two papers, a midterm and term paper, are required; all students also prepare a voluntary oral report. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 20 *HS*
HS245Writing Seminar I
While individual sections of this class may adhere to a specific theme such as nature, culture, or biological sciences, this course is designed primarily to prepare students to write academic papers. Designed to serve the overall academic program, this course focuses on formal writing based on rhetorical principles of exposition and concentrates on the writing process: prewriting, writing, and rewriting. Assigned readings both illustrate how to use these principles and develop students' analytical skills. Through a research paper or case study, this course introduces students to library research and documentation of an academic paper. Each section emphasizes peer review, revision, regular conferences, and some class presentations. Level: Introductory. Class limit: 15. *W*
HS266African American Literature
This survey of African American literature from its origins in the slave narrative to the present vivid prose of some of America's best writers considers the impact of slavery and race consciousness on literary form and power. Readings include letters, essays, poems, short stories, and novels of some of the following authors: Phillis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Pauline Hopkins, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: A previous literature course or signature of the instructor. Class limit: 15. Offered every other year. *HS*
HS271City/Country: Literary Landscapes 1860-1920
This class focuses on American fiction from the realist/naturalist period (roughly 1860-1920), a time when enormous changes were occurring in and on the American landscape. Increasing urbanization, immigration, and industrialization corresponded both with a desire for 'realistic' fiction of social problems, and nostalgic stories of a more 'realistic' rural life. For the first time there was a national literature, resulting from the capabilities of large publishing houses, urban centers and mass production - but this national literature was acutely self-conscious of regional differences, and especially of the tension between city and country. As writers tried to paint the American landscape in literature, their works subsumed major social issues to place and formal arguments about the true nature of realistic description. Examining works that portray factory towns, urban tenements, midwestern prairies, New England villages, and the broad spectrum of American landscapes, we look at how a complex, turbulent, multi-ethnic, and simultaneously urban and rural American culture defined itself, its realism, and thus its gender, class, race, and social relations and sense of values, against these landscapes. There are two extra, evening classes during week 7 (Short Fiction Week), and a modest lab fee. Evaluation is based on weekly response papers, two short papers, and a short fiction project, as well as class participation. Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisite: Writing Seminar I (or the equivalent). Class limit: 15. *HS*
HS280Contemporary Women's Novels
This course selects from among the most interesting, diverse and well-written of contemporary women's fiction to focus on questions of women's writing (and how/whether it can be treated as a literary and formal category), gender identity and women's issues, and the tension between sameness and difference among women's experiences, and narrations of women's experience, around the world. The course begins by examining two relatively unknown yet rather extraordinary novels from earlier in the twentieth century: Alexandra Kollantai's Love of Worker Bees (1927) and Sawako Ariyoshi's The Doctor's Wife (1967). After these, we read from truly contemporary authors and quite varied authors published within the last twenty years, like Buchi Emecheta, Gloria Naylor, Ursula Hegi, Nawal El Saadawi, Sue Grafton, Graciela Limon, Tsitsi Dargarembga, Barara Yoshimoto, Dorothy Allison, Rose Tremain, Julia Alvarez, Leslie Feinberg, April Sinclair, and Achy Obejas. Students each choose an additional author to study and read a novel outside of class. An extensive list of authors is included in the syllabus. Evaluation be based on class participation, either two short papers or one long paper on works discussed in class, a presentation to the class of the outside novel, and a final evaluation essay. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisite: a previous literature course and signature of the instructor. Offered every other year. *HS*
HS302Methods of Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum
This course not only gives students knowledge and understanding of rhetorical theory and practice so they can work effectively with developing writers, but also provides them with a review of grammar, methods of evaluating writing, and strategies for teaching exposition, argument, and persuasion. Students put this knowledge to practical use by working as peer tutors in the Writing Center. Students participate in this course for one academic year and receive one credit. In addition to Williams' Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace and Irmscher's Teaching Expository Writing, students read numerous articles from College Composition and Communication, College English, The Writing Instructor, Language Arts, and English Journal, and Research in the Teaching of English as well as a text dealing with teaching writing in their specialty, e.g. Writing Themes about Literature or a Short Guide to Writing about Biology. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Working knowledge of grammar and usage, excellent writing skills, ability to work closely with people, and signature of faculty member in writing or education. Class limit: 15. *ED* *W*
HS3059Native American LiteratureThis course is a challenging introduction to several centuries of Native American literature, the relevance of historical and cultural facts to its literary forms, and the challenges of bridging oral and written traditions. Authors include such writers as Silko, Erdrich, Harjo, Vizenor, and McNickle as well as earlier speeches and short stories. We also consider non-native readings and appropriation of Native American styles, material and world views.
Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
This Faulkner tutorial is an advanced course in which students will practice the human ecology of literary analysis by studying a single authors works and created world in depth. The course surveys a chronological and artistic range of Faulkners work, focusing in particular on the development and elaboration of style, tone, themes, and environment. Faulkner will also be studied as a modernist U.S. Southern writer; students will read an additional modernist or contemporary text by another author and/or an additional work by Faulkner in order to create comparisons of what Faulkners world and work achieve. Students will work intensively with their reading and analytic skills by focusing on the stylistics and development of one author over time. Works definitely to be covered include: Collected Stories of William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, Intruder in the Dust, and The Reivers. Evaluation will be based on class participation, frequent short response and passage analysis papers, the presentation of the outside novel, a final evaluation exercise, and an approximately 7-10 page Faulkner paper. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor required. Class limit: 6.
HS4019Technical WritingThis intermediate-to-advanced level course, which is interdisciplinary, teaches students not only to write clear, precise, and unambiguous memos, reports, executive sumaries, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents, but also to write collaboratively for an actual client. The practice-oriented approach gives students the opportunity to acquire skills they will need as professionals and to learn to communicate data effectively and concisely to specific audiences. Offered every other year.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisits: An introductory writing course, Signature of instructor. Class limit: 15. Meets the following degree requirements: W
HS4031Power and GovernanceThis seminar will explore formations and effects of governance and institutionalized power in the Modern and contemporary worlds. We will consider some of the explicit ways in which power over self and other is enacted (through states, institutions, bureaucracies, law, policing and regulatory practices, and transnational governance bodies). Yet we will also ask how power itself is instituted implicitly in everyday routines and practices, in the way we carry our bodies, live our lives, and undertake our work. We will begin our inquiry with the assumption that power and governance are crucial elements of human social life, productive of social and cultural forms, and that examining how they operate is an important task for human ecologists. What is the relationship between power, social structures, and individual personhood? When and how might one stand outside or contest existing formations of power (if at all)? When does power become violent, or is it inherently so? Who has access to the tools of governance, and for what purposes? This advanced-intermediate class in socio-cultural and political theory will grant students a basic fluency in an array of concepts that are crucial in contemporary social scientific scholarship. Students will also read ethnographic texts to consider how theory is both applied and built in reference to particular case studies. Finally, students will learn to enlist theory to conduct their own analysis of contemporary situations. Students will be expected to take on an active role in defining questions for conversation and in facilitating discussion among their peers. Evaluation will be based on the quality of participation in discussion (50 percent) and on written assignments (50 percent).
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Writing requirement must be fulfilled, as well as a reading intensive class in History, Art, or Human Studies. If you feel you can take the class but the above are not fulfilled, speak to the instructor. Permission of the instructor required. Class limit: 12. Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
HS4042Reading the WestThe spectacular range of habitats between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Basin and Sonoran Deserts has generated some of the most significant “place based” writing within American literature. In this intensive field-based course students will be required to read a range of materials dealing with key places, people, and events in the western landscape during the summer prior to the formal start of the course. The class will then convene in California and begin a trek eastwards into the Great Basin Desert, south to the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness, Yosemite, the Hetch Hetchy Valley and Mono Lake, and then finally southeastward across the Sonoran desert to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where students and faculty will participate in a conference celebrating the first 50 years of the Wilderness Act. Readings will include work by Muir, Didion, Steinbeck, and Fremont. Evaluation will consist of class participation, a series of essays and journal essays, and a final term paper that will be completed following the end of the field portion of the course. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Ecology and Natural History of the American West, and Wilderness in the West.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor; camping/backpacking ability. Class limit: 9. Lab fee: $1500. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
HS409Mountain Poets of China and Japan
There was a long standing tradition in both China and Japan of wandering poets and mountain hermits who expressed their experiences in nature in poetic terms. In this class we take an overview of the major styles of poetry in both of these countries and sample some of the work of their major poets. After a brief introduction to the use of dictionaries and various language tools available in books and on the internet, students will be invited to try their hand at translating some of the Chinese poems and rendering them into good poems in english. Level: Intermediate. Students will be expected to take the course on a Pass/Fail basis, with special arrangement made for those needing to take it for a grade. Class limit 12. *HS*
HS495Starting Your Novel
This is an intermediate to advanced creative writing class for those interested in an intensive approach to writing longer fiction. It would also be useful to the novel reader as a insider's approach to the structure and purpose of fiction, the relation of author to character, and issues of intentionality. We will be reading first chapters from current novels and studying their opening strategies, then each student will develop plot, character, style and setting ideas for a first novel, followed by writing and revising fifty or sixty pages of their projected work. Other concerns will be narrative viewpoint, handling of time, levels of realism, dialogue techniques, writing habits, motivation & self-discipline, and the relation of fiction to personal experience. Background in creative writing or narrative theory would be helpful but not essential. Evaluation will be based on class participation, strength of the concept, and the quality of the student's writtern work. Level: Intermediate/Advanced *HS* Limit 10.
HS5018The Nature of NarrativeThis is an advanced writing focused course in which students practice the human ecology of literary analysis. We explore the 'mind' or consciousness of fictional writing (specifically, novels) by looking at how narratives make meaning, and at how we make meaning from narratives. The course surveys some of the best modern fiction, with a particular focus on works that highlight narrative technique, stretch the boundaries of the imagination, have a rich and deep texture, and push against the inherent limitations of textuality. Students also hone their reading and analytic skills as they work closely with twentieth century texts that broke new literary ground. Some of the authors we may read include: Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Monique Wittig, John Dos Passos, Toni Morrison, N. Scott Momaday, Bessie Head, Manuel Puig, and Margaret Atwood. We also study some narrative (and possibly film) theory. Evaluation is based on class participation, frequent short response and passage analysis papers, and an independent project.
Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Signature of Instructor. Offered every other year. Class limit: 15. Meets the following degree requirements: HS, WF
HS503Survey of British Literature
Poetry, plays, essays, and fiction by British writers from the medieval period to the early twentieth century will be explored in the context of social, historical, and cultural currents and cross-currents. In addition to examining the lives and works of men and women writers from Chaucer to T.S. Eliot, students will be encouraged to question and analyze writings in relation to nature, science, and philosophy; poetry and painting; exploration, travel, trade, and colonialism; gender, class, and family; slavery and plurality; monarchy and revolution; classic, romantic, and modern theories and forms; and industrialism and alienation. Three papers will be written during the semester, each paper to be followed by a tutorial conference. Writing Focus option. Level: Intermediate. Class limit 15
HS532Tutorial: Writing Projects
This tutorial enables upper-division students to improve their writing styles using papers they are working on in other courses or writing they are doing as part of their senior project. The tutorial focuses on acquiring a better understanding not only of writing as process but also of syntax. Through exercises, peer review, and conferences, students will learn strategies for making their writing more cohesive and focused. In particular, they will look at the role pace, emphasis, and flow play in enabling them to draft pieces that are both readable and engage the intended audience. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Signature of the Writing Program Director. Class limit: 5. *W*
This class concentrates on the theory and practice of poetry and short fiction, though there will also be a place for "Starting Your Novel" students to finish up. Our goal is to develop the skills of verbal craftsmanship and self-criticism. Class meetings combine the analysis and critque of individual students writing with the discussions of published works by other writers. We also frequently discuss matters of standards, the creative process, and the situation of the writer in the contemporary world. Students are expected to submit one piece each week, to participate in class response to fellow writers, to make revisions on all work, and to contribute their best pieces to the printed class anthoogy at the end of the term. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Class limit: 10. *HS*
HS588Writing It Up: From Fieldwork to Final Draft
This course will take students through the process of transforming fieldwork and qualitative research into a completed final product. With a particular emphasis on allowing students who have undertaken extensive research in international and intercultural settings to follow through in a guided writing process, the course seeks to support the last phase of research by highlighting synthetic and analytical approaches to writing. The course will pay particular attention to the process of synthesizing research materials into a compelling and carefully-polished written format. Students will have the opportunity to draft, redraft, and revise multiple versions of their work. The course will provide the context for workshopping drafts, discussing research problems, and processing the complex task of synthetic writing. The course is designed to ensure students who have undertaken extensive research have the opportunity to engage a community of peers facing similar intellectual issues and dedicate themselves to finishing their projects. Students will be evaluated on the progress they make towards a powerful written version of their work and the evidence of improvement in the successive drafts they craft. A goal is for each student to develop a clear sense of the writing strategies that work for them as well as how to seek constructive external feedback on their writing. Peer evaluation and self evaluation will be important tools. The course will be limited to students who have completed substantial international or intercultural research in the previous term and who are ready to write. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Signature of instructor required.
HS657Gender, Politics, and Science in Fairy Tales of the World
Why do fairy tales capture the attention of adults and children all over the world and endure in popular literary and cinematic forms? What do they reveal to psychologists, biologists, historians, linguists, artists, anthropologists, and educators? Do they politicize or de-politicize? socialize or subvert? What is the postfeminist, postmodern response to the Brothers Grimm? What do fairy tales convey about animal behavior, entomology, and cosmology? How might the tales shape human limitations, moral values, and aspirations? This course will explore the story-telling and re-telling of literary, cultural, and scientific stories from a comparative perspective, imagining their interpretations and how they may be re-told with an eye toward new understandings of human interrelationships, of a given sociohistorical moment, the culture of COA, and the larger culture. Students will read fairy tales, view three films--"The Little Mermaid" (USA), "Chunhyang" (Korea), and "Pan's Labyrinth" (Spain)--and discuss academic pieces by writers such as Cristina Bacchilega, Bruno Bettelheim, Ruth Bottigheimer, Michel Butor, Italo Calvino, Claude L?-Strauss, and Jack Zipes. Reflections may include distinctions between fairy tale and myth; recurrent motifs and patterns; the history and variations of individual tales and motifs; social, sexual, moral, scientific and political content, with emphasis on race, gender, and class structure; and contemporary works inspired by traditional tales. Students will be evaluated on two short papers; one creative project that may be expressed in writing, visual art, music, or dance; and a final assignment that will take the form of a class project. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Class limit: 15.
HS676Shakespeare: Character, Conflict, and Cinematography
This course will focus on Shakespeare's tragedies as a direct link between the birth of tragedy in ancient Greece and the violence of contemporary cinema. The class begins with a week of Shakespeare's sonnets as an entry into the co-evolution of language, metaphor and human emotion. We'll then compare "Hamlet" and Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex" in the light of Freudian theory to shed light on universal issues of incest and domestic violence, and continue with a play every week in two extended evening sessions, 4-9 Monday and Thursday, with pizza intermission. The Monday sessions will be a complete dramatic reading of the play involving the whole class, stopping to discuss salient points, with the aim of complete understanding of language, structure and meaning. The Thursday sessions will be a single or double feature of contemporary and classic film adaptations, followed by discussion of the relation between play and film. Sample pairings would be "Romeo and Juliet" with Bernstein's "West Side Story; "Macbeth" with Geoffrey Wright's "Macbeth" and Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood," "King Lear" with Moorhouse's "A Thousand Acres." Two written assignments will involve a choice of structural analysis of a play, re-casting Shakespearean scenes or motifs into original short fiction, or selecting and following a Shakespeare play through all its cinematic variations. Texts will be individual editions of the plays, along with Michael Greer's "Screening Shakespeare" for individual background. Intermediate: prior writing or literature course recommended. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: prior writing or literature course recommended. Class limit: 16. Lab fee: $10.
HS696Troubadours, Nuns, Witches, and Concubines 500 - 1450
This course traces variations in the social, legal, and economic status of women in Asia and Europe from about 500 to 1450. Students will be examining letters, diaries, songs, court documents, poems, essays, and fiction with an eye toward textual analysis and original discourse. Students will also consider such questions as: Why and to what extent did women in some parts of the medieval world-in China until 960; in southern India; in Catalonia, Spain-experience relative freedom? What were women's attitudes toward men, children, religion, love, work, sexuality, religion, magic, and education? How was gender negotiated, with female identity in girlhood, adolescence and adulthood established or modified, within the various sociocultural contexts? What were the achievements and accomplishments of women during the "Middle Ages" whether they managed households; wandered the land as minstrels; or worked at court, in the religious life, in the visual and performing arts, or in medicine? Students will be evaluated on the basis of class participation, two short papers, and one substantial essay. Level: Intermediate/Advanced
HS743Classic Shorts: Money, Honey
A young woman who needs a job. A boy who steals. The ethics of a corporate franchise across cultures; an elder who will give away a cure for snakebite-but not sell it. The cost of electricity in Islamabad. A clash of values between brothers. A gamble. A bet. These are some of the characters and incidents we?ll encounter in this section of Classic Shorts, as well as the questions they lead us to weigh and contemplate. What would-or wouldn't-you do for money? Have you ever cheated anyone? What do you consider priceless in the green, green worlds of this fragile planet we share? How do you define "rich," "poor," "enough"? Our focus on this genre-the one William Trevor calls "the art of the glimpse"-may not take us all the way to Moneta, that temple of Juno in Rome where money was coined, but it will invite us into the literary territory of how writers develop a scene, secure a metaphor, and offer us as readers the tremendous wealth of discovering and naming some of fiction?s truths. Please come prepared to read closely, discuss openly, and experiment in the art of the glimpse. Critical inquiries, midterm conference, and final paper (original short-story option encouraged) required. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Class limited: 15.
HS749Tutorial: Witches and Witchcraft
Surveying the role and historical development of beliefs, practices, and persecution of witches and witchcraft in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the Unites States from medieval to modern eras, this tutorial is an advanced study that will involve extensive reading across cultures and genres. The impact of influences on the West from Africa and the Caribbean will be explored, as will depictions of witches in religious and legal documents, mass media, visual art, popular tales, fiction, and drama. Central questions are: How have attitudes toward and images of witches and magic reflected commonly shared fears, biases, beliefs, and hopes of various cultures? Why did witch hunts and interrogations utilizing torture intensify during various periods? Why were those exhibiting special powers or knowledge--such as healers or "entrancers"-greeted with rage, fear, and severity through the ages? Did different social classes harbor similar or disparate views of witches? In what ways did the public equate "bewitching" with control or usurpation of personal identity and responsibility? This course will meet regularly; students may select two topics for short papers and a third for more intensive treatment as a final project which may be in mixed media. Level: Advanced
HS755Tutorial: Fiction in Progress
This advanced tutorial continues work done in "Starting Your Novel" and/or previous fiction tutorials: intensive in-class attention to narrative issues of detail, viewpoint, time & tense, continuity, language, plot and character development, endings and overall design related to reader response. All work is thoroughly discussed in the context of narrative aesthetics in extended weekly small-group sessions; students are expected to write 8-15 pages a week of new material and to provide a revised and edited copy for evaluation at the end. Previous intermediate or advanced fiction courses and instructor permission required. Level: Advanced Limit: 5
HS757Proust, Joyce, and Beckett: The Limits of Language
Samuel Beckett's early studies of the masterworks of Marcel Proust ("?la recherche du temps perdu," translated into English as "In Search of Lost Time") and James Joyce ("Finnegans Wake") are a useful starting point for examining the work of these three individuals as a particularly tightly-knit cluster of sensibilities working on the cusp of Modernism's slide into Postmodernism. All three writers were attempting to describe the totality of human existence, as particularly lived and reflected at the times they lived in. For Proust and Joyce this endeavor entailed a precise, expansive, and exhaustive technique, whereas Beckett responded with a contracted use of language reflecting a dwindling human capacity to comprehend our circumstance. All three authors challenged readers' perceptions of form and pushed language to the limits of its potential. In this course we will read extensively from "In Search of Lost Time," "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake" finishing with Beckett's trilogy of "Molloy," "Malone Dies," and "The Unnameable." Several of Beckett's short plays and late prose pieces will also be studied. These readings will be supplemented with critical, cultural, and historical studies by Badiou, Cioran, Campbell, Pinter, Kristeva, Luk?, Zizek, and others. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: The Nature of Narrative or signature of instructor. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $60. *HS*
This course is a study of the figure of Satan in classic and contemporary literature and visual art including painting and film. We will view the Satanic image in the light of Jung's shadow archetype, an unconscious compensatory figure in the evolution of morality. It will also be related to ideas of nature and civilization, to major religious structures and to the political techniques of demonization and projection. A centerpiece of the course will be a close reading of Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" and its relation to contemporary Islam. Other readings will be drawn from a list including the books of Genesis and Job from the Old Testament, Jung's "Answer to Job", Sura 46 of the Koran, selections from Dante's "Inferno" and Milton's "Paradise Lost", Goethe's "Faust", William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," the Grand Inquisitor chapter from Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov", Nietzsche's "The Antichrist", Elaine Pagel's "The Origin of Satan", and the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil". We will also take time to study visual imagery from Bosch, Goya, and the Dore illustrations to Dante. Halfway steering clear of Hollywood, films may include "The Passion of the Christ", Pasolini's "Gospel According to St. Matthew", "Rosemary's Baby", Godard's "Sympathy for the Devil" and Herzog's "Nosferatu the Vampyr." Students will learn to analyze and understand complex literary works in historical and cultural context. Evaluations to be based on two papers (8 & 12 pages) plus one class presentation. The student presentations will be expected to expand the course into areas of popular culture, music, iconography and social behavior. Level: Intermediate; Class limit: 18; Lab fee $10
HS767Journalism in the New Media Age
Understanding how journalism functions is key to developing the ability to communicate ideas and issues to the broadest possible audience. This course covers writing news stories and analysis, photojournalism, and creating and maintaining a blog on a subject of the student?s choosing on Hancock County?s largest community information website - Fenceviewer.com. Other topics include writing for the Internet, investigative reporting, the business side of journalism, and avoiding libel. Guest speakers from a network news outlet and Maine Public Radio will introduce students to the production and writing requirements of electronic media such as television and radio. Students may also have stories published in the Mount Desert Islander. Evaluation will be based on the quality of the student?s writing in their portfolio, the effectiveness of their presentation, and participation in class discussion and peer review. This course would be appropriate for students who can write at the introductory or intermediate level. Level: Introduction/Intermediate. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 15. *W*
HS768Contemporary Continental Thought
This course examines pivotal works and ideas of late 20th and early 21st century Continental thinkers. It will take a collaborative, seminar approach to key works including Derrida on "Differance", Cixous and Derrida's "Veils", Deleuze and Guatarri's "Anti-Oedipus", Lyotard's "The Post-Modern Condition", and Zizek's "The Sublime Object of Ideology" as well as shorter essays by other writers such as Foucault, Badiou, Baudrillard, Habermas and Harraway. Students and the instructor will take turns leading analyses of texts, their contexts, and their significance. Students will also be required to do short weekly writings with a major term paper on an author and topic of their choice. Evaluations will be based on the quality of class participation as well as the creativity, insight and clarity of analysis in work leading class sessions, short essays and the final paper. The course presupposes some familiarity with the philosophical tradition to which these writers respond and an ability to engage in careful analysis of very challenging texts. If necessary the class the will be subdivided into sections to insure that students have a small seminar experience that is appropriately challenging for their level of skill and background. Writing-focus option. Level: Intermediate/Advanced; Permission of instructor required; Class limit: 20; Lab fee $20, *HS*
HS778Introduction to Screenwriting
This class explores the craft of writing for the screen. We will read a wide range of screenplays and teleplays, examining approaches for projects varying in length and dramatic scope. A study of basic Hollywood three-act structure will be balanced against a range of alternative strategies. Plot, character, dialogue and format will all be covered. Students will write throughout the term, and will have the option of focusing on several short (5-15 minute) scripts, one mid-length (30-45 minute) script, or the first half of a feature-length (90 minute) script. All writing will be reviewed in group critiques, allowing students to benefit from multiple perspectives and to hear their dialogue in the mouths of others. Students will be expected to revise each piece through several drafts. Workshop sessions will be augmented by weekly screenings. Some background in creative writing or narrative theory is helpful but not essential. Evaluation will be based on class participation, overall conceptual coherence, and quality of written work. Level: Introductory/Intermediate *HS* Limit 12. Lab fee: $30
HS780A Woman's Place: In the Poem, at Home, on the Road
The place ?no map could show . . ? So Adrienne Rich describes the moment igniting one poem of a traveler in this genre on the page. Just where is a woman?s place? Where does she come from? What does she leave or return to? How does she remember, observe, and name the worlds she is and the worlds she discovers in the shape and making of a poem? These questions will accompany us both as points of departure and anchors for discussion in reading poems from women inviting us to track the seasons on a Cumbrian sheep farm, taste raspberries in the snow in Moscow, muse on home by a waterfall in Brazil, enter a Polish caf?ith a terrorist, and turn circles barefoot on a Vermont hillside. For every poem we share, seeing and articulating the architecture will be primary. Please come prepared to read closely and aloud, to name what strikes you as a reader developing a vocabulary of critical precision and the moment?s truths, and to gather a portfolio of original poems tracing your journey to this place with no map but the words you find. Level: Introductory/intermediate. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $20.
HS781Tutorial: Reading and Writing Chinese Characters
This tutorial is a basic introduction to reading and writing Chinese characters and using Chinese dictionaries. Students will have weekly writing assignments in order to become familiar with several hundred characters. By the end of the term students should be able to use dictionaries to compose rough translations of some classic texts and poetry. Though the tutorial can be taken for its own sake, it provides good preparation for the tutorial "Classical Chinese through Poetry".
HS782Tutorial: Advanced Seminar in Human Ecology
The purpose of this tutorial is to review the many uses of the term ?human ecology?. It begins with an historical review of the academic and intellectual origins of human ecology. From these foundations, we proceed through the development of more interdisciplinary approaches to human ecology --- working with primary source materials (e.g., books, articles, position papers, academic program descriptions and related documents). We will further explore the activities of various regional, national and international associations and the aims of leading educational institutions. Assignments and discussions will revolve around several current problems that face human ecology. In particular, we will focus on: various theoretical controversies within and between biological and human ecology; issues and proposed methods of inter-disciplinary problem-solving, planning and application; and the growth of professional opportunities in human ecology worldwide. Evaluations will be based on careful reading and review of assigned materials, participation in discussions, individual papers and a collaborative group project. Level: Advanced; Permission of instructor required; Class limit: 3 Permission of instructor required.
HS783Tutorial: Evolving Narrative
This advanced tutorial continues work done in "Starting Your Novel" and/or previous fiction tutorials: intensive in-class attention to narrative issues of detail, viewpoint, time & tense, continuity, language, plot and character development, endings and overall design related to reader response. All work is thoroughly discussed in the context of narrative aesthetics in extended weekly small-group sessions; students are expected to write 8-15 pages a week of new material and to provide a revised and edited copy for evaluation at the end. Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Starting Your Novel. Instructor permission required. Level: Advanced Limit: 5
This course is designed for science students developing their research skills working on research projects for a principal investigator; specifically this course will improve the students' writing ability and introduce them to writing for the scientific community. The course involves not only learning to write an abstract and literature review but also understanding the protocols for writing a scientific paper based on lab or field data. In addition, students will prepare a power point presentation on their research to present at a meeting or conference such as the Maine Biological Science Symposium or the annual INBRE meeting. In addition to working with the instructor, students will work on the content of their writing with the principal investigator. Offered every other year. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Signature of instructor. Class limit: 12. Lab fee: $20. *W*
HS791Classic Shorts: What's on our Plates
Questions of appetite. Questions of sustenance. Questions of nurturing. What's on our plates is"inevitably" filled with such questions, with food as primary source and sensual delight, with food as geography and climate, culture and economy, fact and metaphor. The short-story writer who includes anything about what's on our plates also invites us to consider food memories and associations of every kind: where our food comes from, who prepares it and how, who we do or don't share it with, what grows where in a season of bounty, what?s absent in a time and place of deprivation, drought, violence. The stories we'll read include a devastating announcement at a family luncheon in Brazil, the diets of a fat girl who hungers for love, what?s on the menu at a backyard restaurant in a mid-level Haitian slum, a journey to a shrimp shack south (south!) of New Orleans, a roof-top job for a California grocery store, an anorexic's visit to a hammam in Paris, the slaughtering of a pig post-Chernobyl, and a monkey in an Argentinean kitchen. Our focus on this genre -- the one William Trevor calls "the art of the glimpse" -- will also provide many different tastes of how writers develop a scene, simmer a metaphor, and serve us as readers discovering and naming some of fiction's truths. Please come prepared to read closely, discuss openly, and experiment in the art of the glimpse. Critical inquiries, midterm conference, and final paper (original short-story option encouraged) required. Level: Introductory/intermediate. Class size: 15.
HS799Tutorial: Classical Chinese through Poetry
The learning of classical Chinese is the key to thousands of years of Chinese literature. One of the richest and most enjoyable approaches to the classical language - which is very different from the Chinese spoken language - is through China?s long poetical tradition. This tutorial serves as a basic introduction to the reading and writing of characters and the language patterns and structures most commonly used. Pass/fail grade option required. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisite: Reading and Writing Chinese Characters. Class limit: 5
HS810Nature of Narrative II
This is an advanced course in which students practice the human ecology of literary analysis. We explore the "mind" or consciousness of twentieth and twenty-first-century fictional writing (specifically, novels) by looking at how narratives make meaning, and at how we make meaning from narratives. The course accomplishes this by surveying some of the best and most challenging works of modern fiction, with a particular focus on those novels that highlight narrative technique, stretch the boundaries of the imagination, have a rich and deep texture, and push against the limitations of prose fictional textuality. Students will hone their reading and analytic skills by working closely with texts that broke new literary ground. Authors will include several of the following: Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Djuna Barnes, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Toni Morrison, Manuel Puig, Italo Calvino, Clarice Lispector, Ishmael Reed, H?ne Cixous, Gerald Vizenor, Jeanette Winterson, Julio Cortazar, as well as others. We will also study some narrative and novel theory. Evaluation will be based on class participation, frequent short response and passage analysis papers, and an independent theory-based research and novel project. Level: Advanced. Permission of instructor required. Class limit: 12 *HS* *WF*
HS815Tutorial: Classical Chinese through Poetry II
The learning of classical Chinese is the key to thousands of years of Chinese literature. One of the richest and most enjoyable approaches to the classical language - which is very different from the Chinese spoken language - is through China's long poetical tradition. This tutorial serves as a basic introduction to the reading and writing of characters and the language patterns and structures most commonly used. This is a continuation of Classical Chinese through Poetry and students must have taken the first section in order to register for this tutorial. Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Classical Chinese through Poetry. Class limit: 5
Greetings and salutations! This course is designed for those who still believe in writing letters or perhaps are curious because they've abandoned (or never even tried?) the act-and art-this genre offers us to connect with a writer's audience, material, and voices living on the page. "How we communicate is the nature of who we are," Sven Birkerts wrote in his 1994 book The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. Almost two decades later, when e-mail, text-messaging, and blogging punctuate the day and put not a handwritten page, but the world, at our fingertips, is letter-writing really dead? The mail we'll open in collections we'll read includes letters from a writer born on Gott's Island (Ruth Moore), writers finding themselves between roots in New England and travels to New York City and Brazil (E.B. White and Elizabeth Bishop), writers witnessing in war zones (Virginia Woolf and George Orwell), and a painter, poet, and social activist articulating some of the passions and questions of their vocations (van Gogh, Rilke, and Jessica Mitford). In addition to reading these letters, out loud and on the page, we'll learn some epistolary vocabulary and practice the art of all it can express as we gather our own collections of letters describing our origins, locating ourselves between travels, claiming our politics and our hearts' convictions, doing our business, and revealing the times we live in at perhaps another pace and value of resonance. Reading responses, mid-term conference, and final portfolio required. Level: Introductory/intermediate. Class limit: 12. *HS*
HS836Tutorial: Contemporary Poetry
HS840Tutorial: Narrative Fiction and Non-fiction
HS861Cross-Cultural American Women's Novels
This is an intermediate/advanced course in which students will explore in depth the connections between and among modern and cross-cultural women's novels, primarily those written in the now very multi-cultural United States. We will strive to make connections between texts so as to better understand the nature of and any patterns or themes that shape women's and cross-cultural fictional narration. Historical perspective, cultural differences, and gender roles will all be taken into consideration as we analyze relatively recent women's fiction by such authors such as Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Gloria Naylor, Linda Hogan, Julie Shikeguni, Jamaica Kincaid, Nora Okja Keller, Cristina Garcia, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Sigrid Nunez. Participants will read carefully, prepare and ask questions of each other, write frequent response papers, and carry out a sustained independent project to be presented to the group. The outside project will focus on one or more additional texts that may be fictional, theoretical, cultural, or historic. The group presentation will put outside texts into broad cultural and historical perspectives and/or discuss them in terms of trends in women's literature, immigrant literature, women's literature of the United States, multicultural narratives, or some other course theme. Selection of the outside text will give participants the opportunity to fill in perceived gaps in their reading or explore a particular narrative or cultural form in depth. The reading load for this course is relatively heavy. Evaluation will focus on preparation, participation, insight, critical thinking, response papers, and the outside project - both its oral presentation and development in an appropriate form (visual, narrative, analytic, curricular, etc.). Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: a previous literature course and permission of the instructor; Contemporary Women's Novels experience recommended. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: none. *HS*
MD037Islands Through Time
creative writing at COA
Click here to read samples of student work.
Literature & Writing Faculty
- William Carpenter
B.A. Dartmouth College
Ph.D. English, University of Minnesota
» Course areas: autobiography, creative writing, film studies literature, mythology, poetry
- Anne Kozak
B.A. Salve Regina College
M.A. English, St. Louis University
Course areas: advanced composition, English as a second language, methods of teaching writing, technical writing
- Karen Waldron
B.A. Hampshire College
M.A. English, University of Massachusetts Boston
M.A. Women's Studies, Brandeis University
Ph.D. English and American Literature, Brandeis University
» Course areas: American literature, minority literature, international women's literature, literary history, narrative theory, feminist literary studies, American Studies
- Earl Brechlin
A.S. Forestry, University of Maine Orono
A.S. Resource Business Management, University of Maine Orono
» Course area: introduction to journalism
- Candice Stover
B.A. Northeastern University
M.S. Pennsylvania State University
» Course areas: memoir, personal essay, short story, writing seminar
- Katharine Turok
B.A. Philosophy, Wheaton College
M.A. Comparative Literature, Rutgers University
» Course areas: Writing and Composition, World Literature