Summer 2023

English 320: Modern Fiction

Modern Speculative Fiction

This eight-week asynchronous online course centers modern speculative fiction, twentieth- and twenty-first century stories that speculate on what might be rather than focusing on what is. According to Professor Shelley Ingram, speculative fiction asks: what if? What if aliens invaded? What if ghosts exist? What if there are oceans at the end of our lanes? Following her lead, we’ll read uncanny, unusual, and just plain strange stories from genres like the weird tale, science fiction, and fantasy by authors such as Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, and Neil Gaiman, among others. Together, we’ll investigate questions about how and why modern speculative fiction imagines worlds different from our own.

Fall 2023

English 435G: American Literature, 1865 to 1914 (cross-listed)


“Call me Ishmael,” Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851) famously begins, and from there, it takes readers on a fascinating and perplexing journey pursuing the notorious titular white whale. While it’s often been discussed as a novel of Captain Ahab’s revenge or madness, this (quite literally) monstrous text presents readers with so much more. Together, we’ll grapple with some of life’s most complex historical and philosophical questions: questions of knowledge, truth, and perception; of racial and sexual identity; of the potentials and limits of human agency; of slavery and colonialism; of humans’ relationship to the natural world, among others. If you’ve always wanted to read Moby-Dick but haven’t had the opportunity (or the fortitude), now’s your chance! Across the course of the semester, we’ll examine Herman Melville’s magnum opus—the one novel William Faulkner said he wished he had written—through a variety of methodological lenses to glean the work of literary and cultural studies criticism in the twenty-first century.