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English Variable Title Courses

Below you will find a listing of the variable titles we offer in the Department of English, along with a curated list of themes and subtitles under which they have run. These courses appear on catalogs and transcripts as just the course prefix and number. The curated list of themes/subtitles provides a small description to help exemplify the broad range of what an English student may learn in their English education at UNC. Talk to your advisor about registering for these courses.

  • ENG 195
    Appears as "ENG 195 Introduction to the Discipline of English"

    The Arthurian Legend

    This class is designed to introduce English majors to the study of English through an examination of the Arthurian legend with an emphasis on close reading. In the words of I.A. Richards, our focus will be "the words on the page." How do literary tropes, syntax, word choices, and even phonetic choices generate meaning in a text?

    Romance and Reality

    In a way, our course deals with texts in which “nothing happens.” We will begin, therefore, by putting into question this notion of “what happens.” We will discuss whether or not “what happens” constitutes history and the “reality” that realism aims to represent. As the texts we will read are influenced by the romance tradition (seen by some as the “opposite” of realism) we will also work together to ask: what kind of “history” does romance represent? What “reality?” Included in these questions are issues of power and authority: who decides that realism trumps romance? Why? What is at stake in claiming realism as a truth-telling genre and romance as a genre that nurtures illusion? As many of our texts are by female writers, and as romance has been seen as a predominantly female mode, we will, inevitably, come back to issues of gender and how the politics of gender overlap with the politics of romance vs. realism. We will also see that far from opposing one another, romance and realism infiltrate and inform one another in productive, and surprising, ways. 

    The Monstrous

    What is a monster? What and who defines the monstrous? In this class, we will ask these questions from a number of different vantage points. We will discuss how different genres (poetry, prose fiction, and non-fiction prose), historical periods (from the 18th century to today), and literary theories (new criticism, feminist criticism, new historicism and others) imagine the monstrous and also how each assumes what the category of the “naturally human” is that opposes the monstrous. 

  • ENG 205
    Appears as "ENG 205 World Mythology and Folklore"

    Folklore and Mythology

    We will ask questions, such as who are folk and what is the lore? What is the difference between folklore and mythology? How does folklore function in culture and society?  Is folklore a static form of tradition or belief, or is it a dynamic, inherent force that is constantly at work in the construction of the self and the interaction between self and community?  We will ask what role humor plays in folklore, and we will ask if our attraction to folklore stems from a collective need to communicate with and understand each other.  In short, we will examine how folklore enhances our understanding of literature, ourselves, and the world.  On occasion, we will also look at the relationship between a tale from contemporary folklore with a tale from classical mythology. 

    Fall 2019 was the first time that this course was offered, so we expect there to be more subtitles/themes in the future!

  • ENG 219
    Appears as "ENG 219 Language and Society"

    Intro to Sociolinguistics

    This course is an introduction to sociolinguistics, which is the study of the relationship between language and society; that is to say, the relationship between some linguistic forms and the kind of people who use them. We will look at variation at all levels of language and how such variation constructs and is constructed by identity and culture. We will also consider some of the educational, political, and social repercussions of these sociolinguistic facts.

    Fall 2019 was the first time that this course was offered, so we expect there to be more subtitles/themes in the future!

  • ENG 225
    Appears as "ENG 225 Communications on a Theme"

    The Story of Food

    The Story of Food looks at all aspects of food: how food is grown, how it is prepared, how and why we eat it, and what it means to us on literal, cultural, and emotional levels. We will also consider how we evaluate food and how we write about it.

    The Outsider

    This course will focus on a verbal and written discussion about one's purpose in life. What is the individual's role in society? How does one fit in? By studying and writing about the existential issues posed by the narrators of selected works, we may arrive at tentative conclusions regarding our own lives in what appears to be a meaningless universe. 

    Rhetoric and Gaming

    Even those outside of the “hobby” recognize video games as the fastest growing media field. Yet, despite their increasing popularity and sophistication, video games receive an underwhelming lack of scholarly attention. And though growing, their pedagogical impact is even lower–rarely do games show up in education. I hope to correct these oversights by addressing two important, interlocking sets of questions: 
    ·First, how can traditional humanities/critical/research terms and methods inform the way we think about and appreciate games? 
    ·Second, how can playing games help us invent new critical/research terms and methods? What distinguish games as an aesthetic medium? What can games do that books or movies cannot?

    Protest and Resistance

    We will look at literature and visual rhetoric of protest and resistance from grass-roots movements to popular social movements across time. We will also carefully consider how we evaluate and write about the rhetoric of protest. 

    House and Home

    This course is a mixed genre exploration of American writing about house and home; it includes the reading of fiction, memoir, personal essays and poetry. From critical readings of the texts you will be expected to elaborate on your personal and cultural beliefs about the topic.

    • ENG 225 has also included the following themed subjects:
      • Rhetoric of Natural Disasters
      • The Holocaust
      • Online Hoaxes and Legends
      • Reading Insanity
      • Southern Gothic
      • The Romantic Imagination
      • Walls
      • The Rhetoric of Hospitality
      • Writing Cultures
      • Reading and Writing Young Adult Literature
      • Issues in Education
      • The Romantic Imagination
      • Ethnography
      • Tolkien's Medieval Worlds
      • Film Noir
      • Century of Change
      • Identity
      • Literacy Debates
      • America's Changing Values
      • Captivity Narratives
      • Writing Biographies and Memoirs
      • Death, Grief, and the Arts
      • Thinking About Art
      • The Electronic Persona
      • Film Melodramas
  • ENG 236
    Appears as "ENG 236 Ethnic American Literature"

    Latina/o Literature

    This course is an introduction to US Latina/o literature. Rather than present a survey of various US Latina/o people, this course will explore US Latina/o issues through a thematic approach. Students are expected to learn the various historical contexts that create both unity and difference among US Latina/o people and between non Latina/os and Latina/os in the US in general.

    Asian American Literature

    We will examine Asian-American literature to appreciate the contributions made by Asian American writers to American literature and film by exploring and understanding how Asian American literature as been shaped by intellectual, cultural, and historical currents. We will also connect Asian American literature tothe American literary tradition by noticing thematic continuitieies -- as in self and language, gender identity, equality vs hierarchy, experience vs innocense, individual vs social, reconciliation with the past, and more. In htis class, we will also enhance our experience of community. 

  • ENG 239
    Appears as "ENG 239 Topics in Women's Literature"

    Women's Poetry

    In this class, we will use our text as a backdrop to looking at contemporary women's poetry. We will read a number of essays by women writers and discuss the effect of the women's movement on women's voices. 

    All the Single Ladies

    This course examines representations of single women in literature as well as single women as producers and consumers of literature. By examining texts in the contexts from which they emerge and consulting secondary sources from the newly developing interdisciplinary field of “singleness studies,” we will ask: in what ways are single women (including never-been-married women, divorced women, and widowers) portrayed in literature? How does this portrayal reflect, or comment upon, the ways in which gender is expected to be performed in a given time period or among a specific racial or socio-economic group? How are single women stereotyped and stigmatized in literature? What does this tell us about how the single woman has been understood over time (from the Romantic period to today)? And, finally, what tensions, problems, or obfuscations do the portrayal of single women expose in the marriage plot? Does it matter that many of the female writers we are studying were, in fact, single? Does it matter that many of the consumers of the literature we are reading are single? Why or why not?

  • ENG 262
    Appears as "ENG 262 Masterpieces in World LIterature"

    Celtic & Norse Mythology

    Norse and Celtic literature -- including their mythologies -- pervade modern culture in a variety of ways, from the terminology of our weekedays, several of our holidays, and certainly not least, by providing the inspiration for some of the world's and history's greatest writers. We will address the notion of the hero (as well as the monstrous), gender roles, ethnicity, the impact of Christianity, social structure, and the construction of identity.

    World Fables and Fairy Tales

    Fables and fairy tales are a form of storytelling shared by cultures throughout the world. While each culture or geographic region of the world has its own body of fables and fairy tales that it considers its own, there are themes and motifs that tend to be repeated across many cultures and time periods. Thus, the purpose of this course is to enable you to proceed with a close reading of fairy tales and see each tale as a commentary on the social conditions and relations that shape the community in which it is imagined and disseminated.

  • ENG 380
    Appears as "ENG 380 Medieval Literature"

    Rebels, Outlaws, and Outcasts

    Discover the people dwelling on the fringes of medieval European society—and learn about how permeable and stable boundaries were between these groups and "normal" society. What does it mean to be a rebel, outlaw, or outcast during the late medieval period in Europe? What can studying these groups reveal about medieval ideas about gender, class, ethnicity, religion, and nationality? This course is designed to introduce students to the literature of the medieval period through a historical approach in order to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the distinction and relationship between text and context.

    Fall 2019 was the first time that this course was offered, so we expect there to be more subtitles/themes in the future!

  • ENG 385
    Appears as "ENG 385 Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Literature"

    Fascism in British Modern Literature

  • ENG 395
    Appears as "ENG 395 Studies in Literature, Theory, and Writing"

    Studies in Inspiration

    This course is designed to introduce you to the concept of inspiration – a concept that has baffled and delighted writers for at least a couple of thousand years. As an event, a moment, an experience, it has served as a source of productivity, of madness, and of celebration; as a concept, it has served as a great unifying source – around which traditions in the field of rhetoric and composition, for example, have centered – and it has served in equally powerful ways as a disruptive force, decentering the same traditions.

  • ENG 420
    Appears as "ENG 420 Special Topics in Creative and Professional Writing"

    The Exquisite Craft of Lying

    In this course, we will read selected examples of autobiography and memoir written by accomplished writers and explore theories and practices of these genres to determine why readers are attracted to autobiographies and memoirs and why writers eventually use them to reflect upon their lives. We will examine the problematical aspects of these two genres. We will write, drawing upon our own memories, no matter how faulty, to examine how these memories shape our identity and the identity of others. Our goal will be to discover the possibilities and constraints of the written word, and explore the strategies and techniques that challenge these constraints.


    Style is traditionally known as an important canon of rhetoric after invention and arrangement. It is intimately associated with the art of persuasion. Today the study of style, more properly called stylistics, is a branch of language study that brings concepts and techniques in modern linguistics to the analysis of texts including newspaper articles, scientific reports, legal contracts and literary pieces. Therefore, the aim of this course is to introduce such concepts and techniques to students in order to help them proceed with a stylistic approach to interpreting and producing texts.

    The Writer as Witness

    This course is a mixed genre exploration of the notion that writers write “what they see and what they know” (as witnesses to their own lives or the lives of others) and they write, as the poet Li-Young Lee asserts, toward meaning. The course includes the reading of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and memoir. Students will also be engaged in their own writing—as a witness to their life, the lives of others and the world around them.

  • ENG 430
    Appears as "ENG 430 Advanced Studies in World Literature, Folklore, or Mythology"

    Post/Colonial Women's Literature

    This course will cover a wide range of colonial and postcolonial women's literature from various areas: Nigeria, Zimbabwe, West Indies, Chile, Vietnam, the Phillippines, and India. Critical of both Western and non-Western history and traditions, the women writers we will read examine how gender inflects representations of postcolonial identities and present a variety of discourses aobut gender in the post/colonial context -- nationalist, global, Western-feminist, Third-World feminist, and imperialist. We will focus on diverse strategies in representing the consciousness of women and producing new models of postcolonial subjectivity and gender identity. 

    The New World

    We will focus specifically on the idea of Weltliteratur or World Literature and its articulation and possibility in the twenty-first century.

  • ENG 441
    Appears as "ENG 441 Colloquium in Literature"

    Small Town Literature

    Small towns, have, of course, always been at the center of American discourse, from the Puritan's City on a Hill to the sites of innocence lost during the industrialization of the United States. In this course, we will examine the development of small town literature as a narrative that we can use to periodize and historicise both US and Latin American literature. 

    The Monstrous Middle Ages

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "monster" denoted a diverse range of meanings, from a 'marvel' to a 'misshapen being' during the medieval period, and the texts selected for this course are meant to represent this semantic instability as we explore the figure of the medieval monster in relation to issues of nation, race, gender, sexuality, and landscape across a range of literary genres (saints lives, travel narratives, epics, etc.) from the medieval period. Some of the questions that we will consider include the following: What is considered "monstrous" in the medieval period? Where are the borders between human and monster (geographical, physiological, and mental)? Considering that the root of the word “monstrum” (Latin monere) may be translated as either “that which reveals” or “that which warns,” what can monsters tell us about the desires, hopes, and fears of the cultures from which they emerge? 

  • ENG 495
    Appears as "ENG 495 Advanced Cultural Studies"

    Queer Theory

    In attempting to unravel and complicate our basic assumptions of gendered and sexual identities, this course engages some of the key theoretical concepts that have emerged since the 1980s in queer theory and studies. The theorists whose work we will be reading include Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Marjorie Garber, Michel Foucault, Leo Bersani, Lee Edelman, and Michael Warner. To engage these theories, we will also be looking at a range of texts from literary, aesthetic, and popular cultures, including film, television, theater, music, art, and advertisements. 

    The History of the Book

    This class explores the question, "What is a book?" What roles has the book played in international cultural histories? We will examine books as both material objects and text, learning about the techniques and economics of book production (from ancient to modern), authorship, readership, and issues of censorship and regulation.

    Women Betwixt and Between

    A recent and welcome surge of interest in understudied women writers of the first half of the twentieth century prompt’s our inquiry in this course. But, a problem of categorization also drives us. The first 20 years of the century were charged with the energy of the suffragettes, World War I, and high modernism, and many women writing during that time are well-known to us. The post-war period, characterized by postmodernism, brought a renewed women’s liberation through second wave feminism, and many of these writers also are well known to us. What were women up to between those two waves? What were they writing about? To whom did they direct their work? These are the questions we’ll need to answer to begin to recuperate women’s literary and cultural history in the decades inbetween, from the mid-twenties until the mid to late-fifties.

    • ENG 495 has also been offered with the following subtitles/themes:
      • Roadtripping in the American West
      • Asian and Asian-American Film
      • Framing Madness
      • Gender and Sexuality Theory
      • The Goth and the Punk
      • Mongrel Modernism
      • Enlightenment & Modernity
      • Crime & Visual Culture
      • Comics & Literature
      • Modernizatoin
      • Cultural Politics of the 1980s
      • Modern Nature
  • ENG 530
    Appears as "ENG 530 Advanced Studies in World LIterature"

    World Mythologies: Reality and Imagination

    In this course English graduate students will learn to read world literature in translation to  [BK1] deepen their understanding of how literature, or the creation of imagined reality, contributes to a greater individual and collective understanding of the human experience.  Students will read several [BK2] translated literary works from cultures and time periods other than their own and, as much as possible, situate the contents of these texts within their original traditions. While doing so, students will examine how the act of linguistic and cultural transference may affect an audience’s comprehension of texts and draw upon current literary theory to explain why the process has now become acceptable.  They will discuss how the expression of regional and cultural uniqueness contributes to our understanding of the value of literature and, on occasion, join their study of literature to another mode of inquiry, such as philosophy, religion, history, psychology, or others, to gain an understanding of literature in dialogue with intellectual currents.  The ultimate goal is to determine how different combinations of reality and imagination, of different literatures, provide for continuous growth in our understanding of what it is to be human.

  • ENG 633
    Appears as "ENG 633 Studies in Linguistics"

    Descriptive Linguistics

    Descriptive study of English syntax, morphosyntax, and morphophonology and their relations to language acquisition and teaching.

  • ENG 639
    Appears as "ENG 639 Colloquium in Literature"

    Arabian Nights

    Since its appearance in Europe in 1704, the medieval Arabic cycle of stories Alf Layla wa Layla, known in the West as The Arabian Nights or The Thousand and One Nights, is a classic of world literature. In the first part of the semester, we shall explore the power of storytelling in this work. We shall proceed with a close reading of a selection of tales, paying special attention to themes, such as deceit, love, lust, revenge, violence, and justice. Also, we shall study the reception of this literary corpus in the Western literary and artistic tradition. In particular, we shall examine the ways in which the tales have inspired authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Salman Rushdie in English, and Jorge Luis Borges in Spanish. We shall also explore how some of the themes in the tales have made their way to the Western imagination, particularly in film (Walt Disney).  

    • ENG 639 has also been offered with the following subtitles/themes:
      • Experimental Fiction
      • Human Rights
      • Law and Literature
      • Queering Space and Time
      • Classical Rhetoric
      • Magical Realism
      • Affect/Effect: Emotion
      • Rebel Girls
      • Foundations of Modernism
      • European Immigrant Literature
      • Postcolonial Women's Literature
      • Nature, Society, and Solitude
      • Historical Theories of Literature
      • Poetry Seminar & Workshop
      • Film Theory and Practice
      • Myth in Modernist Texts
      • Graduate Fiction Workshop
      • Idea: Education/Educator