Literature and Media Minor

Overview for Literature and Media Minor

Explore literature and other cultural works, as well as linguistics, and creative writing. The minor familiarizes students with works composed or translated into English and provides them with the opportunity to explore a variety of historical periods and geographical regions. Courses in the minor explore literary genres such as science fiction and fantasy; literary forms such as the novel, the short story, poetry, and graphic storytelling; and literary practices across media and multimedia arts. The minor builds an awareness of methods, theories and technologies for both the creation and analysis of literary texts, and provides an introduction to critical or creative writing.

Notes about this minor:

  • This minor is closed to students majoring in English who have chosen a concentration in literature and media.
  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

The plan code for Literature and Media Minor is ENGLISH-MN.

Curriculum Update in Process for 2024-2025 for Literature and Media Minor

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Required Courses
Choose one of the following:
Literature and Cultural Studies
In this course, students will study literature, movements, and writers within their cultural contexts and in relation to modes of literary production and circulation. Students will hone their skills as attentive readers and will engage with literary analysis and cultural criticism. The class will incorporate various literary, cultural, and interdisciplinary theories--such as psychoanalytic theory, feminist and queer theories, critical race studies, and postcolonial theory. Using these theoretical frameworks in order to study texts, students will gain a strong foundation for analyzing the ways literary language functions and exploring the interrelations among literature, culture, and history. In doing so, they will engage issues involving culture, identity, language, ethics, race, gender, class, and globalism, among many others. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Storytelling: [Genre/Theme]
In this course students will focus on reading and analyzing storytelling as a literary practice. It introduces the basic elements of narrative and story, acknowledging these as a primary way that we organize information and communicate our experiences, whether in fictional or real-world domains. The course explores defining characters of narrative expression and storytelling: story arcs, conflict, transformation, plot, and structural relationships among characters and also between author, text, and audience/reader. Exploring influential commentary on “story” and considering significant differences between oral, print, and digital storytelling methods, the course invites students to consider how the foundations of storytelling have evolved over time, and how new techniques continue to emerge in the present day. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Choose four of the following:
 Mythology & Literature
This course is a scholarly investigation into the cultural, historical, social, psychological, religious and spiritual, literary and performative dimensions of world myth. It examines different approaches to the study of myth emerging from disciplines such as anthropology, history, literary studies, and psychology. Special attention will be paid to the effects of these narratives on literature and other kinds of cultural texts, past and present. We will also use myth to develop, and critically reflect on, comparative approaches to world cultures. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Topics in Literary Forms*
This course explores the evolution of an influential literary form (the short story, drama, poetry, autobiographical literature, or the novel). Reading a series of variations on this literary form, likely bridging cultural or historical contexts or themes, the course develops critical perspectives and artistic insights into this genre of writing. Criticism and theory appropriate to the genre will be discussed as a way to understand the form, its social functions, and its cultural and political significance. The course can be taken up to two times, for a total of 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 American Literature
This course presents a study of American literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts that emerged from within the geography, history, and cultures that constitute the modern United States. This includes work by colonial writers, Native American writers, African American writers, and writers from the many other ethnic and racial groups who have immigrated to and comprised the fabric of American culture. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the ways in which individual works belong to a distinctly American literary tradition. Specific literary works studied will vary depending on the instructor. The course can be repeated up to 2 times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Annual).
 British Literature
This course presents a study of British literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts that emerged from within the geography, history, and cultures that constitute the modern United Kingdom. This includes work by writers from all parts of the British Isles (England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland) and writers from Britain’s vast global empire. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the ways in which individual works belong to a distinctly British literary tradition. Specific literary works studied will vary depending on the instructor. The course can be repeated up to 2 times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Annual).
 Digital Literature
Since the initial development of the computer, writers have collaborated with programmers, illustrators, and soundscapists to create digital literatures. Following from radical techniques in print literatures such as concrete poetry, Choose Your Own Adventure novels, and reorderable/unbound fictions, digital literatures exploit the potential of digital formats to explore questions of interactivity, readership, authorship, embodiment, and power. In this class, we will learn to analyze and appreciate digital literatures not simply through their content, but also through the relation of content to form, media, programming platforms, and distribution formats. Our consideration of digital literatures will lead us to cell phones, web pages, video games, virtual reality environments, and genome sequencers. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Global Literature
This course presents a study of global literature by engaging in critically informed analysis of texts from different geographical regions or cultural perspectives. Students will discover new modes for thinking about what global literature is, and how globalizing impulses have changed and shaped our world. One of the goals of the class is to analyze and discuss the works in their respective socio-historical contexts, with a special focus on the theme of encounter or contact zones. The impact of various factors such as migration, nationality, class, race, gender, generation, and religion will also be taken into consideration. The course can be repeated up to two times, for 6 semester credit hours, as long as the topics are different. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Popular Literature
This course examines popular literature, a designation that has meant different things at different times and that has included literature as diverse as Shakespearean comedies, Gothic fiction, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. In part, students will consider the artistic relationships between popular literature and both historical and contemporary literary forms in order to understand how popular literature draws upon and sometimes invents new kinds of artistic representation. The class will also ask students to explore what social attitudes and pressures help to make a form popular at a particular moment in time, and how popularity is often driven by the social networks of book production, marketing, sales, and adaptation. Different sections may focus on different popular literary forms. Whatever the topic, the course will provide students a lens through which to discuss how the public, mainstream authors, and literary critics, as well as editors and publishers, impact the development of literary traditions. Lecture 3 (Annual).
 Literary Geographies
The course uses both literature and geography, artful writing and creative mapping, to explore both fictional and real places. From Sherlock Holmes’s 221B Baker St. London and Charles Dickens’s 19th century London to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea, geography is more than an artistic theme, and maps are more than creative illustrations. Literary geography explores the ways in which authors work with detail not only to create setting but to depict geographical locations. The course will challenge students to understand “landscape” as a more than a backdrop. Throughout the semester we will engage with the socio-cultural notions of “place”: home and community, borderlands and human migration, smart cities and mundane landscapes, territory and tourism. Students may practice plotting authors and their works, following the routes characters take across a landscape, or making the geography of imaginary worlds visible. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 History of Madness
This course will study the changes in definitions, explanations, and depictions of madness as expressed in psychiatric texts, asylum records, novelists, cartoonists, artists, photographers, filmmakers–and patient narratives. Certainly, madness has assumed many names and forms: the sacred disease, frenzy, hysteria, mania, melancholy, neurosis, dementia, praecox, schizophrenia, phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder. Those afflicted have been admired, pitied, mocked, hidden from public view, imprisoned, restrained, operated on, hospitalized, counseled, analyzed, and medicated. The brain, particularly the disordered brain, has long been a source of interest. This course explores the brain from the history of madness. The course takes a humanist, rhetorical, and historicist approach to the question of madness within changing social institutions and popular discourse. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Evolving English Language
What makes the English language so difficult? Where do our words come from? Why does Old English look like a foreign language? This course surveys the development of the English language from its beginning to the present to answer such questions as these. Designed for anyone who is curious about the history and periods of the English language or the nature of language change. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Media Adaptation
This course introduces students to the field of adaptation studies and explores the changes that occur as particular texts such as print, radio, theatre, television, film, and videogames move between various cultural forms and amongst different cultural contexts. The course focuses upon works that have been disseminated in more than one medium. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Storytelling Across Media
This course introduces the basic elements of narrative, reflecting on key concepts in narrative theory such as – story and plot, narration and focalization, characterization, storyspace, and worldmaking – to enhance your understanding of how stories work and your ability to understand how such storytelling strategies convey their meaning and themes. After an initial exploration of storytelling traditions emerging from oral myth and short stories in print, we expand our inquiries into what a narrative is and what it can do by considering what happens to storytelling in graphic novels, digital games, and in recent electronic literature. Reflecting on competing definitions and varieties of narrative, the course raises the overarching question of why how we access, read, write, and circulate stories as a culture matters. Expect to read stories in a variety of media, to review basic concepts and conversations drawn from narrative theory, and to creatively experiment with the storytelling strategies we are analyzing in class. No familiarity with specific print, digital, or visual media necessary, though a willingness to read and reflect on stories in various media and to analyze their cultural significance will be essential. Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Transmedia Storyworlds
A transmedia storyworld is a shared universe in which its settings, characters, objects, events, and histories are featured in one or more narratives across many different media, including print fiction, films, television episodes, comics/ graphic novels, and games. This course will focus on the construction of large-scale transmedia storyworlds and how such storyworlds expand in size and detail over time. Students will trace narrative arcs as deployed through different media and consider the strengths and limitations of each medium in terms of adding to knowledge about the transmedia storyworld. The course will also analyze the differences and similarities between transmedia narratives, adaptation, and other forms of serial storytelling; the multi-authored nature of transmedia storyworlds; commercial aspects of transmedia storyworlds; and creative work produced by and for fan communities. Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Dangerous Texts
This course will examine how suppression of information has been orchestrated throughout history in different contexts. The process of suppressing information –of people in power attempting to hide images, sounds and words– must itself be viewed in perspective. We must recognize acts of censorship in relation to their social settings, political movements, religious beliefs, cultural expressions and/or personal identities. The texts that we will study were all considered dangerous enough to be banned by governments. They are dangerous because they represent sexuality, race, politics, and religion in ways that challenge the current political/cultural norms of their given culture. What, then, is so dangerous about a fictional representation? What is it that makes a certain work dangerous at a particular time and how does this danger manifest itself in stories, novels (print and graphic), and poetry? Studying these dangerous texts and watching some dangerous films we will ask: what features of political and cultural regimes do artists tend to single out for criticism? What is the range of expressive tools they use, including the contemporary context of digital media? What is it that makes intellectuals in general and imaginative writers in particular so potent a threat to established power? Do issues like these matter only in totalitarian regimes, or can we learn something about the book-banning pressures in our own society? How do social media technologies complicate discussions of censorship and creativity? Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Film Studies
This course familiarizes students with a number of different critical approaches to film as a narrative and representational art. The course introduces students to the language as well as analytical and critical methodologies of film theory and criticism from early formalist approaches to contemporary considerations of technologies and ideologies alike. Students will be introduced to a selection of these approaches and be asked to apply them to a variety of films selected by the instructor. Additional screening time is recommended. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 African-American Literature
Students will explore the landscape of African-American literature, and learn of its development throughout the 19th and/or 20th Centuries. From Phyllis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ida B. Wells to Toni Morrison, from the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s to Hip-Hop this course will explore African-American writers who inspired a civil rights and cultural revolution. Through writing, reading and research, they will grow to understand how, despite legal limits on freedom and social participation imposed because of their color in American society, blacks created styles of verbal and written expressions unique within the American experience and contributed to the shape, growth and development of the nation's literary character. (Prerequisites: ENGL-150 or completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Women and Gender in Literature and Media
This variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, or issues associated with the representation of women and gender in literature and media, and/or associated with the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions provoked by women as producers and consumers of media and texts. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic being studied has changed. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
 Great Authors
This course provides an in-depth look at literary giants and the masterpieces of prose or poetry they have created; it's an opportunity to see the role they played both within the context of their own time and within the larger span of literary history. These great authors confront key questions of modernity that continue to occupy us to this day; they ask the question of what it means to be human and explore fundamental human themes. They give us a fresh perspective on the past and on ourselves. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
 Literature and Technology
Surveying the rise of computing technologies, information theories, and information economies in the last century, this course considers their impact on literature, culture and knowledge-formation. In particular, we will reflect on topics such as the relations between social and technological transformation, literary print and digital cultures and electronic literature. (Prerequisites: Completion of First Year Writing (FYW) requirement is required prior to enrolling in this class.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
 Speculative Fiction

* Topics in Literary Forms (ENGL-309) may be taken up to two times, for six semester credit hours, as long as the course topics are different.