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Deptarment of English graphic

Upper Division Courses - Fall 2008

Please note: the following list is subject to change and may not be comprehensive. Please check the online course listing for the full roster along with information on class days/times and room numbers. The course location is at UHD Main Campus unless otherwise noted.

ENG 3302 - Business and Technical Report Writing

ENG 3306 - Introduction to Literary Theory

ENG 3309 - Creative Writing

ENG 3310 - Studies in Non-Fiction Writing: Texts by and about Disabled Persons

ENG 3314 / Humanities 3314 - Studies in Autobiography: Coming-Out Narratives

ENG 3322 - Mexican-American Literature

ENG 3362 - Studies of the Literature and Culture of the Americas Before 1800: Contested Terrains of Contact and Colonization

ENG 3363 - Studies in 19th-Century United States Literature and Culture

ENG 3377 - Modern Irish Literature

ENG 3387 - Transatlantic Approaches to Modernity and the Avant-Garde

ENG 4314 - Major Authors: Richard Wright and James Baldwin

ENG 4314 - Major Authors: Jane Austen

ENG 4314 - Major Authors: Martin Amis

ENG 4350 - Advanced Gender Studies: Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation

ENG 6330 - Usability Research

Course Descriptions

English 3302 - Business and Technical Report Writing

Wayne Schmadeka, Ph.D.

MW 4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m., room N-637

CRN: 10658


Three credit hours of English literature.


Students will study and practice writing the types of documents frequently used in the workplace, including cover letters and resumes, proposals, progress reports, formal reports, and PowerPoint presentations.


  • Research, design, create, and prepare informal and formal documents suitable for the workplace
  • Balance visual and verbal elements of communication in documents and oral presentations
  • Use current technology to search for and report information
  • Edit documents for correctness
  • Respond usefully to others' writing

Major assignments include writing

  • Cover letters and resumes in response to job announcements
  • A proposal for a recommendation/feasibility report
  • A progress report
  • A recommendation/feasibility report

Recent examples of reports include

  • Recommending construction of a pedestrian walkway from an off-campus parking lot to the UHD campus
  • Evaluating whether it is better for a student to remodel her existing home or build a new home
  • Soliciting funds from the Gates Foundation for an HIV prevention program in provincial China
  • Recommending upgrading HISD Police vehicles with state-of-the-art communications equipment


Jones, D., and Lane, K. Technical Communicationn. 7th ed. New York : Pearson Education, 2002. ISBN: 0205325211.

English 3306 - Introduction to Literary Theory

Giuliana Lund

TR 5:30 - 6:45 p.m., room A-428

CRN: 10267

This course introduces students to the major theoretical approaches employed in contemporary literary studies. Students not only learn how to recognize and critically evaluate distinct theoretical approaches, but also how to utilize these approaches in their own original analyses of texts. The course includes formalist, structuralist, poststructuralist, psychoanalytic, feminist, queer, new historicist, Marxist, and postcolonial theories. It provides students with a broad range of sophisticated analytical tools and a heightened critical acumen that prepares them for advanced literary and cultural studies.

The course is organized around a case study, using vampire tales as the central object of analysis, particularly as represented in Bram Stoker’s Draculaa, a novel that has produced a large body of criticism drawing on different theoretical schools. Studying psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist and other approaches to Dracula illustrates the way in which various methodologies produce distinct readings of the same story. The course thus follows a tripartite structure: first, students analyze an influential theoretical text; second, they examine a work of criticism on Dracula inspired by this theoretical text; third, they apply a chosen methodology to their own interpretation of a vampire narrative. Requirements include attentive reading, four short interpretive essays, and two quizzes. No previous exposure to literary theory or special interest in vampires is expected. This course is highly recommended for English majors and students interested in graduate study in literature or humanities.

English 3309 - Creative Writing

Robin Davidson

MW 4:00 - 5:15 p.m.

CRN: 10240

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Glück writes, "I thought once that poems were like words inscribed in rock or caught in amber. Poems do not endure as objects but as presences. When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit. I read poems to hear that voice. And I write to speak to those I have heard." In the twenty-first century—an age of e-mail and e-books, video conferencing, laptops, cell phones, and iPods—the human voice as it comes to us in poetry or fiction can be a source of genuine consolation as we navigate the frenetic pace of each day.

English 3309 is the first in a two-course sequence of creative writing classes at the University of Houston-Downtown intended to distinguish literary discourse from the ordinary commerce of our daily lives (e-mail or cell phone text messages). Our two class meetings each week will be composed of: (1) lectures on particular topics related to literary craft, an examination of exemplar writings, class discussion, in-class writing exercises, and occasional sharing of your journal musings; and (2) workshops in which you will have the opportunity to experiment in a variety of genres and share your own creative work in response to writing assignments in poetry, memoir, and short fiction. We will also explore the habits of mind which support a writer's sustained work. A review syllabus is available to students upon request (

Texts: Pinsky, Robert and Maggie Dietz (Eds.), An Invitation to Poetry: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology (Norton, 2004); Delbanco, Nicholas, The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction by Imitation (McGraw Hill, 2003).

Requirements: A journal (writer's notebook), a Lyric Essay, and a final portfolio consisting of an original manuscript in your preferred genre.


English 3310 - Studies in Non-Fiction Writing: Texts by and about Disabled Persons

Paul Fortunato

TR 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

We will be looking at disabled and autistic persons in literature. Specifically, we will read memoirs and other non-fiction genres. Why would someone want to read about disabled and autistic persons? There are two main reasons I offer. (1) We understand a lot more about what it means to be human and whom our society—a consumerist, effectiveness-oriented society—values by studying people with “imperfect” situations. (2) We will use disabilities as a lens through which to think about what it means to be a “modern” person in a “modern” culture. In particular, we will problematize the term “modern” and seek to think in terms of various modernities, as opposed to one single concept of the “modern" man or woman. Authors may include: Oliver Sacks, Cathy Crimmins, Bob Woodward, and Lori Andrews. Requirements: two short essays, a term paper, and occasional quizzes.

English 3314 / Humanities 3314 - Studies in Autobiography: Coming-Out Narratives

Dr. John Hudson

TR 4:00 - 5:15 p.m.

This course investigates critical problems posed by autobiography as a literary genre through a study of works written in an autobiographical mode. Specifically, we will examine a crucial text of individual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender experience: the coming-out narrative. We will explore their construction, their reception, and their sociocultural functions. Some of the questions we will investigate include the following: What do we mean by “coming out”? What does it mean to “be” out? How does the coming-out narrative function as confessional writing? As liberatory writing? How does the coming-out narrative simultaneously serve both conservative and progressive purposes?

We will be reading a large number of short coming-out narratives, many written by high-school and college students. In addition to the required textbooks, we will be reading several important scholarly articles on autobiographical writing, particularly coming-out narratives. Students will be expected to actively participate in class discussion, and will complete a number of short response writings, an analysis of one or more coming-out narratives from a reading list, and a major paper.

Required Texts:

Borhek, Mary V. My Son Ericc. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press, 1979.

Heron, Ann, ed. Two Teenagers in 20: Writings by Gay and Lesbian Youth. New York: Alyson Books, 1994.

Howard, Kim, and Annie Stevens, eds. Out & About Campus: Personal Accounts by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgendered College Studentss. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2000.

Penelope, Julia, and Susan J. Wolfe, eds. The Original Coming Out Storiess. Expanded edition. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1989.

English 3322 - Mexican-American Literature

Dr. Jane Creighton

MW 10:00 am – 11:15 am

This course is a study of Mexican-American literature and its cultural traditions from pre-Columbian Mexico to the present. Starting with Aztec accounts of the Spanish conquest, we will look closely at how Mexican-American novelists, poets, and scholars have represented compelling social conflict at the same time that they have created a literature rich both in tradition and in the unexpected. From the Aztec survivors of the fall of Tenochtitlan to contemporary writers such as Helena María Viramontes, we will track major themes in the evolution of this vital literature.

English 3362 - Studies of the Literature and Culture of the Americas Before 1800: Contested Terrains of Contact and Colonization

Dr. Sandra Dahlberg

Two sections:

At UH-Downtown: MW 8:30 - 9:45 a.m. (CRN: 10023)

At The University Center (The Woodlands): T 10:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (CRN: 10849)

This course is an introduction to the dynamic and foundational eras of contact and colonization in the Americas. This course begins by exploring the poetry and oral traditions of indigenous cultures before European contact as a way toward understanding the ways in which Indian cultures responded and resisted Europeans' pre-conceived notions of sovereignty and race. Then, the course will examine the ways that contact, conquest, and colonization were portrayed in texts by Europeans and by Indians, while examining the ways the individuals and cultures positioned themselves in relation to the Other. The course focuses on four genres—memory culture, travel narratives, captivity narratives, and conquest dramas—in order to examine the complexities of inter-cultural representation. In addition, students will read pieces by literary scholars, historians, and theorists that raise questions pertinent to our inquiry and/or provide important information necessary to grasp the nuances of our primary texts. These texts will allow us to interrogate the consequences of the conquest era on the past and on our present conceptions of U.S. culture.

The course will include writings by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, John Smith, Mary White Rowlandson, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Jerome Lalemont, as well as a selection of American Indian accounts of the conquest and colonization, as well as historical and theoretical texts. Assignments for this course are: three in-class quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam; one short interpretive paper, and one literary research paper.

English 3363 - Studies in 19th-Century United States Literature and Culture

Michael Dressman

TR 1:00 - 2:15 pm

This course examines the works of nine nineteenth-century American authors and places them within the context of the literary and intellectual trends of the times. The poets are Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. The novelists and short story writers are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, and Henry James. We will also review contrastive works by other authors. There will be two papers (5 pages and 10 pages) and three exams, including the final. There will be reading and the necessity of coming prepared for discussion. The section taught at UHD will include students at The University Center and UH-Cinco Ranch by means of closed circuit TV.

English 3377 - Modern Irish Literature

Paul Kintzele

TR 10:00 - 11:15 a.m., room A-622

CRN: 10086

Where e'er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees...

—The Pogues, "Thousands Are Sailing"

Ireland is known for both its rich cultural heritage as well as its long, complicated, and often brutal history. In the 1890s, Irish negotiations with the British for Home Rule had reached an impasse, but while the movement for political independence had temporarily stalled, Irish cultural nationalism gathered momentum. This course will follow the development of Irish literature from the early poetry of Yeats and the founding of the Abbey Theatre up to the present day. We will see how writers answered the fundamental question of what it means to be Irish in various—and often conflicting—ways. Authors may include: Yeats, Synge, Joyce, Beckett, Heaney, Boland, Carr, and McPherson. Requirements: three medium-length essays and weekly quizzes.

Required texts:

  • William Butler Yeats, The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats(Scribner). ISBN: 0684807319.
  • John Millington Synge, The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays(Oxford). ISBN: 0192834487.
  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man(Penguin). ISBN: 0142437344.
  • James Joyce, Ulysses(Penguin, reprint of the 1960 ed.). ISBN: 0141184434.
  • Samuel Beckett, Murphy(Grove). ISBN: 0802150373.
  • Marina Carr, Plays 1: Low in the Dark, The Mai, Portia Coughlan, By the Bog of Cats... (Faber). ISBN: 0571200117.
  • Conor McPherson, The Weir (Theatre Communications Group). ISBN: 1559361670.

English 3387 - Transatlantic Approaches to Modernity and the Avant-Garde

Antonio Garcia

TR 1:00 - 2:15 p.m.

This course will be a comparative study of a number of avant-garde movements in different cultures, including Surrealism, Dadaism, Futurism, and Vorticism. Some attention will be given to how these movements have sought to comment on the nature of modernity. Emphasis will be on setting historical parameters and on understanding cultural theory and aesthetics (i.e. the theory and philosophy of art) on the basis of experimentation in literary form. Close readings of fiction and public declarations (manifestos) will be supplemented with essays reflecting the debates surrounding the concept of modernity and the avant-garde. These debates will be divided into two major categories: (1) how members of the Frankfurt School debate the realism/modernism dialectic, and (2) how major contemporary theorists reflect on the ways in which the term ‘avant-garde’ has been appropriated and misapplied by various sectors of the culture industry since the 1960s.

Texts: Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life" and Spleen de Pariss, Andre Breton, Nadjaand Surrealist Manifestoo; Julio Cortazar, Hopscotchh; Octavio Paz, Poemss; Haroldo de Campos, Poemss; and Wyndham Lewis, Blastt. Supplementary reading in excerpts to include Politics and Aesthetics: Debates Between Bloch, Lukacs, Brecht, Benjamin, Adornoo; and Martei Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernismm. Reading approximately 150 to 200 pages per week.

Two papers: 50%

Oral Presentation(s): 30%

Participation: 20%

English 4314 - Major Authors: Richard Wright and James Baldwin

Dr. Chuck Jackson

MW 1:00 - 2:15 p.m.

This course focuses on the writings (both fiction and nonfiction) of two of the most widely read, controversial, and critically acclaimed African American male authors of the twentieth century – Richard Wright (1908-1960) and James Baldwin (1924-1987).

Students enrolled in this course will be part of a world-wide commemoration of Wright, his work, and its legacy. September 8, 2008 marks the Richard Wright Centennial, a celebration of one-hundred years since the author’s birth that includes reading circles, conferences, and literary festivals held around the globe in the author’s name. Indeed, the author’s writings have never seemed more poignant, especially given his early short stories about racial crisis, social neglect, and natural disaster during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, as well as his most famous evocations of public terror and national emergency in Native Sonn. And while his fiction is notorious for its nightmarish descriptions of violence and his frank representations of sexual and social taboos, students in this class will be asked to critically analyze not only its content, but also how the stories are told, in what context, from whose perspective, and why.

Keeping these questions in mind, we will turn, in the second half of the semester, to Wright’s influence on the work of James Baldwin. This section begins with a reading about the strong friendship that developed between Wright and Baldwin and its subsequent, very public dissolution. Baldwin’s work, in many ways, picks up where Wright’s work left off, both thematically and aesthetically. Students will study and analyze the stylistic and ideological differences between the two, including Baldwin’s intensive portraits of turbulent psychic interiors and his narrative explorations of male same-sex desire.

Along with select nonfiction essays by each author, students will read Richard Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children (1938), Lawd Today! (written during the 1930s, published posthumously in 1963), Native Son (1940), possibly Black Boy (1945) and parts of the collection Eight Men (1940) along with James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain (1953), Giovanni’s Room(1956), and Another Country (1962), and possibly some of his more arresting short stories such as “Sonny’s Blues.” In addition, students will read and discuss theoretical works on narrative, ideology, disaster, racial identity, and fear. Several short essays will be due throughout the semester, and one longer research paper will be due at the semester’s end.


English 4314 - Major Authors: Jane Austen

Caroline Kimberly

W 7:00 - 9:45 p.m.

In recent years, Jane Austen has become one of the most popular screenwriters in Hollywood—quite an achievement for a woman whose novels were first published almost two hundred years ago! What is it about Austen’s work and Austen herself that continues to hold the public’s interest? While Austen’s work reflects the historical and cultural moment in which she wrote, referencing such issues as the Napoleonic Wars, the abolition of slavery, and the cultural phenomenon of gothic fiction, the sparkling wit of her romantic comedy and social satire creates characters with whom readers can still identify today. This course will explore how and why Austen has maintained her popularity for so many generations of readers while also maintaining her “street cred” as an author of highly-respected canonical literature. To do so, we will be reading the six novels Austen completed during her lifetime, a selection of her minor works, her biography, and a sampling of what literary critics have had to say about her fiction over the years, along with an occasional foray into pop culture appropriations of Austen on the page, screen, and Internet. Assignments will include a multi-step research project, two close reading papers, and in-class presentations.

English 4314 - Major Authors: Martin Amis

Dr. Nicole LaRose

TR 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

When a popular novelist’s recurrent themes include pornography, pubs, and celebrity, that author becomes a sort of celebrity himself. This is the case for contemporary British author Martin Amis. As a literary celebrity, Amis is widely known for his very expensive dental work, messy divorce and new marriage, literary feud with fellow writer Julian Barnes, and other bad boy behavior. As a writer, Amis is often seen as a stylist or misogynist or misanthrope, but always as a postmodernist. This course will explore the shift from modernism to postmodernism, both stylistically and politically, by reading Amis’s major novels, criticism, and non-fiction. We will engage with his relationship to other writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Saul Bellow, and perhaps most importantly, his father, Kingsley Amis, and his father’s friend, Philip Larkin. These connections will help us to examine the role of literary genealogy. We will read postmodern literary theory with his novels to understand the politics and style of contemporary literature. We will learn how to be close readers who can understand Amis’s complicated views of gender, sexuality, and power within our celebrity-obsessed, spectacle culture.

Assignments will include occasional response papers, one minor paper, one term paper, and a final exam.

English 4350 - Advanced Gender Studies: Sex, Gender, Sexual Orientation

Johanna Schmertz

MW 5:30 - 6:45 p.m.

Sex, gender, and sexual orientation are all part of gender studies. Sex refers to anatomical differences (e.g. male and female). Gender refers to cultural differences that are perceived to follow from anatomical differences (e.g. masculine versus feminine). Sexual orientation (e.g. gay and straight) refers to how we position our desires, and may be based on sex, gender or both.

What happens when we mix sex, gender, and orientation up a bit, and consider each as an independent variable, rather than an intertwined continuum? What can we learn about ourselves and others? To help answer these questions, this course will take transgenderism in its many forms as its theme. We will read films with transgendered protagonists, such as Transamerica and Boys Don’t Cryy, through some of today’s foremost gender studies theorists like Judith Butler. For a flavor of the issues we will consider, look for “Bad Questions to Ask a Transsexual” on YouTube. Course readings will be short but complex. Course requirements will be one out-of-class midterm, an annotated bibliography, and two papers.

English 6330 - Usability Research

Wayne Schmadeka, Ph.D.

M 5:30 pm - 8:15 p.m., room S-1099

CRN: 11390


Post-baccalaureate standing.


This course examines the principles and methods of applied research in professional writing and technical communication. Also, this course will provide practice in planning and conducting user evaluations, interpreting data, reporting results, and managing the participant process, with attention to human subject research policy and protection. Course projects will evaluate users’ experience with print and/or electronic materials, such as software documentation, training materials, brochures, or web pages.


  • Recognize usability issues
  • Develop strategies for planning and conducting tests, with or without a lab
  • Analyze and present the test results in written and oral reports

Learning Outcomes

By semester's end, you should be able to

  • Design, manage, and conduct a usability test
  • Create and pilot a test scenario
  • Tabulate and analyze test results
  • Present results in written and oral reports
  • Identify ethical and legal issues concerning the company, participants, and data
  • Explain the value of testing as part of product/document design
  • Become a usability/user advocate


Dr. Schmadeka has conducted software interface and documentation usability testing since the early 1990s.


CHSS Web Tech.

Last updated or reviewed on 4/21/09

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