Feb 24, 2024  

ENG 110 - Course list for Introduction to Literature

Varies (See below)
English 110 satisfies the Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric distribution requirement.

ENG 110 Science Fiction: Artificial Bodies

“By the late twentieth century,” writes Donna Haraway, “we are all… cyborgs.” Technology has made it increasingly possible for us to manipulate, alter, and enhance our bodies. Of course, the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines is nothing new: if humans evolved as tool-users, then we have been cyborgs from the start. In this course, we will look at stories that explore such artificial bodies, from classics like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, to modern science fiction like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, films like Aliens and television shows like Doctor Who. Along the way, we will also examine how cyborg technologies permeate our everyday lives in ways we may not be aware of, from prosthetic limbs to cosmetics, glasses, piercings, drugs, and computer games. We will ask: Where do humans end and machines begin? How has technology changed how bodies are born and how they die, how we experience touch and intimacy, and how we experience vulnerability and pain? In what ways has technology been used to regulate bodies and erase bodily differences, whether through beauty norms or stigmas against disability? Conversely, how has technology been used to challenge the notion of a “natural” body?


ENG 110 Literature and Medicine
Vaz Hooper

Science and medicine have indelibly influenced how we understand and respond to the physical and mental state of being human.  We will consider how an appreciation of literary texts and the questions they broach give us a different insight into the human condition and affect our awareness of health, addiction, illness, disease, suffering, recovery, and death.  In doing so, we will also pay close attention to the cultural coding of these issues, as we examine how gender, class, race, sexual orientation, or other cultural biases color our perceptions of health, disease, suffering and death. Texts range from William Shakespeare to Kurt Vonnegut, Frances Burney to Barbara Ehrenreich, W. H. Auden to Atul Gawande, Emily Dickinson to Lucille Clifton.


ENG 110 Introduction to Shakespeare
R. Ingram

This course is designed for students who have encountered at least a little Shakespeare-in a book or on a stage or on a screen-and who have enjoyed those encounters. It surveys a selection of Shakespeare’s plays, including comedies (Much Ado about Nothing), histories (Henry V), tragedies (Othello), and hybrids of several genres (The Tempest). We will approach the plays primarily through close-reading and spirited conversation, but also through in-class performances, film adaptations, and occasional critical texts. At the end of the semester, students enrolled in the course will choose our final play, as a step out of the classroom and toward a lifetime relationship with the writer who most shaped our words and still shapes our world.

ENG 110  Media and Community
From Walt Whitman’s broad embrace of American readers in the 1860s to the digital social networks of today, this course examines how various media form communities of readers and writers. We will investigate how lyric poetry creates one kind of intimacy between author and reader, how blogs establish another, and how the NBC television comedy Community builds its own cult following. Davidson College meets Greendale Community College in a course that teaches you how to read, analyze, and respond critically and creatively to various forms of media. 

(Not offered Fall 2014.)


ENG 110 Reading Violence

Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.”-Quentin Tarentino
“Violence isn’t always evil. What’s evil is the infatuation with violence.”-Jim Morrison
“I write about violence as naturally as Jane Austen wrote about manners. Violence shapes and obsesses our society, and if we do not stop being violent we have no future.”-Edward Bond, British playwright

English 110: Introduction to Literature is a course for Davidson College students who wish to fulfill the core literature requirement. Its focus is to help students improve their skills in college-level reading with an end toward enjoyment, appreciation, and most of all, thoughtful and intelligent critical discourse, both spoken and written. All viewpoints and opinions are welcome, with one exception: “Aren’t we reading too much into that?” Deep, engaged reading is exactly the point of the profession of the literary critic, who makes the world around her or him a better place by responding to ideas-their own, and those of others.

The theme along which our course will be organized is “Reading Violence.” This may seem strange: reading seems such a peaceful act, one we imagine as passive, quiet, and restive-a world away, it would seem, from violence. Why and how, then, would an author choose to introduce violence into a text? Is violence always physical and overt? What additional meanings can it have and experiences can it convey to us? Can we-or should we-“enjoy” some kinds of violence? What are we meant to do once we engage with violence? We’ll use an exploration of the many ways violence can appear as our theme for reading mostly contemporary novels, drama, and the graphic novel.

Below, I’ve listed examples of some of the texts we’re going to read in the course, and some of the questions about different kinds of violence they raise. I hope you’ll join me for some exciting and profound conversations, liberally dosed with irreverence and thoughtful commentary in equal parts.

Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina - In this, the story of a young girl growing up poor, queer, and Southern, we contemplate many things: violence against women, homophobia, and classism, but also human resilience.
Ian McEwan, Saturday - McEwan’s novel, among the first post-9/11 novels, examines 24 hours in the life of a London neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne, whose day is at first terribly mundane and then violently disrupted.
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Boo’s work of creative nonfiction details the daily life in a slum immediately adjacent to the Mumbai airport. It asks us whether justice and generosity are only for the privileged.
Alexi Kaye Campbell, The Pride - Campbell’s play explores the violence internalized homophobia has done and can do. Like another work we’ll read, “Brokeback Mountain,” the work explores the history of gay men, and the extent to which they had to hide their true identities in the years before gay pride.
Truman Capote, In Cold Blood - Capote’s famous novel documents the horrific murder of a Kansas family of four in the 1960s.
Toni Morrison, Home - The legacy of race violence in our country is long, bloody, and tragic. What does it mean to call a place “home” that has at once fostered you yet made you a second-class citizen?
GB Tran, Vietnamerica - Tran takes us with him as he slowly learns about the history of his family’s flight from war-torn Vietnam.

(Not offered Fall 2014.)

ENG 110 The Front Porch: 2x4

This course invites non-majors interested in a literature course to enter the house of southern fiction.  During this semester, we will study two works (a novel and a collection of short fiction) by four authors from the American South.

Authors and works include the following:

     Flannery O’Connor:  Wise Blood and A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
Ernest Gaines:  A Lesson Before Dying and Bloodline
Lee Smith:  Fair and Tender Ladies and Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-eyed Stranger
Tony Earley:  Jim the Boy and Here we are in Paradise

If you like good stories filled with uncommon characters and want to experience four powerful voices from the American south, please join the class.


ENG 110 Literature of Celebrity

An introduction to literary thought, including attention to the tasks of close reading and of building sustained arguments in written form about texts. Focuses on writing about the idea of fame, both in the contemporary world and throughout the past. Includes attention to a variety of literary forms, including novels, short stories, poetry, drama, film, and creative nonfiction. Major credit.


Grading: 25% papers, 25% tests and quizzes, 25% final exam, 25% consistency and thoughtfulness of class participation and discussion.

(Not offered Fall 2014.)


ENG 110 Literature & Social Change


An exploration of the ethics of art-making amid current social issues, in conversation with the authors studied-all of whom will either visit class or video-conference with the class. Among the writers and works under consideration: Robert Olen Butler, The Hot Country; Richard Garcia, Rancho Notorious; Rebecca Hazelton, Fair Copy; Cathy Park Hong, Engine Empire; Matthew Kirkpatrick, Light Without Heat; Katherine Min, Secondhand World; Victoria Redel, The Border of Truth; Brian Turner, Here, Bullet. Major credit.

(Not offered Fall 2014.)


ENG 110 Introduction to Environmental Literature: Food Literature (= ENV 210)

(Cross-listed as Environmental 210).

This course is for Foodies, Ag Activists, Farm Fans, and anyone who is interested in literature about food from a variety of perspectives.  We’ll read fiction, poetry, and nonfiction about the pleasures of eating, the cultural and aesthetic significance of food, rural and urban agriculture, and food justice.  Field trips will include farm visits, and students will participate in hands-on, community-based assignments connected to the college’s Food and Sustainability project. 

Satisfies depth or breadth course requirement in Humanities Track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

(Not offered Fall 2014.)

English 110 satisfies the Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric distribution requirement.