Courses: Semester-Specific Descriptions

The courses offered through the English department for any given semester are available via the Course Offerings section of the web pages for the USF Registrar's Office.  The majority of these courses are effectively described in the USF Course Catalog.  However, some English courses are designed with the flexibility necessary to allow shifts in focus, content, and theme from year to year.  Semester-specific course descriptions for these courses are provided below.

Summer 2014 

eng490a.imagecms.jpgENG 490.A / THE 390: Special Topics: Flannery O'Connor  (3 s.h.)

Flannery O’Connor, a midcentury writer from Georgia, had a brief writing career that has nevertheless remained a compelling influence on American literature and on conversations about faith in American life.  As a devout Roman Catholic, O’Connor consistently affirmed the significance of her faith in writing though she is not often read as a typical “Christian writer”—and, in fact, much of her fiction challenges the notion of “Christian literature.” In this seminar, we will read most of O’Connor’s short fiction and both of her novels, along with essays and letters that provide insight into the creative, theological, and funny reflections of this important figure.


“People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them.  They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage.  The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience.  The lady who only read books that improved her mind was taking a safe course—and a hopeless one.  She’ll never know whether her mind is improved of not, but should she ever, by some mistake, read a great novel, she’ll know mighty well that something is happening to her.”[1]

[1] Flannery O’Connor, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” Mystery and Manners (New York: Vintage, 1969) 78.





eng490u.imagecms.jpgENG 490.U: Special Topics: Writing Work  (3 s.h.)

In this online course, we will utilize both the LMS and other online platforms to engage in the dual purposes suggested by the course title: working on our writing, and writing about our work.  Summer, for many of us immersed in the academic calendar, is a time when work takes on a more focused and often non-academic purpose.  We may be throwing our energies into a summer job as a means of saving money for tuition, we may be taking advantage of our time away from campus to pursue other purposes and passions, or we may be using summer as an opportunity to tackle projects that have been on the back burner.  This course takes advantage of the particular work-related focus that summer can provide and asks us to explore and reflect upon our experience through both reading and writing related to our lives as workers.  Given that summer—and the work it entails for each of us—tends to lead us in different geographic directions, a secondary strand of this course will include the exploration of various online media as a means of authoring our experience and communicating it to others. 


N.B.: As a writing-focused, special topics course, this offering of ENG 490U will fulfill 3 of the 9 semester hours required in the writing track.


Fall 2014

ENG 490: Special Topics: Blinding Insight: The Price of Knowledge.   (3 s.h.)

In this special topics course, we will investigate the relationship between blindness and insight and, more specifically, how that relationship is treated in biblical, philosophical, artistic, and literary traditions.  Over the course of our investigations, we will explore and respond to these questions, among others: 


· What are the rewards, pleasures, stakes, risks, and perils of knowledge? 

· What are we willing to sacrifice in order to obtain knowledge, to discover the truth? 

· Are there some truths, some kinds of knowledge, best left undiscovered? 

· Does the truth always set us free? Does it sometimes imprison us?

· Why does western culture routinely use disability as metaphor?


I intend for the readings to govern the course—obviously—but also to enrich students’ understanding and appreciation of their Christian liberal arts education.  For seniors, ENG 490 might serve as an ideal capstone course. This course is rigorous: students must be committed readers and writers.