Literary perspectives in theory and practice.
What is English? An Array of Methods to Read the World
From Chaucer to Graphic Novels
A diverse group of scholars, the Oberlin English department offers an open door to the study of literature, meaning, and signifying practices across centuries and discursive traditions.
Shakespeare in Italy
During Winter Term English professor Wendy Beth Hyman often takes a group of students to Italy to study Shakespeare’s Roman plays.
A highlight of many students’ Oberlin experience, the Winter Term helps to bring the historical context of the plays to life.
Persona and Impersonation
A close look at how pattern, allusion, borrowing, theft, and invention collude in the work of major poets from the Renaissance to the present. Written work will consist of imitation of the assigned poems, and will require extensive revision, collaboration, and responsiveness to peers. Designed to benefit both critical and creative writers, this course seeks to hone skills of observation, listening, and description, as well as to cultivate mastery of the formal and rhetorical vocabularies necessary for careful reading and writing of poetry.
- Taught by
- DeSales Harrison
Pens and Needles: Gender and Media in Early America
This course will explore the complex relationship between gender, race, and media in the Americas before 1865. Our syllabus takes as its starting point expansive understandings of the term ‘media.’ We will read the written word alongside lives and experiences recorded through media such as quilts, samplers, Native American quill work, songs, and recipes. Examining the different authorial roles available to early Americans, we will consider how gender, race, and ethnicity structure one’s relationship to alphabetic letters, and explore the diverse ways in which people used various media to carve out identities for themselves and to enter public discourse.
- Taught by
- Danielle Skeehan
Black Humor and Irony: Modern Literary Experiments
African American humor has until recently received little academic study. But the many anthologies of folk humor and the visibility of stand-up comedy invite us to examine the presence and rhetorical role of humor, comedy, and irony in African American literature. This course thus centers on a representative group of modern black humorists and explores various approaches (functional, structural, and cultural) for interpreting their works. Authors will include Chesnutt, Hurston, Hughes, Ellison, and Reed. American.
- Taught by
- Gillian Johns
Virginia Woolf & Zadie Smith
This seminar puts into a sustained conversation two immensely innovative and hugely influential female authors: Virginia Woolf and Zadie Smith. Situating them in their literary, historical, and theoretical contexts, we will examine the ways in which both authors—one writing at the beginning of the 20th century, the other at the beginning of the 21st—explore in their writings the relationship between literature, history, and politics. Texts might include Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and The Waves; Smith’s NW and On Beauty, as well as both authors’ diaries and essays. Written work will lead toward an extensive final research project.
- Taught by
- Natasha Tessone
Fulbright Fellow in Hong Kong
At Oberlin, Julia Berrebi ’19 worked in the Oberlin College Writing and Speaking Associates Program. After graduation she applied her skills in a global context as a visiting English tutor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.
From Oberlin to The Atlantic
English major and former editor in chief of the Grape, Luke Fortney ’18 earned a prestigious fellowship at the Atlantic after completing multiple rounds of interviews.
Writing for Comedy
Since graduating from Oberlin, Max Cohn ’14 has been a contributing humor writer for McSweeney’s and the New Yorker. He has also worked in television for The Simpsons and Comedy Central.