Found Object: Course Descriptions, 1989

Location: Discovered between file folders and other papers from Associate Professor Emeritus Michael Donnelly. Object: English Department course descriptions, Fall 1989. Observation: Each semester, faculty in English craft detailed course descriptions to help students select classes for the upcoming term — and have been doing so, it appears, for 30+ years.


Observations: 1) ENGL 210 “The Uses of Poetry” captures the goal of our general education courses in literature: to read “for pleasure, for knowledge, and for personal fulfillment.” Though ENGL 210 no longer exists in this form, its spirit lives on in all of our 200-level literature courses for non-majors, including next semester’s offering of ENGL 234.  2) 1989: one section of ENGL 220 “Fiction into Film.” 2019: nine sections, one of which will be offered online.


Observations: 1) Between 1989 and 2019, ENGL 250 “Forms of Literature” became ENGL 310 “Introduction to Literary Studies.” Earlier this week, the faculty who teach ENGL 310 assembled to compare notes on readings, assignments, and pedagogies.  “How does one talk and write about literature effectively?” is still a central question for the course, even if the answers have expanded since 1989.  2) Should English majors and minors experience literary history through required surveys of British Literature and American Literature? Our Ad Hoc Committee on the Undergraduate Curriculum is considering our 30+ year old approach alongside the current requirements of our regional and national peer institutions.


Observation: In Spring 2019, you will find Don Hedrick teaching ENGL 350 “Shakespeare” an hour later: MWF 11:30 as well as MWF 12:30.


Observations: 1) 1989: Sections A-L. 2019: Sections A-Q.  2) The forthright explanation of the course’s raison d’etre has disappeared from our 2019 course description, but that final sentence still animates ENGL 415.


Observations: 1) Page 10 forecasts our department’s current depth of faculty expertise and course offerings in Children’s and Young Adult Literature and in American Ethnic Literatures. 2) 1989: ENGL 601 “General Phonetics.” 2019: ENGL 757 “Language and Society” with Mary Kohn.   3) We still get to see Jan Susina at conferences, if not around the department.


Curious about the 2019 edition of our course descriptions? You can view the one for Spring 2019 at

Karin Westman, Department Head

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