Fall 2011

Novels, Plays, Poems

Listed in: English, as ENGL-115

Formerly listed as: ENGL-01  |  FYSE-20


Peter Berek (Section 01)
C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander (Section 02)
Christopher A. Grobe (Section 03)
David R. Sofield (Section 04)


A first course in reading fictional, dramatic, and lyric texts: stories, a major novel, one or more plays by Shakespeare, poems by Donne, Dickinson, Frost, and others.

Why does any writer–an Amherst College student, Philip Roth, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare–say what he or she says one way rather than another?  And what in the expression itself makes a story, a play, a poem effective, something a reader might care about, be moved or delighted by? We will try to answer these questions by reading primary examples of each genre, including much recent work, with close and sustained attention to details of expressive language.  There will be frequent writing exercises.

The course will be taught in sections of 15 students.  Preference will be given to first-year students.  Fall semester. Professor Emeritus Berek (Mount Holyoke College) and Professors Cobham-Sander, Grobe, and Sofield.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to first-year students.


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2022
Submitted by Peter Berek on Saturday, 7/9/2011, at 5:57 PM

Required Texts

(available at Amherst Books)


Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, eds., The Rattle Bag. (poetry anthology) Faber & Faber.

Shakespeare, King Lear, ed. R. A. Foakes (Arden III).

Sarah Ruhl, The Clean House and Other Plays. Theatre Communications Group.

E. M. Forster, Howards End. Penguin Classics

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Anchor. Jennifer Egan will read at Amherst College on November 29.

V. S. Naipaul, Between Father and Son: Family Letters. Vintage

Dean Young, Fall Higher. Copper Canyon Press