BA in English: Texts in History Courses

The Hawai‘i Pacific University English Program believes that all graduates should be able to read literary texts in light of their historical contexts and in relation to other texts that precede and follow them. Courses in this area may include courses focusing on particular literary historical periods and genres, courses that approach “literary texts” by reading them along with other primary documents from the same period, and courses that examine texts relating to a particular historical event. With close attention to a variety of voices as well as social conditions, major events, and prevailing ideas of a given time and place, students gain a rich understanding of a moment in time and the literature it produced.    Courses draw on a variety of approaches including close reading, new historicism, and cultural studies, to engage students in the study of literary techniques and genres and how they developed over time, and the way literature both reflects and influences historical conditions.

Students must take two upper-division Texts in History courses as part of the requirements for the BA degree. (It is possible to use additional Texts in History courses toward the major electives).  

Use the course search feature to see if a course is currently scheduled.  Scroll down or click "More" after each course for some more detailed descriptions of the courses as taught by individual professors in past semesters.



British Literature to 1800  More



Shakespeare on Screen More



Nineteenth-Century British Literature More



Nineteenth-Century American Literature  More



Chinese Literature  More



Japanese Literature  More



Biography More



Nonfiction Film: Documentary, Docudrama, and Historical Film More

ENG 3150 Television Studies More



Shakespeare Seminar More



Seminar in Modernism More

ENG 3100 British Literature to 1800 as taught by Dr. Deborah Ross (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3200)

Imagine a small group of islands, explored, exploited, settled, colonized, century after century; tribes from the north and missionaries from the south, all leaving their mark.  These are the British Isles: tiny dots in the middle of the ocean where people from all over the globe gathered, for various reasons, to share centuries of language practices and literary forms; and then dispersed, for various reasons, to spread this language and literature all over the globe.  Thus we find ourselves on a very different island, very far away, speaking English.

In British Literature to 1800, we will explore our English cultural roots by sampling some delectable writings from those tiny islands. How can we hope to cover a whole millennium? One may as well, as John Donne said, “catch a falling star”—so we won’t try. We will, however, try to get a sense of the variations possible within specific literary genres, such as the love lyric, and to observe their development over time. 

ENG 3101 Shakespeare on Screen as taught by Houston Wood

The course examines the history and impact of film and television adaptations of Shakespeare's plays and includes critical reading of six plays (one every other week) and at least two film versions of each, from close adaptation to free transformation. Plays selected will be chosen from those with the most popular and fascinating cinematic adaptations: Midsummer Night's Dream • Romeo and Juliet • Othello • Hamlet • Taming of the Shrew • The Tempest •  Richard III • Henry IV, Part I. Special emphasis is placed on how culture, events, as well as narrative and cinematic traditions shape the production and reception of Shakespeare's works.

ENG 3102  19th Century British Literature as taught by Dr. Deborah Ross (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3210)

Nineteenth century British Lit is a survey of striking, representative works of British Literature from the Romantic and Victorian periods. The course also asks students to question definitions of terms like “British” and  “literature” and consider the value of historical approaches to texts. The nineteenth century in England began in the midst of revolution and turmoil in all areas of life, and the literature of both the Romantic and Victorian periods can be seen as attempts to reflect and to contain all this subversive energy.  A new poetry attempted to reintroduce aspects of experience Romantic poets felt had been left out in the previous, neoclassic generation—the dark, irrational, divinely emotional side--using, in Wordsworth’s phrase, “the language really used by men.”  Though not consciously excluding women, as including them would likely not have occurred to him, Wordsworth does remind us that the language used by men is not exactly the same as that used by women, and the early years of the century saw two distinctly gendered approaches to the novel:  the realistic novel of manners of Jane Austen, and the historical romance of Walter Scott.  As the British empire alternately lost, won, and lost control of large parts of the world, the nineteenth century saw the novel grow into a detailed chronicle of  the effects of social forces in shaping our collective lives, while retaining a fascination with the gothic, romantic, and surreal.  Over the course of the century literary criticism, as well, struggled to reconcile the weirdness and isolation of the individual psyche in its responses to art with the notion of absolute, universal aesthetic standards.  One solution, seen in the Aesthetic Movement late in the century, was to free Art from the obligation to fulfill moral standards or in any way improve society.  This new trend of thought ushered in a marvelous decade of satiric writing and a new liberation into unreason, as seen in the works of Oscar Wilde and the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

ENG 3122  19th Century American Literature as taught by Dr. Laurie Leach (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3410)

In this course we will begin by examining some early texts, the Declaration of Independence and the writings of  Franklin and Crevecoeur, which helped produce our national myth--the  idea of America as a nation committed to individual and spiritual freedom, egalitarianism and the pursuit of material success--before turning to 19th century texts that both affirm and interrogate this picture of America, including writings by Emerson and Thoreau, Life in the Iron Mills, The Blithedale Romance, slave narratives, The Rise of Silas Lapham and The Marrow of Tradition.  Films will include The House of Mirth and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This is a “Texts in History” course in which students will examine works in their historical context while also exploring how the questions raised by these texts continue to be pertinent in 21st century America.

ENG 3134  Chinese Literature as taught by Dr. Micheline Soong (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3345)

The course covers China’s historical development of literary forms (tales, histories, essays, poems, plays) leading up to fiction (short stories and novels) as a genre, from the earliest dynastic era up through the 21st century. The examination of literary works will be contextualized through the social and intellectual milieu that shaped Chinese writers as they endured successive waves of transformation brought about by violent revolutions: political, philosophical, economic, ideological, cultural, and technological.

ENG 3135  Japanese Literature as taught by Dr. Micheline Soong (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3355)

The course provides a solid grounding in the historical development of Japanese literature from the Yamato era up through the 21st century. Narrative forms examined may include classical forms such as the tale, diary, monogatari, and zuihitsu and the modern forms of short stories, novels and drama. Special focus will be on the social and intellectual milieu that shaped Japanese writers and their literary works as Japan faced political and economic pressures to open itself to Western values and notions of modernity.

ENG 3145 Nonfiction Film as taught by Dr. Phyllis Frus (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3625)

In Dr. Frus’s course, LIT 3625, students will be introduced to the genres of nonfiction film into which examples can be classified—documentary, docudrama, and historical feature film—and to the theory, history, and ideology of fact-based film. The special emphasis of this course is the theory and history of the primary form of nonfiction film, documentary. Highlights are films from the Depression, musical documentaries (featuring Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, U-2 and Madonna), and works by Oscar-winning documentary film-makers.

ENG 3140 Biography as taught by Dr. Kathy Cassity (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3630)

Biography today—now usually called “life writing”—is no longer only for our about “great men”; the field has exploded to encompass diverse kinds of people as well as numerous genres such as autobiography, memoir, group biography, and oral histories.  This course focuses on literary biographies and the intellectual movements that shaped them, exploring such issues as narrative structure, ethical dilemmas (what right do writers have to represent and/or assign meaning to the lives of others?), and competing views regarding the moral purposes of representing lives.  Taking a historical approach, we will begin with the Christian Gospels, Plutarch’s morally instructive accounts of “significant” lives, and medieval lives of the saints.  After briefly surveying developments in intellectual history that have affected the practice and reception of life writing from medieval to modern times, we will delve into the twentieth century, when the rise of psychoanalytical theory, the trauma of the First World War, and other major paradigm shifts transformed life writing into something far more multifaceted and complex than traditional “great man” biographies.

ENG 3150 Television Studies as taught by Dr. Andrew Opitz

Television is often casually dismissed as mindless entertainment, but it is also a powerful cultural form that shapes how people see the world. This course will focus on critical "readings" of television's past and present forms as well as its influence on literature, film, music, and digital media. Students will watch influential TV shows, examine different TV genres (sitcoms, talk shows, news programming and "reality" TV), read representative scripts and teleplays, and study the evolution of the medium of television from its early beginnings up to its current integration with other forms of digital communication.

ENG 4100 Shakespeare Seminar as taught by Houston Wood (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 4200)

An advanced critical study of Shakespeare, including an examination of the cultural, historical, and literary context in which he wrote. Students complete a substantial research project that engages with current scholarship and includes analysis of at least five of Shakespeare's plays.

ENG 4120 Seminar in Modernism  as taught by Ms. Elizabeth Fischel (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 4120)

The 20th century brought important challenges to Western civilization's conceptions of both art and of society.  In this course we will read novels that make provocative contributions to new visions of literature--particularly narrative--and of race, class, gender and sexuality.  We'll begin with representations of the highest profile artistic movement of the century, high modernism: Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.  After examining the challenges to traditional narrative made by the high modernist movement, we will move to works produced by America's Harlem Renaissance and America's new immigrants: Nella Larsen's Passing,  Anzia Yezierska's Breadgivers, and Sui Sin Far's Mrs. Spring Fragrance.  Finally, we will turn to the later part of the century to investigate the postmodern response to modernism by examining Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body, and Octavia Butler's science-fiction masterpiece, Dawn.