With a major in literature, students can pursue a variety of careers. Our graduates have gone on to become professionals in business, education, law, medicine, publishing, public relations, and entertainment. Literature majors are prized for their ability to synthesize abstractions in a clear and precise way that their employers appreciate; for their tolerance and broad understanding of the human condition; for the power and clarity of their writing; and their attention to detail.


For more information, contact:

Megan Musgrave
Director of the Literature Program
Associate Professor of English

Literature Courses

L 105 Appreciation of Literature
This course is intended for non-majors and introduces the specific reading demands of poetry, drama, and short fiction. Rather than write papers, students complete a number of workshops which build an experiential connection with literature and place it in context with other humane arts. Students should complete the class with a better understanding of the communal and personal influences which help them make meaning from text.

L 115 Literature for Today
This course teaches prerequisite skills for subsequent English courses, and may be centered on literary themes more than generic reading demands. Students are expected to complete written assignments which may include individual essays or comprehensive portfolios. In addition to poetry, drama, and short fiction, the course also introduces the novel.

L202 Literary Interpretation 
L202 introduces students to the values, habits, and best practices of interpreting literary works in conversation, class discussions, and written assignments.  It is also the gateway course for students in the Literature concentration within the English major.  Its main goals are: to introduce students to the processes of literary analysis and essay writing; to examine how literary works comment on social, moral, political, and philosophical issues of importance to their own and later times; and to reflect on what we do as interpreters of literature so that we can take conscious control of our skills and knowledge.

L203 Introduction to Drama
For anyone interested in the art of Theatre, English, or Communication Arts, it is essential to understand the basics of what we call ‘Drama.’  L203 is a class that talks about what it means to see and understand theatre, what it means to be in a play, and even what it means to write a play; but it’s more than that. We will also examine how to speak in public, how to use your body as a kind of language, and, in doing all of that, how to understand ourselves and our lives better.  This class will help you to become more aware of what happens in drama, how drama might be interpreted, and how the world can be better understood by experiencing drama from many different cultural perspectives.

L204 Introduction to Fiction
In L204 students study the ways and means and meanings of narrative literature, concentrating on the short story and modern novel. The main goals of the course are: (1) to learn about various types of fiction, its techniques, themes, and the terminology we use to discuss it; (2) to develop analytical skills as readers of fiction; and (3) to better enjoy reading stories and novels by better understanding how they work and what they intend to communicate.  Some sections have a thematic focus: see IUPUI Schedule of Classes.

L204 Introduction to Fiction online
This online version of L204 is delivered through Oncourse, IUPUI’s web teaching and learning environment, and requires basic computer skills such as word processing, use of the Internet, capacity to use or learn how to use discussion forums, Oncourse mail, and occasionally chatrooms. Students should be attentive readers, able to read and follow text instructions as well as capable of working at a regular pace in a course which requires consistent and regular submission of work as a substitute for class attendance. One required orientation meeting will take place, though you may make arrangements with the instructor to orient online. Not recommended for freshmen.

L205 Introduction to Poetry
L205 is for people who love poetry and for those who are afraid of it. It aims to give all students greater confidence and greater pleasure in approaching poems. Students will become familiar with formal elements of poetry-such as image, metaphor, language, voice, line and meter-and will read a wide variety of poems grouped according to convention and stylistic strategy. We will particularly focus on the rich traditions of the sonnet, ballad, and elegy.

L207 Women and Literature
This course centers on critical study of women writers in world literature.  Readings will cover a range of different world cultures and time periods.  Texts are selected from a variety of genres including poetry, short stories, novels, autobiography, and essays.  Study of literary works will be supplemented by discussion of theoretical issues and texts relating to gender, empowerment, and feminism.

L213 Literary Masterpieces
Students in L213 study major western literary works from the ancient world to the Renaissance.  This course provides students with an opportunity to become familiar with great works that are foundational for modern Western culture.  These ancient works still have an up-to-date impact on our lives since our core beliefs are still built, to a larger extent than is often realized, on a foundation established by these ancient, medieval, and Renaissance classics, including works of Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, and others.  Emphasis will be on making the literature accessible and interesting, relating it to historical events and contexts, and working on important reading and writing skills. 

L214 Literary Masterpieces II
L214 covers major Western literary works from the Renaissance to the twentieth century.  Texts are selected from a variety of genres and nations, with an emphasis on works that have been particularly famous and influential.  Works by Cervantes, Voltaire, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Mann, Ibsen, Kafka, and others are typically included.  Emphasis will be on making the literature accessible and interesting, relating it to historical events and contexts, and working on important reading and writing skills.  Non-English works will be read in English translation.

L213 Literary Masterpieces and L214 Literary Masterpieces II Online
The online versions of L213 and L214 are delivered through Oncourse, IUPUI’s web teaching and learning environment, and requires basic computer skills such as word processing, use of the Internet, capacity to use or learn how to use discussion forums, Oncourse mail, and occasionally chatrooms.  An on-campus orientation meeting will take place, though you may make arrangements with the instructor to orient online. Not recommended for freshmen. For a list of readings, see the course description for the classroom version. The online course will also include web lectures delivered in the Impatica format, interactive forum postings, self-assessment quizzes, two papers and two exams.

L220 Introduction to Shakespeare
"Not for an age, but for all time!" This class is designed to increase your enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s plays by reading them in relation to performances of the plays, their social and historical settings, the current theory and criticism, and the development of the plays on stage and on film. We will cover only a few of Shakespeare’s thirty-eight plays, but we will examine the broad spectrum across which Shakespeare wrote for a popular audience: comedy, romance, history, and tragedy. In taking this approach, we will necessarily also examine William Shakespeare, the man, and the cultural environment of the Early Modern Period in which he wrote.

L245 Introduction to Caribbean Literature
Caribbean literature has become an important part of our increasingly globalized literature curriculum.  This course will introduce students to the basic themes and works of Caribbean literature. Specifically, we will examine the ways in which Caribbean writers present a colonial past and its effect on Caribbean culture in their attempts to "write back" to imperialist thought. We will examine the politics of decolonization and how writers construct and re-construct Caribbean cultures and identities.

L301 English Literature Survey I
L301 is a survey of British literature up to the eighteenth century. This was a period of exciting changes in English society and politics. It also produced some of England’s most renowned writers, including Geoffrey Chaucer, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift. Emphasis will be on making the literature accessible and interesting to students, relating it to historical events and contexts, and working on important reading and writing skills. This is a good class for teachers and potential graduate students.

L302 English Literature Survey II
L302 samples various literary forms—poems, prose, plays—as it maps the development of British literature through historical periods roughly defined as Romanticism, Victorianism, Modernism, and Post-modernism. Using writers from John Keats and Mary Prince through Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney, we will explore literary works both as unique productions of individual authors’ minds and as part of the larger literary and historical worlds of their time. In short, we’ll see where our literary present—and to some extent our society—comes from. This is a good class for teachers and potential graduate students.

L315 Major Plays of Shakespeare
This class is designed to increase your enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s plays through a close reading of the play texts in relation to performance of the plays, their social and historical setting, current theory and criticism, and the development of the plays as dramatic performances, on stage and on film. We will cover only a few of Shakespeare’s thirty-eight plays, but we will examine the broad spectrum across which Shakespeare wrote for a popular audience: comedy, romance, history, and tragedy. In taking this approach, we will necessarily also examine Mr. William Shakespeare, the man, and the cultural milieu of the Early Modern Period in which he wrote. Because Shakespeare wrote his plays for performance, we will watch some films and film clips as well.

L348 19th-Century British Fiction
This course samples from the era’s many genres of fiction.  Some types were built on previous eras-Romantic, the Gothic, the sentimental-while others were just emerging: the sensational novel, the realistic novel, detective fiction, and the mashup of these in the 1890’s aesthetic novel.  Students will meet lesser known writers who produced novels of sensation and sentimentality along with household names like Charles Dickens.  Creative writers may like the exposure to multiple genres; literature majors more interested in prose than in poetry can use this course in place of L302.  History majors/minors may deepen their cultural understanding of this period, which saw the rise of both democracy and the imperialism that affected so much of twentieth-century life.

L351 American Literature, 1800-1865
L351 examines American literature in the early national period, covering fiction, poetry, the slave narrative, and the essay. This thematic survey of transcendental, romantic, and domestic writers includes authors such as Irving, Emerson, Sedgewick, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Stowe, Melville, Poe, Douglass, and Whitman. The course introduces American Transcendentalism and Romanticism and situates non-canonical works in historical context.

L352 American Literature, 1870-1920
An historical survey of American literature from the end of the Civil War to 1920, L352 addresses the crisis of consciousness that beset writers in a period of rapid urban growth. The course covers the cultural contexts of Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism with emphasis on psychological approaches to fiction and the secularization of literature. Authors may include Dickinson, James, Twain, Crane, Jewett, Chesnutt, Wharton, Howells, London, and Dreiser.

L354 American Literature Since 1914
This course begins with the American modernists and examines a representative selection of works in a variety of genres to emphasize the diversity of voices comprising twentieth-century American literature. One of our major goals is to consider the ways in which American literature both reflects and shapes our sense of what it means to be an American. Individual works are analyzed and placed within social, historical and cultural contexts. Although there are occasional short lectures, the primary format of the class is discussion.

L358 20th-Century American Fiction
This course considers fiction-both novels and short stories-beginning with the works of the American expatriates of the 1920s and ending in the contemporary period. Because the twentieth century has seen a great deal of experimentation in fiction (as well as in other literary and art forms), many of the works we will read will be experimental in form and content. Selections will include, among others, works of the expatriates, representatives of the Southern renascence and the African-American resurgence in contemporary literature. Our primary objectives will be: (1) to examine the development and diversity of fictional forms in the twentieth century; (2) to consider the social and historical forces that have affected the fiction writers of the twentieth century; and (3) to consider the achievements of the individual authors whose works we read.

L364 Native American Literature 
This course introduces students to the breadth, complexity, and interdisciplinary nature of literature by Native American writers. We will attempt to answer two central questions as we engage with a variety texts: What are the cultural and ethical implications of transforming oral literatures performed for particular tribal audiences into written literatures in English? And what are the implications of unifying such a diverse body of oral and written literatures with the term "Native American"?  These questions naturally demand a study of primary works including fiction, poetry, and films. Authors we study may include N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Marmon Silko, James Welch, and Louise Erdrich. We will supplement our readings of primary and secondary texts with films and a visit to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

L370 Recent Black American Writing
This course will examine black American literature written in the latter part of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. The literary texts we will read and discuss offer various representations of black life, often resisting stereotypical notions of "blackness." We will examine the various themes that arise in contemporary black literature as well as examine how these recent works illuminate the traditional themes of an African American literary tradition. Texts may include Walter Mosley’s Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, Bertice Berry’s Redemption Song, J. California Cooper’s A Piece of Mine, August Wilson’s Fences, Veronica Chambers’ Mama’s Girl, Coleson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist, and Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever.

L372 Contemporary American Fiction
L372 examines the variety of fictional styles and themes that characterize late twentieth- and early twenty-first century American fiction.  We will read works of several sub-genres and cultural perspectives, ending with a work that will raise questions about "fictionality" itself.  We’ll consider each work on its individual literary merits, but we’ll also be looking at commonalities and differences between the various works.  We’ll also consider the ways in which contemporary fiction both builds on and departs from its literary ancestors.  Course papers will allow students to explore a specific work in more depth, while projects will connect course works with a larger context of some kind.

L373 Interdisciplinary Approaches to English and American Literature: Philanthropy and Literature
L373 is a variable-title topics course covering various topics and literatures depending on the semester and instructor.  When taught as "Philanthropy and Literature," L373 examines the representations of philanthropy and voluntary action in literature (in works such as Major Barbara, A Christmas Carol, The Grapes of Wrath, The Good Woman of Setzuan and others) as well as the creation of literature as an act of giving. The course will explore the assumptions and methods appropriate for an interdisciplinary investigation such as literature and philanthropy and the dimensions of giving and voluntary action as they shape the personal and cultural lives of people, especially readers of literature. Discussions are likely to pursue questions regarding the values and perspectives that the study of literature and the study of philanthropy share.

L376 Literature for Adolescents
This course will focus on literature of the last fifty years when both modern teenagers and books designed specifically for them emerged. Reading fiction, poetry, graphic novels, and ‘zines, we will address how different genres represent and define the teenage experience. This literature not only reflects teen lives but also responds to concerns about teens’ reluctance to read and their changing literacies. The course will be of interest to those wishing an overview of recent reading, publishing, and writing trends. While thinking about what roles these books can play in secondary school classrooms, we will primarily analyze them as pieces of literature.

L378 Studies in Women and Literature
L378 builds on the more general knowledge presented in L207, Women and Literature. Providing an in-depth and topical focus on women and men in literature, the course invites students to consider variable and specialized topics of current interest in gender theory and criticism.  Sections of L378 have been offered in, for example, American domestic fiction by 19th-century women writers and in "Shakespeare’s Sisters"-women who wrote and performed drama and poetry in secrecy.

L379 Ethnic and Minority Literature of the United States
This course samples from the multicultural glory that is contemporary fiction in the United States. The syllabus will include works of various American-ethnic origins, including but not limited to Afghan-American, Chicano American, American Indian, Korean American, African American, Jewish American, and Latvian American authors.  If you want to know more about our country, you’ll have fun with the writers’ different perspectives and forms.

L381 Recent Writing: Indiana Authors
Indiana Authors surveys the state’s literary past for insights into its active life in the present. In search of confluences of place and authors’ lives and work, we read Hoosier poets, fiction writers, and essayists. Some of them shine among the most luminous in 20th-century letters-Dreiser, Tarkington, Vonnegut, Young. All offer unique visions of the state and the state of the world. Collectively their voices inform us about Indiana’s role in the progress of American literature.

L382 Fiction of the Non-Western World: 20th-Century African Fiction
The decolonization of Africa in the 1950s and 1960s sparked an explosion of African literature that continues to this day.  This literature is vibrant, skillful, and deeply concerned with the social issues facing African nations.  This course will introduce students to an exciting range of African fiction written in English from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana.  Emphasis throughout the course will be on making the works accessible and interesting to students, relating them to historical contexts, and working on important reading and writing skills. 

L384 Studies in American Culture: Comics in American Culture
A survey of American comic art and artists, this course is primarily concerned with how comics developed and matured as a distinctively American art form, reflecting and commenting on American society in a variety of narrative forms: comic strips, web comics, comic books, and graphic novels. The class will examine the birth and death of the Comic Code, and it will focus on the changing trends in content and theme that developed in the mid 1980’s, the British Invasion, and how this affected the various genres within American comics currently.

L384 Studies in American Culture: The Harlem Renaissance
This course progresses through an intense study of the Harlem Renaissance period from 1919 to 1940.  The class covers the historic, political, and social aspects of the movement and includes both critical and literary texts.  Texts include but are not limited to the poetry of Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, the critical work of Alain Locke, Arthur Schomburg, and George Schuyler, and the literature of Nella Larsen, W.E.B. Dubois, Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Jean Toomer.  The course also integrates contemporary critical work on the period to provide context, but these texts will be chosen for their accessibility to students.

L385 Science Fiction
A survey of British and American science fiction in the twentieth century, L385 will examine the various trends, themes, and subgenres in speculative fiction-from elements of fantasy to hard/technical science fiction. As a class we will discuss traditional novels and at least one graphic novel. Some readings will change but this is an example of what to expect: The Book of Dreams by Jack Vance, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Neuromancer by William Gibson, To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer, Watchmen by Alan Moore.

L390 Children’s Literature
Children’s books present an interesting paradox: they are written by adults for an audience of children. As such, these books often tell us as much about adults as they do about children. Moreover, as the Harry Potter phenomenon suggests, adults enjoy children’s books as much as (and sometimes more than) children. Thinking about the many different audiences of children’s books, we will consider books that highlight how adults have shaped social constructions of childhood over the last three centuries. By tracing how different writers have interpreted the same themes, we will consider how attitudes about children as intellectuals and emerging citizens have shifted over time.

L406/L606 Topics in African-American Literature 
Useful for majors/minors in Africana Studies, education, English, and history, this variable course may focus on a single writer like the novelist and Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison; on a single topic such as the slave narrative; or on a variety of genres (plays, poetry, fiction, films) that comprise the traditions of African American literature.

L411 Literature and Society
L411 is a variable-title course focusing on the relations between literature and social beliefs, practices, and histories.  Topics will vary depending on the semester and instructor

L411 Literature and Society: South African Literature and Society
South Africa’s tortured history has been a focus of international attention for much of the twentieth century. From the 1948 elections, which inaugurated the period of formal apartheid (strict racial segregation), to the 1994 elections, which marked the end of apartheid and the beginning of majority black rule, it has been a history of racism, violence, hope, and struggle. This course aims to integrate historical and political study with the study of South Africa’s rich literary tradition, which includes Nobel Prize winners Nadine Gordimer and J. M. Coetzee and many other important writers of various ethnic and ideological backgrounds. Goals of the course will include: (1) to develop methods of reading that pay attention to issues of cultural difference, power, resistance, and negotiation; (2) to become more familiar with the history and literature of South Africa by examining a group of narratives and their historical contexts; (3) to improve students’ skills in analyzing and writing about literature through frequent writing and feedback.

L411 Literature and Society: Working Class Literature
This course discusses what constitutes working class literature in a variety of genres (songs as well as texts) and how working-class aesthetics might differ from middle- and upper-class aesthetics.  Authors and performers might include, for example, Tillie Olsen, Johnny Cash, August Wilson, Bruce Springsteen, Luis J. Rodriguez. An upper-level course designed for majors and minors in English, history, labor studies, education, and the Masarachia program, L411 can be used as a capstone in the literature concentration. 

L433 Conversations with Shakespeare
This course studies the phenomenon of literary intertextuality by focusing on a group of works that are based on the plays of William Shakespeare.  Students will compare Shakespeare texts with more recent novels, plays, poems, and films that allude to or incorporate some aspect of Shakespeare’s art.  These later works engage in "conversations" with Shakespeare by using Shakespearean "materials" (characters, settings, plots, verbal echoes, etc.) in new ways and in different historical and social contexts.  The result is usually a complex blend of homage to Shakespeare, criticism and disagreement, and use of the past to create social commentary for the present.  Our main goals in this course will be: (1) to develop ways of analyzing and understanding intertextual works that do justice to the complexities of the different texts and time periods; (2) to understand some of the workings of "Shakespeare" as a cultural institution or icon; (3) to develop cross-cultural understanding of the meanings and uses of Shakespeare in different times and places.

L440 Senior Seminar
L440 is a variable-title course for advanced undergraduates covering various topics and literatures depending on the semester and instructor.  Each section follows a seminar format, with extensive discussion of critical topics.  L440 fulfills the capstone requirement for students majoring in Literature.  Topics may include Poetry, Gender, and Mid-Century Modernism, Dickens and Eliot, Coetzee and Rushdie, the Slave Narrative, Austen and Wharton, James Joyce, Hawthorne and Melville, Southern Literature, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison.

L478/M592 Literature and Medicine
A course designed for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in English and the Medical Humanities, L478/ M592 explores the medical world in literature and the arts, in popular culture, and through the institution of the hospital. Students explore medical subjects across a range of genres, including the case and the pathography. Illness narrative is often a focus.

L495 Individual Readings in English 
These courses, available for 1-3 credits, allow you to pursue an individual interest or topic that is not available through regularly offered courses. You need to develop a proposal, detailing what you want to study or write, and discuss it with a faculty member with some expertise in that area. Remember that faculty members have limited time for directing such independent study; they are most likely to work with a student they have previously had in a class and/or a student who has a well-developed proposal and a strong motivation. Students must be authorized for these courses by a faculty member, who will request a specific section number.

Note:  For a complete listing of courses with days and times, refer to the IUPUI Schedule of Classes. These course descriptions are meant as a general guide to aid in your course selection; syllabi, textbooks, and requirements are given on the first day of class. In some cases, an instructor’s name is given, and that means the description that follows applies when that instructor teaches the course.

Literature Requirements

English majors must take at least 15 hours of 300/400 level courses in the major. A minimum grade of C is required in each course in this concentration.  

Gateway Course (3 cr.)
L202 Literary Interpretation

Concentration Core (18 cr.):

  • Critical and Historical Foundations—Britain (6 cr)
    - L301 English Literature I and either:
    - L302 English Literature II or
    - L348 Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (L348 may be taken in place of L302, but not L301)
  • Critical and Historical Foundations—US (6 cr)
    - L351 American Literature I
    - L352 American Literature II
    - L354 American Literature III (L357 Twentieth-Century American Poetry or L358 Twentieth-Century American Fiction may be substituted for L354)
  • Shakespeare (3 cr)
    Choose One:
    - L220 Introduction to Shakespeare
    - L315 Major Plays of Shakespeare
  • Diversity (3 cr) 
    Choose One:
    - L207 Women and Literature
    - L364 Native American Literature
    - L370 Black American Writing
    - L378 Studies in Women and Literature
    - L379 American Ethnic and Minority Literature
    - L382 Fiction of the Non-Western World
    - L406 Topics in African American Literature
    - L411 Literature and Society: South African Literature

English Experience (9 cr.):

  • Language and Linguistics (3 cr)
    Choose one:
    - Z206 Introduction to Language Use
    - Z301 History of the English Language
    - Z302 Understanding Language Structure: Syntax
    - Z310 Language in Context: Sociolinguistics
  • Editing (3 cr)
    Choose one:
    - W280 Literary Editing and Publishing
    - W365 Theory and Practice of Editing
  • English Elective (3 cr)
    In consultation with your advisor, choose one English course at the 200-level or above from classes outside of Literature.

Capstone Seminar (3 cr.)
Choose one:
- L440 Senior Seminar
- E450 Capstone Seminar
- L433 Conversations with Shakespeare


Interested in a Minor in Literature? Click here. Or, how about a Minor in Multicultureral Literature

Opportunities in Literature

Students who study Literature have a wide variety of career options available to them. Our students are not confined to a one-track career path. Our advisors are a great resource for information about internships, employment opportunities, and careers in English. They can also talk to you about how the advantages of a minor in Literature. Please visit our advising page for contact information.

The Department of English is excited to expand our website so that we can provide more career resources for our students. While we prepare an online directory for you, please take advantage of our advisors and faculty, who would be happy to talk to you about how studying literature can help launch your career.