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Monsters, modern grammar fill out English fall 2014 course offerings at ASU

Frankenstein meme
May 13, 2014

There is no inherent connection between creepy creatures and the inner workings of language, but both are undergraduate courses offered by the Department of English at Arizona State University.

With registration for the fall 2014 semester ongoing, two classes with seats available and taught by full-time faculty in English may interest students across disciplines. ENG 221: Monsters & Magic in English Lit, 800 to 1800 is instructed by associate professor of English Rosalynn Voaden, and ENG 314: Modern Grammar is facilitated by Regents’ Professor of English Elly van Gelderen.

Voaden’s class, which fulfills the humanities (HU) general studies requirement, will look at texts like “Beowulf,” “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” “The Tempest” and “Frankenstein.” Students will discuss, according to Voaden, “the assorted nasties of these texts with a bit of magic thrown in to lighten the mix.”

From the course description: “From Grendel to Frankenstein, monsters reveal our deepest fears and our greatest anxieties. Every society, culture and historical period creates the monsters that it needs. Similarly, magic indicates our most fervent desires, what we most wish for – though magic can be dark, and cannot always be trusted. This class engages the question of what it means to be human.”

In order to help prepare future educators to teach this material, one breakout section of the course is open exclusively to students in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Prerequisites may be waived. Contact or check out the catalog

Van Gelderen’s class looks at the modern descriptive models of English grammar. The purpose of this course is to examine the major syntactic structures of English – why do we use words in the order that we do? Students will gain an understanding of syntactic arguments, like why an adjective is “correct” in a particular position, and when an adjective can be an adverb and when a noun can be a verb.

Van Gelderen says students will dissect their own writing and speech. “After this class, you will be able to answer questions on whether or not to use split infinitives and stranded prepositions. And you will get a chance to look at your own writing: are you embedded clause-heavy?!”

Van Gelderen stresses that it is more important to be able to argue something then just memorize rules. The course is focused mostly on discussion and analysis; only one book is required: “An Introduction to the Grammar of English.” Contact or check out the catalog.

Both courses are delivered in-person on the Tempe campus twice weekly (Mondays and Wednesdays) and have small breakout sections on Fridays, also in-person.

Written by Kira Assad and Kristen LaRue