Department of English

Kayla Shearer



E 321 • Shakespeare

36389 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 0.128

E 321  l  Shakespeare

Instructor:  Shearer, K

Unique #:  36389

Semester:  Fall 2021

Cross-lists:  n/a

Prerequisites:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or Rhetoric and writing.

Description:  The plays of William Shakespeare are steeped in the supernatural. Ghosts, fairies, witches, and even gods constantly meddle in human affairs.  In this course, we will look at how Shakespeare’s use of supernatural elements complicates questions of genre and gender, and blurs the lines between reality, dreams, and the world of the play.  We will compare his depictions of such elements to early modern treatises about witchcraft, demonology, and Purgatory to consider what Shakespeare may gain by either engaging with or defying broader cultural ideas and audience expectations about the supernatural.

Tentative Texts:  The Tempest; Macbeth; Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hamlet; Julius Caesar; Cymbeline; Other readings, made available on Canvas

Requirements & Grading:  Students can expect a series of short writing exercises (30%), a final project (30%), several quizzes and smaller research assignments (20%), and attendance/participation (10%) to make up the grade in this course.

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

35090 • Fall 2018
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 308

E 314L  l  3-Banned Books and Novel Ideas


Instructor:  Shearer, K

Unique #:  35090

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).


Description:  What is the appeal of accessing information or creative texts that have been considered unsuitable for general audiences?  What compels certain people or subcultures to embrace and seek out materials that have been otherwise rejected or repressed?  Who gets to decide what makes a “suitable” text, and what effect might banning a book have on its apparent value both for its contemporary audiences and for critics today?


This course seeks answers to the above questions by engaging with texts that have been banned within various political, religious, and cultural environments.  We will discuss not only why these texts were banned – was it sympathy for the wrong political party?  Portrayal of “indecent” acts or ways of being?  Use of vulgar or uncommon language? – but also how their position as banned books affected the value of these texts as cultural artifacts.  We will seek to learn as much about censorship and its potentially counterintuitive effects as the topics or texts being censored.


The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.


This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.


Tentative Texts:  Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness; Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.


Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which may be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  The remaining 25% will be determined by short assignments, quizzes, and participation.

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Romeo

43610 • Spring 2018
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM FAC 10

            What does it mean to be “talking” with a potential romantic partner? How do dating apps like Tinder or Bumble change the way we think about finding love? What cultural pressures have we internalized, and how do they shape the way we approach dating? This class will undertake a comprehensive study of the rhetoric behind the modern U.S. dating environment in an attempt to find some answers to the above questions. In particular, we will assess how certain images, values, and ideas have come to dominate our cultural idea of “romance”—such as the famously star-crossed lover, Romeo. We will look at magazines, songs, movies, and other sources that invoke the name of romance to build an understanding of how issues such as the gender binary, the preferential representation of heterosexual couples, and the commercialization of love are produced and preserved through rhetorical strategies. As we develop our skills as rhetorical analysts we will challenge modern standards for romance and the harmful messages aimed at both men and women legitimized therein.

            This class is for those students interested in improving their ability to deconstruct the ways that arguments are produced and spread, for those students who want to engage with harmful messages about gender, love, and sexuality in a constructive way, and for those who are invested in studying cultural phenomena for their rhetorical value.

  • Paper 1.1—Rhetorical Analysis of a Character: 10%
  • Paper 1.2—Rhetorical Analysis of a Character Revision: 15%
  • Project 2—Annotated Archive and Bibliography: 15%
  • Paper 3.1—Persuasive Argument: 15%
  • Paper 3.2—Persuasive Argument Revision: 15%
  • Project 4—Creative Persuasion: 10%
  • Short Writing Assignments (5)—15%
  • Participation—5% This will be calculated through in-class assignments and homework (which are graded as credit/no credit).
  • Peer Reviews—Mandatory


There are three required texts for the course:

  • Everything’s an Argument, Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, & Keith Walters (6th edition)
  • Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (Folger’s edition)
  • The Little Longhorn Handbook

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