Visiting Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures
James E. Berg received his PhD at Columbia University in 1998. Since then he has taught Shakespeare, Renaissance Literature, literary criticism and history at Iowa State University and in the Harvard University Expository Writing Program, as well as at Middlebury. His current interest is in literary character, particularly as it developed during the English Renaissance, but also in other eras. He is currently working on a book, The Character of Shakespeare’s Plays. His publications include “’This Dear Dear Land’: Dearth and the Fantasy of the Land-Grab in Richard II and Henry IV , in English Literary Renaissance (1999); “Gorboduc and the Tragic Discovery of Feudalism” in Studies in English Literature (2000); “John Donne’s Holy Sonnets” in vol. 1 of Scribner’s British Classic’s series, ed. Jay Parini (2003); “The Properties of Character in King Lear,” in Shakespeare and Character: Theory, History, Performance, and Theatrical Persons, ed. Paul Yachnin and Jessica Slights (2008); and “Wopsle’s Revenge: Reading Hamlet as Character in Great Expectations" (forthcoming in Shakespeare’s Sense of Character: on the Page and from the Stage, ed. YuJin Ko and Michael Shurgot).
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
CMLT 0101 - Intro to World Literature
Introduction to World Literature
This course is an introduction to the critical analysis of imaginative literature of the world, the dissemination of themes and myths, and the role of translation as the medium for reaching different cultures. Through the careful reading of selected classic texts from a range of Western and non-Western cultures, students will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the particular texts under consideration, while developing a critical vocabulary with which to discuss and write about these texts, both as unique artistic achievements of individual and empathetic imagination and as works affected by, but also transcending their historical periods. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
CRWR 0560 - Special Project: Writing
Special Project: Creative Writing
Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
CRWR 0701 - Senior Thesis:Creative Writing
Senior Thesis: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking one-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. (Formerly ENAM 0701)
Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
ENAM 0103 - Reading Literature
This course seeks to develop skills for the close reading of literature through discussion of and writing about selected poems, plays, and short stories. A basic vocabulary of literary terms and an introductory palette of critical methods will also be covered, and the course's ultimate goal will be to enable students to attain the literary-critical sensibility vital to further course work in the major. At the instructor's discretion, the texts employed in this class may share a particular thematic concern or historical kinship. 3 hrs. lect./disc.
Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014
ENAM 0107 / CMLT 0107 - The Experience of Tragedy ▲
The Experience of Tragedy
For over two millennia tragedy has raised ethical questions and represented conflicts between the divine and the mortal, nature and culture, household and polity, individual and society. What is tragedy? What led to its production and what impact did it have, in ancient times? Why was it reborn in Shakespeare's time? How has tragedy shaped, and been shaped by, gender, class, religion, and nationality? We will address these questions and explore how tragedy continues to influence our literary expectations and experience. Authors may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Aristotle, Seneca, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Goethe, Nietzsche, O'Neill, Beckett, Kennedy, and Kushner. 3 hrs. lect.
ENAM 0201 - British Lit. and Culture I
British Literature and Culture I (Origins-1700) (I)
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description.
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2013
ENAM 0204 - Foundations of English Lit.
Foundations of English Literature (I)
Students will study Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Milton's Paradise Lost, as well as other foundational works of English literature that may include Shakespeare, non-Shakespearean Elizabethan drama, the poetry of Donne, and other 16th and 17th century poetry. 3 hrs. lect./dsc.
ENAM 0216 / ENAM 0214 - The Tragedy of Revenge
The Tragedy of Revenge (I)
In this course we will explore the vogue for mutilation, murder, madness (real and feigned), torture, vengeful ghosts, plot twists, and meta-plays within plays, all combined with macabre humor and plenty of blood for an afternoon’s entertainment on the English stage circa 1600. Why must revenge be so ghastly and so utterly irresistible? Readings include masterpieces of dramatic literature by Thomas Kyd, George Chapman, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster. In addition to examining the moral, ethical, historical, and social implications of the genre in its own day, we will compare them with how fictional narratives of vengeance and vigilantism seem to function for popular audiences today. 3 hrs. lect/disc.
Spring 2011, Spring 2012
ENAM 0319 - Shakespeare
Shakespeare: Culture, Text, Performance (I)
In this course we will read Shakespeare's plays and poems in the context of the religious, political, and domestic culture of early modern England, yet also with the goal of understanding their relevance today-especially in terms of character, gender, race, and moral agency. We will pay particular attention to Elizabethan and Jacobean staging conventions, and to the tension between the plays as poetic works to be read and as scripts to be performed in aristocratic households and popular amphitheaters. We will also touch on modern film adaptations and interpretations, comparing them with original stagings and contexts.
Spring 2013, Spring 2014
ENAM 0421 - Hamlet
/Hamlet/ is the most written-about of all literary texts. In this seminar we will examine its enduring centrality, which its lurid preoccupation with revenge, murder, incest, and ambition cannot fully explain. What did it mean in 1599, when first performed, and how has its meaning changed, as evident in modern editions and films? Why is the character Hamlet often mistaken for a real person? How has the play contributed to philosophy, art, and conceptions of self and gender throughout its history? Materials include the playtext in various renaissance and modern editions and contextual sources (literary and non-literary texts, art, film, and criticism).
ENAM 0456 - Othellos
In this course we will read Shakespeare's Othello from a number of different perspectives, including those of race, religion, gender, staging, form, and literary legacy. We will engage the play at the level of rhetorical analysis, textual history, character analysis, source analysis, staging, and stage history. We will also study contemporary dramas resembling Othello (e.g., Titus Andronicus, Selimus, the Renegado, The Duchess of Malfi, and The Winter's Tale), and examine its legacy in texts such as Woolf's Orlando and Ellison's Invisible Man, and popular films (e.g., "O," Kalyattam, and Jarum Halus). At every point, we will consider critical reception and theoretical implications. 3 hrs. sem.
ENAM 0500 - Special Project: Lit ▲ ▹
Special Project: Literature
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
ENAM 0560 - Special Project: Writing
Special Project: Creative Writing
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012
ENAM 0700 - Senior Essay: Critical Writing ▲ ▹
Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking one-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the essay workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.
Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
ENAM 0701 - Senior Essay: Creative Writing
Senior Essay: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking one-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.
Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012
ENAM 0710 - Senior Thesis: Critical Writ.
Senior Thesis: Critical Writing
Individual guidance and seminar (discussions, workshops, tutorials) for those undertaking two-term projects in literary criticism or analysis. All critical thesis writers also take the thesis workshop (ENAM 710z) in both Fall and Spring terms.
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
ENAM 0711 - Senior Thesis: Creative Writ.
Senior Thesis: Creative Writing
Discussions, workshops, tutorials for those undertaking two-term projects in the writing of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.
Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012
FYSE 1167 - Shakespeare's Characters ▲
Shakespeare’s reputation owes much to his characters; yet well-known as they are, they remain mysterious. What did they mean in Shakespeare’s time, and how do they still succeed? What explains the charisma of Bottom, the idiot who cannot act? What can we learn from Beatrice’s banter with Benedick, or Henry V’s flirtation with Princess Katherine, about Elizabethan—and our own—understandings of gender and language? What prompted 19th century critic William Hazlitt to declare, “It is we who are Hamlet”? Addressing such questions, we will develop critical thinking and writing skills. Texts include three of Shakespeare's plays (e.g., A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet) and contextual readings. We will also study a film of one of these plays. 3 hrs. sem.
Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014