James Berg

Visiting Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures

 
 work802.443.5709
 Spring Term: Tuesday and Thursday 1:00 - 3:00 and by appointment
 Axinn Center at Starr Library 314

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

Course List: 

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. CMP CW LIT

Spring 2013

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CRWR 0560 - Special Project: Writing      

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

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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.

Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

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ENAM 0103 - Reading Literature      

Reading Literature
Please refer to each section for specific course descriptions. CW LIT

Fall 2012, Spring 2014

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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. EUR LIT

Fall 2014

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ENAM 0201 - British Lit. and Culture I      

British Literature and Culture (I) (Pre-1800)
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description. EUR LIT

Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

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ENAM 0204 - Foundations of English Lit.      

Foundations of English Literature (I) (Pre-1800)
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./disc. EUR LIT

Spring 2012

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ENAM 0216 - 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. EUR LIT

Spring 2012

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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. EUR LIT

Spring 2013, Spring 2014

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ENAM 0456 - Othellos      

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. CMP EUR LIT

Fall 2013

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ENAM 0458 - Merchants of Venice      

Merchants of Venice
In this course we will read Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice from different perspectives, including those of race, religion, gender, staging, and form. We will engage the play at the level of rhetorical analysis, textual history, character analysis, source analysis, and stage history. We will also study contemporary dramas resembling The Merchant of Venice (e.g., Three Ladies of London, Jew of Malta, Othello), and examine its legacy in film adaptations and in works by such authors as Charles Dickens, Philip Roth, Wladislaw Szpilman, and Christopher Moore. At every point, we will consider critical reception and theoretical implications. 3 hrs. sem. EUR LIT

Spring 2015

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ENAM 0500 - Special Project: Lit      

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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ENAM 0560 - Special Project: Writing      

Special Project: Creative Writing
(Approval Required)

Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012

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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 Senior Thesis Workshop (ENAM 700Z) in either Fall or Spring Term.

Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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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 2011, Spring 2012

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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 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

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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 2012, Spring 2012

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FYSE 1167 - Shakespeare's Characters      

Shakespeare's Characters
Shakespeare’s reputation owes much to his characters. Yet memorable as these are, they abound in inconsistencies. 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, or the appeal of Shylock, the vicious stereotype of Jewishness? Othello’s jealousy renders him a murderer, yet he elicits empathy; Desdemona is first assertive, then submissive. What do these contradictions mean? What do they tell us about attitudes towards race, gender, psychology, and theater in Shakespeare’s time and today? Addressing such questions, we will develop critical thinking and writing skills. Texts will include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and contextual readings. 3 hrs. sem. CW EUR LIT

Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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Department of English & American Literatures

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753