James Berg

Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures

Director of the First Year Seminar Program

 
 work(802) 443-5709
 Fall Term: Monday and Wednesday 12:30-2:30 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]

CRWR 0560 - Special Project: Writing      

Special Project: Creative Writing
Approval Required.

Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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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 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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ENAM 0103 - Reading Literature      

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

Spring 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017

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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, Fall 2016

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ENAM 0109 - Literary "Character"      

Literary “Character”
In this course we will investigate literary character—what it is; what makes it “round,” “flat,” “deep,” “shallow”; its history. In seeking to understand “character,” we will create our own stories, using characters from our readings, or introducing characters we create into plots or settings from those readings. In expository essays and class discussions, we will also consider the following questions: how and why did “fictional person” acquire the name “character” (literally “engraved mark”)? How does “character” relate to representations of body, property, authorship, gender, race? How does theatrical character relate to novelistic and short-story character? Possible authors: Aristotle, Theophrastus, Terence, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Laurence Sterne, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Richard Wright, Julia Alvarez. 3 hrs. lect. EUR LIT

Spring 2018

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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 2015, Fall 2017

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ENAM 0214 - Renaissance Lit and Cult      

Renaissance Literature and Culture (Pre-1800)
In this course we will explore the contribution of various aspects of society to literature and literary self-consciousness during the Renaissance, the "golden age" of English literature. The course will cover literatures of the Court and state, love and sex, city and country, science and discovery, and religion and reformation. We will discuss historical difference, political and social conflict, subjectivity and creativity, ethnic and cultural confrontation, and authorship and ownership. Readings will include prose fiction and non-fiction, lyric and epic, and drama by such authors as More, Wyatt, Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Wroth, Bacon, Jonson, Donne, Marvell, and Milton. EUR LIT

Spring 2016

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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 2014

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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.

Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018

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ENAM 0700 - Senior Thesis: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.

Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018

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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.

Spring 2014

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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 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2017

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INTD 0210 / EDST 0210 - Sophomore Seminar/Liberal Arts      

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
This course is designed for sophomores who are interested in exploring the meaning and the purpose of a liberal arts education. To frame this investigation, we will use the question "What is the good life and how shall I live it?" Through an interdisciplinary and multicultural array of readings and films we will engage our course question through intellectual discussion, written reflection, and personal practice. There will be significant opportunities for public speaking and oral presentation, as well as regular writing assignments, including a formal poster presentation. Readings will include reflections on a liberal arts education in the U.S. (Emerson, Brann, Nussbaum, Oakeshott, Ladsen-Billings, bell hooks); on "the good life" (excerpts from Aristotle, sacred texts of different traditions); on social science analyses of contemporary life; texts on the neuroscience of happiness; as well as literary and cinematic representations of lives well-lived. CMP

Spring 2018

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Department of English & American Literatures

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