COVID-19: Essential Information

James Berg

Associate Professor of English and American Literatures

Director of the First Year Seminar Program

 work(802) 443-5709
 Spring Term: Wednesday & Friday 2:45-4:45, and by appointment
 Axinn Center 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).



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 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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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 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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ENAM 0103 - Reading Literature      

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

Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

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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, as well as our political, social, and familial environment. We will study texts by such authors as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Aristotle, Seneca, Shakespeare, Webster, Chikamatsu, Goethe, Nietzsche, O'Neill, Beckett, and Soyinka. (Pre-1800) 3 hrs. lect. EUR LIT

Spring 2021

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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, Spring 2020

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ENAM 0123 / CMLT 0123 - Adventures in Literary Romance      

Adventures in Literary Romance (Pre-1800)
In this course we will explore the literary genre of romance. Today, “romance” often refers to courtship—only one aspect of this ancient genre. Other aspects include adventure, magic, wonder, multiple plots, multiple authors, an affinity for sequels. Romance’s associations with every genre—tragedy, comedy, epic, novel, lyric poetry—and its reputation for escapism have made it an epitome of the very idea of literature, as conceived by attackers and defenders. Its welcoming of female readers and protagonists and its marketing of the exotic have raised issues of gender and ethnicity. We will discuss all such aspects and implications of romance, and we may also explore how romance has shaped modern television and film. No papers or exams; there will be quizzes daily on the reading, and students will be expected to participate thoughtfully in class discussions. Readings from texts such as: Daphnis and Chloe, Ethiopian Romance, The Gospel of Luke, The Golden Ass, Arthurian romances by various authors, Orlando Inamorato, Orlando Furioso, The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, Don Quixote,/ Waverly/, Madame Bovary, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Time Quintet. 3 hrs. lect. LIT

Fall 2018, Fall 2020

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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 2017

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ENAM 0204 - Foundations of English Lit.      

Foundations of English Literature (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 2021

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ENAM 0500 - Special Project: Lit      

Special Project: Literature
Approval Required.

Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021

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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 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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FYSE 1167 - Shakespeare's Characters      

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? How do they still succeed as characters? What explains idiotic Bottom’s charisma? What does Henry V’s flirtation with Princess Katherine or Othello’s jealousy about Desdemona reveal about Elizabethan—and our own—understandings of gender and race? Such questions will help us develop skills in speaking, writing, and critical inquiry. Texts will include at most three plays from among the following: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, Othello, Lear, as well as contextual readings. We will also study a film of one of the plays. 3 hrs. sem. CW EUR LIT

Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

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INTD 0210 / EDST 0210 - Sophomore Seminar/Liberal Arts      

Sophomore Seminar in the Liberal Arts
The current pandemic, and all the questions it brings to the fore about what we value in a college experience, make this an ideal moment to consider the meaning and purpose of your liberal arts education. At the heart of this exploration will be a question posed by physicist Arthur Zajonc: “How do we find our own authentic way to an undivided life where meaning and purpose are tightly interwoven with intellect and action, where compassion and care are infused with insight and knowledge?” We will examine how, at this pivotal moment of decision making, you can understand your college career as an act of “cultivating humanity” and how you can meaningfully challenge yourself to take ownership of your intellectual and personal development. Through interdisciplinary and multicultural exploration, drawing from education studies and philosophical, religious, and literary texts, we will engage our course questions by way of student-led discussion, written reflection, and personal, experiential learning practices. In this way we will examine how a liberal arts education might foster the cultivation of an ‘undivided’ life, “the good life”, a life well-lived. (The course is open to sophomores and second semester first-year students. Juniors by permission only.) 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