Faculty Profile

Carol Ann Johnston

Professor of English; Martha Porter Sellers Chair of Rhetoric and the English Language (1990)

Contact Information

johnston@dickinson.edu

Historic President's House 3rd Fl, Room 7
717.245.1268

Bio

Her teaching interests include literature of the Early Modern period, poetry workshop, and Southern Women Writers. Her current research investigates subjectivity and agency in seventeenth-century English poetry. She has written a book on Eudora Welty and is working on a manuscript placing poet Thomas Traherne in the context of seventeenth-century visual traditions.

Education

  • B.A., Baylor University, 1978
  • M.A., 1980
  • M.A., Harvard University, 1983
  • Ph.D., 1992

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

WGSS 101 Southern Women Writers
Cross-listed with ENGL 101-02. A course in prose written by women of the American South. We will begin with the diary of Mary Chesnut written during the Civil War and continue with notable writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which may include Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Ellen Gilchrist, Ellen Douglas, Kaye Gibbons. Some critical and theoretical texts will also be required. Writing assignments will include short explications,longer essays, and an exam. Attendance and participation in class discussion are required.

ENGL 101 Southern Women Writers
Cross-listed with WGSS 101-01. A course in prose written by women of the American South. We will begin with the diary of Mary Chesnut written during the Civil War and continue with notable writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which may include Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Ellen Gilchrist, Ellen Douglas, Kaye Gibbons. Some critical and theoretical texts will also be required. Writing assignments will include short explications,longer essays, and an exam. Attendance and participation in class discussion are required.

MEMS 200 Revolutionary Milton
Cross-listed with ENGL 311-01. John Milton at times emerges in the popular imagination as the benign Christian poet of Paradise Lost. While Paradise Lost is a Biblical epic poem about the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Milton addresses in the poem polemical subjects such as the role and place of women in an ideal society; the relationship between God and Christ the Son; the question of personal responsibility; the role of monarchy and religion in the state; the idea of a republic. Paradise Lost, along with the Bible, was one of the most frequently read books in Colonial America, and we have in our archive Benjamin Rush's copy of Paradise Lost. In addition we also have first editions of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, and other beautiful and significant Milton volumes. Our study of these editions will show Milton's understanding and manipulation of the press and censorship, and suggest how Milton the revolutionary came to be recognized as one of the greatest poets in the English language.

ENGL 220 Intro to Literary Studies
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

ENGL 311 Revolutionary Milton
Cross-listed with MEMS 200-05. John Milton at times emerges in the popular imagination as the benign Christian poet of Paradise Lost. While Paradise Lost is a Biblical epic poem about the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Milton addresses in the poem polemical subjects such as the role and place of women in an ideal society; the relationship between God and Christ the Son; the question of personal responsibility; the role of monarchy and religion in the state; the idea of a republic. Paradise Lost, along with the Bible, was one of the most frequently read books in Colonial America, and we have in our archive Benjamin Rush's copy of Paradise Lost. In addition we also have first editions of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, and other beautiful and significant Milton volumes. Our study of these editions will show Milton's understanding and manipulation of the press and censorship, and suggest how Milton the revolutionary came to be recognized as one of the greatest poets in the English language.

Spring 2019

WRPG 211 Visual Poetry
Cross-listed with ENGL 221-02 and CRWR 219-03. Poetry began as verse recited by bards and scops going from town to town entertaining crowds with history, myths of origin, hymns, and genealogy. Rhythmic and repeating language made poetry an important aid to memory before writing existed. When the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg introduced moveable type in 1440 Europe, the printing press could produce around 3500 pages per day, as opposed to the page or two produced by the scribe copying by hand. Mass printing of poetry transformed the focus of the genre. We will discover the myriad ways that poetry and print interact, including through typography, illustration, and design, by looking at artifacts such as broadsides, emblem books, and artists’ books; by reading scholars and theorists discussing the evolution of poetry and print; by writing and designing our own visual poetry. Prior experience writing poetry will be useful for students taking the class.

CRWR 219 Visual Poetry
Cross-listed with WRPG 211-02 and ENGL 221-02. Poetry began as verse recited by bards and scops going from town to town entertaining crowds with history, myths of origin, hymns, and genealogy. Rhythmic and repeating language made poetry an important aid to memory before writing existed. When the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg introduced moveable type in 1440 Europe, the printing press could produce around 3500 pages per day, as opposed to the page or two produced by the scribe copying by hand. Mass printing of poetry transformed the focus of the genre. We will discover the myriad ways that poetry and print interact, including through typography, illustration, and design, by looking at artifacts such as broadsides, emblem books, and artists’ books; by reading scholars and theorists discussing the evolution of poetry and print; by writing and designing our own visual poetry. Prior experience writing poetry will be useful for students taking the class.

ENGL 221 Visual Poetry
Cross-listed with WRPG 211-02 and CRWR 219-03. Poetry began as verse recited by bards and scops going from town to town entertaining crowds with history, myths of origin, hymns, and genealogy. Rhythmic and repeating language made poetry an important aid to memory before writing existed. When the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg introduced moveable type in 1440 Europe, the printing press could produce around 3500 pages per day, as opposed to the page or two produced by the scribe copying by hand. Mass printing of poetry transformed the focus of the genre. We will discover the myriad ways that poetry and print interact, including through typography, illustration, and design, by looking at artifacts such as broadsides, emblem books, and artists’ books; by reading scholars and theorists discussing the evolution of poetry and print; by writing and designing our own visual poetry. Prior experience writing poetry will be useful for students taking the class.

ENGL 341 Early Modern Lyric
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England generally are recognized as the Golden Age of the lyric—the short—poem. We will begin our reading of the sixteenth-century poem with adaptations of Petrarchan sonnets by Wyatt and Surrey, and move to the mastery of the form by Sidney and Spencer. The seventeenth century begins with the revival of the sonnet by Shakespeare, and includes brilliant passionate poems declaiming the love of God and the love of women and men by Herbert, Donne, Wroth, Marvell, and others. In addition to learning the techniques of describing and analyzing these poems aesthetically, we will also discuss the cultural contexts in which our poets lived. Our objective will be to interrogate T.S. Eliot’s assertion, early in the twentieth century, that a lyric poem is “the voice of the poet speaking to himself or nobody.” As we read and discuss we will ask ourselves, both consciously and unconsciously, how private or how porous brief poems might be. Can artists write in a vacuum, as Eliot implies, alienated from political and financial directives, keeping their work “pure and unsullied?” Instead, if great art is to some extent driven by cultural concerns, such as religious controversy, struggles to define and defend the monarchy, and incipient women's rights, then how do we know where these outside issues enter into the art?