Faculty Profile

Carol Ann Johnston

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

Contact Information

johnston@dickinson.edu

East College Room 410
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

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

FYSM 100 First-Year Seminar
The First-Year Seminar (FYS) introduces students to Dickinson as a "community of inquiry" by developing habits of mind essential to liberal learning. Through the study of a compelling issue or broad topic chosen by their faculty member, students will: - Critically analyze information and ideas - Examine issues from multiple perspectives - Discuss, debate and defend ideas, including one's own views, with clarity and reason - Develop discernment, facility and ethical responsibility in using information, and - Create clear academic writing The small group seminar format of this course promotes discussion and interaction among students and their professor. In addition, the professor serves as students' initial academic advisor. This course does not duplicate in content any other course in the curriculum and may not be used to fulfill any other graduation requirement.

MEMS 200 Four Early Modern Poets
Cross-listed with ENGL 341-02.Three of the most admired poets in the English language, Shakespeare, Donne, and Herbert, have been often read, memorized, and mimicked since their publication in the seventeenth century. Mary Wroth, however, remained largely unpublished until the twentieth century and only recently has she been admired and studied. Poetry, and to a great extent literacy, were male-dominated in the seventeenth century, when only women of wealthy families had the chance to learn to read and write. We will examine the cultural context in which these poets wrote and ask to what extent art and our reception of art are governed by cultural forces such as gender, religious controversy, wealth, sexual practice, and biographical circumstance. We will ask: How can we discern whether arguments based upon culture and biography are legitimate? If great art is driven by cultural concerns, then how do we know where these outside issues enter into the texts? Our goal throughout our investigation of the art/culture debate will be to learn techniques of describing and analyzing poems as works of art.

ENGL 341 Four Early Modern Poets
Cross-listed with MEMS 200-01.Three of the most admired poets in the English language, Shakespeare, Donne, and Herbert, have been often read, memorized, and mimicked since their publication in the seventeenth century. Mary Wroth, however, remained largely unpublished until the twentieth century and only recently has she been admired and studied. Poetry, and to a great extent literacy, were male-dominated in the seventeenth century, when only women of wealthy families had the chance to learn to read and write. We will examine the cultural context in which these poets wrote and ask to what extent art and our reception of art are governed by cultural forces such as gender, religious controversy, wealth, sexual practice, and biographical circumstance. We will ask: How can we discern whether arguments based upon culture and biography are legitimate? If great art is driven by cultural concerns, then how do we know where these outside issues enter into the texts? Our goal throughout our investigation of the art/culture debate will be to learn techniques of describing and analyzing poems as works of art.

ENGL 403 John Donne & 17C Material Cult
A contemporary of Shakespeare, John Donne has a dramatic life of failure and success: imprisoned and denied favor in court, Donne renounced his Catholic faith to avoid torture and death; eventually he became the Dean of St. Paul's, London, the most visible pulpit in the state Protestant church. Donne's ten volumes of sermons, dozens of erotic poems (unpublished in his lifetime), meditations on grave illness and suicide, all represent the complex ways Donne used his physical body as the site of public and private cultural discourse. In addition to Donne's work, we will read medical, printing, visual, epistolic, theological, and other cultural texts both through the lens of New Historicism and through some of the theorists influential in the New Historicist and (more overtly political) Cultural Materialist movements particularly Michel Foucault and Raymond Williams as well as the critics themselves: Greenblatt, Montrose, Sinfeld, Dollimore.

Spring 2018

MEMS 200 Shakespeare: Politics/Culture
Cross-listed with ENGL 341-01.We will read seven plays representing Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, romances, and histories: Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure for Measure, MacBeth, Lear, and The Tempest. We will also view and discuss films of several of these plays by such directors as Branaugh, Casson, Greenaway, Kurosawa, and Noble. The secondary - theoretical - reading for the course will primarily draw upon New Historicist and Cultural Materialist criticism, first practiced in the US by Stephen Greenblatt in his Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980). Where appropriate, we will also consider contextual and feminist issues. Assignments will include an in-class performance of a scene from one of the plays, a mid-term, a brief close reading essay, and a final research paper.

ENGL 341 Shakespeare: Politics/Culture
Cross-listed with MEMS 200-02.We will read seven plays representing Shakespeare's comedies, tragedies, romances, and histories: Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure for Measure, MacBeth, Lear, and The Tempest. We will also view and discuss films of several of these plays by such directors as Branaugh, Casson, Greenaway, Kurosawa, and Noble. The secondary - theoretical - reading for the course will primarily draw upon New Historicist and Cultural Materialist criticism, first practiced in the US by Stephen Greenblatt in his Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980). Where appropriate, we will also consider contextual and feminist issues. Assignments will include an in-class performance of a scene from one of the plays, a mid-term, a brief close reading essay, and a final research paper.

ENGL 404 Senior Thesis Workshop
A workshop requiring students to share discoveries and problems as they produce a lengthy manuscript based on a topic of their own choosing, subject to the approval of the instructor. Prerequisites: 300 and 403.