Tag Archives: Reading Our World

Reading Masculinities in our World

The spring, Professor Shaun Karli taught Reading Our World: Masculinity in English.  Today, Professor Karli reviewed the course and some of the history of Masculinity Studies for Women & Gender Studies students and faculty.  The following is commentary about the course, by student Jacob Dickens.


Shaun Karli teaching about masculinities
Shaun Karli teaching about masculinities

Every so often, I like to talk to my friend in Canada through the chatting app Discord about our favorite shows, YouTube videos we both love (we will send everything related to the artist Jack Stauber to each other, it’s a problem), and our personal lives. When I talked to him about my remaining classes before the semester’s end, I mentioned that I was enrolled in the class Reading Our World: Masculinity, an English class that explored different facets of masculinity through various short stories, plays, and books. He sort of scoffed at it and said, “I’m sure it’s a good class and all, but it just seems weird”. He wasn’t the only person to show hesitation about the class. Other people in the class talked about their friends acting incredulous when the class was mentioned, as if the idea of studying what our culture expects men to be is ridiculous or unnecessary. But to those people I say that this class was not only fascinating, but something that every student should consider attending when it becomes available.

The class was structured in a typical English format: a reading due and a discussion in class. But the discussions themselves felt loose enough that we were free to discuss whatever facets of masculinity we were interested in. In a recent class, a presentation on masculinity in American Beauty lead to a nearly hour-long discussion of masculinity in the Star Wars series (including about 15 minutes of explaining the premise of the series to classmates who hadn’t seen it). The class was also structured to discuss intersectional masculinity, the idea of men’s expectations overlapping in their race and class. For instance, the way that Troy in August Wilson’s “Fences” expresses his masculinity as a working-class black man is very different from how Yunior would in Junot Diaz’s “Drown” as a lower-class Dominican teenager. After a few classes, it was as if our class had developed its own language, discussing “breadwinner dynamics” and “hegemonic masculinity”.

Ultimately, the class showed me the various societal pressures we place on boys and men to assimilate as the “ideal man” and how ultimately destructive it can be. In America, the ideal man that is presented to us in the media continues to be one that isn’t vulnerable emotionally, that views women as a prize or a sex object, that exercises power by dominating over his colleagues or enemies. These are the idealized images of men and masculinity and they have been for decades. And these images reflect back into what we expect of men in our culture. A 2019 Pew Research survey found that more than eight in ten men nationwide say they face pressure to be “emotionally strong”. This bottling of emotions can be damaging to many men and provide them with little or no nonviolent outlets that are seen as acceptably masculine. It’s worth examining other, more positive ways to encourage boys and men to accept that they can forge their own paths in their masculinity and shouldn’t feel burdened having to match societal standards. You don’t have to be sexually active to be masculine. You don’t have to be violent to be masculine. You can be masculine and feel vulnerable and scared. It’s worth looking at these in an academic sense to fully understand these pressures through a wide variety of lenses and so I end by encouraging everyone to not only look into what they think a man should be or look like but why they think that. It’s worth doing so the men in our community and abroad don’t feel so tied down by this intangible idea of men.

–Jacob Dickens

Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/23/americans-views-on-masculinity-differ-by-party-gender-and-race/

Fall 2019 Classes

Check out these highlighted classes for Fall 2019! Make sure to check out the registration schedule and meet with your adviser to get your TAP number before your registration time.

ENGL 274 The Craft of WritingDr. Bill Archibald

  • MW 3pm (the schedule says MWF, but it’s MW)
  • This course will focus on writing for television this semester.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110

ENGL 429 Seminar: Killers and ThrillersDr. Carla Rineer

  • TR 9:25 am
  • This class will focus on American Crime Fiction and it satisfies the American Literature requirement.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110, 237 (contact the instructor if you need special permission)

ENGL 450 British Literature Since 1914 – Dr. Katarzyna Jakubiak

  • TR 2:35-3:50pm
  • This course will consider literary figures and works against the background of crisis in the 20th century from the onset of World War I to the present. Students will read and experience new movements, attitudes, and experimental techniques.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110, 237

ENGL 451 Literary CriticismDr. Jill Craven

  • Monday 6-9pm (schedule says Tuesday, but it’s Monday night)
  • This course is a seminar on major critics and theorists from Plato to selected modern critics and will explore critical trends and controversies within literary criticism.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110, 237 (contact the instructor if you need special permission)

ENGL 242 Reading Our World: Unruly BodiesDr. Emily Baldys

  • MW 3-4:35pm or MW 4:30-5:45pm
  • Disability can be a powerful symbol in literature (think Tiny Tim), but what does it mean to be “disabled”? How do the stories that we tell about disabled people’s “unruly bodies” influence society’s expectations about what it means to be a “normal” citizen, subject, and human being?  This course will examine representations of disability in contemporary literature and popular culture. With the help of some readings in critical disability theory, we’ll explore what disability does for literature, and what literature does for disability. We’ll analyze the emotional and political impact of representing disability in a diverse selection of modern narratives, including short stories by Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver, Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and an episode from the Netflix series “Atypical.”  Readings will also include poetry, videos, and memoir by disabled authors and activists such as Anne Finger, Stella Young, Stephen Kuusisto, and Neil Hilborn.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110 and SPED 237 (which may be taken as a co-requisite)

ENGL 242 Reading Our World: Bible as Literature – TBD

  • W 6-9pm
  • This class will examine the Bible from a literary and cultural perspective. We will consider the Bible itself as a literary text, reading it closely, and the issues this perspective raises. These include canon formation, the aesthetic forms of the Bible, and its impact on the literary, historical, and religious traditions of diverse peoples for several millennia.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110

ENGL 471 Creative WritingDr. Judy Halden-Sullivan

  • TR 7:30-8:45pm
  • Creative Writing Fall 2019 Flyer
  • This section will emphasize contemporary innovative styling with an invitation to invent hybrid genres of creative writing. Students will explore their relationships with language, notions of what texts can be, and connections with readers.
  • Prereq: ENGL 110

Reading Our World: Masculinity

ENGL 242: Reading Our World is one of the core classes of the English major that is almost comparable to an advanced book club. Each section of Reading Our World focuses on a different theme  explored through a section of texts on that theme. Critical lenses are applied across the field of English Studies to explore different perspectives by learning methods for critiquing texts.

Of the many sections of ENGL 242 offered next semester, one of the newest to look out for is Reading Our World: Masculinity.

Toxic masculinity is a buzzword in 2018, but the concept certainly isn’t new. In academic circles, the preferred term is hegemonic masculinity. Simply put, this term refers to any practice that attempts to justify male dominance over women and “weaker” types of men. We see this not only in the male/female binary, but also in the straight/gay and alpha/beta binaries. These biases are deeply ingrained, even in our language. Honorific language is used to describe highly “masculine” traits, whereas pejoratives are used for most characteristics deemed “feminine,” especially when referring to less “masculine” men.

This course will examine Western literature through the lens of various masculinities in an effort to unveil the toxic ideology that contributes to social ills, including domestic violence, rape culture, gay-bashing, and the abuse of power, among others. Ultimately, students will leave this course able to recognize the ideology of hegemonic masculinity when they encounter it in music, film, television, and literature so that they can begin to dismantle it.


  • Wednesday from 6-9pm at the Ware Center
  • Counts as a G1 and a W
  • If you have already taken ENGL 242, you can take it again for elective credit

Reading Our World: Story Building

It’s the most wonderful time of the semester again… Registration! If you are an English Education major or a student looking for a class to improve your storytelling skills, look no further than ENGL 242 Reading Our World: Storybuilding.

This course teaches you how to use storytelling, drama, writing projects, and word games to build critical literacy skills. Storybuilding engages students physically in their learning, shifting classroom paradigms:

  • Traditional memorization is replaced with strategies for conflict resolution.
  • Passive in-class listening is replaced with innovations in community building.
  • Independent research is replaced with multi-cultural identity exploration.

This class is taught by a theatre professional trained in the established pedagogy. Neighborhood Bridges is a curriculum-based literacy and creative drama  program developed by the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis. The program is nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a model for arts education, and has received Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grants.

More than 94% of classroom teachers who participated in Bridges in 2007-2008 indicated that students’ acting, storytelling, oral communication skills, attitude towards writing, and use of imagination and descriptive details in writing improved during the course of the program.

Millersville students who have taken this class in the past rave about it! Many claim it was one of their favorite classes offered at Millersville.


  • Meets Mondays from 6-9pm
  • Counts for a G1 and W
  • If you have already taken ENGL 242, you can take it again for elective credit
  • Includes a local  school placement during the second half of the semester, practicing skills with a partner from the class
  • Requires a weekend workshop training in January
  • Requires clearances for the school placement

Contact Caleb Corkery for more information.

The Bible As Literature (Reading Our World)

During the Spring 2017 semester, Dr. Timothy Shea has been teaching The Bible as Literature, a new installation of the English Department’s Reading Our World course series. This course asks the question, “Why read the Bible in a literary way?” and “How does the literary lens expand one’s understanding of the Bible?” It invites students to analyze and to interpret a collection of Bible stories, poetry, sermons, and apocalyptic texts through both a literary and cultural lens. The class also explores aesthetic themes, cultural traditions, canon formation. Students read, discuss, question, argue, and perform their own interpretations of this great text while grappling with its themes as found in music, film, and art adaptations. Furthermore, Dr. Shea invited a diverse group of biblical scholars, artists, and teachers, who lead the class in discussions of literary aspects of specific biblical passages. Dr. Shea works to both broaden and deepen students’ understanding of the Bible as an essential and expansive piece of literature that is an integral element of Western literature.

—-Hannah Halter, Graduate Assistant