Spring 2013/Fall 2013 Seminars & Workshops
ENGL 303: Graduate Fiction Workshop
(Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)
This is a graduate workshop in fiction writing with an emphasis on narrative craft. As such, the workshop undertakes more complex and nuanced consideration of elements of fiction, as members are already familiar with basic techniques of characterization, scene and narrative structure, and development of story. The function of this workshop is to help writers develop fiction they are actively engaged in creating: new work—published work, writing samples submitted for admission to the program, and work that has been turned in for other workshops may not be submitted for workshop—that will likely become part of the final thesis.
ENGL 304.01: Graduate Poetry Workshop
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)
The primary focus of this intensive graduate workshop in poetry writing will be your poems in progress; we will also read and discuss various volumes of contemporary poetry, many in conjunction with the Visiting Writers series. All workshop members will be expected to: participate intensely in class discussions, prepare in advance substantive and substantial written comments on peers’ work-in-progress, attend regular conferences with the workshop leader, and, by the end of the semester, produce of a significant body of new poems.
Literature and the Craft of Writing
Topic: Frost and Stevens
(Tuesday, 2:00-5:00 p.m.)
Our course will examine the work of these two poets side by side, with a special emphasis on the craft and innovations of both poets. We will consider how these poets employed the lyric stanza, blank verse, the sonnet, the sequence, and the epigram. Issues like metrical versus free verse will usually be close at hand. We will begin by considering 19th century precedents for each poet. Along the way we will also consider poets who benefited from the example of one or the other. In the case of Robert Frost, Robert Lowell and Seamus Heaney. And Elizabeth Bishop and John Ashbery, in the case of Wallace Stevens.
ENGL 312 Seminar in 17th C. Literature
Topic: Texts and Consequences: An Introduction to Textural Scholarship
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)
Textual studies as a discipline is at the foundation of literary studies in that it determines the shape of the texts we read, teach, and write about. This course will introduce graduate students to the field, which has generated considerable excitement and scholarly attention in recent years. We will be studying the rhetoric of the edition: how are literary texts subtly (or not so subtly) shaped by the ways editors prepare them for readers? We will also consider different theories of the literary text, and how they help to determine the form in which literary texts reach readers, both in print and online. Finally, we will consider several prominent recent controversies over specific editions: the Oxford Shakespeare and its two-text King Lear, Hans Gabler’s edition of Ulysses, and others of particular interest to students. Major emphasis will be placed on gender assumptions and colonialism as forces that help to shape editions.
WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: The course will include a short (5-page) paper due the sixth week of class and a longer (15-20-page) paper due during finals week. In addition, you will be responsible for portions of each seminar session and you will offer a preliminary discussion of your ideas for the long paper during two seminar meetings at the end of the course. The longer paper will consider issues of textual scholarship that are particularly relevant to you in your primary area of interest.
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)
The laconic title belies the complexities of the issues surrounding things. What is now known as the New Materialism comprises three distinct schools of thought apart from the general category of Cultural Materialism. Let us say that Cultural Materialism investigates the transit, exchange, installation and appreciation of commodities, a system that grew very fast after the eighteenth-century, when markets for goods became global. It is based, like capitalism itself, on the assumption that the movement, sale and consumption of chattels is a good thing, an activity we ought to pursue and enjoy, and whose history is of central importance to the understanding of social life. The three schools of thought are not of this opinion, believing instead that things have qualities and tendencies of their own, independent of what we might think or desire. Actor Network Theory, chiefly associated with the historian of science Bruno Latour, has used the model of the laboratory and the parliament to suggest that things come about and act to some degree independently of human intentions; thing theory (Bill Brown) has made it possible to imagine that the things we regard as property are, like human chattels, extremely unhappy with their servitude; object-oriented ontology has carried this position further into an eco-critique of consumption and of the human assumption of dominion over the earth and its resources. We shall study representatives of these positions, but here is a preliminary reading list:
Lucretius, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), Loeb edition
Jonathan Swift, Tale of a Tub
Charles Johnstone, Chrysal, or Adventures of a Guinea
William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England
Karl Marx, Capital I,
Henry James, The Spoils of Poynton
Georges Perec, Things
Edmund de Waal, The Hare with the Amber Eyes
Neil MacGregor, A History of the World in 100 Objects
Arjun Appadurai, The Social Life of Things
John Plotz, Portable Property
Bill Brown, Things
Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter
Bruno Latour, We have never been modern
The course will begin with several introductory sessions and eventually evolve into a series of presentations, as students feel competent to handle the various theories on show and make a choice of how and where they would like to wield them.
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)
The seminar will investigate U.S. literary prose source texts and the bases on which they have recurrently been reconfigured for renewal and exploitation. The white whale and the scarlet “A” circulate ubiquitously, as do “the call of the wild” and “Call me Ishmael,” while Uncle Tom and Tom Joad reappear well into the twenty-first century. From prose fiction sources we find a proliferation of reinvigorating genres and modes of adaptation and mutation as these now-classic texts reemerge in film, popular music, opera, stage drama, blogs, YouTube, Twitter. Anchoring in the source texts, the seminar will search out their multimedia “afterlives” and seek to understand how and why texts reappear at certain pivotal socio-cultural historical moments. Source texts include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Moby-Dick, The Scarlet Letter, The Grapes of Wrath, The Call of the Wild, The Great Gatsby, Death of a Salesman.
ENGL 337a Introduction to Literary Theory
Topic: Proseminar: Secularism
(Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)
Secularism, Literature, and the Politics of Culture:
In this course we will study a range of twentieth and twenty-first century theoretical texts that question the boundaries of secularism, civil society, and minority rights. Engaging with these critical discourses in anthropology, comparative and world literature, postcolonial studies, and modernist studies, we will interrogate the political, social, and aesthetic implications of reading literature through the lens of the secular. We will move beyond the binary of secularism and religion, to consider how modern literary works negotiate the politics and aesthetics of secularism. Is secularism a discourse of the majority? How do minority writers engage with and challenge the divide between the secular and the religious? Is the novel a secular genre? What is the relationship between secularism and modernity? This course serves as the English department’s pro-seminar and will introduce students to a range of theoretical and critical perspectives. Students will incorporate these perspectives into their own work and learn to make critical interventions in their fields of interest. Readings will include works by Erich Auerbach, Marthin Luther King, Malcolm X, Walter Benjamin, Edward Said, Talal Assad, Aamir Mufti, Saba Mahmood, Daniel Boyarin, Judith Butler, Hannah Arendt, and Seyla Benhabib.
This course is open to all English graduate students.
ENGL 355 Studies in American Literature
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)
ENGL 316 Romantic Prose and Poetry
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m .)
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)
ENGL 377b Colonial Modernity
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m .)
© Vanderbilt English Dept. 2005
Read our legal notice