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Next Year Seminars and Workshops


Fall 2015     


English 355: Special Topics in English and American Literature
Kathryn Schwarz
(Mondays, 3:30-6:30)

[Full description forthcoming: this is the only course required of all first-semester students; indeed, it is the only required course in the graduate curriculum. The proseminar, in which you’ll get to know your cohort, is designed each year to provide an introduction to graduate studies, with attention to both practical and theoretical issues fundamental to graduate studies in literature in the 21st C. This year it will be taught by Prof. Kathryn Schwarz.]

The proseminar is limited to first-year graduate students only.

English 350: Special Problems in English and American Literature
Public Humanities:
Ifeoma Nwankwo
(Tuesdays, 12-3)

[Full description forthcoming: this course will focus on the public dimension of work in the humanities, in the context of Diaspora/Caribbean/immigration studies and digital humanities.]

English 330: the Enlightenment and Its Literary Connections
The Long Enlightenment and Catastrophic History
Scott Juengel
(Tuesdays, 3:30 – 6:30)

“There are no more natural catastrophes,” writes Jean-Luc Nancy in his recent meditation on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, “there is only a civilizational catastrophe that expands every time.”  Nancy’s remark speaks to a haunting sense that there is no longer a nature distinct from the vast grid of technological modernity, and no longer an event that is confined to its own provenance.  Such is the nature of what this seminar calls “the long enlightenment,” a historical formulation designed to capture both the familiar eighteenth-century philosophical project of mastering nature and its twentieth- and twenty-first century dialecticalization.  Many have suggested that for every progress achieved in the name of enlightenment a barbarism has loomed in its wake, and this syllabus will seek to unpack such a claim by focusing broadly on a history of catastrophe -- natural and most unnatural -- from the eighteenth century to the present.  As an organizing concept, catastrophe allows us to pose questions about the event-structure of history; the rise of secularism and technological determinism; the sublime, the tragic and the apocalyptic; and the political efficacy of sympathy in the time of the multitude.  While much of the syllabus will be dedicated to literature, visual art and philosophy spanning 1650-1850, the course will occasionally vault forward, theoretically and otherwise, to consider a longer history of reason and calamity.

English 320: Studies in Southern Literature
Michael Kreyling
(Thursdays, 3:30-6)

Faulkners: yes, plural; there is more than one Faulkner. This seminar will be designed to recognize the several ways William Faulkner is pivotal to an understanding of several literatures. There is the young, bohemian, modernist, wannabe expatriate Faulkner; the Southern Gothic Faulkner; the man of letters Faulkner; the international Nobelist; the alcoholic; the misogynist; the racist; the racial liberal; the font-of-all-southern-fiction Faulkner; the historical realist. You get the picture. We will read, discuss, write about these mutations of “Faulkner” with, of course, help from the myriad theoretical, historical, biographical adjuncts to his texts. The seminar will work best if you read or re-read several Faulkner texts before we meet. The Sound and the Fury, Sanctuary, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom!, The Hamlet, Go Down, Moses, A Fable will be on the syllabus without doubt.

English 355: Special Topics in English and American Literature
Jonathan Lamb
(Wednesdays, 12-3)

[Full description forthcoming: this course will focus both on fiction and on theories of fictionality. Starting with Hobbes and Cervantes, it travel, with John Locke in mind, through some eighteenth century novelists (Defoe, Sterne, Haywood, Lennox), then briefly consider the relation of law to fiction (Blackstone, Dickens) and then do some theory (Nick Paige, Vicky Kahn, Michael McKeon, Sandra Macpherson) in order to consider what importance recent contributions to post-secularism (e.g. Kahn's The Future of Illusion) assign to fiction.]  

Fall Courses of Interest in Other Departments


Spring 2016

English 316: Romantic Prose and Poetry
Periodical Culture: Fall of the Bastille to A Tale of Two Cities:
Mark Schoenfield
(Wednesdays, 12-3)

The regulation of public discourse in Great Britain coalesced through the combined efforts of a range of institutions, the courts and periodicals crucially among them.  Issues of personal identity, public propriety, rights of expression and assembly, the meaning of sanity and the values of literature were adjudicated in the heteroglossic space of the periodicals and other ancillary prose.  In this course, we will explore that space beginning with Caleb Williams and the English panic over the French Revolution, and concluding with Charles Dickens’s reworking of that moment in A Tale of Two Cities, serialized in the first issues of his All the Year Round.  We will consider individual writers such as William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb, as they articulated visions of their social and private worlds, as well as the corporate voices of the Edinburgh Review, Blackwood’s Magazine, and Fraser’s Magazine.   Making use the British Periodical and/or American Periodical database, students will conduct original research on topics of their own choosing and prepare an article-length essay based on that research; in addition, students will do collaborative presentations and individual response papers to the shared materials. 

English 350: Special Problems in English and American Literature
Colorblindness Across the Disciplines
Marzia Milazzo
(Thursdays, 12-3)

It is easy for men to discount and misunderstand the suffering or harm done others. Once accustomed to poverty, to the sight of toil or degradation, it easily seems normal and natural; once it is hidden beneath a different color of skin, a different stature or a different habit of action and speech, and all consciousness of inflicting ill disappears.

                                               --W.E.B. Du Bois

This course examines how the practices and paradigms of scholarly disciplines function to privilege colorblind solutions as responses to color-bound problems. Of course, denial and disavowal of racial power in our society protects privilege and serves a variety of political purposes, but in this course we will examine the ideal of colorblindness as a stance with embedded epistemological causes and consequences. Our goals in this course are to: 1) identify how the disciplines enable and inhibit understanding of race because of colorblindness; 2) acquire an inventory of exemplary interdisciplinary works, methods, and theories; 3) stage creative conversations across disciplines; 4) identify how tropes like merit, market, and choice occlude racial power; 5) and demonstrate the migration of concepts across academic disciplines, journalism, philanthropy, public policy, and popular culture.

The disciplines that we will examine include Literature, Film and Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Law, History and African Studies. Students will select which other disciplines (among Art History, Anthropology and Sociolinguistics, Education, Economics, Geography, Health and Epidemiology and others) they want to examine according to the interests of the class.

Readings will include:
Edward Said, Orientalism
Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
Kimberle Crenshaw et al., Critical Race Theory: The Key Readings That Launched The
Charles Mills, The Racial Contract
David W. Noble, Death of a Nation: American Culture and the End of Exceptionalism
Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Tukufu Zuberi, White Logic, White Methods: Racism and
Cedric Robinson, Forgeries of Memory and Meaning: Blacks and the Regimes of Race in
            American Theatre and Film Before WWII
Robert Guthrie, Even the Rat Was White: A Historical View of Psychology

English 350: Special Problems in English and American Literature
Dana Nelson
(Tuesdays, 12-3)

[Description forthcoming]


English 337B: Introduction to Literary Theory
Secularism, Literature, and the Politics of Culture
Allison Schachter
(Thursdays, 3:30-6:30)

[Description from previous offering, subject to change: 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? Readings will include works by Erich AuerbachMarthin Luther King, Malcolm X, Walter Benjamin, Edward Said, Talal Assad, Aamir Mufti, Saba Mahmood, Daniel Boyarin, Judith Butler, Hannah Arendt, and Seyla Benhabib.]

Spring Courses of Interest in Other Departments

French 394, Obscenity and French Literature
Professor Robert Barsky
(Wednesdays 3:30-6:30)

In this course we’ll discuss the complex relationship that has emerged between those ‘literary classics’ considered essential reading for any liberal arts student and the charges of obscenity that many of the authors who have written those texts have had to endure. This dilemma leads us to the fact that students are given required readings which describes (and often celebrate) acts that are specifically outlawed in their own culture, or which have been written by authors who would be considered ‘outlaws’ in the society that now reveres their work. A range of issues flow from these considerations, including the ways in which trials draw attention to texts and authors, providing them with the audiences and the notoriety to allow them, under certain circumstances, to become ‘classics’. Or the fact that the many contradictions of this tradition points to a deeper ambivalence in our society, indeed in all societies, in the consideration of the relationship between passion and reason. Employing a varied approach that allows students to consider these issues from historical, literary, legal, sociological and philosophical perspectives, and drawing from those texts most often cited in regards to ‘obscenity’ will provide students with ample ways to explore this challenging and creative realm of literary and cultural research.


Dirt for Art's Sake, by Elizabeth Ladenson
Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
Les Fleurs du Mal, by Charles Baudelaire
Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, John Cleland
Pornography and Obscenity and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence
Tropic of Cancer, and Obscenity and the Law of Reflection, by Henry Miller
Lolita, novel and film versions, by Vladimir Nabokov
Justine, La Philosophie dans le Boudoir, by Marquis de Sade
Girls Lean Back Everywhere: the Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius by Edward de Grazia
La Terre, by Émile Zola